This is the fifth of a series of six articles written for Private Practice Hub by Phil Hulme of WebHealer the specialist provider of websites to professional therapists. The series started in July with an overview of AIDAN, WebHealer’s approach to helping their customers grow their therapy practice and this article goes deeper into step four – Action.
The Decision Journey
We’ve reached the Action stage now and if you have done what you need to at the previous stages we can assume that your website visitor is feeling well disposed to you as a therapist. Some visitors are merely browsing of course – colleagues, friends or other therapists checking out the competition.
Amongst your visitors however are genuine potential clients, yet even so the majority of them are probably not in the frame of mind to make a “purchase decision” in that moment, whether that is making an appointment enquiry or purchasing some form of product. They are likely to be at one of the following stages.
- Initial research
- Comparing alternatives
- Reviewing preferred options
- Ready to make contact
Remember too that each one of them will have probably visited your website, and others, multiple times. That is a lot of opportunities for you to get overlooked in preference to another therapist. Making a strong impression with good content, as emphasised in the previous chapter, will go a long way to keeping you in the frame through your visitor’s decision journey, but why wait until this journey’s end? If you can establish a connection with your client earlier on, you have a better chance of becoming their preferred option.
Connecting with your client
The internet has made it much easier for people to connect both technically as well as behaviourally. Most people find it easier to send an email than they do to pick up the phone to a stranger. Social media is not appropriate to every type of therapy though many other methods of making a connection exist. Aggressive marketing has no place in the therapeutic environment but sensitively presented opportunities to connect are available if you look for them. For example you may invite visitors to
- request a free information sheet about coping with stress, delivered by email
- sign up for a monthly email newsletter
- follow you on Twitter
- share a blog page through social media
- respond to an “Ask me a question” contact form
The idea in each case is to establish a risk free relationship from the perspective of your potential client, in which they feel no obligation but still establish a slightly more personal connection with you than is available via anonymous website browsing.
So far we have discussed how to raise your profile above that of others whilst your potential client progresses along their decision journey, but is there a way to shorten or speed up that journey? For some therapy areas, mainly in the mental health sector, the answer is usually no, but in other areas there is room for a little more persuasion that might encourage an early decision. Here are a few ideas:
- Free or discounted initial consultations
- Special time limited discounts
- Full hour session for the price of a half hour
In all cases, the idea of limiting the duration of the offer needs to be present, as this is the key to prompting action by the person who is most likely to be receptive to these offers – a potential client who is close to making a decision.
When encouraging action you also need to be very aware of the risk of appearing to cheapen your service which will reduce integrity. Use these options cautiously.
WebHealer is a specialist provider of websites to private practice therapists and is preferred supplier to members of leading therapy associations.