“How do I get more private practice clients?”
“How do I reach my ideal clients?”
Reaching and gaining the right clients is one of the top areas of concern I hear from private practice therapists who work with me. Many of these therapists are a couple years into their business and have a wide area of expertise. For example, they might have some clients who have experienced trauma, some teenage clients struggling with anxiety and depression, and some clients who are experiencing motherhood for the first time.
In other words, their caseload is not what they imagined it would be.
Additionally, they often report that marketing their practice is a headache. They’re trying to blog and keep up with social media, but the results just aren’t there.
When I ask about their niche, these therapists usually explain that they didn’t want to narrow their niche when they opened their business because they didn’t want to limit themselves. They wanted to take in any business they could get.
If you’re one of these therapists as well, I get it. I was there, too. Before Hold Space Creative, I had a coaching business, and I didn’t have a defined niche because I’d take whatever client I could get. I didn’t want to limit myself either.
Ironically, not defining a niche in my coaching business was the most limiting thing I could do. I just didn’t realize it at the time.
WHY CHOOSE A SPECIFIC NICHE
When I pivoted to website design, I knew I could specifically help therapists because I had been a therapist myself. I wanted to help people like me make the difference they set out to make in the first place. I knew that since I had trained to be a mental health professional, I was uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between therapy and web design.
So instead of announcing myself as a web designer for anyone, I announced myself (and branded myself) as a web designer for therapists. As a result, I’ve actually broadened my reach and have had a consistent flow of clients ever since (something I only dreamed of as a coach).
I didn’t fully realize what I was doing at the time, but I’m now aware that the biggest difference between my coaching business and my web design business is a clearly defined, narrow niche.
I’ll be honest, the thought of choosing a niche in my web design business as narrow as “private practice therapists” scared me at first. “What if I want to work with other business owners as well?” I thought. “What if I get tired of working with therapists?”
In reality, narrowing my niche has allowed me to attract more clients than I ever thought possible, and they’re not just private practice therapists. Sure, that’s my specialty, but my specificity and clarity attracts business owners of all kinds, and I get to work with other amazing clients as well.
HOW A CLEAR, SPECIFIC NICHE MAKES MARKETING EASY
When you narrow your niche in private practice, you make running your business SO much easier. Aside from the probability that clients will find you more easily, choosing a clear niche also instantly makes you stand out from the crowd, establishes you as an expert, and allows you to help more people.
I’ve designed a lot of websites for private practice websites, and the honest truth is this: those of my past clients with a clear and specific niche see higher website traffic, more initial consultations, and more clients overall.
Think about it from a client’s perspective. If they’re seeking out counseling for the first time, they have no idea what they’re looking for in a therapist. All they know is that they’re suffering, and they want it to stop. Defining your niche (and announcing that niche) helps potential clients know exactly who you work with and makes their therapist search easier.
As a business owner, it’s hard enough to juggle all the things that you have to do to keep things running smoothly. When you know who your niche is, you can just focus on helping them instead of trying to market to everyone. Creating online content (like blog and social media posts) becomes easier because you’re not trying to appeal to everyone. Even offline marketing becomes easier because you know where your niche will be, and can therefore focus your efforts.
WHAT A NICHE IS, AND WHAT IT ISN’T
Before I get into how to narrow your niche and attract more clients to your practice, I want to explain what a niche actually is and what it’s not because a lot of therapists get this wrong (at no fault of their own, I might add! We didn’t learn this stuff in grad school, so don’t feel bad if you didn’t know what I’m about to tell you).
A niche is not a specialty area or a modality.
Many times, I’ll ask therapists what their niche is, and they’ll tell me their specialty areas (ex: attachment issues, relationship issues/divorce, low self-esteem, etc.) or modalities (ex: DBT, Gestalt, Person-Centered, etc.).
A niche is a small, specialized section of a population. In other words, your niche is a who not a what.
Let’s think about this from a client’s perspective again. The average person has no idea what attachment issues are, or what DBT stands for. Therefore, that information is not going to help them decide whether or not you’re the right therapist for them.
What is going to help them is if you say who you work with.
Let me be clear: it’s absolutely fine to have specialty areas and work with modalities, but these are usually not the things that will help you stand out from the crowd and establish you as an expert. These are not the things that will attract clients to your practice.
HOW TO DEFINE AND NARROW YOUR NICHE
If you’re struggling to fill your practice with clients that you love working with, or if you’re having a hard time marketing your practice, it may be time to define and narrow your niche.
To start, think about the clients (past or present) with whom you really enjoy working.
Next, make a list of all the things they have in common. What made them seek out services in the first place?
Now, imagine these people were referring their friends to you, and they said, “You should see my therapist, she really helped me _______________.” What would they say you helped them with?
Imagine they continue: “Before therapy, I was _____________, but now I’m _____________.” Who were they before they started working with you? How do they identify after making progress?
Defining a niche is a process, and sometimes it takes time and support to figure it out. If you need more support in determining the right niche for you, take my free, three-part email training, How to Become a Client Magnet, which now includes a bonus worksheet: Narrow Your Niche. Access the training here.
Although it might feel counter-intuitive to limit your marketing focus, I know from my own experience as well as my clients that choosing a niche expands your reach and increases your ability to help the people you really want to help.