Do you have someone taking care of your marketing for your practice? Are you in need of a Marketing Director? Do you know what a Marketing Director does?
In this podcast, Whitney Owens chats to her own Marketing Director, Molly Huff, around the position of being a Marketing Director in private practice.
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Meet Molly Huff
With over 20 years of experience in marketing and a deep need to help other people, the Marketing Director at Waters Edge is a perfect fit for Molly. She is dedicated to getting Waters Edge’s message to those who need it most by spreading the word about this incredible practice in every way possible. Promoting Waters Edge throughout the community – whether it be through social media, website updates, e-newsletters, outreach, and more – she strives to connect those individuals who are searching for hope with our therapists.
Molly is a Georgia native and graduated from The University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising from the Grady School of Journalism. Since then, she has worked at large and small advertising and public relations firms in Atlanta, Savannah, and Tifton.
Molly and her husband, Lee, have two sweet girls, and for fun, she loves to read, spend time at the beach, and hang out with her family.
In This Podcast
- What does it mean to be a Marketing Director?
- Low-budget marketing strategies for solo private practice owners
- The top ways Water’s Edge Counseling has gotten referrals
- When to Hire a Marketing Director
What Does it Mean to be a Marketing Director?
A Marketing Director is responsible for getting the message of the practice out to the community. This includes releasing weekly bogs at the same time each week, along with SEO (search engine optimization). On that note, it’s important to stay up-to-date on how SEO is changing. A large part of my job is also community outreach.
With a cash-pay practice, you have to be a lot more on it with marketing, than with an insurance-based practice. (Whitney Owens)
It’s definitely a journey. When we first started Waters Edge Counseling, the goal was one referral a week. But we have grown from there. Molly also takes care of social media.
Low-Budget Marketing Strategies for Solo Private Practice Owners
A lot of aspects of marketing are free, such as social media. Over and above that, utilize your relationships and get them to interact with you on social media and share your posts. Take the time to learn something about SEO. There is so much to be said for how people find you. Spend time researching and learning how to get your name out there. Listen to podcasts on marketing and how to grow your business.
The Top Way Water’s Edge Counseling has Gotten Referrals
The team is so incredible that a lot of the referrals have been due to word of mouth. So a lot comes down to the quality of your counselors. Over and above that, we’ve done a good job of getting the word out of all of the different specialties we offer.
When to Hire a Marketing Director
Consider the return on investment, i.e.: how much time are you putting into it and what are you getting out of it? Also, consider hiring a VA (virtual assistant) initially and then allow the position to grow with the practice. You could also hire a counselor who can also take on some of the marketing tasks.
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Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.
Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.
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Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host Whitney Owens recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant. Each week through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow and scale your practice from a faith-based perspective. I will show you how to have an awesome faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.
If you haven’t already joined my email list, I want to encourage you to do so. On my email list, I do the best that I can to only send you relevant, important information to helping you start, grow, and scale your faith-based practice. So I’ll send you information such as how do you take your calls and convert them into clients, or how do you network and market with churches or information on how to optimize your Google My Business, or how to increase your marketing to bring more of your ideal client to your practice. So if you haven’t had the opportunity to join the email list, I want to encourage you to do so. You can go on over to practiceofthepractice.com\faithinpracticeresources.
There, you will find a free PDF, The Five Common Pitfalls Connecting Counselors & Churches. That’s a common issue that comes up, and if we can identify those pitfalls, then we’ll make better connections with pastors and be able to do more improved marketing and referrals within our church community. So please go on over to practiceractice.com\faithinpracticeresources. Join the email list, get the free PDF so you can be a part of the Faith in Practice community.
[WHITNEY]: So today on the Faith in Practice podcast, I’m going to be interviewing my marketing director at my practice, Molly Huff. She has over 20 years of experience in marketing department and has worked in many different types of organizations related to healthcare and other businesses and doing marketing, SEO work, advertising, all the good stuff. She’s a Georgia-native, graduated from the University of Georgia, Go Dawgs with Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising from the Grady School of Journalism. Since then she worked for large and small advertising groups, public relation firms in Atlanta, Savannah, and Tifton. She is married to Lee and has two sweet girls. She loves to read, spend time on the beach, hanging out with family. Welcome to the podcast, Molly.
