Mental Health Marketing Tips and Advice
Episode 23: I invited my friend and colleague Andrew Aebersold to join me to discuss mental health marketing. He’s the Founder/CEO of Mediaura, a digital marketing company in Jeffersonville, IN. Today’s discussion will focus on issues related to effectively marketing a solo practitioner (e.g. therapist), a practice group or a larger company, such as a behavioral health facility. Both of us have experience in this healthcare segment.
Marketing a mental health practice requires an understanding of the unique issues both practitioners and prospective patients/clients have regarding treatment.
One of the realities we deal with is the fact that often, really good practitioners are not typically good marketers. It requires a different skill set. This can create some significant challenges for the practice, especially in the digital marketing space.
There are universal issues most businesses face:
- Competition is strong
- Conveying the specific area(s) of mental health you serve
- Differentiating your practice’s services offerings from the competition
- Targeting the ideal type(s) of clients for your practice
- Cultivating and deploying the proper messaging to overcome the above challenges
Insurance coverage is often a factor. The person contacting your office may be clinically viable, but not financially viable due to insurance coverage issues. If your practice doesn’t accept insurance, it adds another variable. Mental health marketing is very complex.
Andrew and his team at Mediaura have distinct experience marketing behavioral health practices, on a regional basis. Many of them are located outside of our local area. He comments about how even the best marketing tactics and strategies can fail, if the internal processes are not executed properly, when people begin contacting the practice. We’ll explore that later in this episode.
Common Mistakes Practice Owners Make
It’s not uncommon to see a mental health practitioner turn over the marketing responsibility to people who may have been involved with the practice in the past. There’s often a motivation to help that person by entrusting them with your marketing, because they may be acutely aware of the issues and can speak to them. That sounds well and good, but it doesn’t always result in the progress the business needs to maintain and to grow.
If you’ve been burned by the above effort, you may be tempted to engage a large agency as a way of overcompensating for the first attempt. This can quickly lead to significant expenses for a new website and other moves that sound good on paper. These engagements may also require the practice owner to sign long-term contracts, regardless of performance. It’s important to understand that what works for a general business, may not work when it comes to marketing a mental health practice.
Finally, the practice owner may decide to throw up the hands and task the office manager with handling the marketing for the practice. This decision might neglect to consider the amount of work responsibilities that person already has on his/her plate. It may not be a skill he/she has to generate the results you’re hoping to deliver.
Remember, marketing is about much more than simply posting pictures and memes on Facebook or Instagram. Those images need to be “on brand.” They’re affecting and influencing the way people perceive your brand and how the react to your brand’s value proposition. If executed poorly, it can cripple your brand.
However, it might be a good idea to make your internal person the liaison between the practice and the marketing team. It can make the communication much more efficient. The scheduling of onsite activities can be more easily coordinated.
Using Different Messaging
Effective mental health marketing means differentiating your messaging, based on the separate communication platforms you engage. For instance, what might work in Instagram, may be different from what you would post to LinkedIn. Understanding your intended target for that message is critical to your success.
Many mental health practitioners understand the need to focus on multiple target groups, which may include:
- Prospective Patients/Clients
- Family Members, Friends and other Influencers
- Referral Sources (e.g. colleagues and associations/organizations)
One piece of content may not properly resonate with needs and concerns of each of these constituencies.
Branding vs. Lead Generation
This is another challenge mental health practitioners need to consider. Not every marketing agency or firm is the same. Some are stronger in certain areas.
There are specific skills required to develop a solid brand concept for a healthcare client. This goes beyond the logo’s icon or color scheme. Brand voice and brand positioning are important elements of cultivating clientele from your desired target audience. However, just because you have great brand assets, doesn’t mean your phone is going to ring.
Lead generation involves systems and tactics meant to strategically place your brand and messaging in front of your target audience. How those posts and communications are deployed and tracked are core parts of your lead generation activities. As you might imagine, even if your marketing partner can get your brand placed properly, if the brand itself is off-message or misses the mark when it comes to the cues a target segment needs, your phone still won’t ring.
An effective strategy will combine both brand positioning and lead generation. Your content should be developed as part of a plan to guide your target audience to a desired outcome, namely, engaging with you or your practice. Measuring the impact of your messaging and marketing activities will provide valuable insights. Those insights are important to understand what’s working, what isn’t and thus where you should invest more time and budget.
Your marketing partner wants you to succeed. It’s how we maintain the relationship. It’s how we build our reputations and it’s at the core of why we’re in business. We need good feedback, and time to engage with you, to understand how the efforts are working in terms of helping you to achieve your objectives.
