Jennifer: How should someone starting out in transitioning from solo to group practice begin to organize his or her marketing efforts? Do you recommend a marketing plan, if so what books/resources do you recommend in creating one?
Dr. Luis Morales Knight: The primary consideration is in marketing your group as a group and in marketing your practitioners as broadly interchangeable. Each practitioner will have a chance to establish his or her own name, reputation, clientele, and referral sources as they go along, but the general plan should be to market the group so that referral flow can be load-balanced by you, not by the patients.
We have found “Marketing for the Mental Health Professional” by David Diana, and “Building Your Ideal Private Practice,” by Lynn Grodzki, to be excellent resources.
“How We Built our Dream Practice,” by Dave Verhaagen and Frank Gaskill is an amazing work full of out-of-the-box, innovative ideas that are more on the structural than the marketing side, but which is certainly informative for marketing.
Recruitment and hiring should support marketing efforts in that we recommend hiring people who are willing to go out and market themselves, establishing themselves as trusted referral targets for appropriate referral sources.
It goes without saying that they must be excellent clinicians. The best marketing is to consistently do a great job for your referral sources, and to consistently communicate with referral sources.
Jennifer: What are some of the main differences when it comes to marketing a solo practice vs. a group practice?
Dr. Luis Morales Knight: The major difference is that marketing emphasizes the breadth of the group’s abilities rather than (perhaps) the depth of the solo practitioner’s expertise.
Jennifer: Should people focus more on online or community marketing, or is it best to have a balance?
Dr. Luis Morales Knight: We have a full caseload while spending minimal time and effort on online marketing; and, honestly, not that much effort on community marketing.
While we’re aware the efficacy of any specific tool varies by market, we have had good luck with just having a website with copy tuned to the ideal client (q.v., ca-bhc.com) and with individual Psychology Today ads. Our primary marketing efforts involve developing referral relationships with local pediatricians and family practitioners. More on this later.
Jennifer: When it comes to networking, are there any common mistakes people make when it comes to their efforts? How can people network more effectively in terms of actually generating referrals?
Dr. Luis Morales Knight: That depends on what you mean by “networking.” If you mean “meeting other mental health practitioners at a networking meeting or other large get-together,” in general, we have not found that to be a huge or reliable source of referrals; it has been much more useful in identifying referral targets for services, problems, or populations that aren’t in our own bailiwick.
If you mean “meeting one-on-one, on purpose, with a wide range of agencies and helping professionals,” you have to be thoughtful about it.
If you run a cash practice, you need to network with people who see people who can afford cash services.
If you run an insurance-dependent practice, you need to network with people who are in-network with the same networks you’re in.
We have had the most luck of all when practitioners or agencies express interest in meeting with us. In these cases, of course, they see something in us that they like. In just about every case, we see something in them that we like too. So these informal one-on-one meetings have gone much better than “networking events.”
Jennifer: What are some things that you’ve tried or you commonly see people trying in terms of marketing strategies for a group practice that aren’t very effective or don’t have a great ROI?
Dr. Luis Morales Knight: We have seen very little ROI from cold mass mailings – on the order of five percent mail pieces ever generating a call. We have not been successful with marketing our practice to school administrators.
Jennifer: What are some specific strategies that you’ve found to be effective for people in marketing their group practices?
Dr. Luis Morales Knight: Our primary marketing strategy is to deliver services that pediatricians and family practitioners want for their patients. To that end, we call up local practices and ask the practice manager if we can do a meet-and-greet or lunch-and-learn.
In our experience, they rarely want to sit through a presentation (though they sometimes do; larger practices will use them as required trainings), but they always do want lunch.
Blowing a couple-three hundred bucks to feed the whole office is a fantastic investment. We present ourselves as professional, genuinely human, competent, and offering interventions based in hard science.
We market ourselves as offering interventions that are problem-focused and shorter-term: physicians and families both appreciate these, in our experience.
When we do get referrals from pediatricians, we are careful to call and/or send consult notes, especially to pediatricians who have not referred to us before. (Similarly, school counselors and school psychologists should be called and/or sent consult notes whenever possible: several of them refer to us consistently).
Above all, we do a good job for our referral sources. We strive to reinforce the physicians having placed their professional reputation on the line by referring their valued patient families to us!
Jennifer: Where can people learn more about you?
We are Drs. Patricia Gisbert, Luis Morales Knight, and Iris Richardson, co-owners of Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Center in Tustin, CA. People can find out more about our practice at https://ca-bhc.com/.