[MOLLY HUFF]: Thanks. Good morning.
[WHITNEY]: Good to see you.
[MOLLY]: You too. How are you doing?
[WHITNEY]: I’m doing well. How are you?
[MOLLY]: Doing fine.
[WHITNEY]: Good. Well, looking forward to interviewing you because a lot of people are very interested when I tell them that I have a marketing director and honestly, I feel kind of posh, I guess I should say that I have that at my practice. Really honored. So anyway, looking forward to kind of sharing our relationship and kind of how marketing works at the practice and things like that. But why don’t you kind of share kind of your journey of marketing, kind of how you’re interested in that and then kind of how you got over to Water’s Edge Counseling?
[MOLLY]: Okay. well, like you’ve mentioned, I’ve got almost 23 years experience in marketing at this point, which certainly ages me, but right out of college, I went to Atlanta as a lot of people do from university of Georgia and worked for a large advertising agency. Some of you may have heard of it, BBO, and I was a very low man on the totem pole there, but it was a good way to get my foot in the door, but I helped with media buying for Frito-Lay and Dodge. We did, there were a lot of young people there that did a lot of the grunt work, but it was a great experience. And I was there for about two years, took a break for a little bit for a year and did sales. I was an account manager at Macon Magazine actually and found out pretty quickly that sales is not my strong point, but it was a great experience. And one of those good things to get out of the way in your twenties, just to figure out that that may not be your path. It certainly wasn’t mine, but at the end I still enjoyed it. And after that, I made my way to Savannah.
That was my first stint in Savannah and I worked at a small advertising agency called the Hauser Group and I was a media planner and buyer. I was basically a one-man department. Obviously I have a supervisor, but did media buying and planning for Coastal Bank. We worked with Sedan Electric at the time, we had wild American shrimp. We had several different, really fun eclectic clients that I got to learn and go to. This was a much more intimate situation where I got to sit in on client meetings where I did not get to do that when I was at BBO because it was so large and I was such a small part of that. But that was where I really grew in my knowledge of all things, marketing and advertising. We were such a small agency that it was sort of all hands on deck. We did a lot of brainstorming together. So I got to be in some creative meetings and I got to be in some of the PR situations and that was really, really fun and very educational for me.
I was there for six years actually and then Lee and I started our family. When Annalee was, she’s 13 now, so when she was about seven or eight months old, I got in with a really small agency in Tifton, which I’m sure you’re not surprised. It’s small, since Tifton is not very large, but that agency is called the Big Picture and there were only four of us at the time, women-owned business and we were all female and I was there on a contract basis for 12 years and learned so much. When there are only four people in the office, you really, speaking of all hands on deck, you really have to be able to tackle lots of different things. And so I was technically an account manager, but I did pretty much everything from writing to SEO, to media buying and planning, doing press releases, client meetings, community outreach.
It was an amazing learning experience and very flexible for our family, which was wonderful. And then I met Whitney through our, her oldest daughter and my youngest, through Eli’s place, which is the preschool at our church. And over the years, we started chatting and about my experience in marketing and her practice and that just evolved into possibly how we could combine forces and how possibly utilize some of my marketing experience to help her grow Water’s Edge Counseling. And that has been a journey, about a two year journey maybe, and starting last July, I came on officially as marketing director. So it’s not quite been a year, but it’s been so wonderful. I’ve never worked as an in-house marketing person.
So that’s been a new experience for me, but it’s been so great to have that singular focus and not have to spread love across several different clients and really get down to basics with Water’s Edge Counseling and how to market that particular practice. So that’s probably where we are at this point.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. I want to kind of go back a few steps, how I’m always telling people on the podcast and my consultees and everything, the importance of utilizing every relationship, because you never know where that’s going to take you. And when I look at my practice, it’s full of people that I’ve kind of met in different ways. Molly and I met at, like she said, the preschool of our children. They were like 18 months old and that’s when we met. Small world. I was at the beach visiting my family and I go to this private pool because they got these passes that we were using and we come over there and I look over and we see Molly’s little girl in the pool yelling at my little girl and I’m like, “Oh my gosh.” Like, this is two or three hours away from Savannah and I’m seeing somebody from Savanna. And we sat by the pool and I remember saying so, “What kind of job do you do?” She was like, “Oh, I do marketing. I’m a contractor.” And I was like, “Oh really? Maybe you can help me.” And that’s kind of how that started.
