Hello. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, episode 4. I’m Dr. Jeremy Sharp. I hope you are all doing well as we get into the wintertime here, whatever that looks like in your area of the country. It’s pretty snowy here. Everything is snow-capped, which looks pretty out my window, which is nice. It’s also nice to be inside this warm office and not out in the snow.
We’re going to keep moving along today. As we’ve gotten started with the podcast, we’ve talked a lot about general considerations, how to get started, and different issues to consider. Last time we talked about the financial aspects of testing. Today, we’re going to talk in-depth about marketing and what that looks like in testing practice.
I love talking about marketing. This is an area that I’ve taught a graduate-level seminar on marketing and professional issues in private practice and done workshops around marketing in private practice. So, I love this stuff.
We’ll talk about how to gauge the need in your area for testing, logo, branding, website, how to talk with other professionals about testing, networking, or as I like to call it building relationships in your community. We’ll dive into all those pieces and hopefully give you a good idea of how to start marketing your testing practice or grow your existing testing practice as you go along.
Let’s start with, gosh, what kind of marketing do you even need to do? A lot of this depends on your need in the area or others’ needs in the area, I [00:02:00] should say. In our area, when I first got into private practice, there was really only one agency in town that was doing testing and marketing themselves as a testing practice.
They were the only game in town. In their case, they were also doing a lot of marketing. They had a corner on the market, to be honest.
So, it depends a lot on your area. That influences how much marketing you might have to do and what kind of marketing you would do. I know that I’ve heard from folks who have moved from the Midwest and larger cities that there are a ton of neuropsychologists and you have to do things to stand out in that crowd. In our town, that is not necessarily the case. So, a little bit of a different process.
So one thing that you need to do is just start to gauge the need in your area. You probably have a sense of this just from living in the town that you have been to or living in the town that you live in, obviously, but if you don’t, you can always ask around. You can ask hospitals, psychiatrists, and family docs- who do they refer to for testing? What are their needs for testing? You can go on Psychology Today or the other online therapy directories and just do a quick search for anyone who specializes in testing and evaluation and go to those websites and try to gauge, are those folks actually doing a lot of testing and evaluation or is it just a small part of their practice or what? That’s a good place to start is just to gauge the needs in your area.
After you do that, then you can really start to look at branding and how you are going to present yourself as a testing practice. I like this stuff a lot. I think that logo and branding are important. I think your website is really important. And here’s why. Because as psychologists, I think there are quite a few psychologists out there who market testing as [00:04:00] a part of their practice, but like I alluded to earlier, the question really is how much do those folks really focus on testing versus just have it as a doable thing in their practice or a side gig or something they will do if they are asked but maybe not necessarily a huge focus?
If you are really trying to market yourself as a testing practice, I think is really important to be explicit about that. So let’s talk about how to do that. Again, a lot of the themes for these first few episodes are where are you at in your practice building? If you’re just starting out from the ground up and you have the luxury of building your logo and your brand specifically around testing, that’s great.
There are any number of folks you can work with who do logo and branding and can do a really good job. I can certainly recommend 2 folks who are fantastic. Our practice worked with Aaron Carpenter at Legendary Lion. We’ll have links to him in the show notes. So, someone like that who has worked with mental health practices and who will really dive in and help you figure out how to integrate testing and the ideals of testing into your logo and your branding, I think is really important.
If you already have an existing practice, hopefully, the name of your practice is not counseling RS or counselingspecificpsychologypractice.com or weonlydotherapy.com or whatever. If it is, you have a little bit more work to do in terms of your branding. But my guess is if you are serious enough to be listening to this podcast and really launching or growing a testing practice, you probably didn’t go with a name like [00:06:00] that. So that is something though to consider in your name.
