Many counsellors and therapists use counselling directories to list their private practice and increase their online presence, yet many don’t use this form of marketing effectively and wonder why they don’t get the results they had hoped for.
As the owner of a counselling directory in Australia, I see lots of therapists and counsellors making simple mistakes that can result in their inability to attract clients or get the type of clients they want.
When used effectively, counselling directories can get you a better quality client. Counselling directories allow the visitors to search many profiles and then choose the counsellor they think best matches their needs. This means it’s even more essential that you have a compelling profile that’s clear about who you work with and the type of work you do best.
Here are my top 10 tips to effectively market your private practice on a counselling directory:
#1. Put your best face forward with a professional photo
This is such a simple part of the equation, yet so many therapists struggle to get a good professional head shot to upload to their profile. I’ve lost count of the number of photos I’ve seen where the image is blurry, or an unusual size because it’s been cropped from an amateur photo taken in a social setting.
You might have looked nice at your nieces wedding, but that half a photo with your husband cropped out (and yes, I can still see his left shoulder) is not going to cut it.
The reality is we all make quick judgements and assessments of others through their image. This is highlighted even more online and many clients will decide to call you based on your image. For the relatively small cost for a set of professional head shots that will last you a number of years and can be used in many online and offline places, this tip is a no-brainer.
#2. Have a clear niche to attract your ideal client
You are one profile amongst many on a counselling directory. And while many people might think this will work against you, it’s actually an opportunity to get really clear about your niche and attract your ideal client.
Ask yourself, who are my best clients? What issues do I do my best work with? Which clients do I enjoy the most? The answers to these questions will indicate the characteristics and problems of your ideal client
The clearer you are about what population you work with and what problems you treat, you will end up attracting more clients than promoting yourself as a generalist.
Choose your niche, state it clearly and let your copy reflect this clarity.
#3. Stop your reader in their tracks with an engaging headline
We’ve all heard the statistics that 80% of people read a headline and only 20% continue reading. When you think about this, it’s truly staggering how many therapists don’t use headlines on their websites and promotional materials.
Use a compelling headline on your counselling profile to stop the reader in their tracks. Then invite them to continue reading with fascinating sub-headlines. Remember, your headline can be solution focused or problem focused. Whichever you choose is not important, but make sure it’s powerful and connects directly with the distress and problems of your target market.
#4. Write compelling copy to connect with your prospective client
So once you’ve crafted your impactful headline hopefully, the visitor to your profile is reading on. Now’s your chance to directly and empathically connect with your reader through your website copy.
If you have chosen a niche, this job is immediately easier because you can write about the specific struggles, pain, aspirations and hopes of your ideal client.
Write in the second person pronoun to promote the immediacy of your connection with the reader. Use ‘you’ and ‘your’ to show you understand what your reader is experiencing. Avoid any clinical terms or jargon and definitely don’t write in the 3rd person as this creates distance between you and the reader.
#5. Use keywords in your profile to enhance your SEO
Most counselling directories are constructed in a way where your therapy listing is a unique page within the site with its own URL.
Just like an individual page on your website, you need to consider the keywords that you want Google and other search engines to index so that your profile will rank high for those words.
Consider 2-3 words that describe your location and your services e.g. I am a Sydney couples counsellor who works with couples that need help with their separation.
So my keywords I want to rank for in Google are Sydney, couples counsellor and separation. Then sprinkle these words in a natural way throughout your copy. This helps Google understand what your page is about and rank it accordingly.
Not all counselling directories work like this, but many do, so check with yours if this is the case.
#6. Offer a free consultation to join with the client
One of the easiest ways to connect with a prospective client is to offer a short, free consultation so that you can connect with the client and they can get a feel for you and the way you work.
By offering a free consultation through your profile, it’s much more likely that clients will contact you as you are offering them a low-risk way of connecting with you and finding out about your services.
Think of this process being like the tasting spoons they give out at the gelato bar. You can have a taste of a few flavours before you make a decision. And the same is for the client trying to find a therapist who is a good fit.
In my experience, once I speak to someone on the phone, the likelihood they will become my client is significantly increased as opposed to interacting through email.
#7. Stand out from the crowd by describing your uniqueness
Another way to stand out from the crowd in a counselling directory is to be very clear about your uniqueness.
Many therapists struggle to describe how they are unique from another therapist, yet we all have personal experiences, knowledge and wisdom from our own lives that make us different and unique from others. These experiences are an important ingredient in what makes you different from other counsellors. It can also be the make-or-break when a prospective client is deciding whether to contact you.
Don’t be shy. State clearly on your counselling profile why you are unique and why that makes a difference to the client.
#8. Use clear calls to action to get the results you want
This is such a simple concept, yet many therapists forget this in their marketing.
Telling the reader what action you would like them to take makes a huge difference to the numbers of people that will take that action. And, research shows this again and again.
Be clear and concise in what action they should take. e.g. Call me for an appointment today or Book online by clicking the button below. These simple directives can make a big difference to the number of inquiries you get.
#9. Utilise all the features of the counselling directory
This is a pretty simple notion. If your counselling directory offers a range of extra features, make sure you use them.
If you can add a YouTube video, record a video. If you can upload an audio, create an audio. If you can submit your workshop of PD event, then submit your event. If you can offer online bookings, make sure you have an online booking button on your profile.
Utilising all the features of the counselling directory helps make your profile look more professional. What’s more, if your profile is lacking in features, but the one after you is using them, can you guess who the client is likely to contact? Probably not you.
#10. Submit articles to establish yourself as an authority
Many counselling directories allow the members to submit articles. This is a relatively easy way to establish yourself as an authority in your niche.
As prospective clients read your articles and familiarise themselves with your voice, they start to know, like and trust you. These are the vital ingredients for the person then taking action and contacting you.
Clients are looking for experts and specialists in their fields. Articles that are niche-focused, informative and helpful increase your credibility in the eyes of the reader.
Listing on large counselling directories are still an effective way of marketing your services to prospective clients. You not only get the benefits of being represented on an authority site amongst your peers, but you also receive the benefits of large amounts of website visitors searching for services like yours. The challenge is to make your listing standout, be bold and unique. Through tweaking your profile and clarifying your message, you will attract more clients who will be the type of clients you love to work with.
What are you experiences of marketing on counselling directories? What have you found works and doesn’t work? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.
About the author
Clinton Power is a Sydney-based Gestalt therapist and counsellor who helps individuals and couples move out of relationship pain. He is the founder of Australia Counselling, an online directory for Australian counsellors and psychotherapists. Clinton is also an online marketing coach and consultant for healthcare professionals.