It’s not news to me that many therapists in private practice struggle to fill their caseload. What if I told you that over-saturation of therapists, costs, or other limiting factors are not the real reasons your private practice isn’t full?
What if there were options in your reasonable power to fill your caseload?
Sounds great, right?
In today’s article, I’m going to discuss the real reason your private practice isn’t full and offer some tools to help you pinpoint where to focus your efforts.
I’ll cut to the chase here
The real reason your private practice isn’t full is because your marketing strategy isn’t working
Or maybe it’s possible you don’t have a marketing strategy. If you open your practice but you can’t be found ANYWHERE, there’s no way for folks to find you.
Chances are, you have some kind of marketing tools in place – even if you don’t realize it – because there has to be some way for potential clients to find you.
If you have some kind of website, you’re listed on a therapist directory, or you’re on an insurance panel that sends you referrals. Those are all marketing tools.
And it’s possible that you may have a more full-blown marketing strategy that simply isn’t bringing in enough clients to fill your practice.
It’s important to evaluate your marketing strategy to identify the real reason it isn’t working.
In order to help you identify the real reason your private practice isn’t full, I present to you: The marketing funnel.
This isn’t something I came up with at all, this is a central concept of marketing 101.
Basically, a marketing funnel acknowledges that there are several steps between someone considering seeing a therapist and deciding to book with you.
Think about it: if you were looking for a therapist, would you just do a google search and immediately book with the first therapist that popped up – without even reading their website?
By seeing your marketing strategy as a funnel, you can break down your marketing strategy into its parts and identify where it’s going wrong.
Let’s illustrate with an example:
Let’s say your primary marketing strategy is through SEO – meaning, you want potential clients to find you when they do a Google search for a therapist. But despite your best efforts, your practice simply isn’t filling up
It’s not helpful to jump to the conclusion that SEO doesn’t work, or that SEO isn’t the best option for you.
Imagine there’s a potential client looking for a therapist like you in a Google search. Let’s break down the steps of the decision funnel for this potential client:
- The person decides they are interested in finding a therapist to help with their anxiety
- They do a google search for something like, “Anxiety Therapist.”
- Several listings pop up, and they likely click through a few websites on the first page of search results.
- They initially eliminate therapists based on whether the website is easy to use and understand
- Then they eliminate therapists based on more specifics, like location, cost, and other factors
- Then they eliminate therapists based on whether the website copy aligns with what they want from therapy.
- Then they decide if they’re ready to reach out
- After hearing back from the therapist, they discern whether to book an initial appointment
- After attending the initial appointment, they decide whether they want to return for a second appointment.
I just named 9 steps in the decision funnel for this potential client. And in fact, there are even smaller steps between each of those.
A few more examples of possible hiccups:
Your marketing strategy could be absolutely on-point for 8 of these steps, but if one of the 9 is off-kilter for whatever reason, then your practice isn’t going to fill up.
- If your website is awesome and helpful, but your SEO game isn’t getting your page to show up on the first page of search results, potential clients won’t find you.
- Or maybe your website is the top search result, but once a potential client arrives on your page they find your messaging or design to be unclear and X out.
- Or maybe a potential client thinks you’re amazing until they make initial contact, and find something about that interaction that doesn’t align with what they expected based on your website.
Any one of these hiccups could make an otherwise awesome marketing strategy not work.
How to identify where your marketing strategy isn’t working
So to help you identify where your marketing strategy isn’t working to fill your practice, it’s important to first break down your strategy into the steps of the funnel that a potential client walks through to book with you.
To identify these steps, put yourself in the shoes of your ideal client. What steps would they need to go through in order to go from looking for a therapist to booking with you?
Try to be as nuanced and detailed as possible.
Then, take a closer look at each step of this process.
Is there a place where you can track that folks are dropping off?
In the SEO example, if your website analytics shows that you have tons of traffic to your site, but no one is reaching out to contact you, that tells you that there’s something about the messaging on your site that isn’t jiving with those visitors to help them decide to contact you.
If instead, you are getting no traffic to your website, that means that your website probably isn’t showing up in Google search results, to begin with, and you’d benefit from amping up your SEO strategy.
This same tool can help you regardless of your marketing strategy – regardless of SEO.
If you’re networking, public speaking, using social media, or anything else, I guarantee there is a funnel folks walk through before deciding to book with you.
Identify those steps and see if you can find where there are hiccups in your system.
Ask for feedback
A second set of eyes is always helpful!
Have a trusted colleague or two take a look to help you identify any issues. Have them pretend to be a potential client and walk through the process of the funnel themselves to see if they can catch what might not be connecting.
Here are some resources to help you fill up your private practice
If you’d like a little help developing a marketing strategy and implementing some of the tools from this article to analyze which steps of your strategy could use a bit of tweaking, you might find it helpful to check out my course the Client Attraction System, which helps you create a sustainable, life-giving system that reliability attracts your favorite kinds of clients to your therapy practice.
Or you might like to check out my other marketing blogs to learn more about SEO, branding, marketing, and running a successful private practice.
I hope you found these tips helpful for your private practice. And until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well!