This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Gail Guttman, LCSW, a Certified Imago Couples Therapist & Consultant, of Guttman & Pearl Associates and Evan Leepson, MBA, author of “Critical Connections: The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing.”
As experts in marketing private practice, they were willing to share some invaluable tips.
Jennifer: What are some common mistakes that you see people making when it comes to marketing their therapy practices?
Evan: When people are starting out in practice what they usually say is that I need something to market my practice, “I need a brochure. I need business cards I need a blog and Twitter, etc.” What happens there is you are putting the cart before the horse. People have to identify who their referral sources are and get a deep understanding of them. Let’s say for example that they are physicians or that they are OB-GYNs, they must understand that they are going to be dependent on those physicians for referrals (that’s an assumption).
The first thing is to identify the target. The second thing is to craft a message to that group, as to “what’s in it for them and their patients, coming to you.” The third part is figuring out what’s the best vehicle to communicate that message to that target group and that’s where things fall apart. When you look at what the communication preferences are for some groups, it could be snail mail-so you can’t really assume that the specific things that I’m doing are going to be the right message to the right person. I always start with the target groups needs i.e. figuring out what the message is and then the vehicle.
Gail: For example, I’m originally trained as a sex therapist and early in my practice, we decided we wanted to promote sex therapy and the target group that we wanted to reach were gynecologists. The message that we wanted to share was that we do these sexuality groups that could help their patients. What we did at that time was we created a flyer and we mailed flyers twice a year of our group to more than 1,000 ObGyns. The consequence of that was we developed a reputation among ObGyns as someone who does sex therapy and over time, we got a lot of referrals and still do. Before you can decide what you are going to do, you kind of have to decide who you are going to try to reach -and you can’t reach everyone at once.
Jennifer: How do you determine the preferred form of communication for each referral source?
Evan: That’s a good question. A lot of the therapists that I work with one-on-one have a specialty where they can use networking as a primary way to promote their practice, especially if their target group is other therapists. We know that other therapists love networking, as they are in an office by themselves all day with their clients-and they love to get out. So we know a little bit about what works in most places.
The thing about physicians is that they often don’t respond to email or something electronic and we know that they respond better to snail mail. There are some must-haves and one of the must-haves is a web presence. Now I’m not saying website and I’m not saying Psychology Today, as a matter of fact one of the most successful therapists around here doesn’t even have a profile on Psychology Today. You really need to understand the inner workings of how the target group wants to receive information.
Jennifer: For someone just starting out, what advice would you give them in terms of prioritizing their marketing efforts?
Gail: You must have a place where people can find you on the web. I think it’s essential that people have some kind of online presence. However, the public is probably the hardest market to tap into. It doesn’t seem to be that the most efficient use of your time starting out is to be marketing online to the public because you have very little control over it and statistics show, for the most part, that it doesn’t work.
Evan: I have some pre-work that I suggest my clients do before they do anything and that is to set up a database and it could be as simple as a spreadsheet. It’s a database of any kind of target group and their contact information and the flip side of this is to find out very carefully how your clients heard about you. This is really important in terms of figuring out which of your marketing efforts are effective in terms of generating referrals.
Jennifer: How can people learn more about the services that you both offer?
- Evan offers one-one-one advising for therapists in all stages in their career both in-person and virtually.
- Readers can purchase Evan’s book at Critical Connections: The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing
- Evan and Gail also offer a one day workshop entitled,“ Build An Action Plan to Create or Transform Your Psychotherapy Private Practice.”
- For a list of practice building and other training, go to Gail’s website: GPATherapy