Marketing is one of the foundational key components to establishing and developing an effective psychology practice.
Even if you don’t work in private practice, having a marketing plan and strategy is an absolute must for any psychologists looking to develop a client base and work to their full potential.
However, there are a few questions and points we need to consider before going any further.
The first is, what exactly is a marketing plan?
• Basically, it is a strategy that you invest in to expand your reach and develop your name or your brand name.
• It is a systematic process, contributing to a number of different aspects, that illustrates to your client base what you are all about and the quality of service you provide.
The second question is, how does a marketing plan for psychologists differ from marketing plans that you may be aware of elsewhere?
• There are a number of points you need to consider when you are developing a marketing plan as a psychologist.
• You need to develop a personable and approachable image and marketing plan that is attractive yet does not make clients feel like their subjectivity might be lost.
• Often, in other lines of work, marketing plans are established to drive masses of people to the service a company provides or a product they sell. As a psychologist, however, you want to ensure that you are developing your client base with your marketing strategy, yet not losing focus on the individual client.
So, what are some of the top tips and steps you need to be considering when it comes to developing an effective marketing strategy as a psychologist?
1. A Cohesive & Consistent Brand Image
A cohesive brand image is my first tip because often it is not considered in marketing strategies and is overlooked by psychologists.
Much like any service or product that consumers look to purchase or utilise, the impressions they initially get from an organisation influence their decisions a great deal.
The same principles go for when they access psychological services.
You must consider how consistent your brand image is online to the client actually accessing your service.
If you have staff that work in your organisation with you, they also need to be on board with this cohesive brand image.
Your website, social media accounts and presence, business cards, therapy room/residence and email signatures all need to be consistent with that brand image.
2. Create Strong Relationships & a Robust Reputation
This point is perhaps a little more in tune with some of the foundational principles of psychology, which is of great advantage to those looking to develop an effective marketing plan in their psychological work.
Developing a reputation, and strong relationships in your local area is an absolute must and a key aspect of your ability to market yourself.
Without a good reputation, any effort you put into marketing is void.
Word of mouth and reputation is one of the more overlooked aspects of developing a marketing strategy.
This, of course, develops over time and is based on the commitment, quality and passion you show in your work.
3. Social Media
The age of fliers and posters is dead.
Unfortunately, some still believe that this is the way to market yourself.
I have worked with organisations in psychology that have invested thousands of dollars into this type of marketing and have not seen the growth they could have experienced had they invested the same money in social media marketing.
Think of it this way, with the somewhat stigmatised nature of accessing therapy, and the vulnerabilities and challenges some clients experience in accessing psychological services, do you think a potential client is going to walk into a store, pick up and read a leaflet that talks about psychological therapy?
Or, are they more likely to access content and information about a psychology service privately online, where there is less of a likelihood that others with be able to see them?
This is not an attempt to contribute to the secretive nature of psychology, rather it is an attempt to empathise with the challenges a client might be facing when accessing psychological services.
Social media marketing also has a number of other key features that make it the single best platform for advertising and communicating your marketing plan
You can customise your advertising to access those most likely to seek your service.
You are much less likely to waste time and money in areas where people are not interested in accessing your psychological services.
In addition to this, you can effectively keep track of how well your marketing strategy is working via social media.
Social media marketing is not the future of marketing, it is the present. Psychologists like you, need to ensure they are accessing and utilising this platform to its full potential when developing and communicating an effective marketing strategy for future clients.
4. Establishing Connections & Referral Opportunities
This key point goes very much hand in hand with establishing a solid reputation that we spoke about earlier.
Referrals are one of the most prominent ways of developing your client base.
As a result, this needs to play a central role in the development of your marketing strategy.
Utilising hospitals and connecting with private doctors is an important consideration.
By establishing and embedding your presence in these environments, which are often potential clients first port of call, you immediately associate your work and your name with those that are seeking psychological help.
Ensure that you establish and build your relationships with nearby medical practices and hospitals. As a result, you are building on your marketing strategy and reaching out to new potential clients.
5. Websites and SEO
Much like social media, psychologists often do not take website development seriously.
There are some private psychologists that still do not even have a website.
Your psychological work and practice need to be in keeping with the technological times if you are to meet the world where it is. Too many psychologists simply expect clients to appear at their front door ready to undertake psychological work.
These issues are not only inherent in the way psychologists work, but also in the way they create and deliver their marketing strategies.
Responsive websites are vital for your marketing strategy as a psychologist.
If ever there was value in investing a bit more money in something related to your practice and your work, it is website development.
It should be the HQ of your marketing strategy and of your work in general.
With a consistent brand image that is evident throughout your website, you can make a big impact on clients.
However, don’t just stop there with website development.
Ensure that you also consider search engine optimisation (SEO), which basically means how successful you are in appearing in searches online.
This is an area again where you might want to consider investing in a marketing team to help you with. Do not worry though, it is worth it!
One of the things that psychologist get wrong with SEO is that they think that client will simply type the psychologist's name into Google, or that they will type in ‘psychology’ and the city name where they live.
This often isn’t the case.
Your SEO needs to incorporate real things that people that are struggling type into search engines.
• Why am I feeling depressed?
• Why has my sleep pattern changed?
• Why am I feeling down all the time?
• How do I know if I have depression?
• What do I do if I feel sad all the time?
These are the things that people type into search engines.
If your SEO has been taken seriously, and you have a robust, consistent and attractive website that is a serious part of your marketing plan as a psychologist, then your service will appear when people ask this.
As a result, you open the door to new clients.
Developing a structured and consistent marketing strategy has notoriously not been a real consideration by psychologists in the past.
It really is time to change that.
If you want to develop your work and your name, then you need to be taking marketing and marketing strategies seriously.
With this understanding and with these top tips, you will be well on your way to succeeding.
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About the Author: “Fraser Smith is a counselling psychology doctoral trainee in Glasgow Scotland. Also the creator of GetPsyched, an online psychology platform that creates YouTube videos, blog content and social media content in the field of psychology. Fraser works as a psychological counsellor for a number of organisations and also works as a seminar tutor for undergraduate psychology students in Glasgow. Fraser has a passion for mental health, primarily men’s mental health, psychology, therapy and networking with others in the field.” Check out his website at http://www.getpsyched.org.uk/