by Corporate Relations and Business Strategy Staff
Marketing is a way to provide potential clients and referral sources with the information necessary to make informed treatment choices. Fortunately for practicing psychologists, effective marketing strategies don’t have to break the bank. With the growth of information technology, tools for marketing your practice have never been more accessible or affordable.
Identify and Use Your Unique Professional Strengths
Find what sets you apart as a psychologist and leverage it into a competitive advantage. Identify the distinguishing characteristics of your practice, and highlight them on your website, business card, blogs (more on this later) and other promotional materials. Presenting a consistent professional image that reflects your strengths will help you stand out from the crowd to those who could benefit most from your services.
Repurpose Your Existing Materials
Excerpt sections of articles or chapters you have written and submit them to your state, provincial or territorial psychological association as newsletter articles, to your local paper as an op-ed, or to popular press or industry publications that accept outside submissions. Similarly, use previous presentations as a starting point to assemble materials to use for speaking engagements in your community. Think about various articles, presentations, and speeches you have prepared over the years as information at your fingertips. By recycling previous work, you save time that you can then spend custom tailoring your materials to reach new audiences.
Use Low-cost Targeted Advertising
Take steps to identify and understand your target clientele and appeal to that audience using target-specific advertising. Homeowner’s association and community newsletters, newspapers and Web sites are ideal for engaging people in a certain geographic area. Advertise in locations where your target clientele live, work, shop and engage in recreational activities, and tailor advertisements to reflect their needs, values and interests.
Get Listed in Online Directories
Directory listings are essential marketing tools. The more directory listings you register with, the higher your chances of being found online. Be sure you are included in the business listings of your local chamber of commerce, Google’s Local Business Center, the APA Practice Organization’s Psychologist Locator Service and your state, provincial or territorial psychological associations’ referral service. Remember to track the directories you are listed in and keep your information current to avoid potential clients coming across an outdated listing.
Host an Open House
Send invitations to current and prospective referral sources, colleagues and network contacts.. Host your open house in the evening to minimize schedule conflicts and serve simple hors d’oevres and beverages. Have copies of your practice brochures, business cards and other promotional materials available, and designate a place where people can leave their name and contact information. An open house is a great way to meet new referral sources while maintaining a good relationship with existing ones.
Adopt a Customer Service Orientation
Take a “customer service” approach in your practice – the way you and your staff interact with clients, vendors and other referral sources can make all the difference. Begin by training your staff in effective communication skills and customer service, and follow up to make sure those skills are being used. Take the necessary steps to create a client-friendly practice and measure satisfaction via brief surveys. Track the ratings over time and use the data to improve the experience others have when interacting with your practice.
Treat Your Employees Well
Your employees know your practice better than anyone else, and chances are good they will express their opinions about it. How this affects your practice is up to you. If you create a psychologically healthy workplace, treat your employees with respect, let them know they are valued and strive to understand and meet their needs, you will have earned yourself valued and trusted referral sources, not to mention engaged and committed team members.
Get a Website
A professional practice website is an essential reference source for potential and current clients. It enables prospective clients to access information about your areas of expertise, credentials, contact information, pricing and other important information about your practice with the click of a mouse. Whether you choose an easy-to-create, template-based solution, hire a designer to create a custom site or (for the technology and design-savvy) build your own, there are a variety of options to fit any budget.
Blogging is an inexpensive and easy way to build a Web presence. A Web log, or blog, is essentially an online journal, designed for you to quickly and easily post short, informal entries to the Internet for others to read. Blogs are typically interactive and readers have the opportunity to comment on your postings. The concept is simple: Create a blog, write about your areas of interest and expertise and post it to your blog. Blogs are designed for frequent updates, so be sure to post new entries at least several times per month — you may even want to add new content daily or weekly. As the amount of material you have on your blog increases, the number of hits you return on search engines like Google will do the same. To get started, search for some blogs on your favorite topics, start reading them and even post some comments. Then take a look at free resources available through sites such as Blogger.com, WordPress.com or LiveJournal.com and set up your own blog.
Find Your Voice through Podcasting
Podcasting is a creative way to get your message out and give psychology away through a different communication channel. Podcasts are audio recordings that you can put on your Web site for listeners to download or subscribe to. People can play the recordings on their computer or download them to their portable media device. Podcasts can be a fantastic resource for building your visibility and status as an expert, as well as providing useful information to the public. Take any lecture or speech you prepared for a community group, transform it into a podcast and post it on your Web site. Now, through podcasts, it is easy and inexpensive to produce audio recordings and distribute them via the Internet. For information on how to develop a podcast, read this material.
Do you have a marketing technique that has worked well for you? If so, we want to know about it. E-mail us for more information.
Stay tuned to future issues of PracticeUpdate for more information on blogging, podcasts, customer service and more.