People are searching online for counselors perhaps more than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic caused an increase in mental health concerns, leaving more people seeking counseling. You can help people find your practice online by understanding how to advertise counselors’ services.
Strategize Before You Advertise
You know there are people out there who need your help, and you wouldn’t be in this business if you didn’t want to help them. But before you throw money toward advertising, you need to strategize about who you want to reach with your message.
If done well, promoting your counseling services can:
- Help clients find a counselor who best fits their needs
- Help you serve those clients who most need your specific services
- Allow you to focus on clients instead of finances
- Assist you in meeting your own financial needs
A lot of good can come from advertising done well. But if you don’t strategize, you could throw a lot of money at advertising with minimal (if any) results. That doesn’t help you or the people who need your services.
So before you advertise, think about who your ideal client is.
To help identify your ideal client, ask yourself:
- What is your expertise? Are there people in need of services in that area? What are other services existing in your area of expertise?
- Are there groups of individuals who other counselors aren’t serving who you can help? For example, veterans, teens, seniors, or other groups who need specialized care.
- What is your ideal client’s age group?
- How does your ideal client identify?
- How much do you want clients to pay?
- Will your clients be local? The answer to this question also informs how you will provide services. If you do in-person sessions, your clients have to be local and have the ability to come to your office. If you provide virtual sessions, your clients can be anywhere, as long as they have internet access.
- Is there a therapeutic approach you’re interested in that isn’t readily available? For example, art or equine therapy.
- Is there a dominant mental health issue in your geographic area that needs focus?
Once you answer these questions, you’ll have a good idea about the services you want to offer and the clients you’re seeking.
Plan Your Marketing
Now that you know what services you’ll offer and who your ideal patients are, it’s time to think about how you’ll reach them. Perhaps equally as important, you should consider how your ideal client will find you.
Most people turn to the internet when trying to find a new service. Counseling is no exception. People are likely to use Google to find a counselor to fit their needs. Therefore, you need to have online tools that help them find you.
When planning your online marketing, make sure to:
- Launch a Website. You need a strong, professional online presence that introduces you and your services to potential clients. A potential client likely will get their first impression of you and your abilities from your website. Based on this impression, they’ll decide whether you’re someone they can see themselves trusting. Use targeted landing pages on your site to generate leads from ideal clients. These pages will explain your services and help you direct potential clients to do just one thing — provide you with their contact information.
- Use SEO. Search Engine Optimization gets search engines, like Google, to list your website when potential clients use certain words or phrases in their online queries. Most people only look at the first page of search results. You want your site to appear there when they type words you want to associate with your practice. Make sure to optimize your site and all of its pages and posts for SEO.
- Optimize for Conversion. You want a website that makes visitors take the next step, which probably is a conversation with you. Your site’s goal is to get information from visitors so you can follow up with them. To generate these types of leads, you want to have a clear Call-To-Action front and center on your site. Your CTA probably will ask clients to provide their information so you can contact them for a consultation. Build your site around one or two clear CTAs and make sure everything leads back to those actions.
- Enroll in Directories. A straightforward way to generate leads is to enroll yourself in the various online therapy directories. This will help you reach potential clients with minimal effort. Directories rank high with search engines, so potential clients see them when they Google for counseling services. Directories are an excellent supplement to other marketing efforts. However, they aren’t too helpful alone since your services may get lost among the others there.
- Use Google. It makes sense to use Google if you want people to find you via Google searches. Create a Google My Business account. The account will include a business listing, a free business profile, and it will make your service appear in Google maps. Since it’s a Google product, Google My Business listings appear at the top of search results.
Potential clients will decide when they visit your website whether they think they can connect with you. They’ll also judge your expertise. As a trained counselor, you know a lot of information that you can share to help others. Writing blog posts will help your site appear in search results and establish you as an expert who can help solve problems.
Other benefits of content marketing include:
- Getting Noticed. Producing content regularly gives your site more of a chance for SEO ranking.
- Building Relationships. People who visit your site will learn about you and what you represent. They’ll begin to feel like they know and come to trust you, even though you’ve never met them. As a result, they’re likely to return to your site repeatedly and even become clients.
- Establishing Expertise. Your blog posts will demonstrate your knowledge, experience, and training. You’ll show potential clients who you are, what you stand for, and how you can help them.
There are many benefits to content marketing, but creating content may not be so easy for you. The goal of your posts should be to create value for ideal clients. What do you know that can help them? What will encourage them to connect with you?
When writing blog posts:
- Answer Common Problems. What do your existing clients ask you most? What do your ideal clients need to know? Write blog posts to help people with those things. Think about the types of advice you frequently share with clients. Could that advice benefit others? If so, it becomes a blog post.
- Post Regularly. A website won’t help people or grow your business if you post once, then abandon it. Instead, decide on a realistic posting frequency when you launch your site and stick to it. It’s better to post consistently a couple of times a month than to post sporadically.
- Engage Readers. Make your blog’s title something that people are likely to click on. Then draw them into your piece in the first paragraph or so.
- Be Accurate. Make sure you check your posts for accurate spelling and grammar before you publish them. Back up your writing with facts, statistics, and research.
- Break It Up. Most people visit websites from their phones. It’s difficult to read large blocks of texts on small devices. Instead, break up information into small paragraphs. Use bullet points, numbered lists, and subheads to make the text easier to read.
- Use Keywords. Think about what potential clients are likely to search for when looking for the information you’re providing. Use those keywords throughout your blog post, including in the title, subheads, and the first paragraph.
Advertising your counseling services to people who need your help means strategizing, planning, and creating content. Since most people start their search for a counselor online, you need to have an online presence.