Businesses of every kind have gone to the Internet to grow and expand, including mental health and behavioral health businesses.
Small businesses, big brands, and even stay-at-home moms use the Internet to successfully promote, market, and advertise their services to their potential client-base. Why not mental and behavioral health professionals? Why should they miss out? Unfortunately, all too many professionals in the mental and behavioral health world are lost when it comes to content marketing. I want to change that dynamic.
"I believe it is time for mental and behavioral health professionals to overcome the obstacles to Internet marketing. I recommend practitioners and practices alike learn to master the power of the Internet through content marketing. Do you agree, and if so, are you ready to get started?"
Mental and behavioral health businesses have always depended upon referrals to keep their program or practice alive. Obtaining referrals from various traditional sources is old “school”, but still essential for success. The online Internet-based referral strategy is based on building awareness, establishing a positive reputation, and securing relationships established in trust. It is identical to the "old school" traditional system, only that the interaction takes place online.
Internet marketing is really simple. The better your online reputation becomes, the more potential referrals you'll receive. The same is true with online relationships. Professional's with solid online relationships can expect a good flow of referrals through a campaign built on blogging, social media engagement, and email marketing. The only difference is that online referrals are sent from Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Adding Content Marketing to Expand Behavioral Health Referral Sources
There are 3 easy steps to establishing a solid marketing strategy, and you can start building this foundation today. First, if you have not already done so, consider starting a blog. If you have a blog, recommit yourself to making high-quality posts designed to promote your business and help your audience at the same time.
The second step will influence the first step, but it takes discipline. Before you start blogging, get organized. Develop your content marketing plan. By developing a plan with an emphasis on "strategy", you'll increase the chances that your time investment will result in new referrals that actually grow your practice or program.
"A content marketing plan is the process of identifying your audience, determining the best distribution channels to reach your particular audience, and thinking through the subject matter that will start a conversation of value."
Blog posts must be meaningful, informative, uplifting, and solve a problem. Additionally, the best content marketing plan is contingent upon your marketing style. Your style will define you, and will either enhance your influence or destroy it. Make sure that your style resonates with your clientele.
The third step sets the foundation and becomes your launching point. Along with having a purposeful plan behind your blog, you also need a way to communicate one-on-one with those who find your therapeutic approach appealing. Meaning, when you have "connected" with your audience through your blog, there must then be an invite and inclusion to be in a deeper relationship.
There must be an easy process that takes blog visitors from "readers" to "clients". One of the easiest ways to personalize your online conversation is through email marketing. It's a little more intimate and personal, and it can be automated to some degree. At the very least, email marketing can act as your invite and save you tons of time.
Getting Started and Make it Count
Like the Nike slogan says, "Just Do it!" Getting started is the hardest step. But making that first step is exactly what you must do. Below you will find some helpful takeaways to follow to get you started. Remember, the goal is to create a rich source of new referrals. The objective is to build your practice or program. Content Marketing is not only essential to both of goal and the objective, but it can also improve every facet of your business.
"I recommend that you use the following strategy to blogging and content marketing. Specifically, make everything about the client. Successful marketing for mental and behavioral health businesses has nothing to do with your service, and it has everything to do with the client."
Effective marekting is not about promoting your theories, treatment approach, or your experience amd background. It's all about enhancing the lives of your audience. It's about solving problems by offering real solutions. When your intentions are viewed as an authentic attempt to enhance and empower the lives of your audience, you're marketing will succeed.
The Internet Has Changed the Game for Mental Health Businesses
You probably already know that the traditional referral structure has changed. The Internet is now part and parcel of the traditional referral structure. For a mental or behavioral health professional the traditional referral apparatus is still important and indispensable, but it is now intertwined with Internet marketing. The two are now one, and the Internet has become the foundation that supports the traditional referral system.
"The chances that a prospective client will conduct research on you before calling to set an appointment is almost 100%."
The fact is that when a professional or lay person refers you or your program, the person receiving the referral will do their own online investigation before seeking you out. People have been trained to verify and confirm referrals and references by doing a quick Google search. If you can’t be found online you will inevitability lose business.
The Internet has become the #1 source for marketing and advertising for all businesses, big and small, including businesses related to mental and behavioral health. Either you are using the Internet to effectively to market your business, or you’re not. If you are not, you need to be. Worse yet, you can be assured that practitioners and programs similar to yours are being found by clients through search engines, social media, and email marketing - and you are not.
