Beaverlog Tips: Volume 55 - February 29, 2012
The THERAPIST Pro 2.5.038 Available
The 2.5.038 update to The THERAPIST Pro contains a lot of small but important changes since the last update, most of them are corrections to problems. There is one handy new feature. You can now search for a payment by check number. You access the check number search from the Tools menu and you have an option to print payment details and/or preview it on the screen.
From time to time we get articles from our customers that are useful and timely and we are happy to include them in our Beaverlog Tips email newsletter. In this issue we are privileged to have a terrific article from Dave Turo-Shields on marketing your practice.
If you would like to share your expertise on a topic that would be of interest to our customers, contact us.
Marketing Your Private Practice Online
by Dave Turo-Shields
Once upon a time I paid a little over $700/year for a Yellow Pages 3/4 page ad in the phone book. For many years now our Yellow Pages books go right into the recycle bin as soon as we get it. Over 95% of service-related searches happen at Google, Yahoo and Bing. I left a large private practice setting to be a stay-at-home dad in 1998. I built out a home office and hung my own shingle and I needed to find an affordable way to market my part-time business. The answer was in the "Closet Geek" part of my head.
I learned how to tap into the Google database to see exactly what people were searching for. I was amazed at the number of individuals searching for help online. I also uncovered a completely new client need and realized I could fill that gap fairly quickly. Today most therapists have at least heard of phone or online counseling, but back in 1998 I was considered a pioneer in this newly emerging area.
After realizing the sheer numbers of people searching for help online I began seeking out all the best online marketing information available. I wished there were a PhD for this area because if there were I'd have had one some years ago now. I've spent 14 years and over $25,000 studying how to get my web pages to show up on the first page of Google and other search engines. The good news for you is that you can learn from my vast knowledge-base in the area of internet marketing to build your practices.
I've been giving professional workshops now for 6 years to teach people the nuts and bolts of building a practice online. It's not rocket science, even though there is valid research behind every single thing I do. Let's fast-forward now to 2012. In April 2005 with both my kids in school full time we built Kenosis Counseling Center and moved into that center. My wife and I are both clinical social workers and we've always had a strong commitment to being a part of and building community. So, we didn't just want to start a solo private practice, we wanted to build a community and training center. We launched in April 2005 and within 6 months had a full staff of 4 therapist associates and 4 graduate students. Today we have 7 therapists and between 5-8 grad students on staff.
How were we able to go from a part-time home private practice to a full-fledged community and training center in less than a year? In two words... the internet. We do have a strong community reputation and word-of-mouth, however when we crunch our numbers and take out direct referrals and word-of-mouth referrals over 97% of first contacts originate on the internet. Crazy, right? I can teach you how to do this.
I want to share a couple of quick tips you can put into practice right away. If you don't have a Psychology Today listing get one. Let's do the numbers. A PT listing costs approximately $360/year and the average number of counseling sessions a new client attends is 6-8. If you charge $80 per session multiplied by 6 sessions we can see that with just one Psychology Today referral you can easily pay for your entire year's listing. The forums are also very helpful in learning "how" to write to your target audience. Psychology Today will become saturated but I believe we have at least 5 good years left before that happens.
Another no-brainer is to add a free Google business listing for your practice. Did I say "FREE!?" And local search is the BIG push right now on search engine results. We all see it now. Every time we search for a local service, Google serves up a half dozen local businesses to meet that need. When someone searches for therapy services online how would you life for your listing to come up. Our practice listing comes up all the time. And to think that just a few years ago I was paying for a $700 Yellow Pages listing that rarely converted! All you need to do to get started is to go to Google and type in "Google Local Business Listing." and you'll find what you need to get started.
Let's back up for a moment. The bread and butter of effective online marketing is collecting accurate market research. When you know exactly what searchers are typing into the search engines you've conquered the biggest hurdle in efficient online marketing. As it turns out you have access to these keyword phrases for free too! Go to Google and search for "Free Google External Keyword Tool" and you should find a marvelous free keyword tool to use to begin collecting vital information that will help you write your Psychology Today and Google Local Business Listing Ads and so much more. This keyword research is what drives all your online marketing efforts.
For example, if you're from a fairly large metropolitan area such as the "Bay" area of San Francisco you'd use the free keyword tool and type in words such as "Bay Area Counseling, Bay Area Therapy, Bay Area therapist" etc. Google will return to you exactly what folks are searching for and how many times each month. You can then begin to plan your online marketing strategies off your market research keyword list. This can be used on your local website, on Facebook, on Twitter, in article marketing and more. I take on a small number of therapist coaching clients and have helped hundreds of therapists build their practices as large as they liked using online strategies. I can be reached by phone at 317-840-8892 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for consulting/coaching services. I wish you the best in building the practices you desire.
[Editor's Note: Writing articles for online newsletters is another great way enhance your marketing.]
Tip: Using the Working Date
Do you ever have a stack of services or payments to enter for a date other than the current calendar date? If the answer is yes, they you know how annoying it is to have to change the transaction date for every transacion you enter. If this sounds familiar then this tip will save you lots of time.
In The THERAPIST Pro, The THERAPIST EZ, and Aeris Basic, you can set the Working Date to whatever date you are working on. Just go to the Tools menu and look for Working Date. Then any new transactions you enter will default to that date.
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