I didn’t realize how much was involved with marketing until I really got into private practice, and I am still learning. As much as we would like to believe the theory, “I will build it, they will come,” it is not that easy.
Marketing your practice is an on-going, evolving process. One of the biggest things to remember is that you are not just marketing your practice, you are always marketing yourself.
One time I was at a gathering with one of my friends and I did not know a lot of people there. As I walked around and talked with people, I naturally asked “what do you do?”
I remember overhearing my friend say to another, “She’s advertising herself at a party?”
Yes, I was! You never know when you can meet someone who could potentially be an asset to you or know someone who can be.
Who are you?
Many clinicians have difficulty knowing how to market themselves and the services they provide. Another important piece to the puzzle is to develop a niche for the type of clients you want to work with. That does not mean you cannot work with a variety of people, but you will get people in the door if you are known as a “specialist” in a particular area. I did some research in my area and learned that there are few therapists that want to work with children. I enjoy working with children and make sure that I advertise that to the local schools and pediatricians.
Get out there
This brings me to a third point of how to get involved with the local referral sources. When I first started out, my business partner and I sent out professional post cards to introduce ourselves to the community and even had visited various doctors’ offices and other potential referral sources. Even now, 1-2x a year, I call up the doctors or the school counselors to set up a quick meeting so we can touch base. We also recently began writing newsletters, so during my last round of office and school visits, we asked the providers, “What topics would you like to see in a newsletter? What would help you out?” They are happy we are asking their input and glad that we can provide something that is easy for them to hand to their patients.
Finally, to piggy-back on the newsletters, we are working on incorporating the newsletters onto our website. This way, providers have easy access to topics of interest for them, print if they run out of copies, potential clients can check out different topics even if they are not ready for treatment, and the website will have people coming back to it instead of being a one-stop deal.
As technology evolves in our society, so will the way we market ourselves and our business. Take pride in yourself and the service you provide at all times. You never know when an opportunity may arise!
Erin M. Ruston is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of New York. Ms. Ruston received her Master of Science in Education-Agency Counseling Degree from St. Bonaventure University. She has been in the field for 15 years and has a wide-array of experience, ranging from agency counseling and counseling preschoolers in the education settings, to crisis management in hospital emergency rooms and jail settings, as well as, working in day treatments and residential facilities, for both mentally-ill and developmentally disabled. Ms. Ruston currently works in a Psychiatric emergency room and has had her own private practice for the last 5 years. Ms. Ruston’s focus of clinical practice includes Childhood Disorders, Depression, Anxiety, and Sexual Abuse/Trauma. However, she also enjoys working with couples and families.
Photo used through Creative Commons, thanks Pink Sherbert Photography