Private Pay 5: How to Market Yourself so Private Pay Clients Come to You with Dr. Deb Legge
“People find money for that which is important to them.” – Dr. Deb Legge
Can you clarify who you are, what you do, why you do it, how you do it, and that you’re the best person for the job? Do you know the desires, needs, and biggest problems of your ideal client? And do you have a message that speaks your ideal clients’ language? That speaks to their benefit?
Once you do, you can begin strategizing and being smart about marketing your private pay practice so that clients come to you.
In this episode, Dr. Deb Legge and I discuss how you identify and speak to your ideal client, and develop marketing strategies designed to reach them in a scalable manner so that you maximize your return-on-investment.
You can access all other episodes in the Private Pay Mini-Series here.
Dr. Deb Legge is known internationally as the Private Practice Mentor.
Over the past 21 years she has taught thousands of therapists how to build thriving practices, using the same proven strategies she uses to attract more private pay clients.
She has released a FREE training called: “The Essentials of Private Pay”. You can access this training absolutely FREE for a limited-time, by visiting: https://privatepaypractice.com.
You can find out more about Deb and what she’s up to at the sites below:
Thanks to Deb for joining me this week. Until next time!
You can access all other episodes in the Private Pay Mini-Series here.
TranscriptClick here to read the Transcript
Deb: I’m fine. How are you Perry?
Perry: I am doing great. I’m so excited to have you on the show here. Let me tell our audience more about you in case they are not familiar with you and your work then we’ll jump into the interview.
Deb: Sounds great.
Perry: So today’s topic is How to market yourself so private pay clients come to you” and Dr. Deb Legge is known internationally as a private practice mentor. She is the perfect candidate to chat about this with us. Over the past 21 years she has taught thousands of therapists how to build thriving practices, using the same proven strategies she uses to attract more private pay clients. She has released a FREE training called: “The Essentials of Private Pay” and you’ll be able to access it at brightervision.com/privatepay5 for this week show notes as well as rapid-referrals.com/privatepay and this training is absolutely free for a limited time and we’ll let you chat about that a little later in the show but we gave you a little bit of an overview of you there. Could you maybe tell us a little bit more about your experience and your background and fill in the gaps from that introduction.
Deb: Sure, thanks. Well, I am a licensed mental health counselor in New York and I have been trained since I’ve been in private practice for over 20 years. I actually went into my own private practice during my internship. Counselling is a second profession for me. Before I became a counselor, I sold trucks for international harvester and back then, I was a young single mom and I knew that when I got to go back to school and get my degree to do what I really wanted to , to become a counselor, that when I came out, I had no choice that private practice really was my only option and at that In knew that 100% percent private pay practice was my only option because as a knew grad in my profession and as well as being a counselor in New York State , I wasn’t able to get on insurance panels because counselor were not licensed in New York State at that time so private pay was the only thing I’ve ever known since way back then.
Perry: Wow. I was not aware of that. Do you know when counselors became licensed in New York State to be able to practice and receive and be on insurance panels?
Deb: Sure, I think it we were second- last, I think California was last and I believed for us it was 2006.
Perry: My goodness, wow. That’s remarkable, I was not aware of that. So, having to build a practice form scratch focus solely on attracting private pay clients, you know, you have a lot of experience in this. At the time, what was it like trying to attract private pay clients to a new practice?
Deb: Well, it was really interesting because I was when I first came out, I was renting space and sharing it with social workers and psychologist and a couple of psychiatric nurses and I saw them filling their books but all of their referrals were coming from insurance companies so I was really nervous when it came to filling my book with clients. I was in training with a couple pf psychiatrist that knew the situation I was in and I started to develop really strong relationships with them and really learning -finding out what they needed and taking their training to heart and doing as much work I could to make a name for myself with them and they started feeding my practice and once they started doing that, they gave me an opportunity to start making rounds at the hospital for them in the mornings to do intensive psychotherapy, to do specialized assessments and in that I got to meet a lot of other psychiatrist who also had privileges at the psychiatric hospital and so I got to being known by several people there and there started the referrals.
