Starting a Practice

The Complete Guide to Local Marketing for Therapists

Headshot of Brandon Grill
June 20, 2024
June 20, 2024
Brandon Grill
Content Writer

Local marketing is an incredibly effective, fun, and (often) budget-friendly way to grow your therapy practice.

You can attract those clients who are close enough to come into your office space, or at least those who are in your area of service (if you’re fully remote).

Marketing for local clients gives a more personal and direct touch than national marketing, and brings the clients you want.

One of the best aspects of local marketing is its flexibility – you don't have to do it all. You can choose the strategies that appeal to you and align with your practice's goals.

Local marketing can provide significant benefits if your practice is online-only, fully in-person, or a hybrid model. Focusing on your immediate community can build strong, lasting relationships and establish yourself as a trusted authority in your area.

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A great website is the best foundation for local marketing

Before diving into specific local marketing strategies, it's essential to have a solid website. Here's why a website is crucial for your local marketing success.

Credibility and trustworthiness

A professional website helps establish credibility and trustworthiness with potential clients. People expect even small businesses like your therapy practice to have an online presence. Without a website, your practice looks less legit, which can turn off some people.

SEO benefits

Doing local events can get you links to your website, which is beneficial for SEO. Without a website, you will get fewer long-term benefits from your local marketing. Set up a website now to reap rewards now and later.

Google My Business

A website is required for Google My Business and other listings to be effective. People are less likely to contact you if they don’t have a site to browse. Your website serves as the central hub of your online presence, where clients can learn more about your services, read testimonials, and get in touch with you.

Client expectations

As mentioned above, people like to check out your website before working with you. It provides them with essential information about your practice, your services, and your approach to therapy. Not having a website creates more friction for potential clients.

In summary, having a website is a necessity. It lays the groundwork for all your other marketing efforts and ensures that potential clients can easily find and connect with you. Don’t do local marketing without a website.

Best local marketing channels for therapists

With a solid website in place, it's time to explore the best local marketing channels that can help you attract more clients to your therapy practice.

These channels can be categorized into paid ads, offline strategies, online listings, and community involvement.

Google and Facebook ads

No local marketing guide would be complete without Google and Facebook ads.

That’s because these ads, when done right, are highly effective.

For instance, some mental health clinics have ads that only cost $30 to get a new client. Imagine paying $30 to get a client who spends, oftentimes, a few thousand dollars with you.

Lonnie Jones, Founder of Local SEO Help, has over 12 years of experience helping small businesses get more clients. That includes therapists and other mental health professionals.

Here’s how he suggests you use ads for local marketing:

Google ads

Run targeted Google Ads campaigns using local keywords. An example could be “best therapist Charlotte” or “Flagstaff anxiety therapist.” Ads can direct potential clients to your website or specific landing pages tailored to their needs.

Facebook and Instagram ads

Utilize these platforms to run location-based ads. Target demographics based on age, interests, and behaviors relevant to mental health services.

Retargeting

Implement retargeting campaigns to reach visitors who have previously interacted with your website but didn’t book an appointment.

Offline strategies

Engaging with your local community through offline strategies can be incredibly effective. Here are some tried-and-true methods.

Business cards and donut drop-offs

Drop off business cards and donuts at local businesses to build relationships and spread the word about your practice. Some creative therapists use their business cards as an appointment reminder in case anyone wants to schedule on the spot.

In-person networking

Attend local networking events and meetups to connect with other professionals and potential clients.

Vermont therapist Rachel Totten, LICSW emphasized the importance of building connections for local marketing success. "My marketing strategy continues to evolve as my business grows, but at its core, it focuses on building connections and supporting my colleagues,” she said. “In-person networking remains my favorite and most effective approach."

Letters to local physicians

Send personalized letters to local physicians introducing your services and how you can help their patients. You can also show up to their locations to introduce yourself and grab their email to follow up. Just be respectful of their time.

When Totten was building her practice, she saw physicians as a way to connect with her ideal client. For instance, she connected with obstetrician offices and other doctor's offices specializing in women's health.

Events for colleagues

Organize events specifically for fellow therapists to build a professional network and share referrals.

"I admin an online therapist networking group for therapists across my state,” Totten shared. “However, I still prioritize in-person networking calls with other therapists." It’s important to not forget the human touch when doing networking and marketing.

Flyers and posters

Create eye-catching flyers and posters to place in strategic locations such as community centers, coffee shops, and bulletin boards.

