It’s no secret that psychotherapy private practice owners, as well as other helpers and healers, are not usually fans of marketing themselves. Marketing your private practice can feel slimy, confusing, and daunting, especially when you’re first starting out.
In this blog post, I’m going to explain three simple steps that will not only reframe your concept of marketing, but also help make your marketing efforts streamlined and easy.
Step 1: Identify your niche
If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve probably identified your niche - the type of people or presenting issues you’d like to work with in your practice. Examples of niches in counseling private practice include: high functioning anxiety, attachment wounding, and trauma/PTSD.
If you haven’t specified your niche, start there. When you try to be everything to everyone, you spread yourself too thin and make it harder to do the work you really love.
Let’s say you're passionate about working with clients who struggle with eating disorders, but you market your practice as specializing in a wide range of experiences - from child behavior issues, to career transitions, to eating disorders, to grief. Meanwhile, there’s another therapist who markets herself as an eating disorder specialist; she gives helpful and empowering tips to combat diet culture on social media, and has a blog dedicated only to talking about eating disorders and their associated emotional struggle.
Who do you think someone struggling with an eating disorder is going to want to work with?
Finding your niche is about recognizing that when you work with the issues that you’re most passionate about, you’re able to have a bigger impact. When you focus in, the people who need you can find you. To put it bluntly, if you remain broadly focused in your marketing, you’re making it harder for these people to get the help they need.
If you’re struggling to identify your niche, ask yourself these questions:
1. What do your favorite clients have in common?
2. If you were asked to give a professional talk on a topic of your choosing, what would you talk about?
Step 2: Identify your ideal client
When you’re marketing your practice, you have to know who you’re talking to. As the saying goes, “If you’re talking to everybody, you’re talking to nobody.” That is the ultimate rule to marketing, in my opinion.
How do you know who to talk to? You create an ideal client.
Narrowing down with a niche is really helpful, but to gain even more clarity, I recommend creating an ideal client; an imaginary person who encompasses all of the qualities of a person with whom you’d love to work.
Imagine trying to encourage a room full of people to utilize your psychotherapy or coaching services.
What would you say? How would you get all of them to listen to you?
Now imagine talking to one person about your services.
This feels a lot less chaotic, right?
You’re going to be able to listen to this person, understand their struggles, and offer them real help - all while saving yourself a whole lot of energy.
This is what creating an ideal client can do. When you know who your ideal client is, and market to that person, it’s like you’re in that same room full of people, but you’re on stage with your ideal client. Everyone is listening intently to you talking directly to your ideal client, and audience members are really hearing what you have to say. They’re resonating. They’re gaining value just by witnessing the direct communication.
By speaking directly to your ideal client, you’re speaking directly to parts of real people within your niche.
To create an ideal client, I like to think of the computer game, The Sims (which Middle School Monica was obsessed with, by the way). Imagine you’re playing The Sims, but instead of creating a random person, you're creating your perfect client avatar. Give them a name, an occupation, and a story.
If you need a little more help, join my mailing list at the bottom of this post to gain access to my Members-Only Resource Vault, where you’ll find my free Create Your Ideal Client worksheet.
Step 3: Find your ideal client
Knowing who you’re talking to is great, but if you don’t know where to find her/him/them, it can be pretty frustrating.
Finding your ideal client is about making sure you’re in the right room full of people (to use my metaphor from step 2), because if you’re trying to have genuine conversations with people, but you’re in the wrong room, you’ll end up frustrated and burnt out.
To find the right room, you need to get to know your ideal client. What types of things does s/he do for fun? What books does s/he love? What blogs/podcasts does s/he read or listen to? Where does s/he hang out online? Where does s/he hang out in her community?
Once you know the answers to these questions, spend your time in those places! Use the social media channels that s/he uses. Host a workshop at her favorite place in your mutual community. Guest post on a blog that she reads.
Before I go further, I know some of you are getting queazy about that last paragraph. Hanging out where your ideal client hangs out does not make you a slimy salesperson. It makes you a smart business person who really wants to help the people you’re called to help.
Remember, marketing is about making your services known. If people don’t know about them, they can’t be helped by them.
Take some time to really explore your niche and your ideal client. When you have clarity around these foundational pieces, marketing becomes much more easeful and natural because whenever you wonder what to say / how to say it, all you have to do is ask yourself, “What would my ideal client need to hear?”