Therapy Marketing: Part 2: What It Is

by Elizabeth Doherty Thomas on February 9, 2011

Good news!  Therapy marketing is not about blasting yourself.  Even those of us extroverts don’t enjoy blasting ourselves.  Therapy marketing is not about putting an ad in your community paper.  It’s not about having a fancy website.  It’s definitely not about having fancy brochures and business cards.  (Or putting said paper products on tacks around town.)

Therapy Marketing (all marketing, really) is

Being in Relation With the Marketplace


What does this mean?  ”Being in relationship?”  It does not mean what your Bad Therapy Marketing Instincts may be telling you. It is NOT:

  • Doing informational interviews to get yourself noticed by the big guns in your industry
  • Emailing everyone you’ve ever met that you have the MOST AMAZING book, workshop, coaching program, etc.
  • Joining linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and spending 99% of your time blasting yourself and/or finding new people to blast
  • Going to networking events like BNI and sharing your business cards and brochures
  • Direct mailing or calling local businesses who serve your client base to let them know about your services
  • Hiring an expensive web designer, PR firm, graphic design team
  • Emailing journalists that you’re awesome and have an AMAZING perspective on a story (already covered 12,000 times in the last week)
  • Writing a book proposal assuming that having a book contract is not just marketing, but will land you a bunch of clients and cash
  • I know I’m forgetting a lot more….basically insert 95% of your ideas in this bullet point ;-)

There is a word that is so overused, so grossly used by people who are not the word they self-describe, but I’m gonna say it with those caveats.  It’s about being authentic. It’s about honest to God LOVING what you are doing, who you are serving, and coming with your whole heart, ego left at your front door, and figuring out what awesomeness is already going on, who is really amazing out there already, being extremely open to the unknown, and thinking outside everything you’ve ever been taught about what being a therapist is, what therapy is, and what you “should” be doing.

Know there are key allies out there that can help you. You’ve got to find them, not annoy them (that deserves its own blog post!), and try to create a mutually satisfying relationship with them.  It can literally start with a sincere compliment to them.  It can start by reading everything they’ve written to deeply learn who they are, what motivates them, and where you can see a potential connection.

Know you have competition, even if it’s not another mental health professional. Whoever you work with, those folks are doing something, going somewhere, reading something, even if it’s not yet your awesomeness.  Instead of freaking out (I’ve got the charter membership to the freak out club, by the way) when you see people doing things you want to do, only they do it bigger, more boldly, and with more of a budget, consider instead what you can learn from them and maybe whether you can work together.  And if nothing else, remember without competition there is no actual need in the marketplace.  Competition is a very good thing.  In fact, without competition do you really know how you’re differentiated?  And come on therapists…isn’t self-differentiation one of the pinnacles of therapy? ;-)

I believe this post is still too high, floaty in the sky.  I apologize.  Part of my “brand” if you will is to not be so flighty but REALLY GROUNDED ON PLANET EARTH.  Soft kittens and lollipops are nice to talk about but they don’t leave you with any action.

So.  Action?

One of the most powerful actions you can do is to be on Twitter to network with the marketplace, both locally and internationally.  From the ease of your laptop and a twitter account you can learn what the marketplace is up to, join in, and develop honest, real relationships with people who are in a shared passion with your client base, who are current serving them in a different capacity, or who are your client base and can get you MORE of their kindred spirits.  I’m creating a unique Twitter training for new/intermediate users and am pleased to say it’s gonna be really targeted to what I don’t see therapists doing, and really affordable. Sign up to learn when it’s live!  And an FYI, I’m very into the emotional side of technology so you’ll get a real raw look at the emotional ups and downs of Twittering.

I’m not even in graduate school yet and have made extremely powerful personal and professional connections because of Twitter. (I even have an internship offer in a town overflowing with therapy students, because of a huge amount of time I’ve given writing for local therapists and earning the respect of the editor who would love to help me become a therapist!)  I have many layers of Twitter with my many varied professional and personal interests all in one simple place. You heard me, I’m already marketing and I’m not even a therapist yet.  But it’s a journey.  A sloggy, uphill journey.  This @marriagekids account is my third account and is the one that has the real juice.  (I tried to have a personal account but I’m simply way too holistic in being who I am so I’m following therapists, entrepreneurs, parenting experts, local Minnesotans, and anyone I think is funny, interesting, or awesome.)

Today alone, because of a single Tweet reply, an amazing man not only followed me back, but called ME OUT as an amazing person and someone his 9,000 followers should follow.  WOW!   I thought he was amazing before he followed me.  Now I’m in even more awe of him (not because he thinks I’m awesome but because he took his precious time to read my site, call out what I was doing, and compliment me as a human being.)

That, my friends, is true bliss.  A real, authentic human connection.  It’s the reason I want to BE a therapist, not just talk TO therapists. There is no greater gift, in my opinion, than giving your undivided time and energy to another human being. Especially when you are not doing it to get something out of it for yourself.

Please, then.  Leave your Bad Marketing Instincts at the door.  Breath a sigh of relief!  Start engaging as a real human being to other real human beings.  You know, like you do every day with clients.  (Only this time you get to share your whole self!)  Watch my Twitter account and how many people I talk to, how rarely I tweet my own awesomeness but instead talk with people, share what they’re sharing.  And then imagine all that is happening behind the scenes with these authentic connections.  If I can be a random non-therapist, not-even-graduate-student, imagine what YOU CAN DO!

Please, let me know what questions you have, clarifications, cool things you’ve done, or cheer lead others reading this on your success making authentic connections!

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Elizabeth Doherty Thomas

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{ 6 comments }

Miriam February 9, 2011 at 12:30 am

Hi E,

I think the best thing you’ve taught me is how to be on Twitter to connect with people rather than to blast myself onto Twitter. It’s so much more fun now! I remember one of your tweets was something like: Twitter is like going to your favorite coffee shop and see who’s there to talk to. That has stuck with me and I think of it each time I get on!

Irene Savarese February 9, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Well said Elizabeth,
Have to rethink my twittering strategy – if you can call it that. Do you use TweetDeck or something similar to keep track of retweets?

Elizabeth Doherty Thomas February 9, 2011 at 10:52 pm

I use lists! :) I use Tweetdeck on my Iphone but hate it on my laptop, which is weird since tweetdeck is extra tiny on my Iphone. More soon because it’s a combo of organizing and other types of strategy :)

Daria February 10, 2011 at 3:01 am

I like that phrase that Miriam referenced about twitter and the coffee shop. I just started using twitter in August and LOVE it. I have *met* such interesting, diverse and supportive people via twitter… you guys being some of them! :)

Kathy Morelli, LPC February 23, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Hi Elizabeth – I like this way of marketing, of interacting. it is My way, and it’s what I am doing, I really dont want to spend my life making up audio classes. (sigh) Thanks for helping out with this! Your new blog is awesome, and I am workign with a dynamite webs designer on my new website…I had Go Daddy for a while and outgrew it….I work alot at my office and cant do everything.. Just MAYBE I’ll do ONE SEO class with you??

Steph November 26, 2012 at 9:51 pm

so are you saying that social networking (e.g.facebook, http://www.networktherapy.com-and the like, connecting with dentists, doctors, etc. is not a good idea and doesn’t work? i think I’m confused?

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