By Lisa Dion, LPC, RPT-S

Therapy will always be about what happens inside the relationship between the client and the clinician; that’s the heart of the matter. But, therapy is also a business, making what happens outside the therapy room also important – that’s because it’s hard to be a therapist when you have no one to give your services to.

Learning how to market or sell your service/product is an important part of getting it out into the world. For many, the idea of marketing/selling conjures up images of someone being pushy, coercing and not listening, just to name a few. But that isn’t really what marketing is all about. Selling is actually about what therapists do best, RELATIONSHIP! 

If you have ever heard advice that sounds like, “In order to build a business, you need to market like this __________ (fill in the blank)”, please pause because unless what is being suggested is congruent and authentic to who you are, it won’t work.  That’s right!  The best marketing reflects who you are and what you do best.  If you’re not a writer, blogging may not be it.  If you hate social media, FB might not be it.  If you love teaching and having cool conversations with people, maybe a podcast is it.  Fortunately, there are lots of options to go about building relationships to market yourself. Here are a few options:

Use social media: These days, one of the easiest and most affordable ways to build relationships (and business) is through social media. There are lots of platforms to choose from and they each have their own unique experience – Facebook is all about content for social networking, Instagram loves photos/videos, YouTube likes to share videos with friends, family and the world,  Pinterest is image sharing with an organization twist, TikTok is more about personalized short videos, to name just a few.  You don’t need them all, pick one that feels most right to who you are and start posting content (either your own or someone else’s) that engages people and gives them something useful. 

Launch a blog: If you enjoy writing, you might find creating valuable written content your “Thing.” If so, start with creating a purpose or reason for its existence – think about what messages you want to share, with whom, and why. Then start writing – not as easy as it sounds, but remember to stay connected to you in the process (shoulds will get in your way big time if you’re not aware of them) and breathe. Once that’s all said and done, share away via your newsletters, website and through your social media platform(s). 

Offer a discounted consultation: You might consider offering an initial meeting with your potential client as a way to build a sound relationship from the very start. Keep in mind that not every therapist will gel with every client. That’s where a discounted consultation helps. Offer an initial meeting to see if you and your potential client are a good fit.  But make sure you don’t give too much away discounted, because you are worth it!

Remember that you’re a brand: It may be funny to think of yourself as a brand, picturing your face sewn on the back pocket of a pair of designer jeans. But you are a brand and promoting yourself as such will attract clients. An essential element of this is finding your niche – what is your specialty? Who do you love to help?  Highlight your expertise and what makes you different and start to allow yourself to become known for it.  

Collaborate and cross-promote: Cross-promotion is a type of promotion that benefits both parties involved – you advertise for them and they advertise for you. It can be a highly effective form of promotion. For example, you might partner with a yoga studio, school, or a daycare. You might also “tag” them on social media as another way to reach a broader audience. 

Go back to the basics: As helpful as the internet is to our lives, sometimes going back to basics works too. You don’t need to get archaic – advertising by carrier pigeon probably won’t work – but consider the effectiveness of word of mouth. A referral program, where you offer discounts to clients who refer others, is specifically useful in this regard.

And if external marketing is not your highest priority and you just want to stay focused on talking to clients, consider putting an SOS out to an external source and hire someone to do the work for you. 

Remember, building businesses, any business, takes time. And ultimately, you have to choose a way to create relationships and thus market in a way that is most congruent to you – because after all, you’re selling the relationship and the experience that clients will have with you – and that is as unique as you!

Additional Resources: 

  • Doing work that inspires you while making money isn’t a fantasy. Let Lisa teach you how to master a business mindset, put steps into action, challenge your fears, and listen to your intuition so you can go after your biggest entrepreneurial dreams. Join Lisa for The Business of Therapy 2.5 day course. Master the business skills and mindset to build (or up-level) your dream! Get all the details here.