Perry: And is that sort of referral based marketing strategy the type pf strategy you work with clients today to implements in order to attract private pay clients?
Deb: Yes, I believe it’s all about relationships.
Perry: So if somebody is just getting started, what kind of advice, you know, it’s a different world today than 21 years ago; what kind of advice would you give to them to begin marketing themselves and building those relationships to attract the private pay clients.
Deb: I think the biggest barrier for most people in making this transition is the fear that they have. I believe we are brain-wash to believe that we can’t make it without insurance companies and that there’s no enough people out there nor there isn’t enough money out there. I’ll never get my book if I don’t work with insurance companies so getting pass the fears and I think the irrational thoughts and the negative conditioning we have been given overtime is the first hurdle to getting into your own private pay practice, until you slay those demons, you’re gonna do everything you can to make the right steps but your self -limiting beliefs are really gonna hold you back.
Perry: So what are some advice to help slay those demons then?
Deb: Well, I think recognizing that people need and unfortunately, the situation is sad but true , there are enough sick people to go around and we have to embrace that and understand that we are meant to serve certain people and that we are valuable and we do really important work. I think clinicians are beaten down so much especially when they are working for other people or they are in business for themselves and they are working for insurance companies. They’re beaten down to think or to really lose touch with how valuable they are what a great service they provide and the fact that they are saving lives and saving families and saving kids and marriages everyday and that is truly valuable and we’re looking at situation where people are spending $5 and $6 dollars for coffee every money and people have $20,000 dollars shed in their back yard and they have 2 or 3 dishes on their roofs, people find money for that which is important to them.
Perry: They absolutely do.
Perry: Do you feel that marketing and building referral relationships is different and you need to go about strategizing in a different way if you are a private pay practice as opposed to being on insurance panels?
Deb: Well, I think it’s just makes sense that when you’re limiting the pool, you’re gonna have to get in front a lot more people so if you want a private pay practice, it’s not for the find of heart, it’s for a person who knows , I’m gonna have to hustle and I’m gonna have to get in front of a lot of people and it’s a numbers game and they are going to be many people who aren’t going to choose to or be able meet of one of the criteria of my ideal clients and that is they have the ability and willingness to pay me so when you limit your pool like that, you need to get out in front of more people so the relationships really need to be about you getting your message out in a way that it’s heard and a message that tells people that you are the best choice for them. I think sometimes that clients for example, clients are conditioned to think that insurance is the and I be all of things too because they’ll call you on the phone and the first question is I’m calling to find out if you take my insurance and I always tell people, well, before we even get there, can you give me an idea of what you’re looking for in counselling so that I can be sure that I’m the right fit for you.
Perry: That’s a great strategy.
Deb: Then we get to have a conversation about what they’re looking for? What they’re looking to achieve and if I can help them and I’m kind of helping them in a way too because the money isn’t the most important thing for most of them. They want to know that their seeing the right person. They are just conditioned to ask about that insurance question and so by the end of that conversation, the five minute conversation or 4 minute conversation, then we’ll love to help you and I think i can do what you need me to do, you’re the type of client I specialize in or we aren’t the best fit, I have a couple names that I can give you for people I think would be a much better fit for people that I think would be a much better fit for you. That helps them all the way around, helps me too, it gives me credibility but then at that point I could say well, what is your insurance and they’ll tell me and I’ll tell them that I’m not a provider for your insurance , however, we have a couple of options and you know in today’s day and age , I think what clinicians need to remember is that whole insurance game is changing and I can say from my own experience and my practice this year I have so many more clients this year who have very high deductibles and with deductibles, it doesn’t matter who they see, they’re gonna be paying.
Perry: That’s a really good point. Yeah. I mean that’s , we could talk about insurance and the issues with high deductibles and what’s going on for play hours but that is a very incredibly valid point , in this day and age, its essential that somebody is going to be private pay anyways . You know, they are going to spending the same amount of money because they have such a high deductible.
