So far on the blog, we have walked through how to build a website step-by-step, discussed marketing tactics, and even set new year’s resolutions for our marketing! Today, I want to share something a little different: the fundamental lesson that is the basis for everything that I’ve achieved in marketing, and everything that you can achieve:
Marketing can help people.
This sounds so simple, but it is revolutionary.
How many times have you hid in a store to avoid its salespeople, hung up on a telemarketer, or tried to ignore a billboard in the middle of a stunningly beautiful landscape? The average person experiences 5,000 ads per day. It is no wonder that we see marketing and sales as an intrusion into our day-to-day lives.
This form of marketing, which I call “scummy marketing,” is the opposite of therapy. It shouts at people rather than holding space for them, and it pushes them away when it should welcome them forward.
It is so easy to connect all marketing with these negative experiences. I know I did. As an empathetic person, I was a reluctant marketer at first because I worried about giving people the same uncomfortable experiences I had with marketing and sales.
However, these negative experiences hide a key truth: there are people who need your help who don’t know you exist.
Let’s set aside all the marketing tactics, channels, strategies, and best practices for a minute (we’ll get to them in future posts, I promise), and create a new definition of marketing for therapy.
Marketing is simply: letting the people you help know that you can help them. No pressure, no grandiose promises, just knowledge.
Even better, showing people that you can help them makes them more likely to work with you than using classic high-pressure marketing tactics.
I’ll give you an example. MyWellbeing’s marketing team and I focus entirely on how we can help people who are looking for therapy. We put together lists of reasons to start therapy and quizzes on how to tell if therapy is right for you. We write articles on calming anxiety, coping with grief and loneliness, understanding depression, and so many more topics. We organize mental health events and send supportive emails. In the process, we’ve grown the number of people matching with MyWellbeing therapists by 5x.
The most beautiful part of our marketing for me is that we serve MyWellbeing’s mission of making mental health support available for everyone. Our marketing doesn’t just convince clients to find their therapist or coach with us, it provides advice, perspective, support, and comfort.
Our marketing helps people.
It is amazing how much more comfortable and enjoyable marketing your practice is when you are thinking first about how to help others.
Let’s walk through how you can use this principle in your marketing, together.
Identifying which specific type(s) of clients you serve in your practice is the most important part of giving actionable advice.
This may seem obvious, and if you’ve attended a bunch of niching workshops for therapists and identified your ideal client, you are welcome to skip to section 2. However, if you don’t think that niching is right for your practice, you haven’t identified a niche, or you’re not sure what a niche is, please stick with me for a minute.
A niche is a special issue area, population, or other group(s) of people that you can specialize in serving. Speaking to a specific group of people allows you to go deeper into what they are experiencing and convince them that you can help them.
For example, say you were looking for a marketing expert to help you grow your practice. Which of the following people would you choose, based on the information below?
“I earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at Sample College before transitioning into marketing, which helps me analyze marketing campaign performance. I specialize in performance, content, and growth marketing with a particular focus on SEM and paid advertising. Having worked with clients across healthcare, education, consulting, and non-profits, I have the experience to help you reach your marketing goals.”
“Are you not sure where to even begin with your marketing? I can help.
I simplify marketing for therapists and help you reach the clients you most want to support. I've even been called "the marketing therapist" for my ability to make the process of marketing your practice stress-free and enjoyable!”
When I asked a group of therapists who they would pick, everyone picked the “niche” candidate. Focusing in specifically on therapists helped the niche candidate make a stronger pitch that they would be able to help therapists.
As you focus your marketing on helping people, it is valuable to be as specific as possible about who you help so that you can speak to the specific concerns they have. For example, if you work with busy executives, a general article on anxiety might not be as helpful for your ideal client as an article on managing performance anxiety in high-pressure meetings or coping with imposter syndrome in a new role.
Once you identify who you can help, it’s time to figure out how you can help them.
This is one of the areas that makes therapists the most uncomfortable, and for good reason. You should not provide so much help in your marketing that it could be mistaken for therapy, and you should make sure the line between support and therapy is clear. If you are ever in doubt, refer to the requirements and ethical guidelines of your license for the types of marketing activities you can and can’t conduct.
That said, your marketing does not have to resemble therapy in any way to convince your clients that you can help them as a therapist.
If you write an article that helps a parent figure out that their child might benefit from therapy, you have helped them solve a problem that prevents them from bringing their child to therapy without providing care. Chances are that parent will be far more likely to work with you than any other practitioner if you are the person who helped show them that their child could use support.
Similarly, if you create a YouTube video or an Instagram post with a breathing exercise that helps someone cope with heightened anxiety in the moment, you will be top of mind for that person when they search for a therapist.
There is something so powerful about receiving help from someone before you have ever worked with them. You can build relationships through your marketing and convince people that you are the right therapist for them before they ever meet you in person. All you have to do is produce content, ads, or other marketing materials that show your prospective client (or the people supporting your prospective client) that you can help them.
All of that said: it’s been a tough year. I’ve heard from so many of you that you feel like you don’t have anything left to give. Compassion fatigue has been such a common companion over the past year, and it can be challenging enough to support your clients.
If you’re overwhelmed or exhausted, we hear you and we’re here for you. We’ve put together a piece on recognizing and reducing compassion fatigue. It’s likely that starting with that piece will actually improve your marketing efforts when you return to them.
As someone who has been deeply burned out before, I’d love to help reduce your stress around marketing so you have more space for the restorative parts of your daily routine. There was a simple principle that helped me recover from my own marketing stress:
Less is more.
You may have heard of this principle already, because we are BIG fans of it at MyWellbeing. It just means focusing your private practice marketing on the strategies that really matter so you can bring in more prospective clients in less time. We have a whole beginner’s guide to simplifying your marketing through less is more, but the basic thing to keep in mind is to figure out which marketing efforts bring you more clients and which don’t, and then to cut the efforts that are not serving you and your practice.
Focusing on helping others in your marketing can make marketing your practice more comfortable and enjoyable AND bring you more clients. So, why not start now?
Take a minute to think about how your marketing can help others. If you’re a couples therapist, could you write an article on how to talk to your partner about couples therapy? If you work with LGBTQIA young professionals, could you reach out to an LGBTQIA affinity group and offer your practice as a resource for folx who are struggling?
Write down one piece you could write, ad you could create, or post you could share on social media to help others. Give it a try this week! It is one step in a path to helping others, both inside and outside of the room.
Mariah was Head of Growth at MyWellbeing. She is a marketing expert in the areas of content strategy, digital advertising, business growth, and anything related to helping therapists grow their practice.