|The Business of Private Practice|
sales—the purpose of marketing is to draw attention and invite potential clients and referral sources “in.” Think of it as saying and doing things that make people notice you and your practice; that invite them to tell you what they need and how you can help.
Marketing, when done correctly, is your “foot in the door” to learn more about your market and to teach your market more about you. It allows you to start building solid relationships. And solid relationships bring in clients and referrals.
Here is a quick process to help you develop your marketing plan to increase referrals to your private practice.
Determine whom you will target
You should have a clear vision of your ideal client and your ideal referral source. This clarity will help you to customize the messages in your marketing efforts.
If you are shy about writing or talking about your practice, focus on that ideal client or referral source and speak only to them. This will help you stay personal and let your market know that you want to build relationships.
Decide what you can offer to spark attention
People are interested in what appeals to them. In thinking about your ideal client and referral source, identify what problems, concerns, and needs they may have. Then show them how you can help them out.
People usually have to get this message a number of times before they will believe or remember you, so don’t expect to send out one mailing and then sit back and wait for the phone to ring. Be creative and find a variety of ways to relay your message to your market.
Find ways to “fan the flame”
Once you get some attention, nurture these new relationships by finding out even more about what your market wants and needs. They want help—they want you to solve their problems; your task is to find out, “How can I best help you?”
As your market starts to rely on you to help solve their problems and meet their needs, you’ll have to find ways to show them that you are reliable. They need to get the message that you are the best person for that job.
Build relationships that last
I have referral sources who have been sending me clients for 20 years. That isn’t a fluke. It is the result of relationships that build, year by year. The hard part is not getting the referrals; it’s giving people a reason to keep the referrals coming.
To do this, you must continue to provide valuable services and information to your market. They need to feel really good about doing business with you.
Continually evaluating your marketing efforts will keep your fingers on the pulse of your market. Their needs and concerns may change over time; if you keep sending out the same old messages in the same old ways, your market will become numb to your existence. Things change, and so must you. People never get tired of being asked, “What can I do for you?”
If you want a successful and sustainable private practice, you need a good marketing plan. Even more important is that you work that plan. I know you are busy, but you have to find a way to stay committed to your marketing plan each and every month. The success of your private practice depends on it!
Deb Legge, PhD, CRC, LMHC, is a licensed mental health counselor and a board-certified expert in traumatic stress. The founder of the Influential Therapist, she is in private practice and has spent almost 20 years helping counselors build successful private practices by modeling her success. Visit www.InfluentialTherapist.com for more helpful information on starting and growing a private practice, and to submit your questions and ideas for future articles in The Advocate. Email Legge at Dr.Legge@InfluentialTherapist.com.