Perry: Getting in front of a lot of people is hard. You do have out forth that hustle but some people- everybody has different ways of networking and marketing themselves. How do you find the time and maximize your time and leverage your time to get in front of enough people that you’re going to be able to market yourself effectively as a private pay practitioner?
Deb: Right. This is a challenge for a lot of people going into- transitioning over, if you’re already busy , if your book is almost full but it’s with private clients, it’s tough, you’re gonna have out in the extra time and it is about leveraging your time. It’s about doing things that you can do once and it will have impact a hundred times or a thousand times so it’s writing or speaking in front of a group of people or doing a podcast or doing a blog post that goes out; getting people on a email list. Developing a sales cycle so that you have opportunities for people to do business with you by kinda sticking their toes in the water of your business so to speak, to find out more about you. Maybe they get your newsletter, maybe they’ve come to this free seminar that you put on at the local library for an hour but instead of talking one on one with somebody, you’ve fifteen or twenty people in the room or maybe you’re writing an article for a newsletter that you’re gonna hand out to five or six different pediatrician offices and hundreds of people are gonna read something that took you an hour and half to write so it’s about being smart about your marketing.
Perry: That’s key. There’s only so much time in a day, so much energy that you can spend doing marketing and so you do need to strategize and you need to be smart about it. In your experience of working with thousands of therapist and training them and helping them become successful private pay practitioners, if you could say maybe what are the top 2 marketing strategies in your mind that you see working really well in this day and age?
Deb: Well, I have to back it to up just a little bit because I there’s needs to be ground work laid before any marketing strategy is gonna work.
Perry: Let’s back it up.
Deb: Just a little bit. I think we have to say first you have be able to clarify who you are? What you do? Why you do it? And you’re the best person for the job. You’ve gotta identify a target market that you know like the back of your hand. That you know intimately their desires, their needs, their biggest problems and only once you have that information and you can put that into a message that people are gonna hear to speak their language . You’re gonna put it into a way where you can talk about what you do in terms of the benefits it has for your target market. Once you can clarify all of that and be able to communicate it effectively, now, you can do just about anything for marketing and it’s gonna work for you. You know, we have to remember that handing out cards and going back and waiting for the phone to ring and praying aren’t very good marketing strategies right now. Okay, but other than that, you can do stuff that’s comfortable for you as long as you’ve done that piece of the homework.
Perry: And do if somebody has been in private practice for 5, 10 years is on insurance panels, at this point you probably know what type of clients you want to work with, who is your target market, that you know like the back of your hand. How do you recommend that somebody is gonna sit down and begin brainstorming about the [inaudible 13:21] and identifying their and target market and really just putting it down on paper. Do you have any strategies that someone implements in order to help clarify that?
Deb: There’s usually a lot of resistance that I see when I talk to people to people about choosing a target market because people think, oh no, I’ll take anybody with a pocket book and a pulse, I just gotta fill my book and the problem with that is if you specialize in everybody, nobody really gets your message and it doesn’t because you choose your target market that you can see anybody want to see. I started out specializing in dissociative disorders, trauma and borderline personality disorder and those markets where I directed my marketing, that’s where I focused on my marketing so that I could keep pounding a message over and over and over again to people that would hear and see it but I saw all kinds of people along the way who would come to me by virtue of that even though they weren’t in that target market. So, I would recommend that people , first, don’t be too resistant and think I can’t narrow it down. We’re not talking about narrowing it down, we’re talking about laser tracking your marketing message and so once you can do that then think about what kind of work do I like to do? Who do I like to see? What kind of freedom do I want to have in private practice? For example, if you tell me that you have passion to see kids and families and the next sentence you tell me that you want to be at home more with your kids and your family, well, that’s probably not going to work and then you’re have to think about that or if you tell that your passion is to work with homeless, if that’s wonderful and I hope you earn enough money in it to be able to do that but you’re not going to be able to run a private practice that way so there are choices that you’re gonna have to make in your private practice based on realities usually financial realities and in choosing your target market, you gotta think what those preferences you have in your practice and how that’s gonna work. How they’re gonna go together. Who do you really want to see? Who lights you up that when you open your book if you see it full of these people, you’re gonna be so happy that you took this chance and you signed personally on the line for a ten year lease that you’re not going to regret.
