John Clarke on The Basics of Digital Marketing | FP 50

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John Clarke on The Basics of Digital Marketing | FP 50

Are you a private practice owner who wants to expand and improve the effectiveness of your marketing? How can you set up long-term marketing practices that have a high client conversion rate? Which options should you consider?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks about the basics of digital marketing with John Clarke.

Meet John Clarke

John Clarke MA, EdS, NCC, LPC is a licensed counselor, former group practice owner (sold in 2019), and private practice coach at He’s been helping therapists get more clients, make more money, and master private practice since 2013.

When he’s not nerding out over all things private practice, he’s pretending he knows how to play jazz drums, punching people in the face (gently…ish) at Muay Thai kickboxing, and talking to his pets like they’re humans.

Visit John’s website, connect on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Listen to the podcast here.

In This Podcast

  • Some common marketing mistakes therapists make
  • Make your website client-centric
  • Different kinds of website traffic
  • If you only had $1k to put into marketing, Google Ads, or SEO?
  • Should you run Google Ads yourself or outsource help?
  • Marketing tips for group practice owners

Some common marketing mistakes therapists make

John’s main tip is to use common sense. People have an ability to overcomplicate their marketing because they want to fast forward to SEO and Google Ads when they have not understood the principles behind it, or without making their website clear and comprehensible.

Whatever you do, know why you’re doing it.

  • Become “Google obsessed”. Social media can be helpful for brand awareness, however, as a foundation, Google is a good place to make your bets.
  • Do not feel pressured to make loads of social media posts on loads of platforms just because everyone around you is blindly doing it too.
  • Make sure your website is succinct and readable with your mission message or idea made clear from the beginning to target your niche market.
  • Use plain language and skip on the jargon to make sure that you do not lose your potential clients with overly confusing information.

Make your website client-centric

The StoryBrand framework is really that businesses fail in their marketing because they position themselves as the hero, whereas in reality the client is the hero in their story, and our job is to position ourselves as the guides, trying to help that hero overcome their multiple levels of problems and challenges and I think that’s a good, simple way to think about your place on your website and in your marketing.

Sometimes therapists talk about themselves on their website because they do not know what else to say, even though this is a common and sincere mistake, try to avoid this. By making your website all about yourself, clients will be deterred. People may not be compelled to engage with you when you are making yourself the focus.

You could have lots of traffic, but if your website is not easily navigable or client-centered, it will not be as successful as it can be.

Different kinds of website traffic


Here you pay per click with Google Ads, when someone is searching for something and you have paid Google Ads for certain keywords, you will only pay when these keywords enable a potential customer to click on your website or link. Essentially, it is an online auction. Paid traffic is a good starting point for your business, especially if you want to build up your business quickly or if you have a specific goal in mind that you want to fulfill.


Organic traffic builds over time. Once you have it established and you maintain in occasionally, it can hold itself up very well.

If you only had $1k to put into marketing, Google Ads, or SEO?

John recommends putting almost all of that $1k into Google Ads.

The reality is like, those who are willing to be scrappy and spend some money to put in their business are usually gonna see it back.

It may be scary to spend such an amount of money in the beginning, but looking at the long-term client retention rates that you can get from good Google Ads shows that you can quickly make back that money.

Most therapists do not stick with Google Ads long enough to fully appreciate this return, or they may not be putting enough money into Google Ads to really see the impact it can have.

Should you run Google Ads yourself or outsource help?

My rule of thumb for outsourcing is you should do everything yourself or at least understand the task before you outsource it.

By understanding what the task is before outsourcing is, you will understand exactly what kind of help you need and how to oversee it properly. Therefore with something like Google Ads, spend some time getting to know how the system works before you decide whether or not to keep it on your plate or hire someone to assist you.

Marketing tips for group practice owners

Grow and engage with your email lists and do not let them be neglected.

What a lot of group practice owners forget is to grow and engage with their email lists. Lets say you have your client contact list in your EHR with Therapy Notes or whatever, but you absolutely have to have email lists because it’s a centralized place where you can keep in touch with everybody that has ever came into contact with your business.

