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[00:00:00] Dr. Sharp: Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

All right, y’all, hey, welcome back. Today’s episode is another in the beginner practice launch series, which just keeps going. It’s fun just to keep adding episodes to the series as topics come up. If you haven’t listened to the previous few episodes, I’d say the last 3 or 4, maybe 5 have all been related to launching your testing practice. We’ve covered a variety of topics in that realm, and there’s plenty to take from them. So go back and check those out if you would like.

Today, I’m talking about marketing when you start your testing practice. This is a question that I get a lot, and I would love to dig into a couple of ways that you can approach [00:01:00] marketing as you start your practice, when those might be appropriate, and how to implement.

If you are a beginner practice owner or a hopeful beginner practice owner, check out thetestingpsychologist.com/beginner to get some information about my beginner practice mastermind starting in April or May, and you can schedule a pre-group call and see if it’d be a good fit.

All right, let’s go ahead and dive into this conversation about marketing in the beginning.

Spoiler y’all, marketing, in the beginning, is actually very similar to marketing later in your practice as well. There are essentially two [00:02:00] ways to think about marketing in your practice or two methods to think about marketing. One is in-person or warm marketing options. The other is digital or cold marketing options. Now those are umbrella terms. There are many different ways to engage in each of those approaches. I’ll talk through some of that here in the episode today.

As is the case with many of these beginner practice launch episodes, today is meant to be more of a big picture overview than anything. And there are plenty of links in the show notes to the deep dive episodes that I’ve done on each of these topics in the past.

Let’s start with warm or in-person marketing options. When I say in-person or warm, I essentially mean marketing options that involve interacting with another person. It might not be face-to-face. It could be over [00:03:00] email, it could be with a phone call, but it involves a human-to-human direct connection or interaction.

I personally think that sustainability in a practice is driven by warm marketing or building strong relationships. In the beginning, this can be a challenging thing to do. So if you did not go to grad school, or if you’re not opening a practice in an area where you’ve already been for a fair amount of time, this can be tough because it feels like cold calling. It doesn’t feel warm at all. It actually feels quite challenging, a little bit clinical, a little bit salesy, and maybe a little bit slimy or sleazy.

So, what I’m hoping to do is chat with you about how to shift that frame just a bit into more thinking of this not [00:04:00] as selling yourself necessarily, but just as building relationships. And that’s what in-person or warm marketing is all about.

So you have a few options here. I always think about, first of all, making connections that are truly warm. When I say warm connections, I mean, those that already have some energy flowing between you and the other person. At best, it would be practitioners or connections that you already know, that you’ve had a relationship with and you’re just amping up that relationship. You’re just putting more energy into that relationship as you launch your practice.

These could be clinicians or practitioners that you have known by being in town for a while and working wherever you worked before you started your practice. These could be family members. It could be friends. It’s anyone that you already know who already has [00:05:00] some idea of what you do. That’s the best place to start. I think of this process as a series of concentric circles with you being the bullseye, and then this is the first circle out. So this is the warmest of warm marketing. People you already know and relationships you’re just going to nurture more than the start if that makes sense.

The next layer out is folks that you may not know personally, but are 2nd-degree connections from your warmer connections. These are folks who may be in the community who you know of and maybe share a mutual friend with, that’s the hope, or a mutual connection with. You can leverage your mutual connection to make an introduction and give you a little bit of an in with these individuals. That’s the hope [00:06:00] because it is still warm if you get a warm handoff. We’ve heard that term clinically primarily, but you can get a warm handoff to a referral source as well. I would certainly encourage you to try to take advantage of any warm handoffs in the referral realm as well.

The next layer out are folks that you don’t know and you don’t have a connection to through someone else. This is the coldest of warm marketing. These are the folks that you are emailing or phone calling, or otherwise reaching out to perhaps with a mailer of some sort to make a connection with.

I did an entire episode on how to reach out to referral sources a few months ago and gave some email scripts and some phone calls [00:07:00] scripts in that episode. So, I’m not going to go into detail on that here, but I will say that this happens a lot. There is a little bit of an art to it but most people, well, I take that back. Most people likely will not respond to cold emails, but those that do can truly turn into some of your best referral sources or connections. So I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a cold email or phone call to folks that you think would be good to connect with.

I’ve also talked in the past about my four-quadrant approach to the people to reach out to. You want to reach out to those who are seeing your clients, so the places your clients hang out, the other practitioners your clients are seeing. You want to reach out to those [00:08:00] who you might send your clients to after the evaluation is over. So folks that would be a good referral source for you. You want to reach out to people in town who are doing exactly what you do because they are likely full and might want to collaborate. And then lastly, you might want to reach out to individuals in town who just have a great reputation. People you just want to know just for the sake of knowing. That can give you a solid base when you’re trying to figure out who do I reach out to with some of these cold or even warmer efforts.