I would definitely recommend doing more of a generic name versus a counseling-specific name or an exclusionary practice name. I was lucky in the beginning, I, for better or worse, just named my practice after me. So I was drjeremysharp.com, therapy, and assessment. As I went along and rebranded my practice, I went with the very straightforward, Colorado Center for Assessment and Counseling. Something that tells people exactly what you do, and hopefully, puts assessment in the front seat as a service that you offer because that’s what people will be looking for. So that really ties into your website as well.
Again, be explicit. Even if testing is only a part of your practice, I would not just lump it into a general services page. That’s what I see a lot on other psychologist websites is they will say, services offered, counseling, coaching, psychological evaluation, and it’s buried in there just another thing that people do.
So I would highly recommend creating at least one separate page specifically focused on psychological testing where you really work to put it into layman’s terms, what it is, what kind of clients are appropriate for testing- of course, depends on your target audience and what kind of clients you serve in your training, and also an FAQ. So, what people will get from testing, what the outcome of testing is, and how much does it cost? All of this is just going into the idea that you are serious about testing and it is a prominent service in your practice.
I think that flows really well toward how do you talk to other professionals or people in your community about testing. What I have found is that at least in our community, [00:08:00] outside of maybe certain therapists, psychiatrists, maybe even certain medical docs, very few people know exactly what testing is and even more particularly, what types of testing there are and what the differences are.
Even though I don’t necessarily market our practice as a neuropsychological practice, we get a lot of referrals for people who are asking for what they are told is neuropsychological testing. So that’s a very specific example, but when I go to networking events around town or I’m talking with other practitioners, certainly when I’m talking with my family and friends, I find that very few people know what psychological evaluation and testing is.
So, I think you have to do a great job of defining it on your website via an FAQ and some good service pages, but then also working on defining it with other professionals. If you put together a good FAQ and a good services page on your website, then that can really lead to putting together a nice information sheet, a flyer, a pamphlet, some sort of handout that details all that information that you can give to other professionals in the community.
One cool thing about testing is that I think we have the luxury of being a little bit more certain with our outcomes as compared to therapy. So, even if you don’t know exactly the diagnostic outcome or the treatment recommendations, you can still confidently say, testing will solve X problem for you and give you clear recommendations for going forward. And for a lot of folks, it’s nice to know what they’re going to walk away with.
We’ve put together an information sheet that details who were the ideal clients, what is [00:10:00] testing, what can testing help with, or another way to think of that is what is the problem you’re solving for people?
For physicians, we have a section that says how this will help us collaborate with patient care. For schools, it’s how this will help you support the student in the academic environment. Again, think of it as a 3-part process in that information sheet or pamphlet, what is testing, who were the ideal clients and who can benefit from testing, and what is the outcome of testing that people will walk away with? I would work to put together that sheet and really have it handy whenever you go to networking events or to email people asking about your services and things like that.
Another thing that we can definitely talk about is networking. I’ve alluded to that already, but I think networking with testing is a little bit different than therapy. It may be true with some particular aspects of therapy like EMDR or one of those nuanced approaches like emotionally focused therapy for couples or something like that where it’s a particular modality and you really have to explain what it is and how it differs from other therapy, but that’s what I think is important when you’re talking with people about testing.
I’ll go to networking. Now it’s been a while so people are hopefully getting a better idea, but when I initially started getting out in the community and sitting at these round tables and introducing ourselves and giving our elevator speech, I did not do a good job of telling people what testing was. I would say, “We specialize in psychological evaluation and assessment for kids and adults for a variety of concerns” and just assume that people knew what that meant because I knew what that meant, but other people don’t. So, I’ll get some nods and some oh, cool. And that [00:12:00] was about it.
So, pretty quickly I started to modify or elevate my elevator speech a little bit where now I go to these things and I just put it in layman’s terms. I say, “We specialize in psychological testing and evaluation. People come to us with a pretty specific question about what their brain is up to and how they might get help with that. So we help parents learn about what their kid is really good at and what they might need support in. And then we give them really concrete recommendations for moving forward.”