Email lists are a long-term play, if and when the time comes that you decide to sell your practice, your email list becomes an important asset because the new owner will be purchasing all the contacts your business has amassed.

In the long run, you can create serious brand awareness overtime and stay connected with old clients as well as bringing new clients on board.

Get the Fully Booked Email Funnel for Free!

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Meet Whitney Owens

Photo of Christian therapist Whitney Owens. Whitney helps other christian counselors grow faith based private practices!Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.

Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.

Thanks For Listening!

Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media by clicking on one of the social media links below! Alternatively, leave a review on iTunes and subscribe!

Faith in Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts that are changing the world. To hear other podcasts like Empowered and Unapologetic, Bomb Mom, Imperfect Thriving, Marketing a Practice or Beta Male Revolution, go to

Podcast Transcription

If you’re anything like most group practice owners, any day can throw you a curveball. You might be hiring someone one day, letting go of somebody the next, your client load is low one time, the next day you can’t keep up with all the phone calls. If you feel overwhelmed with running your group practice, or you just need help creating more effective systems, head on over to That’s right, Group Practice Boss. This is a membership community just for established group practice owners who have at least three clinicians in their practice or more. And we’re going to help you learn how to have an effective group practice so that you can work less and make more. So head on over to

Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host, Whitney Owens, recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant. Each week, through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow, and scale your private practice from a faith-based perspective. I’m going to show you how to have an awesome, faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.

So I am excited about lots of things right now. First of all, I’ve made it to episode fifty of the podcast. So yay. And I will say that creating a podcast is something I’ve always wanted to do, something that I think is fun – I really like talking and I love the interaction with you guys, when you email me or you tell me how a podcast meant something to you, or something you learned, like, that totally makes this all worth it. So by the way, if you haven’t already, please go do a review of the podcast. It helps me know that you’re listening, and what you like about it, and it lets other people hear about the podcast. So whatever podcast player you’re using, please rate and review, and share the podcast on your social media, on Facebook, whatever it is, if there’s a specific podcast that you find helpful, share it with others so that they can learn from that.

So, but I’ve made it to episode number fifty and that’s a lot further than a lot of people go in creating a podcast. It’s been tons of work, and it’s rewarding though, to know that it’s making a difference in your life. So this is episode number fifty. I’m gonna interview John Clarke, and he’s somebody that I’ve always really admired within the counseling, mental health, private practice field. He is very creative and he’s also very intelligent and does really good stuff with marketing. So I was really honored when he said he’d come on the show, because I think he offers a lot. And I can definitely tell you that he’s given me quick tips and advice – and I talk about them on the episode – that really helped me change my practice. So I’m glad that you’re gonna be able to listen to him today.

But before we jump into the episode, you’re listening to this, it’s released on October 7th, and so this is the middle of our early bird pricing for Group Practice Boss. So if you haven’t heard me talk about this on the podcast, or maybe in the Facebook group, let me talk to you a little bit more about what that is because I want to make sure that you know what we’re offering because I think it’s a really great fit for lots of people. So Alison Pidgeon and I are both consultants through Practice of the Practice. We specifically help people with group practices, going from having a stressful, overwhelming group practice to really having a practice that runs smoothly. Too many business owners are working way too hard and not paying themselves enough, so we are creating a Facebook membership community. And if I had to say what the main goal of this community is, it’s that you, as a group practice owner, work less, enjoy your life more, and make more money. So everything that we do really surrounds that kind of component.

And so it’s going to be a membership community through Facebook. We’ll also have a component through Teachable, where we’ll have courses on different topics. So it might be money management, or it might be how to have a cash pay practice, or how to get more cash pay clients, or how do I delegate out in my practice? So those are the topics that we’re going to cover. Now, here’s some reasons why this Facebook membership community is going to be different. And responses we’ve heard from you guys on what you want, we’ve created what we think is going to be the ideal situation. So within this membership community, every month we’re going to deep dive into different topics. All too often, if you’re like me, I go to a webinar and I think, wow, that’s a really good idea. But then I don’t know how to implement that idea in my practice, or maybe I know how to but don’t have time to, or maybe the details I’m uncertain about. Or a consultant comes in and says hey, you need to change this, that, and the other, well, then they don’t actually show you how to do it. So within this Facebook membership community every month we’re going to hit a topic. So instead of one webinar, or one Q&A, we’re gonna do everything surrounding the same topic for a month. So for example, in the month of October, we’re going to be talking about having the lifestyle that you want. So how do you design your practice so that you can do the things that you want to do. And everything we do is going to surround that.

