At this stage of your marketing programme you have worked out:
1. the services you wish to promote
2. who to promote them to
3. the channels to use
The last key piece of the strategy is Messaging: what you will say and how you will say it.
CONTENT FUELS ALL MARKETING ACTIVITIES
Practices may build great websites and social media profiles only to struggle with what to populate them with once the developer has left the process.
Different channels (website, email, social media) will require different types of content, however there is a lot of overlap. It is no longer acceptable or engaging to simply advertise your services over and over again. Practice owners must really consider what their audience wants to hear and know about. Lean into your own expertise, experience and personality.
To save you time and set you on the right path, we have included a Content Bank (click here) that will cover your practice marketing for 12 months. It includes a Psychotherapy-specific list of content, social media posts and theme ideas for you to tailor for your practice.
You won’t have to spend any time thinking up ideas - simply refer to the list and work from there.
For maximum impact and time efficiency, it is best to organise your content into themes.
A content theme is an overall topic - in the case of a Psychotherapy practice, this will include your services and areas of expertise.
You then develop each content theme for all channels, getting it out as far and wide as possible, ensuring that all bases are covered and re-purposed to the maximum, saving time and energy.
A great way to do this is by organising the theme into a promotional calendar, providing you with a regular coordinated stream of marketing activities that will keep your audience engaged and informed + save you time. More on this later.
DEVELOPING A CONTENT THEME
SAMPLE: PANDEMIC ANXIETY & DEPRESSION
From Tool 1, say you have identified a Priority Service as Anxiety & Depression. The aim of this process is to demonstrate and articulate your expertise in this area so that clients will chose to work with you if they are experiencing these issues.
We start with our website and work across all activities, ensuring that the theme is professionally and effectively represented across the board.
The first & most important thing to do is to check that your website references that your practice covers this issue and that it is referenced at the top of the list of your services / areas of expertise - see image below.
Now, you can demonstrate your expertise. Your credibility and reputation is key.
Many fellow practitioners cover this area so you should give a reason WHY clients should chose you for this service.
Expertise can be demonstrated through a variety of methods - knowledge articles on a blog on your site, case studies, testimonials and reviews.
The next section looks into developing these pieces for your practice.
BLOGGING & CONTENT
Blogging or article writing is a great way to demonstrate your practice’s specific expertise. By generating useful content for your target audience you are demonstrating expertise and encouraging the sharing of the information. In addition to educating your clients, this will also ultimately bring new clients to your door.
You can write about an area of expertise, practice news, new services - anything that you feel will be beneficial to your clients. Refer to the Content Bank for topic inspiration.
DO NOT FEAR!
Many people feel that they cannot write articles for public consumption, however my experience shows that people can write well when they write what they know.
KEEP IT BRIEF
You do not need to write an extensive piece - in fact its better to get to the point and keep it brief. Think about how you explain things to your clients and write in that tone. You are not writing for your professional peers!
HOW TO WRITE AN INFORMATIONAL ARTICLE
Write a list of questions that your customers commonly ask in relation to your chosen theme - this will become the list of topics that you cover.
Take the most commonly asked question and write it down, along with the answer you would commonly give.
Example: You are not alone - 1 in 5 has significantly increased psychological distress (anxiety, depression) since the pandemic
Answer: Write out the top 3 presentations you have seen (panic attacks, withdrawal from social situations, brain fog etc) and how/why they manifest from pandemic conditions (topline information).
This is the skeleton framework for your article. Simply flesh out each point with a couple of lines. Then reference how treatment can reverse these symptoms and help people to manage on an ongoing basis.
At the end you can encourage readers to contact / book an appointment to address their specific experiences of this common occurrence.
CASE STUDIES, TESTIMONIALS & REVIEWS
In addition to information articles you can add Case Studies and Testimonials to your blog or to a stand alone section on your website.
According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of promotion. 88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts.
The most effective way to encourage people to attend your practice is through recommendations via word of mouth, reviews, testimonials & case studies.
Yet most practices are not using reviews effectively.
Case Studies are a great way to demonstrate the finer details of a treatment programme & will help to de-mystify any fears that prospective clients may have. By following a set format, creating a case study is straight forward and will provide effective content for your website, email, social media posts and more.