I also will say something like, “We use a variety of tests to look at brain functioning, like IQ and academic skills and memory and learning. We put that information together to create a diagnostic picture and create recommendations for people to take with them to help at home or in school or anywhere else they might need it.”
So I have expanded my elevator speech a little bit just to include all those different pieces that I think are pretty important so that people, again, don’t just do the nod and the oh, okay, cool and go to the next person, but they might then say, oh, so do you do IEP meetings? Do you work with adults with cognitive decline? Do you diagnose ADHD or autism? And I get more specific questions and people are a lot more curious.
The second part of that networking piece or the building relationship piece is really thinking about where your clients are spending time. So, people, as mental health professionals are always like, where do I market? I don’t know what to do. With testing, I think we, there are a lot of places where you can consider clients depending on what kind of testing you do.This is just a [00:14:00] list I came up with of where potential testing clients spend time.
Court- So people with custody evaluations or forensic needs. Schools- that’s pretty straightforward- kids who need psychoeducational evaluations or mental health evaluations for the school setting. Physician’s offices, PCPs, hospitals, neurologists, all these folks are seeing individuals and families who need testing. Psychiatrists, other therapists, and psychologists. In Colorado at least and I think other places as well, the department of human services. So, social security evaluations or child evaluations for trauma, things like that, and adoption agencies.
So these are all places that potential clients will be spending time and relatedly where your referral sources are. Let’s take them in order. With the courts, I would ask the question, do you know any attorneys? You can hopefully get in touch with your business attorney if you had an attorney set up your paperwork, which you probably should do. So ask your business attorney, who in town works with divorce, custody, neglect, guardianship, and conservatorships, all of those aspects would lend themselves well to psychological testing referrals.
At schools, well, if you have kids, no matter what age, I would definitely be connecting with your kids’ teachers, staff at school, and their school counselors. In my experience, at least, it comes up pretty naturally in the conversation where you don’t even have to sell yourself necessarily. You can just talk about it like, I’m a psychologist and I work with a lot of kids and I specialize in this type of evaluation and people are just [00:16:00] curious to know about that.
Aside from that, do you know any school counselors? Did you go to school with any school psychologists? Do you know any administrators? Do you know any teachers? A lot of schools do mental health education days. In fact, we have one of these coming up just in two weeks here in Fort Collins where the school sets aside a certain amount of time for teachers or students to engage in mental health education and they’ll bring in psychologists or mental health professionals to talk. So, I would definitely look around for those and consider giving a talk just on psychoeducational assessment- how that can benefit the teacher, how that can benefit parents, and really give them some education around how it could be helpful.
Let me see. I talked about the department of human services if you know any staff there, adoption agencies- certainly if you run in those circles for whatever reason, getting in touch with those folks, they often require evaluations for adoptive families.
And then we can talk about the provider connections. When I say provider connections, well, let’s start with physicians. There’s a lot of info out there about how to get into physician offices. I took a little bit of an unorthodox approach, I don’t know, maybe it was actually very Orthodox, who knows, but instead of doing what most people do, which is calling the physician’s office, sending a flyer, following up, talking to the referral coordinator, that whole formal process, I was in there with my then 2 year old and noticed that right there in the office, in the exam room, they have a few folders and one of those folders said mental health referrals.
So, while the doctor was talking with us, I just asked, hey, what’s going on with those mental health [00:18:00] referrals? Who do you have on the list? She was very kind and she let me take a look at it and I said, looks like y’all don’t necessarily have anyone for psychological evaluations. Is there any opportunity to talk with you about that really quick? And again, very kind, hopefully, it was not taking away from my kiddo’s medical care by any means, but she let me talk for about 30 seconds just about what we do and how we work with kids. And that was a great referral source. Now I’m on their list and have been for many years now and get a lot of referrals.