It’s important that you’re always utilizing the relationships that you have in your life so that you can use those in your practice and just how the gift of you coming at this perfect time. And so Molly did some contract work for awhile and then we just saw the need for her to pick up her hours. She was also looking for more full-time or part-time kind of work that was a little bit more flexible with her schedule and so it just kind of became the perfect fit. Now people will always ask me this question of, “Should I hire a friend to work with me or for me?” And I will tell you guys in most cases, please don’t do that. It’s a terrible idea, but that’s exactly what I did and it’s worked out really well. So got to figure, but I will say, I think the marketing director is a little bit more of a different kind of situation than the clinical team and we have it kind of set up where the office manager is a little bit more director oriented. And I think that really does help keep the friendship going and set. All right. So Molly, what people want to know is what does it mean to be a marketing director? What do you actually do at Water’s Edge Counseling?
[MOLLY]: Okay, well, there’s, that’s a lot to unpack in that question. Marketing director in my view is responsible for getting the message of the practice out to the community in whatever way that needs to happen. And so that’s the main goal and then everything that falls underneath that goal is working towards it. So that keeps me focused, anything from writing the blogs, and I know that we are really intentional about doing the blogs and getting them out at the same time each week, knowing the expectations from our audience that we’re going to keep giving them material, we’re going to keep educating them on what we do, what can help them, how we can help them. Search engine optimization is a huge, huge role and it is ever evolving as you know, and just keeping up to date on how SEO changes, how SEO helps people find you through Google, through any sort of search sites really, but mainly Google. And Whitney and I have worked together on that and she’s put me in contact with one of her really good friends and contacts who is an SEO expert, and I’ve learned so much.
[WHITNEY]: Go ahead and say her name.
[WHITNEY]: That is Jessica with Simplified SEO. I actually mentioned her on another podcast and someone emailed me after, “Who were you talking about?”
[MOLLY]: Oh, Jessica, wonderful.
[WHITNEY]: And I’m like I going to start saying people’s names so people know. So Molly took her 12-part course so that she could do it herself and now Molly can really enact all the pieces that Jessica taught her in the course. So that’s been really helpful.
[MOLLY]: It’s been very helpful because you know, when you’ve been in this business for 20 some odd years, things are obviously going to change and just got to keep on it. But a lot of what we do is community outreach since Savannah is not Atlanta it’s not impossible to be in touch with pastors and school counselors and other counselors in the community that we can work with that may specialize in something different than we do. That has been a great way, even during COVID, we found ways around having to meet face to face necessarily just dropping little gifts and thank you notes, just making sure that people know that we are a resource that they can count on. And that’s really, I mean, there’s a lot more to it being a marketing director, but really just the goal, the community outreach goal and anything that falls under that.
[WHITNEY]: Yes, there is a lot to it and you’re right. I think especially with the cash pay practice, you have to be a lot more on it about your marketing than an insurance-based practice because so many clients just come through insurance that it makes it a little easier. As a cash practice, I do invest a lot of time and energy into the marketing piece because that’s how we get our clients. It’s those relationships. And that’s a big part of Molly’s job; is managing a referral relationship. She has a whole database of every person we interact with, how do we refer to other people, like if someone in our practice is looking for a specific thing, she can show them, “Oh, here’s the relationship we have with this one.” But like she said, we are intentional about making stop buys, gifts, things like that.
I think we just had school counselors week or month, week, I think a little bit ago and we made a funny video and sent it out to counselors and send a special email as well, just thanking them for their work. So it’s those small gestures that really go far. In fact, I’m pretty sure that day that we sent out an email about counselor week, we got a referral from one of them that day, somebody responded and sent somebody. Yes, and so I will say it’s a journey. Like when I first started my practice my goal was one referral a week. If I can make one connection a week, I’m doing good and it’s really been over time that those have grown and grown and grown. And now obviously I couldn’t manage that anymore, which is why Molly is here managing that.