So we’re going to have live webinars at least once a week – if not more often than that – with Alison or myself leading those, or we’re gonna have experts come in. We have a topic called ‘Ask the Expert’ and so that person will come in and talk about that specific thing. In fact, next week, we have Joe Sanok coming in to talk about designing the life you want around your practice. He actually is in an RV right now traveling around the country with his family, and his business is still functioning. He is incredible. So you don’t want to miss out on that. So you need to join the Facebook community, and be a part of that. So to learn more about Group Practice Boss, I want you to head on over to Yes, it’s called Group Practice Boss because we’re going to teach you how to be a real boss, how to be in control of your practice, instead of feeling like your practice is controlling you.

Other things that we’re going to be covering as far as topics, we’re going to be talking about delegating in November. We’re also going to talk about setting really good goals, the month of December. We’re going to talk next year about other topics such as how do you manage your money? How do you create a culture for your practice? How do you hire the right kind of clinicians to actually stay at your practice, because boy, aren’t we all burned out on clinicians coming and going? Those are just a few of the topics that we’re going to be covering. Also, Alison and I are gonna be super active in this group, we’re going to be making comments on everything that you’re posting within the group, because the last thing we want to do is create another membership community where you feel like your consultant is far away and not involved. And so we’re going to be super involved in that.

Now, I think this thing is going to be awesome. I want you to get involved in this. And this is specifically, like I said, for group practice owners. We are targeting people who already have three clinicians. So that’s you plus two others that you’ve already hired. Because we want people that have already kind of gotten the systems in place somewhat at the beginning, they’ve already kind of hit some of that stuff, so that we can really help you more on effectiveness in your practice and growing your practice. So if you’re not at that level yet, but you’re interested in this group, please send me an email, [email protected], we’re going to have some options of other things for in between when you’re just starting your group practice, so we can kind of help you with that. But this group is specifically for people who have established group practices of at least three clinicians or more. So please go join. We have early bird pricing right now. So that’s between October 6th and midnight on October 8th, you can get into this group for $129 a month. Y’all, that’s less than seeing one client, really. So I feel like it’s a really good deal for you, for the value that you’re going to get out of it. And then after midnight, on October 8th, the price will go up to $149 and once you make your first payment, you’re stuck to that price for life. So I want you to get that early bird pricing if you’re listening to this before midnight on October 8th. And if not, the doors will stay open until October 20th. The price is $149 which I still think is great value. It’s really one client a month for all that you’re going to get out of this. And I promise if you do the stuff that we tell you to do within this group and you make an effort, you will start making more money and you’ll start enjoying your practice more.

So there you go. There’s Group Practice Boss. I could probably talk about it for a long time because I am excited about it. I think it’s gonna be super valuable, and honestly, guys, I look forward to connecting with you even more, that we get to hang out more within these webinars. If you’re attending them regularly, you’re going to get to know me really well. And I’m going to get to know you and your practice and really be able to help you march forward. So go over to You can join there or jump on an email list to get more information. And I appreciate you taking the time to listen to this podcast. And now we’re going to jump into the really good stuff here. So this is episode number fifty with John Clarke on The Basics of Digital Marketing.


On the Faith in Practice podcast today I’ve got John Clarke. He’s a licensed counselor, former group practice owner – sold in 2019 – and a private practice coach at He’s been helping therapists get clients, make more money, and master private practice since 2013. When he’s not nerding out over all the things private practice, he’s pretending he knows how to play jazz drums, punching people in the face – gentle-ish – and Muay Thai kickboxing, and talking to his pets like they’re humans. How’re you doing, John?