TOPIC: PANDEMIC ANXIETY & DEPRESSION
PROBLEM & SYMPTOMS: Social Withdrawal and Panic Attacks
SOLUTION: 6 Sessions including CBT
How It Was Done: Introductory Session to understand the issues and discuss treatment plan, sessions 2-4 (include topline treatment content here (talk therapy, breathing exercises), sessions 5-6 CBT
Result: Panic attacks ceased from session 3 onwards, and have not returned. Client has gradually introduced social outings with close family and friends. Any follow in sessions included.
This is your framework for your piece. Take each section and flesh it out with a few lines.
Word Of Mouth (WOM) is simple - create a positive experience for your clients and they will spread the word, it is as simple as that. Combining a great service with a welcoming practice, professional website and effective treatment will encourage organic word-of-mouth. While we can encourage WOM through great service, we cannot ‘capture’ it. We can however create the next best thing though - Testimonials.
They are a more personal review of your services. They come from the client directly but can follow a similar format to case studies. If a client volunteers to provide a review or testimonial for your services you should take them up on it and can assure them that their identity will be protected if they wish. However I would not recommend asking clients for either without them suggesting it in the first instance as this may feel too invasive.
If a client offers to provide a testimonial and would like guidance on what to include, the most simple, effective format would be:
Describe your initial problem and how it impacted your daily life (stopped you from doing x,y,z and how you felt (helpless, anxious, stressed)
How you came to find out about the practice
What your treatment plan looked like and if there were any specific elements, CBT, breathing exercises etc.
The outcome of the service: how you feel now compared to your first session
How you found the whole experience
This does not need to be too lengthy and can be sent to you from the client by email.
PRESENT TESTIMONIAL IN AN IMPACTFUL WAY
When you post it to your site, make sure to highlight any impactful quotes. For example ‘Despite being a highly sociable person before the pandemic, I found myself in a severe state on anxiety at the thought of leaving the house to see my closest friends’.
The point here it to highlight any relatable points for readers.
Always add a general image to an article to make it visually appealing. You can include a free stock image that relates to the topic, such as a crowded scene or a nice abstract image.
To protect identities where required, we recommend using sample initials and perhaps their occupation or location. Don’t worry about diluting credibility by doing this - it is essential given the nature of psychotherapy as a service and will give comfort to prospective clients that your services are discreet and confidential.
Finally, once you have posted this to your site, send the link to the client so that they can see how you used it. It is an important courtesy and will give them comfort that the information is anonymous.
Reviews are shorter snippets of feedback and may be sent to you directly, but in today’s online environment, they may also be attached to your practice via other channels. As mentioned in the SEO section (Location), Google Reviews are managed through Google Maps so regular monitoring and responding quickly are important to manage your online reputation. When you have your practice set up on Google Business, you will be informed by email if someone reviews you there.
Facebook Reviews: you can choose whether to set these up on your business page. Used properly, it is a great way to build credibility.
Trustpilot has become a very popular and trusted ‘independent’ review platform. Make a note to visit this site once a month to see if you have been reviewed. Alternatively you can set up a Google Alert to be informed by email if you have been reviewed there.
Go to https://www.google.com/alerts and follow the instructions. Enter your name and practice name as alerts. You will then be notified every time your practice appears on the web.
DO NOT FEAR NEGATIVE REVIEWS
Negative reviews can be upsetting for practices especially if you feel they are unfounded. If they are, there are courses of action you can take to have them taken down. However if there is merit to a client's negative experience (to err is human!), how you respond can turn the situation around.
Respond quickly and tell them you want to do all that you can to fix the situation. You can invite them to do this privately or reply to the comment but that you would like to find out all there is to know so a direct message might be more effective.
If they respond privately, work out the issue and offer them some sort of additional treatment time (or whatever you deem fair) for their trouble. Once you have resolved the issue and confirm that they are satisfied, you can talk to them about removing their review, assuming that this was a rare mistake.
The key here is to have managed their complaint well. You can only warrant asking for a negative review to be taken down if you know that it is not true. You may also add to the comment thanking them for getting in touch and being open to the practice fixing the issue.
By doing this you are demonstrating GREAT client service. By responding to issues quickly and effectively it provides confidence in your practice.