She also does a lot of the social media, social media posts, manage the YouTube channel, all those things that come with owning a practice, she does. So Molly, some people that are listening to the show probably are thinking about starting a practice, they have a solo practice, maybe they’re wanting to increase their clientele, but let’s say they only have a small amount of money and probably an hour or two a week to really devote to marketing their practice. What would you recommend that they focus on for a solo practice owner?
[MOLLY]: That’s a good question. I know that that’s a struggle for a lot of small businesses. Not having a marketing background, it’s overwhelming, it’s intimidating, don’t know exactly where to start but a lot of things are free. Social media is free. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, all of those things can work together and they’re all ways to get your name out there. And as Whitney said, utilize your relationships, dig in to your friends and family and get them to share your posts, get them to follow your social media. Things like that that are pretty low effort, but can have huge returns, it’s a big deal. And I would also say you should take the time to learn something about your search engine optimization, if you have a website, which I recommend, obviously.
There is so much to be said for how people find you and word of mouth is wonderful. Outreach is wonderful, but people are on the internet. People are searching. People sometimes don’t feel comfortable asking others for counselor referrals or therapists referrals, because they, there’s still some, sometimes a little bit of a stigma and they may feel intimidated. So making sure people can find you from a private perspective is really important. And I know that that part can be very intimidating, but there’s a lot of free information out there. And if you just have an hour a week, take 15 minutes of that hour, read some articles, do some work, get into it and teach yourself, educate yourself about ways to get your name out there. It’s not always expensive, it’s not always incredibly time consuming, and the more you grow your practice, then you can be like Whitney. You can get your own marketing director and they can take it over and then that person can really devote a lot of time and a lot of effort.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. I think you’re bringing up some really good points and taking me back to what it was like when I was solo practice owner. So much of what I learned was just listening to podcasts’ sites. I would go on my morning run, my husband would always kind of get onto me like, “Gosh, you come back with all this energy. You’re so intense when you come back. You need to calm down.” I would come back and I would listen to a podcast, honestly, it was usually Practice of the Practice and then it would tell me something I needed to do in my practice to get more clients. And so then I would listen and I would do whatever was suggested on the podcast and then it worked and then I would do it again and listen to another one or different types of podcasts. So that was how I got my information. I’m not the best reader, but I’m a pretty good listener if I’m running and my mind is moving.
[MOLLY]: That’s a really good point. There’s so many free resources. There are podcasts on every subject on the planet. I’m a podcast listener myself. I’m also a very avid reader, so I can do both. That is a great resource. Just educating yourself when you are in the car, when you’re running, when you’re doing, I mean, it’s just taking the time and the effort, which I think Whitney is really great at. You have such an interest in all this and you have a lot of great ideas. So that helps me because I know that the value of marketing, which is important.
[WHITNEY]: Thank you. Thank you. I feel gifted that I have an idea, but I have somebody else that can actually implement the idea a lot better than I can. Sometimes you come back with things, “Oh, that was a really good idea. I wouldn’t have been that creative. I just know we need to get this word out and I don’t know how to do it.” And so that’s that joy of having a team to be able to do it together.
So another question for you, as group is growing, what do you think has been, if you had to narrow it down to one, I know it’s going to be hard, maybe two, but what do you think have been the top reason or way that we’ve gotten referrals as a group practice?
[MOLLY]: That is hard to narrow it down to one? I’ll just say from just my standpoint, the team is so incredible that there’s a lot of that that has nothing to do with me. There’s a lot of that that’s just because we have such great counselors and there’s a lot of word of mouth there. So first of all, build your team, hire the right people, get the right counselors in there. But I think we’ve also hopefully done a good job of getting the message across about all of our different specialties that we range, you know in everything from family counseling to substance abuse, to depression and anxiety.
And so we really try to spread our message around and when we put out those blogs, when we put out those posts on Google My Business, when we put out our Facebook and Instagram to really cover all the bases, because you never know what’s going to speak to somebody. And referrals who knows, might see your posts, might see your blog, might find you on Google and think, “Gosh, I know a friend, a family member, a student, a choir member that could really use this .” And I just want to always be sure we’re communicating everything that we can deliver. I hope that answers your question. That was kind of a broad.