Perry: That’s a long lease.
Perry: That so well said there Deb on so many levels, focusing on and identifying your target market. I hear all the time from people in private practice had that resistance to doing that but like you said, it does not limit you. I go back to this example a few times on our podcast when I was providing when I was just a solo business owner and I was doing SEO services for companies. I was a member of a referral group, very similar to like a BNI and those can be really effective in certain industries but what it really helped me understand was the value of focusing on a specific target market and there was a financial planner who was a good friend of mine now, who had this narrowed down perfectly. His name is Dan Schultz and his 60 second pitch, I can still remember it like the back of my hand and haven’t heard give this pitch in probably like three, four years. It would be hi, my name id Dan Schultz , I’m with Amera Price financial and I work with women between the ages of forty and sixty who are newly divorced , widowed or head of household and help them get their financials in order and advise on the strategies that will allow them to accomplish the things they want to in life and so his specific target market was working with women who were newly divorced , widowed or head of household and I saw that in the years that we were there together, his business really started to exponentially grow and he didn’t work just with women who fit that target market though. He became my financial advisor. He became the financial advisor of many of my friends and the reason the for that , you know I can trust him but it also becomes a marketing message so that way I happen to – it makes it’s easier to refer him to someone who fits his target market. I know how to refer to him. I know that this is right person for this specific individual because he is an expert at working with a woman in this specific situation and the same goes with your private practice, you will become known as an expert and then it becomes that much easier to market because you know where you have to go. You know how you have to market yourself.
Deb: Yes. It makes things so much more certain for people; for other people to refer to you for clients to find you, for you find clients. It allows to tap into their existing networks so that they can actually network for you. You know if you see kids, for example, let’s say you see family and kids in particular of families who are going through divorce. If you see kids and you’re doing great work, these moms and dads are going to be talking about you everywhere. The attorneys are going to be talking about you. They’ll be essentially be doing your networking for you so the advantage of the target market is that you know where to find them. You can tap into their networking, their existing networks and they will know just by virtue of you claiming it that you’re expert in them.
Perry: And you brought up a really great point there in terms of the attorneys will know to refer to you because then you know who to go and network with.
Perry: You know who to take out for lunch. You know who to buy lunch and bringing a catered lunch to an attorney’s office that specializes in divorce because they’re going to be speaking with your target clients and they are going to be able to hand your business card to them. You have two children, if you’re interested in seeking any professional help for them to help make this an easier process for them, here’s a card of someone that I know and trust.
Deb: And you know what Perry, that attorney needs you. They need your business cards and if it’s not you, they’re going to be desperate to find somebody else because they want to take care of their clients. They want to take off the people that they are helping through the divorce and part of that means being able to hand out your card so if you do this kind of work and if every divorce attorney in town doesn’t know your name and have your cards then shame on you.
Perry: So just to rehash what we’re talking about; you want to identify a target market that you know like the back of your hand. A target that you want to work with that has the – and by working them they will be able to provide you with the financial means to be able to build thriving private practice. From there, you’re going to know how to best market yourself. You’re going to know who to go network with and build those relationships and those referrals who’ll then private pay clients to you ideally. Is that a pretty accurate summary of what we’re just chatting about?
Perry: Great. So, know I would love to step forward again and ask if you could think of one or two strategies that you see in your work that allows people once they’ve identified their target market and they know who they wanna work with. What are some strategies that you see working really well today one or two that people can use to leverage their time and make their hustle be that much more effective at getting their name out there?
