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Advertising your therapy business

According to the old adage, you’ve got to spend money to make money. But how true is that for a private practice like yours?

When you’re starting a business, the last thing that you want to do is spend money when you don’t have to. Advertising is probably way down your list - you plan to worry about it later.

But you won’t attract new clients by just sitting back and waiting for them to notice you. The best way to spread the word about what you do and get your business out there is still to be pro-active and to advertise.

The good news is that you can pick and choose HOW you go about this process. Some approaches are much more affordable than others.

Firstly, think about your private practice and who it’s targeting. What is your ideal client likely to read? Where are they likely to spend their time? Where might they search for a business like yours? Once you know this information, you can pick and choose an advertising medium that works.

Advertising with business cards

You can use business cards to advertise your services when you meet new people, you can leave them in GP surgeries like a leaflet, and pin them to noticeboards in local shops.

You can also slip them into any correspondence. You can post them to other health practitioners, relevant people at local health authorities, private hospitals, colleges and agencies.

This approach will rarely send you a rush of clients, but it’s a good start. Don’t treat your business cards like gold dust. They are relatively cheap to order so hand them out regularly – one for you, for your friends, family, and colleagues.

You’ll find lots of advice about getting the right business card here.

Advertising with leaflets and flyers

Before the Internet, investing in direct mail advertising used to be one of the best ways to drum up local business. It’s less effective now and the amount of effort you need to put into producing and distributing leaflets or flyers often outweighs the return. That said, with a well-produced advert (and perhaps a discount offer/coupon), you might get some interest.

Find out more about leaflets here.

Newspaper advertising

Like leaflet or flyer advertising, newspaper advertising isn’t as effective as you might hope. These days local papers are jam-packed with adverts and there’s a good chance that yours will get lost in the noise.

Local newspaper readership is declining and so the return on investment (ROI) for newspaper advertising can be poor. That said, if your potential clients are older and still prefer printed media over Internet content, this approach might still get you some publicity. Don’t forget your local town or village newsletter either.

There might also be scope to run an advertorial or get involved in a news piece. See our article: Public Relations - more than just press releases for more on this approach.

Directory advertising

How many lists are you on? Do a Google search for therapy directory or [your service] directory and you’ll find a number of places where you could feature your private practice.

Get started by creating a listing on our sister site, the UK Therapy Hub. This covers all areas of therapy and is the largest directory available.

Then, there are directories specific to your area of expertise. For example, if you’re a counsellor or psychotherapist, have a look at the UK Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (UKRCP) or the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP). The more directories you can get yourself listed on, the more chance you have of being spotted by prospective clients.

Google Adwords

If you already have a website, then Google Adwords can be a way to attract people to it. Simply put, the service enables you to target specific phrases that people are searching for. This might be your location, i.e. ’holistic therapist York’. Or it might be a particular problem, i.e. ’counselling for depression’.

Adwords is easy to set up (although difficult to master) and you only pay for your adverts when somebody clicks on them. Find out more at www.google.co.uk/adwords/express.

Facebook advertising

A powerful alternative to using Google Adwords is running adverts on Facebook. Facebook offers a unique opportunity for advertisers as its users reveal a lot of personal information about themselves (including age, location and interests).

This enables you to laser-target an advert to reach a key demographic - men, aged 20-35 who live in Sheffield; or anyone over 18 in Leeds who’s interested in health and well being. Go to www.facebook.com/ads to get started.

Which advertising option is right for you?

Again, the most important thing you should do first is define your target market and then work out which one of the methods we’ve outlined here will be best at reaching out to them. Don’t feel you have to do them all – start with the most affordable, or those that offer the most promising return on your investment.