Clay Cockrell is the founder of Online Counseling Directory and helps clinicians create their directory profile, boost their online presence, and learn to market themselves well. He states that the biggest hurdle for therapists in providing online services is their reluctance to embrace distance counseling - to believe in the convenience, to accept the improved confidentiality, and to accept that it is not a second rate manner of service. Having confidence in telemental health will come across in marketing.
Marketing online services is only slightly different than typical in-person practices and Cockrell lists some specifics things to do:
- have a website with clear online presence and frequent updates
- highlight that you provide online therapy
- include a simple introduction video that demonstrates how a session looks
- have a blog that shares your voice and makes connections
- be included in online provider directories
- connect with referral sources
- know local psychiatrists, general practitioners, chiropractors
- build relationships with other telehealth caregivers
With regard to the video, Clay reports that the "amateur wins the day." Clients are searching for an authentic person with whom they connect. Keep it simple - it is better to have something than nothing. Dress well, have a clean background, or a blank backdrop, wear earbuds to help with sound quality, and speak to the client. If you feel your clientele expects a more professional approach, professional videos can be made but is not a necessity.
Online profile directories can be free, and some have monthly fees. Writing your online profile doesn't have to be difficult and a monthly fee can be paid with one new client. He shares the following tips:
- include a professional headshot with good lighting
- do not use "I" language: speak to the potential client, relate to them
- mention video therapy in your profile
- the profile wets their appetite for you as a provider, which brings them to your website and more details about you
Therapists are reluctant to think of themselves as business owners. But in order to grow your practice and reach those who need you, you have to market yourself, which costs money. Wherever possible, join BNI - Business Networking International. This is a group that meets once a week for breakfast - one person per profession - and the purpose is to refer to one another. An annual fee and the cost of breakfast is the price for this networking tool. Hire a SEO (search engine optimization) specialist to maximize the impact of your website. Keep in touch with them to maintain contact and control over your presentation and information.