Now, there’s a lot of good information out there from other folks. For example, Joe Sanok did an episode with Alison Pidgeon as his guest over at Practice of the Practice pretty recently, I’ll link to it in the show notes, where he talked with Alison about her method for getting into “doctor’s offices.” There’s a lot of good information there about how to do that. I will paraphrase Alison basically by saying that it helps a lot to get in touch with the referral coordinator for the physician’s offices versus trying to connect with the physicians themselves. Again, I’ll link to that and let you take some time to listen to that and maybe integrate some of those strategies.
Now, a colleague of mine, and I would say, mentor and influencer back when I was starting my practice was Arón Bautista at the Austin Center For Therapy and Assessment. He talked with me about their process of courting neurologists in looking for evaluation clients, both pediatric and adult.
Arón talked about this process where they would send an initial letter with a pamphlet just detailing services as an introduction to services, and then they would always follow up to say, hey, did you get our pamphlet? Can we come over and meet with you? And then [00:20:00] he would go as the clinical director along with their chief neuropsychologist and they would get a little lunch meeting with the neurologists. He saw that as a very effective referral source. So, neurologists are another set of folks that you could work on getting in contact with particularly, doing neuropsychological evaluations or even psychological evals.
Now, other folks that I found to really send a lot of referrals our way: psychiatrists. There are a lot of times psychiatrists find themselves, depending on the area and the practice model having pretty limited time with folks, but being asked to make really important medication decisions based on the diagnostic picture. What that lends itself to is psychiatrists really leaning on us to make clear diagnostic impressions and decisions. So I get a lot of referrals from psychiatrists.
And again, the same method. A lot are in practice on their own at least here in our area. So I am pretty direct. I will just call up. In their case, it’s very mutual because I’m always looking for good psychiatrists to refer to. So, I’ll always say, hey, do you want to get lunch? I’m happy to bring you lunch and just talk about your practice. Here’s what we do in our practice. We’re always looking for psychiatric referrals. Have you utilized testing before and really just use those conversations as a time to talk about your services and build relationships.
The same with other therapists. Other therapists and psychologists here in town are a huge source of referrals for me. So I talk with them a lot and I maintain contact with them a lot as we go along. So again, what do you do? What’s your practice like?
Here in our clinic, at least, we refer a lot of folks out for therapy. So I have a great springboard to connect with other therapists right off the bat [00:22:00] is, Hey, we do a ton of psychological testing, we refer out nearly everyone for counseling when it’s appropriate, and so, I’m always looking for good referral sources. That leads us to a conversation again where I get to talk about our services here and how we might be helpful.
I said back in the beginning, that the theme for me with marketing or networking is really more just about relationship building. I go into these meetings really thinking about, hey, this is going to be really cool to connect with other people here in the community and just find out more about what they do. And as it comes up in conversation, of course, I can talk about our services and what we can offer, but I really don’t approach it as any sort of hard sell.
A lot of the time, to be honest, it doesn’t dominate a big part of the conversation. We’ll talk about testing and services for part of the time, and then we’re talking about our kids or college football or snowboarding or whatever, just building relationships. And that maybe takes a little bit of the pressure off and takes some of the nastiness out of that word networking.
Thank you again for tuning in to The Testing Psychologist podcast. This has been great talking about marketing and building your practice. Next time we are going to be talking all about time management and how to make time in your schedule to make sure that you are getting the testing done that you need to, getting the reports done, and making sure that time is just flowing well in your practice and you’re not totally overwhelmed.
In the meantime, if you would like to get more information, read the blog, or even take some pretty actionable steps to building your practice, you can go over to thetestingpsychologist.com, and check out some articles. You can also look for [00:24:00] our email course, which is a The Four Week Blueprint to building or growing testing services in your practice. Head on over to thetestingpsychologist.com/fourweekblueprint. You can sign up for that four-week course. You’ll get an email every week with an action item or several action items to really help you take concrete steps toward building your testing and assessment services.
And as always, you can check out our Facebook community, The Testing Psychologist Community, and just connect with other psychologists and mental health professionals who are doing testing and chatting about it.
Thank you again as always for listening. I will talk to you next time.