Deb: I really believe that going that going out with a hear of service and whole attitude of how can I help you is what it’s all about? People want to know how you can help me. That’s what they really wanna know and you can have of your target market and your ideal referrers but it’s really good to know directly from them what they so one marketing strategy that I use often is to identify key players or gate -keepers , whatever you want to call them , people who have access to an influence over your target market to contact them, let them know who you are and that you would love to be able to help them help their people and you’d love to have the opportunity to just take a few minutes of their time to talk about what’s missing for them . What difficulties they’re having when making referral? What are roadblocks are they encountering because I’d really like to know how I can best help you help your patients or help you help your clients. Reaching out like that, I find very effective. One year I invited….even though I don’t see kids , several clinicians in my office do so one year I invited the heads of the guidance department from several schools in town to come , sit down around a round table and talk about the problems that they were having referring out into the community and this was a general conversation that we had and as listen to their concerns and their fears and their complaints and where all the things were broken, I was able to fill the gap with clinicians in our office and services that we could provide and also for some recommendations outside of our practice so that’s one big one I think is going out there and finding out what your people and filling the gap.
Perry: That’s a great synopsis there and you know networking with your community working with your community, how can you educate people and help them and by helping other people and educating them, it’s going… givers gain so Deb you have an amazing quote that I think is perfect for what we’re discussing here and it is “The way to achieve true freedom in private practice is through private pay.” Can you elaborate on this quote and what exactly it means to achieve true freedom as practitioner?
Deb: I stand for freedom, that’s how I do my work with Mental Health professional and how I do my coaching work. I believe that mental health professional work really hard. They do a great job and they deserved to have as much freedom in their lives as possible. When you go on the line and you start a business of your own, you should have reaps some benefits and to me most people come into private practice cause they want some kind of freedom; whether it’s a freedom to choose their own schedule, create their own calendar , go on vacations, stay a couple extra days , move people around. Do 45 minutes sessions. Do hour and forty five minutes sessions to be able to as much money they want to make. If they want to charge nothing for a session or $500 dollars for a session, just to have the freedom to choose, because often times as clinicians in private practice, we’ve worked for other people perhaps for so long with so many rules and regulations that we forget that in private practice aside from ethics, the law and professional regulations, there are no rules so if you want to work on Saturday and Sunday and kick back all week, do it. If you want to see 15 people in a day or 5 people in a day , it’s up to you so I believe that the best way to have freedom is to do that, when you’re working for the insurance company’ you’re not really in business for yourself. When you do a private pay private practice for the first time, you’re gonna have your own business.
Perry: Yeah, we spoke about this in episode 1 of this mini-series at brightervison.com/privatepay1/ and Eddie Reece our guest their brought up such a great point, he said, you know, like you said, “you’re a not a business owner, you’re an independent contractor for a number of insurance companies and you are responsible for marketing yourself and marketing your services as a 1099 contractor and by being in private pay, you get that freedom, you are a real business owner. There are risk and there are big scary things associated with it but there’s also so many benefits and what are some of the additional benefits of switching over to private pay practice?
Deb: Well, I can give you one from my personal experience. You know 3 years ago, my mom and eventually passed away and I was able to spend so much time with her at the end because I was able to juggle my schedule and I was able to determine what days I was going in and what days I wasn’t. That was worth more than anything to me. All these years I was able as a single mom and even afterwards after I got married, I mean, just you be able to show up at my kids thing, at play, at school or soccer game, just being able to appreciate the things and really appreciate my time because it’s mine now, it’s anybody else’s, those are the freedoms we’re talking about.
Perry: And that’s why you wanna be an entrepreneur, why you want to be a business owner to begin with is that freedom.
Perry: So, this is a pretty loaded question, I love hearing everyone response to this. If someone wants to switch to private pay practice, what is it in your mind, what are some of the first things that they need to… Let’s say they’ve gotten over that fear, they’re ready to do it, what are some action steps that our listeners can take away from this episode and go implement today or this week?