[WHITNEY]: No, that was great. It was great. So if you’re a solo practice owner and you’re thinking I need to up up my marketing, obviously Molly’s giving you tons of great ideas that you can get yourself started. Now you might be also listening, thinking, okay, well, how do I know when is a good time to hire a marketing director? So things to consider with that, obviously in every decision we make as a practice owner, we want to consider that return on investment, so how much time and money am I putting into it? So that could be training somebody or paying them in. And am I getting that out of it as a practice owner? So like I’m always tracking how many clients are coming in, where they’re coming from. Molly will get messages from me, like, “Look at the Google analytics or look at this that’s working.”
And so we’re always tracking those things. I encourage you that if you’re finding that you are kind of getting full or you’re wanting to grow a group and you’re needing to really work on those referrals, then consider hiring somebody to do some of that for you. And that can look like a lot of things. Like obviously I got really lucky. Molly works as an employee, W2, part-time. She works about 20 hours a week, or that’s kind of what she’s hired for. That fluctuates depending on what we have going on but there are so many companies out there that you can hire virtual assistants, that can do your social media and that can do your marketing for you, that can create images for you.
I know Sam with Practice of the Practice is really great at some of that as well. Upwork is a really good website to go to if you’re looking for someone to just do a little bit of work on the side for you. I’ve even heard of practice owners who have teenagers that do some of that work for them, because they know social media really well. So I’m just telling you guys be creative. If you’re at a point where you need to bring some money on for marketing, it doesn’t have to be necessarily a part-time or full-time person that you can do that. Just a couple of hours a week and let the position really grow into something.
And if you’re a group practice, I think having some money to do that is really great. And I know some practice owners actually hire a counselor who can maybe do part-time caseload and then they do part-time marketing. So there’s a lot of flexibility there and what works for you and your practice. And I’m always trying to pivot and think about what’s best for the practice, but also how do I serve the community? Like, yes, Molly was a great addition to the practice, but it was also a good thing for her. Like she was at a good place where she benefited from the job and like I said, that flexibility for her in her schedule because I guess Molly, you were at a job before that that was less flexible, right?
[MOLLY]: Right. I actually thought that I was ready to go back full-time and made a little bit of a leap of faith and sometimes things just don’t work out and it was just not the right fit. And I had family at this age, the maturity and the confidence to know that and to know that this was not good for my family. This was not good for me. And you know, you and I having the conversation, it was really a godsend honestly. And I was thinking, while you’re talking about our conversation or seeing each other at the pool in Amelia and how many conversations we’ve had poolside, Savannah, Amelia, on the beach. So all at the water’s edge. How about that?
[WHITNEY]: Yes, that was good. You just put that in there. There’s a blog right there. Well, cool. Well, Molly, I appreciate you taking the time to come on the show and provide all this information to my listeners today. I do want to ask you, and I ask everyone this question on the podcast, what do you believe every Christian counselor needs to know?
[MOLLY]: Well, as we mentioned I’m not a counselor, but I have been to therapy and I have been to counseling. I just think it’s really important to be open-minded and very non-judgmental. That may, I mean, that’s probably less than one of all counselors but I have been in situations where I was afraid to talk about certain things because I felt that maybe I might be judged from a Christian standpoint. And I just think it’s really important to show grace and to know your audience, know your client and really make them feel like they’re in a comfortable space.
[WHITNEY]: That’s great advice. In fact, I was having dinner with some friends last night. That’s exactly what we talked about; was therapists and just someone who had a bad experience and just needing to be in a place where they can, clients seem to just be able to talk and not be judged for it. And particularly I think in the Bible Belt, that’s kind of an issue. So I appreciate you saying that.
[WHITNEY]: Well, thank you so much for coming on the show and for your time today. If y’all want to get in touch with Molly, have questions for her, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[MOLLY]: Thanks girl. All right
[WHITNEY]: Again, thank you so much to Therapy Notes for sponsoring the show. It makes notes, billing, scheduling, and tele-health a whole lot easier. And if you’re coming from another EHR, they make the transition really easy. Therapy Notes will import your client’s demographic data free of charge during your trials so that you can get going right away. Use promo code [JOE] to get three months to try out Therapy Notes for free.
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