Whitney, thanks for having me. It’s been a while and it’s also kind of funny for some reason to hear my little bio read out loud. If I didn’t say the context of when and why I’m punching people in the face, it wouldn’t really make a lot of sense. But I promise I’m doing that in the context of a martial arts class most of the time.

That’s right. Well, I think all therapists need to let their rage out sometimes.

I think so. I think we have a lot more rage than we like to admit.

Yeah. Well, why don’t you share, you’ve had a lot going on the past few months, if you want to kind of share a little bit about your move, and exciting things in your family, and kind of what life’s like right now.

Yeah, of course. The past two years or so, my wife and I have been living in Paris, France for her job. And that was a wonderful adventure and a really sweet time in our lives. I ended up liking Paris, and enjoying France and French culture a lot more than I thought I would. And it also gave me a lot of opportunities to kind of put my skills to the test in running an online business and really being full time in my Private Practice Workshop business. So it kind of forced my hand in that regard to do that, not to mention working nine hours ahead – in time zones – of a lot of my clients and stuff, so that was a challenge in itself. We moved back to San Francisco just a couple months ago, kind of in the midst of COVID and everything, and just in time to have our first child who was born about eight weeks ago. So yeah, I like to get all my life transitions done at one time, and all the craziness, like, in the middle of a pandemic. That’s just how I like to do it. So that must mean that life is gonna be a little calmer in 2021. Or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

I hope so. I mean, you’re the second person today I’ve talked to where it’s when it rains, it pours. It’s just craziness.

Yeah. That’s always my life.

Well, I wanted to have you on the podcast, because John is like the digital marketing guru that I kind of go to when I’m looking for something on online marketing. And I’ve attended a couple of the mastermind classes he had led, and found it really helpful in my own practice as I’ve done some of the things he taught. And so I wanted to have him come on and talk about basics with digital marketing. So what are some of the basics that you think therapists really need to make sure they know about? Or maybe what do you see therapists missing?

Yeah, I would say the key to all of it is using common sense. We have an ability to really overcomplicate digital marketing, because we just fast forward to kind of learning the platforms or getting overwhelmed with something like SEO or Google ads, when in reality, if we understand first in principle how it all fits together, then the tactical parts of getting it done come a lot easier. What I mean by that is, if we try to be curious about how Google thinks, well, first of all, if we’re curious about where clients go online to find their next therapist, that gives you a major hint, first of all, and that major hint is Google. And for me, it’s always been Google. I’ve been known to kind of preach against therapists spending too much time on things like social media and Instagram and Facebook, and now maybe Tiktok, who knows. It’s not to say that those things can’t work, but as a foundation for your practice, you know, if I’m running a pizza shop down on Main Street, then the best place for me to advertise in front of people is people who are actively looking for pizza in my area. And they’re usually going to do that on Google, not on Facebook or Instagram. In fact, the other night, I started getting ads for a pizza shop in San Francisco, which is fine. It’s like, yeah, I’m certainly… I’m interested in pizza. There’s no doubt, but it’s on the other side of town for me, I’m not looking for it right now. It was just kind of a… they were casting a wide net, and probably running ads to all of San Francisco, versus really focusing on showing me pizza when I’m asking for pizza. So to me, that’s kind of step one, is to become what I call Google obsessed.

I’m actually growing right now my third practice here in San Francisco. And I’m kind of putting all this to the test in using my own Fully Booked method. Fully Booked is the name of my training program that we’ve run for a few years. We’ve had over a hundred and seventy therapists go through this program with really amazing results. And it really demystifies Google and shows therapists how to not only dial in a really clear and compelling message on their website, which is essential, but then how to get that message in front of people on Google. You’ll have to jump in and direct me here because I will just bounce around.

See, this is what I like. I like just listening and hearing all this stuff. And, you know, I just want to point out, I don’t really remember when people tell me things very often, but the mastermind class I attended, my [unclear] question was about social media and I, like, felt so much pressure. Oh, I gotta have social media, and we hear this all the time. And then you said to me the exact same thing you just said and like, people have their wallet open when they’re on Google, I think is how you had said it.

That’s right.

And I was like, thank you. And so I just stopped doing social media, like, I stopped all the investment in that and invested so much more of my time and money in Google, and it really paid off.