Those conversations work both ways. We may be able to uncover process-issues that are inhibiting your performance. We know lead generation and intake are important business metrics. Our experience can be extremely helpful in helping you to grow in ways you weren’t expecting.
Content Generation Tips for Mental Health Marketing
There are 3 basic objectives you should consider when developing your content strategy and topics. This applies to blog posts, website pages, videos, podcast episodes and others:
- Educate and/or inform
- Differentiate you approach or services
- Describe your patient’s/client’s journey or experience
Be mindful of balancing these objectives.
You also need to be sure to have a plan for your content. What’s the purpose of that particular piece? Is it professional (to preserve your brand position)?
Getting Found on Google and other Search Engines
We briefly explain “search engine optimization” (SEO) and a concept known as “the long-tail search.” You can structure your content in ways that will work better on search engines. This can involve the works, the structure and the coding. At a high-level, this is the foundation of SEO.
Avoid Purchasing Generic Content from a Vendor
Some syndicated content can be found on other websites. The vendor is simply selling the same article to multiple clients. This duplicate content isn’t a good search engine tactic. Even though it’s content per se, not all content is treated equally by Google et al. Well-produced content can rank organically, when someone is searching for related information. This is different and sometimes more effective than buying paid ads (e.g. pay-per-click or Adwords).
Long-tail Search Optimization
Not everyone searches using the same queries. “Addiction center” is a basic search, often referred to as a vanity phrase. However, other consumers use more specific or details queries, such as “outpatient rehabilitation center in Jefferson County.” These types of searches are referred to as “long-tail” searches. Interestingly, because they’re more specific, they tend to convert better. Podcasting is a terrific medium for providing long-tail content.
Often, to achieve specific business objectives, your marketer will recommend a balanced combination of paid search and content geared toward organic rank. Good content can also easily be cross-posted across social media platforms.
Vary the Types of Content You Produce
Depending upon where you post the content, you should consider the audience. Instagram is a highly visual platform, so written words don’t really work there. Facebook allows for multiple types of content formats, but brief is usually better. Videos work well on Facebook. LinkedIn is a great platform and may accommodate a more in-depth article or video. When using social media, you can also upload teaser excerpts and provide a link back to your blog or website core page.
Regardless of which social media platform you decide to use as part of your strategy, keep it current. No one wants to see a “Latest News” section that hasn’t been updated in several months or years. Trust us, it happens.
Online Reviews The Positive and Negative
Positive reviews can be extremely beneficial for your practice. The aspect everyone fears is the impact of a negative review. Andrew recommends checking with your in-house counsel or other attorney to decide how best to deal with a negative review. You always need to be mindful of HIPPA regulations, but at the same time, there are effective ways to respond. The key is to do it professionally. Equally as important, try to urge the person to speak with you offline so you have the chance to fully listen and understand the issue. You can then deal with the core issues at hand. You may also be able to have the person post a positive review as a result of how you addressed his/her issue. Alternatively, he/she may also decide to remove the negative review.
If You Want It to Grow, You Have to Feed It
It’s important to remember to consistently update your website’s content. You’ll send valuable signals to Google and the market that you’re still relevant and engaged.
Content Ideas for Mental Health Practitioners
- Your story as a practitioner. What lead you to this field? What do you love about what you do?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Myths & Misconceptions
- Authentic discussions about the “true reality” of the situations your market is facing
- Thoughts/Perspectives on current events (be careful to avoid politics)
- Presentations/Articles/Event Attendance
- Discussions with other colleagues or related professionals
Collaboration with Other Professionals
If you’re a solo practitioner or in a small practice, consider collaborating with another professional(s) to engage in discussions about common issues/concerns. This is a great way to share the cost of a podcast or other platform. You can co-brand it so each of you benefits. Both of you will get exposure to the other person’s network. You’ll also be able to benefit from the other person’s energy, which makes it an easier lift.
3 Final Tips
- Use a podcast to incorporate a human element into your content
- Videos are also effective for helping you to differentiate yourself from the competition
- Look for unique angles for rich-content, rather than the same vanilla topics others use
To contact Andrew Aebersold:
Phone: (812) 590-9900
Thank you for taking the time to listen to this episode. From more information on business-related issues, visit my website at www.JimRayConsultingServices.com.
Finally, if you’re interested in developing and launching a podcast for your business or organization, I’d be happy to help. I provide this service on a regional basis. Visit my podcast production services page for more information.
Until next time, remember, if you need help with your small business, Let’s Grow For It!