Marketing your Private Practice
A while (ok, a VERY LONG while!) ago, I wrote a blog post for psychologists starting private practice. I’m now 16 years into running a private practice and my initial advice still stands. I did promise to write more blogs (oops, sorry!) on topics around marketing your private practice and the use of social media. I’ll share a few ideas in this article.
During the pandemic, I started developing more specific online training opportunities for psychologists, registered counsellors and social workers. Many were new to private practice (or considering leaving employment to start a practice) and some were already in private practice and were looking for ways to boost their businesses. It’s been such a rewarding process and along the way, we’ve built an incredibly supportive online community of therapists. Everyone who takes part in my training (whether one-on-one or in a group) gains access to my private Facebook group where we share resources, refer to one another and answer private practice questions. For more information on my next online “Bootcamp,” click here.
But now, onto some marketing ideas for your practice!
- GOOGLE YOURSELF. A great starting point to marketing your practice is to have a look at what is out there when potential clients Google your name. You could have two problems: 1. Nothing comes up (and clients or referrers might be sceptical of your services or even if you exist at all!) or 2. You have outdated information that doesn’t give a clear/professional picture of who you are and what you offer. One of my private practice trainees said she was horrified to see a Twitter account she hadn’t used since she was in her early 20’s. She quickly deleted the account as felt it didn’t represent her current views and professional identity a decade later.
- START BUILDING AN ONLINE PRESENCE. List your practice in as many online directories as possible. Therapy Route and Psychology Today are very popular and both offer a free listing as well as paid options for more exposure. A website is an almost essential investment in your business and you can start with a very basic page if you need to keep expenses low when starting out. Your web designer can assist with developing more targeted search engine optimisation (SEO) for your website if you have the budget. Don’t forget that a LinkedIn page and Facebook business page are excellent ways to build an online presence. You need to be interactive and I recommend spending 10-15min a day to share posts, engage and connect. One thing you MUST remember is to add your private practice to Google Business so internet searchers are more likely to find you.
- PROFESSIONAL BRANDING. You’ll need to invest in graphic design to put together a package for your “brand identity” (logo, letterheads, business cards) to use in your private practice and your website. It is so important to have a professional head and shoulders profile photo to share on all your online marketing platforms. A “silhouette” profile photo makes you look like a Bitcoin scammer (!) and the bottomline is that most potential clients would like to know what you look like beforehand. Remember, it’s not a beauty contest – clients want to get an idea if they can identify with you based on your gender, age, culture, etc. Make sure that the photo is recent and you don’t look a lot different when they eventually meet you for the first time. No selfies please!
- CONNECTING WITH POTENTIAL REFERRAL SOURCES. Private practice can sometimes be a lonely space for therapists. Make a point to connect to colleagues through training opportunities, associations, networking events and supervision groups. I’m more likely to refer to a therapist if I have met them (even if online). I run a Schema Therapy peer supervision group and through discussions and case presentations, we get a good feel of our colleagues and potential for therapy referrals based on their interest and expertise. If you’re starting a private practice, your best source of referrals is fellow psychologists working in your area with waiting lists/overflow. With the current mental health crisis, many experienced therapists are booked at full capacity. Offer to be placed on their email auto-reply when they go on leave or work over the holidays when many go away. Give good quality feedback to professionals who refer (with consent, keeping POPIA in mind) and they’ll be more likely to refer again.
Please be in touch if you’d like to book one-on-one private practice supervision or attend one of my “Starting Private Practice” Bootcamps (all via Zoom). I make sure all marketing advice is in line with HPCSA rules.