Paid Advertising – Does It Make Sense for Your Private Practice?
Is paid advertising a profit-boosting must-have or a drain on a therapy practices’ limited finances? This article could hold the key to transforming your practice profits.
Ok, let’s talk about advertising and whether you should put your hardworking hand in your pocket for paid Facebook ads, Google ads and the like.
Is paid advertising for you?
Before you begin to splash your cash on advertising, you must be clear on your desired outcome. Full books? Higher priced consultations? Increased product sales? A focus on specific clients? I’ll talk about this last one in a moment, because if you aren’t using targeting in therapy paid advertising, you’re flushing money down the drain.
And it’s ok if it’s not…
I know a therapist who works from home. She is busy enough, but has room to grow. I asked her about the first most important step: having a great website (well, any site in her case). After a lengthy discussion, the truth won out. She is happy with her current situation and doesn’t want to increase her client load. For her, advertising would be money poorly spent.
If you do want to be busier and more profitable…
If you want to grow your client numbers and your income, paid advertising can form an important piece of the practice marketing jigsaw puzzle.
Therapy paid advertising that counts. Not advertising for its own sake, but targeted campaigns that make a calculated and substantial difference to your bottom line.
Return on Investment (ROI)
In normal life, we weigh up the pros and cons of purchases regularly and yet become lost in the nitty-gritty of practice marketing; the point where it really matters. Return on investment is the profit you make divided by the cost of acquiring that profit, multiplied by 100 (ROI = (Net Profit / Cost of Investment) x 100).
Let’s break it down into simple terms.
If an initial consultation brings in $100 profit and you spent $50 to acquire that client, that’s a 200% return on investment. That’s great! However, if you spent $150 to secure that consultation, that’s a 67% loss. Not so great! You need to know your ROI to determine how much you can afford to spend attracting new clients, and whether as you progress you are breaking even; if you’re on a winner or throwing money away. As retaining current clients is more cost-effective than gaining new ones, you can also target paid advertising toward those who already know and trust you with wonderful results. It just takes a little planning.
Note: Your ROI will include a client’s average lifetime value; that is the amount of money one client, on average, will spend in your practice over the course of their time with you. The most straightforward way to think of this is to figure out how many times a client, on average, comes to see you. Then multiply that by your session rate (if you’re a cash-based practice) or insurance reimbursement rate. And that’s your average lifetime value.
Keep in mind: Many savvier private practices have focused on increasing this amount through product sales, appropriate additional consultations, asking for referrals and events like workshops (this is a lucrative practice addition that is so important I will dedicate an entire post to it next week) is a critical part of the therapy paid advertising equation. You’ll earn more money and be able to increase spending to secure new clients. However, for this article, we’ll look at ROI in its simplest form.
Know and Target Your Niche
Remember, it isn’t about just getting any paid advertising. You need advertising that converts. (See adverting is like shooting, better to have sniper accuracy rather than pull the shotgun trigger and hope. ) This is where niche comes in. Once you target a specified niche, your conversion will soar and your return on investment skyrocket.
Understanding your niche will help you know where to best spend your therapy paid advertising dollars. Remember you won’t be able to place ads on every site so targeting your audience will help you choose those platforms with the likely best results for your practice, saving you money, time and hassle while maximizing your ROI.
Let’s take a look at two of the biggest players.
Totally lost when we talk about your ‘niche’? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Find out who your ideal client is right here.
When any platform has hit more than one billion users in a day you need to take notice. The power of Facebook as our social media behemoth should not be overlooked, as it silently collects and collates information about every user. What people love and loathe, interests, searches, connections, age, where they live, where they shop, who they know. This game-changing information is available for your business. It’s one of the reasons why advertising on Facebook can be lucrative for therapy practices. But why does this matter?
Old school print advertising
Placing an advert in the print media severely limits your ability to aim your marketing directly at your target. This form of practice advertising is often costly, and you will not receive feedback to improve your ad in the future. Unless you have a bottomless pit of marketing money, this kind of advertising guesswork is not advisable.
Facebook therapy practice advertising
Facebook is like an overseeing oracle. Because it collects information about everything its users do whilst engaged on its platform, it enables advertisers to uniquely fine-tune who sees their ad. Want to target single 40-year old men who work for the government, live in Kentucky and love dogs? Check. And this allows…
Picture credit: Business Insider
Unless you offer tele-options, you need to target locally. Facebook allows you to do this. If you know your clients and their problems well, you are on the right path. Still, back to knowing your niches. Let’s look at an example.
Say you specialize in mental health issues. A middle-aged male with severe depression is spending time on Facebook. On which ad would he be more likely to click?
Do you suffer from depression and need help?
Severe depression taking over your life? Middle-aged and trying to work out what’s the point of it all? Download our free report here to discover How Men In Their 40s Can Tackle Depression And Claim Back Their Mental Mojo.
The latter, of course.
Your language matters, as does your tone and targeting as succinctly as possible. And the better your conversion rate, the lower Facebook charges. That’s more bang for every marketing buck.
Facebook also lets you know if a post you’ve shared is performing well so you can ‘boost’ it to gain more comments and likes.
Plus, an important benefit for private practice is that you can start low and measure your success before you commit more money to a campaign. That said, no matter how much you spend, always decide what action you want people to take and set a specific audience as discussed above.
Again, it is crucial to understand your return on investment because as with any therapy practice advertising, it requires thought and considerate decision making. Facebook can cost you money if you aren’t careful, just like any other platform.
Now let’s talk about Google, the most popular search engine in the world. Depending on the number of advertisers for a specific keyword (aka the search term), Google shows its ads on the top and to the right, with its organic results taking up most of the page toward the left-hand side. How do you know a listing is an ad? There’s a little ‘Ad’ notation at the start.
Google runs on an auction formula with advertisers choosing which keywords to bid on. Although not quite this simple, think of it like this: Google will show your advert according to what you are willing to pay for the click.
As you can see from the graph below, the average click-through rate across all industries is 1.91% with the cost per click in the health and medical field topping an average of $1.79. While this might sound wonderful, you need to remember that cost is per click to your site, not per conversion.
Picture credit: Wordstream
Whether you choose Facebook ads, Google ads or another platform to advertise, you need to ask the potential client to take an action. Sending them to your site and hoping they will instantly become besotted won’t cut the mustard. You need to offer value. Direct them to download a free opt-in report, or book a complimentary consultation, or read a helpful blog post. Make that action crystal clear as confusion results in inaction.
Note: Many paid advertising actions involve clicking to a page on your website. Without a professional website, you are leaving a great deal of money on the table.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stay with me because this information can transform your practice life and profits! We’ve got you covered here too…
Daniel Wendler wrote this in-depth article on our blog, Online Advertising Guide for Therapists, to help you get your head around this. Daniel is a doctoral student in clinical psychology at George Fox University with a background in online marketing. I think you’ll love this read!
Is paid advertising right for you?
If you want to quickly grow your client load and pocket more profits, yes. If you’d like to remain front-of-mind with offers to your current clients, absolutely. Paid advertising can form an important part of your practice growth strategy. Notice I used that word, strategy? If you are willing to invest time and money into considered campaigns – or to hire a professional who knows how – this could be your key to growing your client numbers and seeing your practice profits skyrocket. Careful, well thought out targeted campaigns can make a calculated and substantial difference to your bottom line.
Or if you’d rather, we could say:
See advertising can be like throwing spaghetti at the wall; only the perfectly cooked pieces stick. This can lead to the beginner advertiser dangerously concluding that this paid advertising caper doesn’t work and throwing out the great pasta with the undercooked.