HIPAA Rules Do Not Interfere With Marketing
Regarding the mental and behavioral health industries, there are misunderstanding and misconceptions regarding marketing and advertising. HIPAA compliance is the major culprit. Professionals are afraid of violating HIPAA rules, and therefore they tend to shy away from "marketing". Wrong choice.
For the moment, put HIPAA completely out of your mind and listen to a few important facts. The Internet is not only an indispensable tool for behavioral health practitioners and mental health businesses; it is absolutely critical to your future employment opportunities and career advancement - and these two items have nothing to do with HIPAA.
"Smart practitioners are building their online credibility, authority, expertise, and trust. Through a consistent flow of published online articles and blog posts, along with several robust social media channels, these savvy practitioners are building a pot of gold for themselves."
Establishing Your Online Presence - The Value of Becoming a Recognized Expert
A practitioner who has established an online presence (in conjunction with terms associated with mental and behavioral health) has a unique value to offer therapeutic programs or practices. Professionals who have a vested online authority have an acute value to any mental or behavioral health employer. Savvy practitioners are able to leverage their online authority, converting it into better job opportunities as well as higher wages.
By being known as an “expert” by Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube the practitioner has tapped into a tangible currency. For example, if I owned a behavioral health program and I was looking for a clinician, program director, or executive I would look for a skilled professional who has developed a phenomenal online presence. If I had several candidates with equal qualifications, I would definitely lean toward choosing the person with an online authority. So, whether you are looking to build your practice or position yourself for a better job making more money, the wise thing to do is to build your online professional authority. It starts with your blog.
"If you are not using the Internet to market yourself it means there are folks needing and wanting your services but they don’t know you exist. Worse yet, they are finding your peers who are online."
If you are ready to get found online, then we have a few recommendations. Be prepared to look at a variety of marketing techniques to help you build multiple streams of referral channels as you create ways for prospective clients/patients to find you.
Taking for granted that you have answers and solutions for folks with behavioral and mental health issues, learn how to connect your solutions to the people who want and need them. They are looking for solutions online, so you need to be there too. It’s rather difficult to offer your answers and solutions unless the folks with therapeutic questions can find you.
Share Your Expertise - Start a Blog
Practitioners are good at educating the public and bringing awareness to the issues, such as anxiety, depression, addiction, etc. But education and awareness is only half of the equation. Education and awareness alone is not an effective marketing strategy. Unless you can tell real stories about real people you will be just one more noisy gong in an ocean of annoying white noise.
I recommend that you tell the real stories of success, stories about people who overcame their mental or behavioral issues through you, your practice, or program. Use a blog to tell your story. (If you are concerned about HIPAA and privacy, change the names and the minor details of the people in the stories).
"The best way to share who you are, and what you do best, is by telling the real-life stories of your successes. Most practitioners and professionals are very good at describing problems, but not good at describing the real-life stories about the solutions."
Practitioners are good at educating people about “depression” or “substance abuse”. They are also well versed on treatment theories and treatment modalities. But the educational marketing approach will only take you so far. The educational material might boost your ego and make you look good to your peers, but it won't attract new clients.
To achieve marketing success through blogging, you will need to go beyond education and awareness and get into telling the incredible stories of healing and restoration.
Think about telling the story of how your patients succeed and overcome their “issues.” Share your approach by telling the story of the patient’s road to recovery. By using a storytelling approach, you can educate folks about your unique therapeutic approach and how it relates to your patient’s successes.
"You can always change the names and the circumstance and respect the privacy of your clients. But the key to effective marketing is to focus on telling the story of hope while showing empathy and compassion. Be the encouraging story that makes the difference in the lives of people looking for hope."
Once you have your stories written the next step is to get the story out to the public. For that we recommend you create a blog where your stories can be published and distributed. We recommend that you use the blog to tell the stories of hope and recovery, offering encouragement to those who still suffer. But there is more. Don't start anything until you have a plan and know your strategy.
For blogging platforms I recommend signing up with Therapy Insider's microsite. The Therapy Insider microsite comes with a blog and publishing feature. What's more, through the Therapy Insider's blog platform professionals can submit their blog posts to be included in Therapy Insider's main website, share their posts to Social Media Channels, and target prospective clients looking for therapeutic services in their geographical area. For more info, click here or call 866-471-6695.