Yeah. I love that. That’s what I like to hear. And again, it’s not that social media couldn’t be helpful for things like brand awareness, or other pieces of your business. But I’ve, you know, this is my third practice I’ve built without a single social media post, that is to promote a local, in-person, private practice. And so I don’t see that changing anytime soon in terms of where people go to find a service-based business, I don’t see that changing. And I do see a lot of therapists wasting time and feeling that pressure to do social media, without really knowing why they’re doing it, or why they’re feeling that pressure other than, like, I just got to keep up with all the things. And I think that’s really risky.

So I was just telling my mastermind participants yesterday, whatever you do, know why you’re doing it. So if you’re blogging your tail off, and blogging five times a week, that’s fine, but know why you’re doing it. This is my pet peeve, is therapists and business owners just doing stuff blindly, or because they read in a free Facebook group that they should be blogging, so they start blogging. And then nine months later they’re really frustrated, because their practice still isn’t getting any traction. So that’s an interesting thing, too, right? So if we get a little more practical about Google – and yes, at the foundation of all this, before I get my website in front of traffic, I need to make sure that website is actually going to be compelling, and it’s going to convert, it’s going to resonate with people.

So it all starts with having a website that has a really clear target market – you could call it your niche, your client avatar. It has copy that is very plain language, so I say write in no greater than third grade language. So if you can’t explain what you do to a third grader – and if you have a third grader nearby, try explaining what you do, it is a fun copywriting exercise. And it needs to be very outcomes based in terms of your copy. That’s just kind of a quick and dirty way to think about your copy. So plain language, not jargony, spoken to your client avatar, and outcomes based – not too focused on kind of the symptoms and current pain.

Oh, that’s so great. I was looking at a website the other day, and the lady just talked so much about herself. And I was, like, seriously, people aren’t going on here wanting to think about you, they want to think about themselves.

Yeah. Yeah. So the whole Donald Miller story brand framework is really that the businesses fail in their marketing because they position themselves as the hero. Whereas in reality, the client is the hero in their story, and our job is to position ourselves as the guide trying to help that hero overcome their multiple levels of problems, or of inner challenges. And I think that’s just a good, simple way to kind of think about your place on your own website and in your own marketing. Yeah, and therapists, we… they talk about themselves on their websites, primarily because they don’t know what else to say, right? It’s kind of like being socially a bit awkward and walking up to someone and just starting to rant about yourself. Well, people don’t feel very seen, or compelled to engage with you further, when you’re that person.

It’s the start of a relationship when people land on your website, and therapists are actually quite good at forming relationships with all types of people, and very quickly, very effectively. And so doing that on your website is really the same principle. But again, therapists just get stuck and they start just like putting words on a page. And then it’s like, well, why does your website say all that? I don’t know, it’s just always said that. I’ve always had my bio on my homepage, so I just keep it there, or whatever it is. So anyway, yeah, you could have all the traffic in the world but if your site isn’t going to be client-centered and compelling, it’s not going to do anything. So that’s kind of step one, before I start to talk about traffic. Does that make sense?

Yeah, that’s great. That’s great. Keep going about the traffic.

So yeah, so let’s say I’ve got my website and I’m hitting those areas, and it’s time to get traffic, all you really need to know is that there’s two types of traffic in the world. That there’s just two, as far as I know. It’s paid and organic. So paid traffic is when I use a pay per click platform, something like Google Ads – it used to be called Google AdWords – where someone searches for something, I pay for certain keywords, and then I only pay when my ad gets clicked. It’s basically an auction for traffic. There’s a lot of variables that go into that auction, and that’s another place where therapists get tripped up, versus just getting started with Google Ads but that’s one way to fill a practice. And if I wanted to get full in the next thirty days, and I just created a website yesterday, it’s not going to be ranking organically for a really long time. So what I would do, and really, my only option then to drive traffic, is to use paid traffic. So that might be where I’m starting if I just want to ramp up quickly, or if I have a really specific goal in my practice. Or in your group practice, if you just hired a clinician, or you want to boost the volume in the summer months, or the winter months, whatever it is, Google Ads is something that… it’s a trigger that you can pull and can kind of use strategically, whereas organic traffic is something that really builds over time. And once you establish it, it’s just about kind of maintaining it, but it tends to hold up really well. Does that…? Yeah.

