Strategy #1: Get Your Marketing Message Right
Before you get too frazzled or intimidated about marketing, it's important to realize that marketing is all about communication.
Your job is to figure out who your ideal client is and then talk to them in a way that they'll respond to.
If you're trying to sell something (in this case, your therapy services, you need to do three things:
Pro-Tip: In order to build trust and interest in your private practice, don't use a lot of professional language and jargon in your marketing. Speak the way your clients speak and they'll feel like you understand them.
Strategy #2: Don't Market Your Services to Everyone
When I was first getting started in private practice, I marketed my private speech therapy services to everyone.
I thought that if I saw everyone from birth to death, no matter what their speech / language needs were, I wouldn't have to turn anyone away and I would have plenty of clients.
By trying to be a "Jill of All Trades" might seem like a good idea - but if your private practice marketing materials convey that you do too many things, rather than being impressed, prospective clients will think, "What does she specialize in?"
While you don't have to have an obscure niche to thrive in private practice, marketing to and treating everything and everyone that crosses your path isn't the right approach either!
Strategy #3: Diversify Your Marketing Efforts
You may not have stopped to think about it, but if you're relying on just a few sources for private practice referrals, it's no wonder you're not getting enough.
When I was first getting started in private practice, I had a few former colleagues who tended to send me clients. I didn't have a website, I wasn't listed in any online directories, I wasn't marketing to physicians and specialists, I wasn't putting up flyers in community locations, etc.
In short, I was relying too heaving on a limited number of sources. No wonder I wasn't getting enough consistent referrals!
If you're stressed and confused about the low level of consistent referrals you're getting, it's time to be honest about whether or not you're being diverse enough about your marketing efforts.
You're going to need to focus on three areas:
Until you follow specific marketing strategies that focus on each of those areas, you'll never get the consistent referrals you're after.
Pssss.... specifics about "where and how" to diversify your marketing efforts are covered at length in the:
Strategy #4: Be Persistent
They say it takes people seven times of being exposed to a product or service before purchasing.
Think about it: let's say you're in the market for a new car.
Chances are you're not going to just run out and by the first car that a friend recommends to you. You're going to go to the car manufacturer's website, read a few articles on Consumer Reports, read reviews from strangers, ask friends / family for their experiences, visit the dealership, test drive the car, read more reviews, etc.
The same is true for private practitioners!
Your prospective clients will likely visit your website, ask around to see if anyone has heard of you, talk to you on the phone, read online reviews, look at your Facebook page, contact you again, etc. before committing to hiring you.
Don't expect that you can run a Facebook ad for 3 days and close it down if you haven't gotten referrals. Don't expect that you can talk to a prospective client once and they will hire you by the end of the phone call. Don't be surprised that prospective clients do quite a bit of research (and take a lot of time!) before making a decision to hire you.
So even if you think your marketing efforts are taking a long time to pay off, that's how human nature works. Prospective clients don't want to make "the wrong decision" and will sometimes take longer than you would like to hire you.
Strategy #5: Don't Reinvent the Wheel!
There is no need to waste time, spinning your wheels trying to figure out what might work.
There are tried and true private practice marketing strategies that are being used by successful private practitioners in small towns and big cities every... single... day.
Start paying attention to what other businesses (especially private practices) are doing. Chances are, they are embracing creativity and refining their marketing messages to truly attract their ideal private clients.
Successful private practice marketing isn't random --> it's usually part of a well-oiled marketing system that builds consistency of referrals (and income!) over time.
If you're interested in learning what kinds of marketing strategies successful private practitioners are using every day, join the Private Practice Marketing Mini Course!
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Jena H. Casbon, MS CCC-SLP is a private practice consultant who helps SLPs, OTs and PTs start their own private practices. She is the author of two books: The Guide to Private Patients and The Guide to Creating a Web Presence For Your Private Practice and an online course, Grow Your Private Practice.