There is modesty that most counseling practices carry with them, opting to stick to word of mouth as a means of advertising. Often you will find them listed in directories or on a blog where someone took it upon themselves to create a list of places where one can receive counseling services. The reality then is there is an untapped market that counselors are not reaching, and thus under-serving communities around them.

Those with counseling practices ought to be bold in their approach. It is not merely for profits but to be of assistance. Lack of information is also another reason why counselors are unable to get the right type of client. If you are a specialist in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), then there is a particular clientele that you want coming through the front door. Avoiding disappointment from getting the wrong caliber requires having ample information online as to what the practice is and what clients can expect.

Consider the following tips while venturing into advertising your brand.

Define your practice

Owning a business requires having a defined niche to attract the right demographic. For some, however, they consider it as limiting; it is all about getting people through the door. That approach, in turn, works against the business due to reviews. Should someone attend counseling sessions and not get the help they thought they would, their disappointment will affect future recommendations received.

A working example is a tax lawyer who is non-religious visiting a practice that centers their counseling services on a particular religion. While the fundamentals of counseling are the same, they are likely to find the counselor somewhat edging them toward religion, rubbing the lawyer the wrong way. Their focus is perhaps getting help for their marital issues affecting their practice. While the advice given would be sound, it would not adequately apply in the context of the tax lawyer if they do not believe in the existence of a deity.

Admittedly, having an extensive list of the services provided on all platforms along with the approach is essential for success. Some questions to aid in creating a comprehensive work profile include: what are you good at with regards to counseling? What feedback do you get from clients about your services? Who is your typical demographic? What type of help do they seek? Once answered, you can flesh out the details that give a clear image of your counseling practice.

Lastly, keep the description about the services or practice 25 words or less. Ensure that it is client-oriented; speak more about how you can help them using your expertise rather than turning it into PR material why a potential client ought to reach out.

Highlight what makes your practice stand out

There are likely other counseling centers and private practices that a person can visit- what makes you different? The answer ought to be in the description of who you are as a business. The awareness of the same should guide future content creates, acting as a reminder of what makes the practice unique. As with the overall description, an indication of where your strengths lie does not entirely lie with you.

Instead, in your sessions, keep an ear out for what clients say about you. Do they tell you are kind? Do you have the ability to simplify even the most complex of problems for them? Or do they mention they find it quite easy to trust you? Using this feedback, coupled with the values governing what you do create a complete statement of your strong qualities and how you promise to conduct yourself.

Put the faces behind the practice

Counselling requires people to share intimate information with the professional as part of therapy. Therefore, having the faces on one’s website and other platforms that allow for profiles is essential. It quite literally puts the face behind the brand and builds trust with the individual who sought the services. The images have to be professionally as they reflect on the practice. Ensure that they are uniform if you are more than one person in the business. Having a photoshoot day is ideal.

Blurred candid photos taken in a social setting will not cut it, as anyone looking at the profile will consider it an afterthought. Cropped photos are also problematic. Ensure that when taking the professional images you let the photographer know what the purpose is. That way they can issue the pictures in the correct format.

Reason: Websites and profiles today act as first impressions of what a business is like. Therefore, if the content on the platform is not up to par, one would consider it as a reflection of the quality of services offered. Images and how they are presented equally essential in giving the right impression.

A broad smile and bright eyes work, as it creates the impression that you are trustworthy. If unsure, consulting with friends, family, and peers what they think of the photograph is sensible. People will judge you by the image, and it is critical to have them making the right judgment of who you are.

Have a character profile

Another way to show your expertise is to have profiles of fictional characters and what they deal will. The purpose is to create a representation of your typical client. Once a person can see themselves in the narrative they read, they are more likely to reach out and inquire more about your services. Equally, the profile ought to be general enough to accommodate large demographics. Adding an analysis and the type of help given shows both your expertise and more so, an understanding of the human experience.

The purpose is to connect with the audience. Choose emotive language that will trigger anyone to take action. However, the content within the character profiles ought to be authentic. Do not exaggerate; aim to depict the typical experience that an average person experiences. The primary aim is to make everyone comfortable and not compare their struggles to others, causing them to shy away.

Use a friendly tone

Trust and a connection are some of what clients hope to have with counselors during their therapy sessions. Therefore, on your platforms, use second person pronouns, evoking to readers a sense that they are directly being spoken to. It is both friendly and gives the impression that the counselor understands their plight- of which they do.