Tayla Polia is the owner of Beacon Public Relations, a marketing agency well-versed in local strategies. She told me print materials remain a powerful tool. 

“We work with our clients to design eye-catching flyers and posters that are strategically placed in high-traffic areas like libraries, community centers, and coffee shops,” she said.

Attending health fairs

Participate in local health fairs to showcase your services and engage with the community.

"Our clients saw significant success with local health fairs and wellness events, handing out business cards and informative flyers,” Polia said.

Hosting workshops and events

Host workshops and events to provide valuable information and connect with potential clients.

“Participating in local events and forming partnerships with local influencers have proven incredibly effective,” Polia shared.

For example, “One of our clients sponsored a community mental health awareness walk. They set up a booth with free stress balls, informative pamphlets, and discount vouchers for first-time sessions,” she added.

Speaking engagements

Offer to speak at local colleges and universities to share your expertise. You’ll raise awareness about your practice in doing so.

Christine MacInnis loves taking a grassroots approach to marketing her practice. She shares her knowledge “by speaking for free at local organizations such as schools and hospitals.” Is that something you can see yourself doing? 

“By doing so, you will establish yourself as the go-to referral source and always have a full client roster,” MacInnis added.

Public radio appearances

Appear on local radio shows as an expert to discuss mental health topics and promote your services.

Getting on your city or local university radio station is an underused but effective way to get new clients. And it’s not so hard to do. Just reach out by phone and direct mail to each radio station, and follow up regularly.

Conversely, you can set up a speakership page on your website and help radio hosts find you.

Reach out to community leaders

Build relationships with community leaders who can refer clients to your practice.

That means doctors, lawyers, judges, and anyone who deals with your ideal type of client. Who comes to mind?

If you’re serious about this strategy, go big. Make a list of 100-200 people and reach out to 10 per day until you’re done. Then, send follow up messages or phone calls.

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Online listings

Online listings are crucial for increasing your visibility and making it easy for local clients to find you. Here are three ways to increase your “findability” when a local client is searching for a therapist.

Google My Business

Create and optimize your Google My Business profile to appear in local search results (such as when someone searches for “psychologist Boston” or “therapist near me”) and attract more clients.

Daniel Askarinam runs DA Media, a Washington, D.C.-based SEO agency. His advice is to "create and fully complete your Google My Business profile. Get your clients to leave you reviews, which will help your visibility in Google's Map Pack.”

When it comes to getting reviews for mental health services, you can’t directly ask. But you can create a testimonials page on your website that links to your GMB, Yelp, and other review sites.

Yelp

Utilize Yelp to gather reviews and build credibility for your practice.

“Google My Business is a game-changer. By optimizing a therapist’s profile with client testimonials and regular updates, we saw a 40% increase in appointment bookings. Yelp reviews also built trust and credibility, driving more inquiries,” agency founder Damilola Ademuyiwa told me.
 

If you want more local clients, sign up on Yelp today.

Local business directories

List your practice in local business directories to increase your visibility and credibility.

Jones recommends that you "ensure your business is listed accurately and consistently across all online directories to improve local SEO and client trust."

Some sites you want to be listed on include Better Business Bureau, Yellow Pages, your local chamber of commerce, Apple Maps, and Bing. For therapists, you want to be listed on Psychology Today and other therapist directories.

Community involvement

Getting involved in your community can significantly boost your visibility and credibility.

You’ll gain the immediate benefit of increasing the number of people who know about your services.

And you’ll often get a high-quality backlink from a local business, charity, or nonprofit for long-term SEO success.

Sponsorship of local sports teams

Sponsor local sports teams to increase your brand visibility and show your support for the community.

Depending on cost, sponsoring a local sports team can be a great way to get your name out there. Athletes and their parents are potential clients for your services, so sponsoring their team can be a great way to introduce yourself. 

You can also inquire about speaking to the sports team and staff, and give new clients a discounted session or package.

Setting up tables at farmers markets

Set up informational tables at farmers markets to engage with potential clients in a casual setting.

Another great way to connect with your community is to sponsor a local farmer’s market. It helps the farmers market show up sustainably, connects you with potential clients, and there can be tiered options. 

The other thing to think about when it comes to sponsoring a farmers market is creating flyers, brochures, and other collateral. At a minimum you’d want business cards and a sign up sheet to get emails.

