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Do’s and Don’ts in Marketing Your Practice

by Corporate Relations & Business Strategy Staff

Marketing your professional services involves communicating and building relationships with potential clients and referral sources. It requires a basic understanding of approaches that generally produce good results, and those that don’t.

Use this quick checklist of “do’s and don’ts” to help you gauge whether you’re taking the right steps and avoiding pitfalls in marketing your psychology practice.


  • Get your marketing materials such as your business card, brochure, and website in front of people and in their hands. People aren’t looking for your materials — you need to actively provide the information.

  • Market your practice using terms that potential clients and referral sources understand. For example, avoid saying in your marketing materials that you “provide psychotherapeutic services for people whose psychosocial functioning is clinically impaired by their depressed mood, hypersomnia and psychomotor retardation.” Consider instead saying something like, “Are you feeling down in the dumps most days? Have you lost interest in things that you used to enjoy? Do you find that you are sleeping more than usual and having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning? If these problems are interfering with your work, school, family or social life, you may be depressed. We can help.”

  • Be able to explain the value of your services in less than 30 seconds.

  • Focus on the benefits of your services. Instead of presenting a detailed description of what you do, your marketing materials should talk about how your services can help prospective clients.

  • Identify your unique professional strengths and use them as “selling points.”

  • Build relationships with other professionals who interact with people in your target market — for example, lawyers, judges, and law enforcement officials if you do forensics work.

  • Observe how your competitors market similar services. Use the things that work and learn from their mistakes to market your practice more effectively.

  • Measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Whether you solicit feedback informally by talking to referral sources, colleagues and members of the community, or through formal mechanisms such as focus groups, surveys and other market research, it is important to track your results. Consider including a question about how new clients heard about your practice on forms you use to collect information at intake.


  • Base your marketing efforts on untested assumptions. Use market research and planning in getting to know your client base and target market.

  • Become irrelevant. Monitor the environment and the profession for trends, identify competencies that will become increasingly important, and start developing related skills.

  • Assume you are an expert in marketing. Learn as much as you can about marketing your services effectively and know when you need to use consultants.

  • Stop marketing. Marketing is an investment and the rewards accumulate over time.

  • Get discouraged by competition. It is good for the marketplace and good for psychology as long as practitioners develop the business skills to compete effectively.

  • Shortchange your marketing efforts. Make sure you budget adequately for them.

  • Offer services that clients don’t value. No one will seek them, even if you market the services well.

For additional information, visit the Marketing & Building a Practice section.


Date created: 2004