Deb: I can answer this question because I answer this question every day for people but essentially what I’ve done is that I’ve broken it down to like four phases and the first that we’ve already talked now is clarifying who you are? What you do? Why you do it? What your passion is? And clarifying who your target market is and what makes them tick and what they need so to clarifying all of that is the first part of it. Second, then you take what you know about and about your market and you find a way to deliver your message in a way that they’re going to hear you, there’s a lot of noise in this world, People are getting hundreds of emails , they’re on Facebook, there’s Instagram and god help us all, there’s Twitter. There’s so much noise and people are going to hear things that strike them emotionally or something that’s going to really resonate with them so you have to take what you know and put in terms that they are going to hear, instead of talking about what features you have offer, you talk about those features in terms of the benefits that people can receive. They’re gonna hear that so it about kind of customizing your message so your people hear you then third, you have get pass your fear or your frustration or hatred of sales and marketing. Anybody that tells you that you can have a full book with a private pay private practice without doing sales is lying to you and that’s just the way it is. What I like to do though is I like to reframe the whole thing because I truly believe that if you are meant to serve certain people then you have a responsibility to let people who need you know that you’re there for them and that’s what sales and marketing in our business is all about. It’s about informing the public of the resource that they have in you. Letting them know that you’re there, how to find you and where they can locate you so it’s about getting past all that junk and thinking that you’re gonna be a used car salesman and being able to give your message in a compelling and reaching out to people in some of thing that you were talking about Perry like bringing breakfast and doing a lunch and learn or you know bringing some cheesecake and dropping of some business cards or bringing a newsletter to a practice that can put it in the waiting room so that they can share it with their parents or informational stuff they can put in the treatment rooms so that they can say , “Okay, here’s some of the things you should look for , if anything comes up, let me know and your contact information is at the bottom of it so it’s about connecting and then once you do that and you make those connections with those gate-keepers and those key players and your target market in general and then finally it’s about an ongoing process of communication because I have referrals this week from somebody who- a physician’s office who’s been referring to me for 20 years and it’s about being that person that people rely on, it more than about who I can send referral to , it’s about that physician who call me this week and said, “I know you don’t see kinds but I have a favor to ask you and I’ve shared clients with you and I really trust you work, my daughter is coming back from college, she’s not doing well, would you mind seeing her for a couple of sessions?” You gotta be the person that they see as their friend and someone who really cares about them, they really need to know that you care about them and there are ways to do that in continuing an ongoing relationship with them by keeping in touch. So look at those for steps to clarify the stuff, to be able to customize it, to be able to connect with people and then to communicate with them.
Perry: Deb, that was wonderful. I hope had a pen and paper down, they were writing notes if not, you can always go and re-listen to this over at this week show notes over at brightervision.com/privatepay5/ because you need to go back and listen to that and write sown everything Deb said, copy down the transcript from it and take that and like pin it up to your office wall cause that’s going to get you to be a private pay practice. That was so well said there, thank you so much Deb.
Deb: You’re Welcome.
Perry: Deb, where can our audience, find you to connect and learn more about you and alll the great work you do?
Deb: Yes, they can, I would love for them to know more. I’d rather give them the free training and I’d love them to know more about my group coaching program, it’s called influential insider circle and it’s a really nice coaching group where everybody id there to build a private pay practice and it’s alot of fun and they can find it at the web address www.rapid-referrals.com/privatepay/ and there they will the training and they’ll also be able to join in in a group.
Perry: Fantastic and of course everyone, we will have links to it in this week’s show notes at brightervision.com/privatepay5 and if you want to listen to any other previous episodes or future episodes on this mini-series on transition to becoming a private pay private practice, you can all the episodes at brightervision.com/privatepay/. Deb, thank you so much for joining us today, this was fantastic and I hope people go and head on over rapid-referrals.com/privatepay. Learn more about Deb and how she can help you grow you practice.
Deb: Thank you Perry, it was really great, I love talking to you and it’s really great for me to talk to other people who are really enthusiastic about helping get their freedom as well so thanks for having me.
Perry: Absolutely, my pleasure. Thank you everybody, we will see you next week.