Introducing yourself to local media

Reach out to local media to introduce yourself and offer to be a resource for mental health topics.

Make a list of 50-200 local reporters from various news agencies and send them each a personalized email. List a few areas of expertise and why their readers or viewers would want to hear from you. Remember to make it about them, not about you. 

If done right, this marketing channel can keep your practice full (and pave the way for media coverage when you write your book).

Partnering with local influencers

Collaborate with local influencers to reach a wider audience and gain credibility.

Yet another example of effective local marketing, you can partner with local influencers and celebrities. Ademuyiwa cited a strong outcome from this for one client, saying “sponsoring local wellness events and collaborating with yoga studios created a strong community presence."

If you’re into yoga, meditation, breathwork, or “alternative” therapies and modalities, connect with those communities.

Hosting networking events and workshops

Host events to network with other professionals and community members.

Dr. Laura Collazos Spiller is a Houston-based Psychologist who runs PractiSage, a community of therapists who learn business skills, network, and refer clients to each other. They also have office rentals available by the hour.

Consider building a community like PractiSage, or host your own wine and cheese networking events for therapists. Not a big fan of wine or spirits? Host a meetup at a cafe.

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Tracking results and adjusting

Marketing is part art and part science. You often have to try different things for a while, track the results, and see what works.

Also, what works for another practice may not work for your practice.

That’s why making data-driven decisions is so important. By consistently tracking your marketing efforts, you can identify successful strategies and areas needing improvement.

Tools for tracking

Utilize various tools to monitor your marketing performance effectively.

  • Google Analytics: Track website traffic, user behavior, and conversion rates.
  • Google Search Console: See how many clicks and impressions your website is getting. Over time, you want each graph to go “up and to the right,” meaning you want to see things trending positively.
  • Feedback Forms and Client Surveys: Collect direct feedback from clients to gauge satisfaction and areas for enhancement. Use this for all in-person events and any live online events.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems: Manage client interactions and track the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

Analyzing data

Regularly analyze the data collected to gain insights into your marketing efforts.

  • Identify which strategies are getting the best results.
  • Recognize areas where your marketing efforts may be falling short.
  • Reduce or eliminate underperforming channels.
  • Experiment with new marketing approaches to see what resonates best with your audience.
  • Continuously improve your marketing efforts to stay ahead.

By effectively tracking your results and adjusting your strategy based on data, you can ensure that your marketing efforts remain efficient and effective, ultimately leading to a more successful therapy practice.

Winning with local marketing for therapists

Using local marketing strategies into your therapy practice can significantly enhance your visibility and client base. In fact, local marketing makes much more sense than national level marketing for a lot of practices.

By leveraging a mix of online and offline tactics, you can build a robust presence in your community, establish trust, and create lasting relationships with clients and other professionals.

Start with your website

Since your website it the foundation and enhancer of all your other marketing efforts, make sure it’s top notch. Have clear copywriting, eye-catching visual branding, and a well-rounded site with “About,” “Contact,” “Blog,” and “Services/Specialties” pages.

Choose 1-2 strategies

Begin with a few marketing channels that resonate with you and align with your practice’s goals. Whether it's optimizing your Google My Business profile, attending local health fairs, or partnering with local influencers, choose the strategies that feel most manageable and impactful.

Stay consistent

Consistency is key in marketing. Regularly update your online listings, engage with your community, and maintain a steady presence through workshops, events, and social media. Consistent efforts over time will yield better results than sporadic, one-off attempts.

Make it realistic and regular

Integrate marketing activities into your regular schedule. Set aside specific times each week or month for marketing tasks to ensure they get done without overwhelming your practice operations. Weekly is best for learning and is what I recommend. I also recommend getting an accountability buddy that you meet with when performing marketing tasks. It’s just too easy to put off without accountability.

By following these guidelines and exploring the various local marketing channels, you can effectively reach potential clients in your community. You’ll build your reputation and grow your therapy practice as a result.

Remember, the goal is to connect authentically with your community and provide valuable services that meet their needs.

Local marketing is not just about attracting clients. It's about becoming a trusted and integral part of your community. So, take the first step, stay consistent, and watch your practice flourish.

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This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult their own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post.

Brandon Grill is a mental health copywriter and marketer based in Las Vegas, NV. He loves helping therapy practices attract more perfect-fit clients through SEO. Outside of work, you can find Brandon spending time with his nephews, reading self-help, and meditating.

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