When you think about marketing your practice, what feelings come up? Excitement and joy? Or worry, uncertainty, and frustration?
Identifying your strengths and passions—and sticking to them!—is a critical piece of growing as a therapist in private practice. The feelings you experience when you think about this essential part of running and growing your practice will tell you a lot about how you should approach your overall marketing strategy.
Start With Identifying Your Passions
It’s an eternal temptation for entrepreneurial therapists to try and do everything themselves, but this only leads in one direction—burnout and poor quality results. You need some kind of marketing plan for your practice. But if you’re not passionate about executing it, all those marketing tasks will quickly become a chore, and you’ll burn out.
One way to combat this is to identify your strengths and passions in running your practice. But the other and less considered part of it is outsourcing marketing tasks. There are so many skilled people in the world whose strengths and passions line up with your needs. It’s worthwhile if you want to keep your sole focus on your clinical work.
If you don’t love marketing, but still try to do it yourself, the content you put out will start to reflect that. It’s difficult to do, but sometimes we have to recognize that it’s not sustainable to do everything ourselves, and some parts of private practice can and should be outsourced.
The Benefits of Outsourcing Marketing
Especially for newer practitioners, the idea of spending money to delegate aspects of running a private practice is daunting. But in the long run, that money pays off in a lot of different ways. Consider it an investment in yourself and your business.
Most of us didn’t get into private practice because we love sales and marketing. For many of us, marketing feels like something that we just have to get done so our practice can get noticed and our schedule stays full. One benefit of outsourcing marketing to a professional is they won’t only help you fill your caseload—they’ll help you fill it with your ideal clients. By using their marketing expertise and insights to target people who will be a good fit for your practice right from the start, a marketing professional can help you have better client retention.
Aside from the valuable time that outsourcing marketing can save you, it can also save you money by making your budget work smarter, not harder. If you find a talented marketing professional, they’ll know how to best spend every marketing dollar to get the results you’re looking for.
So how do you do it? How do you find an individual or a company who cares as deeply about the success of your practice as you do? There are a couple routes you can take to find the best marketing support for your practice, but before you take any of them, there is a little homework you have to do first.
What You Need To Know Before Outsourcing Marketing
If you do decide to move forward with hiring a professional marketer, it helps if you have a solid understanding of your practice’s marketing needs, but it’s not a dealbreaker. After all, one of the huge draws of hiring a professional is getting their expertise on your strategy. That said, here are a few questions you should ask yourself first.
1. What are your goals? You should have a general idea of what you want to accomplish with a new marketing strategy—even if you don’t know exactly how to get there. This can include things like increasing awareness of your practice in your community, reaching a certain number of new clients, hitting a revenue target, or increasing traffic to your website. The clearer your goals, the easier it will be to find someone who can help you achieve them.
2. What have you tried already? Make a list of things you’ve tried with your marketing up until this point that seem to have yielded positive results—and all the things that definitely haven’t. This will help your marketing professional be more targeted with their efforts right off the bat.
3. What’s your brand identity? Who are you? What makes your practice unique? What’s your mission? The answers to these questions are vital to any business, and your marketing person won’t be able to communicate well and attract your ideal clients without them. It’s also never a bad idea to make sure you and your team have clear answers to these questions too.
How to Find the Right Marketing Support
Once you have a clear idea of your goals and what you’d like to accomplish by outsourcing marketing, you can start the search for a marketing professional. This can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to start. So here’s a breakdown of where you might find your marketing professional, and what to look for in each candidate.
1. Hire from within. If you run a group practice, it’s entirely possible that the best person to handle your marketing is already on your team. This might be one of your clinicians or someone on your administrative team.
In my own practice, I was fortunate enough to hire an amazing prelicensed therapist who also has an MBA and worked for years in marketing before joining my practice. We were excited about the possibilities of working together right away.
As you’re making hiring decisions for your practice, look for someone who is already interested in marketing. On-paper qualifications matter less than a passion for the craft of marketing. Gaps in knowledge can always be filled in—gaps in passion and interest can’t. Focus on employees who have already taken initiative with marketing projects, make suggestions, and enjoy implementing them.
This option might be a good one if you’re concerned about budget, or if you’re ramping up your practice and it’s feasible for one person to do more than one job. If you do take this route, make sure you’re staying aware of this person’s workload, and do periodic check-ins to see if it’s time to move up to the next level.
2. Hire a contractor. Whether you’re a solo clinician or in a group practice, there might come a time where your marketing efforts are simply too large to stay internal. In those situations, you can explore hiring a marketing contractor. There are a multitude of skilled freelance marketers who can help you for a reasonable cost. Some of them already have experience in the mental health field, which is a bonus. When you’re looking through potential freelancers, look at examples of their past work. Make sure their style and skill level is a good match for your practice.
Check their reviews and testimonials as well. You want someone who has been working in marketing for a while and has proof of high quality work. You’ll also want to prioritize freelance marketers who have done work for other private practices. This experience will be extremely helpful as they create material for yours.
3. Hire a marketing company. Depending on the size and needs of your practice, you might need to pull out all the stops. There are definite benefits to working with a marketing company that has a dedicated team to support you and your practice goals. I’ve been working with a local marketing company for several years and have had great results—specifically with SEO and Google AdWords services.
This is a big decision to make, so make sure you do a thorough vetting process before making any final decisions. Look at how they market themselves, and how that aligns with what you want for your practice. Do they come across as fun and interesting, or maybe serious and professional? The way they market themselves says a lot about the style they will bring to your marketing.
Make sure they specialize in the specific marketing services you need—whether that’s SEO, social media management, digital ads, or web design. If their speciality doesn’t match your needs, keep looking until you find one that does.
See what they’re like to work with, and what other people have experienced with them. You can use user-generated review sites like Yelp and Google Reviews for this. The recommendations of your fellow therapists can also be invaluable. Check resources that are focused specifically on services for private practices, like the Productive Therapist Business Directory. A professional from a directory like that will already have an understanding of what private practice needs—saving you time to get them up to speed.
How To Budget For Marketing Services
A critical component of outsourcing marketing tasks is making sure you can actually afford to do it. A good place to start is to budget about 4-8 percent of your gross revenue for marketing services. This is money you’re putting directly back into growing your practice, so to me it’s worth every penny.
If setting aside that percentage isn’t doable for you now, but outsourcing marketing is a priority for you, map out what you would need to do with your overall practice budget to get there. Are there areas of spending you could cut, or are there new services you could offer to increase your revenue?
At the same time, many digital marketing companies offer hourly or project-based options that might be a better fit for your budget. You also can outsource part of your marketing to start—your social media presence, for instance—if that service is more affordable, and ramp up to a full agency as your practice and budget grow.
Marketing your practice can feel intimidating and daunting. But with the right person at your side, it has the potential to be exciting and effective for letting your ideal clients know about you and your services. Consistent, quality marketing will help you grow your practice and reach your goals and dreams.
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Pollen Magazine examines the health and wellness industry through the lens of the professionals that are redefining private practice. Find inspiration, learn from others, and discover insights on how to build the best version of your practice.
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