Jargon is equally something to steer clear from. Using clinical language on any platform removes the human aspect of the person, breaking them down into solely biological and psychological entities. Using words, they are likely not to understand puts distance between the counselor and the reader. Utilize everyday language that the reader is expected to use in their conversations about life’s difficulties. It pays off to meet them at their level as they are already likely in an awkward space.

Do not forget to use SEO

Keywords are still imperative when it comes to creating your website or profile on a third party site. Although the Google algorithm has changed to discourage keyword stuffing, it is still vital that they are included. Paired with useful content, keywords are what help pages rank higher. Similarly, how the keywords appear on the page matter.

Aim to have two to three-word phrases that describe your services and location. The arrangement lets the search engine know what your site is about and where you are located. The reason for adding your area of operation is for the search engine to have the ability to provide accurate information for anyone seeking similar services. For example, should a person type “counselors near me,” Google will use their current location to give them accurate results of where such services in the vicinity can be found.

Pair the location with your core business is another aspect to consider. As a counselor, what is the specialty offered? A person working primarily with teenagers ought to do the same. Therefore, the keywords to place about two to three words per 500 words would be “[location] teen counselor.” That way, should someone in your locality require such services, they would be directed to you.

Provide your contacts and being responsive

Approaching a counselor is intimidating for most. Ensure that clients can reach you or the offices using the information provided. It is likely that a person is unaware of the process of seeking therapy and wish to get more information. Responding to calls or emails increases the likelihood of someone converting into a client.

The initial contact should include a brief consultation. Again, responding to a call or email from someone highlighting the struggles with “come in, and we will talk more about it” is a cold approach to business. For a few minutes, echo back what the person has said to make them feel heard. Follow through with a sympathetic response, and finish with showing interest in meeting them soon. Leave it open-ended as it might end up coming across as a sales pitch. The bottom line is having a person feel hopeful that there is indeed a solution for what they are going through.

Write articles

Whether on the blog page of the website or in publications, writing is an integral part of winning trust and setting oneself up as an authority. It is paramount that you focus on your niche as that is the space where you thrive most. Speaking and flowing from that space is more comfortable too. As you emerge as in leader and authority in the field, more people will seek to make appointments with you.

Another reason to write is to familiarize readers with your voice. Just as with the website, use second person pronouns, avoid the third person where possible and use friendly language. That way, when a client does book an appointment, they already have a comfortable familiarity with you.

These articles, apart from attracting a new demographic, should lead back to your website, where they can get all relevant information. Include a biography that highlights who you are, and what social platforms you are available on. With all the content provided, traffic should ultimately channel back to our website as it is the front office in the online sphere.

Get the website and copy done professionally

In this era, sites are what individuals use to judge the brand they wish to interact with. They are an introduction to the world with regards to your character. With inexpensive sites available, it is almost inexcusable to have a website reminiscent of the early days of the internet.

WordPress and Wix, among others, are companies that offer professional websites at half the price. Anything that does not show site visitors that you reside in the present is likely to put them off. For them, it possibly means that an outdated site is a reflection of the quality of services.

Part of having a professional website is creating copy that is articulate and accurately represents your practice. The content should be well written with no typos. Grammatical mistake poorly reflects on any business; they send the message that one is no thorough and overlooks small but equally important aspects.

In the same way, create a clear call to action. With every page and article, guide the reader on what their next steps should be. In this context of marketing a counseling practice, the action you wish the reader to take is to reach out should they perceive they need help. Without a call to action, the website merely becomes a resource pull; persuasion is vital when getting people through the door.

Wrap up

The business sphere has drastically changed in the past decade, and there is evidence that some are being left behind in the bid to leverage technology. While there is a shyness to promote a people-centered business that primarily deals with one’s inner life, it is essential to break through this barrier and work toward change. Everyone hopes to interact with brands that demonstrate their ability to fuse with one’s daily life, and counseling practices are no exception.

There is what each demographic expects businesses to do to show that they are understood and they are not merely a means to profits. That by itself requires placing substantial resources in depicting a thriving business, but only opting to make you people-centered.

By Eddy

Eddy is the editorial columnist in Business Fundas, and oversees partner relationships. He posts articles of partners on various topics related to strategy, marketing, supply chain, technology management, social media, e-business, finance, economics and operations management. The articles posted are copyrighted under a Creative Commons unported license 4.0. To contact him, please direct your emails to [email protected].