Live in the Place Where You Work: How to Effectively Market Your Practice Locally
If you are a therapist who consults with clients in practice, most of your following will be in close proximity geographically. As this is where the bulk of your potential and current clients live, this is where you should direct much of your marketing focus and budget. This may at first sound counterintuitive as you strive for top search engine rankings, or consider spending more to be seen “everywhere,” but stay with us. The secret to success with a local practice is to market locally.
After all, there’s no point chasing a far-flung 20% when 80% are literally just around the corner.
With this in mind, how can you effectively and affordably market your private practice locally? Here are our top 7 steps…
1. Encourage word of mouth referrals
Your community remains one of your best assets when it comes to marketing. There’s no better recommendation than word-of-mouth referral. Even in today’s digital world.
Think about it. Are you more likely to believe the recommendation of a loved one who’s had first-hand experience, or an advert you know is designed to persuade?
The former, right?
A study called Do Referral Programs Increase Profits? discovered just that. The authors found that word-of-mouth referrals were more impactful than just prompting action. Those referred by others “generate higher profit margins, are more loyal, and show a higher customer lifetime value.”
So, think about how you can encourage word-of-mouth referrals. For example:
- Display a sign that says, “Our practice appreciates word of mouth referrals”
- Have brochures, newsletters, and referral cards in an easy-to-access display. Encourage patients to take and share relevant, branded content with their loved ones
- Implement ways to “wow” your clients to give them a reason to rave to others. This might include:
- Being wonderful at what you do
- Providing outstanding client service and follow-up
- Sharing effective support materials and resources
- Calling the night of a first appointment to check-in
- Remembering details that are important to your client (write them down if necessary)
2. Local Search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO allows you to improve your search engine rankings to help you “get found” on the internet. However, the cyber world is competitive. It will be very difficult to achieve a front page listing when a potential client types in “therapist”. Here are example results: “counselor near me,” “therapy cognitive behavioral,” or “psychology near me”.
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As you can see from the screenshot below, the term is incredibly popular (and so will be competitive), the ranking difficulty is listed as hard, and the advertising costs are significant for searchers with intent; those with the “near me” term are likely looking for a therapist for treatment.
Image: Results for “therapist” for monthly volume, ranking difficulty, and cost per click (CPC)
However, if you target your local area the likelihood of ranking improves. Why? Your competitors who practice elsewhere won’t target your location.
For example, let’s say you practice in Ann Arbor. When we search for “therapist Ann Arbor,” look at what happens. While there are smaller monthly volumes, these results are targeted right where you need them: your local area. As the below image shows, getting ranked is easier. Should you choose to advertise, the CPC is cheaper too.
Image: Results for “therapist Ann Arbor” for monthly volume, ranking difficulty, and CPC
Tip: Great search engine optimization can act like rocket fuel for practice growth. To learn how to do this well, read our article, An Ultimate SEO Checklist for Your Private Practice.
3. Local Sponsorship
Have you thought about sponsorship as a way to boost your reach?
A large celebrity sportsperson might gain your practice attention, but if they’re not local, it could turn out to be a waste of time and dollars.
Instead, choose a local group that’s filled with your ideal client or clients. If you treat teens, what sports center or groups can you support? If you cater to parents, where do they hang out? What hobbies or passions do they have? If your expertise lies in grief and loss, is there a support group you can contribute to?
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The impact on your community and your practice will be greater, and you’ll find more affordable avenues for practice growth.
4. Become viewed as the expert
People want to consult with an expert, preferably the best. The thing is, the best is only a concept. One that you are in control of.
To actively raise your perceived expertise:
- Guest write in local newspapers and magazines
- Speak on local TV and radio
- See if you can score a regular column or a show!
- When an issue arises that is topical and within your area of expertise, reach out to local media
- Share your education, accomplishments, awards
- Provide quality information, insightful answers, and a professional bio on your website
- Consider hosting regular Facebook lives or Twitter chats
- Write a book, then promote it
5. Get involved
Ask yourself: How can you get involved with your community? There are always impactful ways. To whet your appetite:
- If there is a relevant speaking panel or local conference, ask to present
- Host and give talks at your practice
- Provide useful resources that also promote your value
- Volunteer time or space. Can you volunteer for a local charity, or provide a place where they can meet?
- As discussed above, contemplate well-suited sponsorships. If you specialize in men’s mental health, consider sponsoring a Men’s Shed. If you are an expert in religion-focused marriage counseling, think about supporting a church group. If you use art therapy in practice, could you help a local art space?
In this way, familiarity breeds trust. Find valuable ways to engage with your community and then dive in; get involved!
6. Be “in the know”
Do you know exactly what’s going on in your local area? It’s time to learn! Become a fount of neighborhood knowledge. The “go-to” person that locals know, knows.
Whether that is what’s going on in your local area, in neighborly politics, or which tradesman is perfect for the job, the ability to connect individuals with information and people is a valuable trait that will help you become a treasured member of your community. And who knows, if you can refer someone to a local mechanic, that mechanic might repay the favor!
7. List locally
Claim every quality local listing that your practice is entitled to. Whether that’s local SEO, as we’ve already discussed, directories, or completing your Google My Business (GMB) listing, these each contribute to your findability.
Local marketing is an essential step in the creation of a successful neighborhood practice. It is also rewarding and allows you to truly make a difference in your community.
So, encourage word of mouth referrals, market to your local community, promote your value, become viewed as the expert, get involved, be “in the know,” and list locally.
Because your community needs you and you need them!
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