The other overarching theme with warm marketing is that you want to start a spreadsheet from the very beginning that will talk about, that will not talking about, I’m sorry, y’all. The spreadsheet will not talk about anything. The spreadsheet will keep track of all the referral sources that you’ve reached out to in terms of dates that you reached out, their response, your feelings about the meeting with them, [00:09:00] follow up reach-out dates, and then eventually it’ll turn into a referral tracker where you can keep track of who sends you referrals.

And then that will help to build a library of referral sources. You’ll see that folks start to rise to the top and it’s likely going to follow the 80/20 rule where you’re getting 80% of your referrals from 20% of your referral sources. And you want to really nurture that 20% of referral sources.

Okay. Let’s transition over to the digital or truly cold marketing options. Digital options basically include, at the lowest level, it’s just online presence. So making sure you have a website, making sure you have a Google My Business listing, maybe a Psychology Today profile, maybe a Facebook page just increasing your digital presence so that when people look for you, they can find you. [00:10:00] That is marketing in a certain way.

It steps up to the next level, which is I think search engine optimization, making sure that your website copy is working for you and that all those behind the scenes settings on your website are engineered so that people can find you when they’re trying to search for you and search for those key terms that map onto the services that you offer in your practice.

There are plenty of experts out there who will be happy to help you with search engine optimization. It is a bit of a science, so just know that you could pay for this as you get started, but that’s the next level that you want to consider in making sure that your website is really dialed in with search engine optimization so that people can find you when they’re searching on Google.

Notice that all of the options so far are free. You don’t have to pay for any of these except for Psychology Today and of course, website hosting and the fee to get your website [00:11:00] going. There are no ongoing fees with any of the options I’ve discussed so far.

The last thing that you might consider in the digital or cold marketing realm is actually paying for digital ads. These would be like Google ads, in some cases, Facebook ads, maybe Instagram ads. I don’t know the science or the ROI on that so far. I don’t think therapists really use Instagram ads, at least at this point in early 2022, but Facebook ads, Google ads. Those are the top two methods of getting clients through paid advertising.

I think that Google ads are really helpful of those two because people are naturally searching on Google for the services that you provide. And that’s when your ads pop up. It’s not like you’re just serving ads to people who aren’t interested in your clinical services. People are already searching and then Google [00:12:00] provides them with ads that match their search terms. So in a way, this is the warmest of digital marketing because someone is already searching for that service, and Google’s just helping find the person who might fit.

Facebook ads are a little colder because people don’t tend to search for therapists or psychologists or testing on Facebook. So you’re just serving cold ads to people who aren’t already interested.

So you might be asking, okay, when is each of these appropriate? When do I do warm? When do I do cold? And in my mind, honestly, there is always a place for warm marketing. Building strong relationships goes a long way toward a practice’s sustainability. It is easier when you are opening a practice in a place that you’re already practicing, or if you are moving to an area or engaging in practice somewhere that you know, [00:13:00] people, but if you’re good at connecting with people, this is certainly doable when you move to a new place. It’s certainly doable, but for some of us, that feels like a lot of work.

So in those cases, if you’re moving to a new place, you don’t want to put yourself out there, which is totally fine, you don’t want to engage in a lot of effort around in-person marketing and you’re willing to pay for it, digital marketing can go a long way, especially in smaller cities where there’s less competition for ad space on Google searches, you can get a lot of bang for your buck out of Google ads. And it’s a good way to jumpstart your practice and get some referrals coming in the door which can then facilitate connections with other providers because those clients are going to come in with clinicians they’re working with, with a primary care provider and they will serve as a conduit of sorts to these other referral sources that you can then reach out to.

So Google ads can be worth it, I think right [00:14:00] from the beginning if you’re starting in a place where you don’t know many people, there’s less competition for ad space and you just want to get folks in the door relatively quickly without taking the time or the energy to build in-person connections.

So there’s a little bit to chew on there. I think a combination is always nice. You might run some Google ads to get started, turn them off as you build relationships, turn them back on as you need more referrals. So it’s relatively flexible, but those are just two approaches to consider when you’re trying to build your practice.

I hope that this was helpful. Marketing and getting referrals is a big part of launching and it can feel overwhelming, but there are certainly methods to help you out. I hope that you are able to implement some of the tools that we talked about today.

Like I said at the beginning, [00:15:00] if you’re a beginner practice owner and you’d love to get some group support and talk through some of these things and have some accountability as you launch your practice, you can go to thetestingpsychologist.com/beginner, schedule a pre-group call and see if a mastermind group might be helpful for you.

Okay, everyone. I think we’re going to continue at the beginner of practice launch series for one more episode and then transition to some other topics. So stay tuned and happy testing.

The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologists website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here, and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.

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