Develop a Content Marketing Plan for Mental Health Practices
The Content Marketing Plan is a written strategy that digs deep, defining your best pathway to the creation and distribution of high-quality content - content that describes you, your practice or program, and the key elements that make you different, unique, or perfectly suited to solve the problems of your target audience.
"A good content marketing plan defines your mission, goals, and objectives as they align with your audience."
This means you also need to define your audience and know their needs, wants, and desires. Moreover, as you develop your plan focus on the solutions or answers, you have that your audience is looking for.
When you start developing your content marketing plan, focus on establishing pathways to match your unique value proposition with your audience’s special needs. Additionally, decide what pathways are best to discover the heart of your story by identifying the best channels for your story.
You have many different venues to tell your story, but do you know what venue is used by your particular audience? You can use blog posts, Youtube videos, Email marketing or a combination of all three. The channels you choose to use will determine the best way to engage and reach your target audience.
"There are several good free Content Marketing Plan tools. Essentially, these tools are Content Editorial Calendars that can assist you with organization and planning."
First, I recommend Google Sheets (you'll have to sign up for a free Google email account to access the Google Sheets ap). Create your own plan in the form of a spreadsheet using Google Sheets. As long as you can list you proposed topics, article titles, and target publishing dates you're covered. Another item you can add is "ideas for articles,"trending topics", and "my competitors topics".
Use Email Marketing to Educate and Stay in Touch
Email marketing is an incredible way to re-introduce yourself and keep people up to date on you and your practice - all at the same time.
Through email, you can reach the masses. With one email you can share upcoming events, webinars, free screenings, as well as unique opportunities. The cool thing is that you can get this info out to your entire audience through email.
"If you have a timely message that uniquely addresses their collective need, send an email. Or, gather your best blog posts of the month and send them out as an email newsletter, and do this monthly. The quest is to provide the answers to their struggle."
Email marketing is a way to stay in touch with people while offering nuggets of wisdom and encouragement. An occasional email can remind people that you are near and that you have the solution when they are ready. Through email marketing, you can remind people that they are not alone, and that help is close by.
Lastly, through email marketing, you can let folks know that you are thinking of them, show empathy and genuine concern, while inviting them to make an appointment.
The Secrets to Effective Email Marketing for Behavioral Health
1. Mechanism to build, organize, and store your email list: Effective email marketing starts with building your list of email addresses. We recommend MailChimp (for more info on Mailchimp, click here). MailChimp allows you to create multilple lists, giving you the opportunity to organize your lists into segments.
For example, you might have a "parenting" list, or a "addiction recovery list", or even a "prospective IOP client list". The way you break down and organize your lists is endless. Additionally, with MailChimp you can create really cool HTML templates so that you emails look good.
2. Sign-up Systems and Email Rules Compliance: There is no doubt that email marketing works. As long as people on your list have "opted in" to receive your emails. Meaning, they signed up and requested to be on your list. Plus, you can't spam your list with tons of spammy emails.
If you are timely, consistent, and offer value through a weekly or bi-weekly email, you will be okay, and people on your list will look forward to receiving your email. If you spam your list with annoying emails, the receiptents will report you, and you might be banned from sending out emails. Be sensitive and respectful.
The next important step is to make it "easy" to sign up for your list. Make it easy for folks to sign up for your list, easy to share your emails, and easy to opt out if they choose to stop receiving them.
3. Be Unique and Personal: Before you can expect to engage your audience through email marketing you must be unique. Email marketing should invite a conversation. Have fun, be crafty, witty, imaginative, or uncommon. In otherwords, be different. As for feedback or responses. Make an invite of sorts. Separate your emails from the crowd. Use images, videos, or infographics. Be real, authentic, and inviting.
Therapy Insider Partners with Mental and Behavioral Health Businesses
Therapy Insider is uniquely positioned to help mental health practitioners and programs cultivate new streams of referrals through native advertising and social media marketing. For more information, click here.
"Therapy Insider provides professional behavioral health businesses with the tools and acumen to leverage high-quality content as a strategy to build enhanced referral systems."
By providing professionals with advertising, “best practices”, “how-to guides”, “realtime analysis”, and “curated content” Therapy Insider makes it easier for practitioners and programs to achieve cost-effective results through native advertising.
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