No, I appreciate the way you explained that. Because I have people ask me all the time, if they should invest in Google Ads. So you just said that perfectly in a way that I could re-say to somebody, because I think that’s all great advice. Yeah, so what do you think if someone only had a certain amount of money, let’s say, a couple hundred, or maybe like a thousand dollars, or something, and they’re just getting started out in their practice, and they are deciding – because I hear this a lot – they’re deciding between SEO and Google Ads, what would you recommend, or what should they be thinking about?

Yeah, that’s an interesting dilemma, as therapists go, like, it’s like, I can only choose one. And I would say, it’s more like, you need to choose one for now, and all based on your timeline and your goals, really kind of like your runway, right? So if you’re like, I’ve got a thousand bucks to put into this business, and I need to be profitable by eight weeks, then naturally I’m going to say, basically take all of that budget and put it into Google Ads. The interesting thing is that most therapists, we have major problems spending money, first of all. I talk to therapists all the time where putting a thousand dollars into starting a new business feels like a stretch. I’m compassionate toward that, I bootstrapped my own practice for a long time, I worked in agencies for a long time, I was driving Uber and Lyft for a long time to make it work. But the reality is, like, those who are willing to be scrappy, and find some money to put into your business are usually going to see it back; they’re going to see that money back. I would take that money and I would put it into Google Ads after building a Squarespace site on my own and following kind of what I just said.

You can learn a lot about online marketing by watching YouTube videos, reading books, listening to free podcasts, things like that. So you could effectively teach yourself some basic marketing skills, basic web design skills, basic copywriting skills, and then take a thousand bucks and turn it into five weekly paying clients. The thing that people don’t realize, like, let’s say I’m spending two-fifty of that per month, we need to realize that the when we think about cost per acquisition of a client, that cost tends to have positive ROI almost every time with Google Ads, if they’re set up properly and you have a good website, and you know how to convert once people are actually on the phone with you.

So for instance, let’s say that I’ve spent, yeah, let’s say that I’ve spent that two-fifty and I get two client inquiries, and one of them converts. My fee is one twenty-five per session, okay? So even in the course of a month, when I spent two hundred and fifty dollars and I go, wow, I only got one client from it, you need to think about lifetime value of a client, right? Most clients, if you’re doing good work, are hopefully going to come for more than one session. So if they come for one session, you’re still in the negative. If they come for two sessions, you’re breaking even. If they come for three, you’re net positive, right? You’re starting to see positive ROI on that. In reality, when done properly, therapists should be… you should be seeing your kind of cost per client acquisition closer to, I don’t know, ten, fifteen, twenty, even thirty dollars. So if someone were to tell me, John, you hand me thirty dollars and I will give you a new client that’s going to come and pay one twenty-five a week for the next six weeks. Most people in their right mind would say ‘yes’ to that exchange, right? That’s a really good margin, it’s a really good return on investment. Same thing if someone said, John, I’m gonna give you this gadget, it’s gonna cost you thirty dollars to acquire it, and then you can sell it for a hundred and twenty-five, or in the case of the returning client, you can sell it for six hundred and fifty dollars. What an amazing ROI.

So most therapists just don’t stick with Google Ads long enough to really see that ROI. And they don’t work through the first thirty or sixty days of running ads to really tweak them, really figure out what’s working, split test your ads and things like that, or they’re just not putting in enough of a budget for Google to make you competitive in the auction. So if your budget is only two-fifty, but then your neighbor next door is spending five hundred a month, they’ve got more of a budget to spend. Well, Google is probably going to favor that person who’s willing to spend more because ultimately, they’re going to give them more results and Google is going to make more money.

Yes. And so if somebody is going to run Google Ads, do you think that they can do it on their own? Or is there like some educational material they need? Or should they hire someone to run the Google Ads for it to be more productive?

That’s a good question. My rule of thumb for outsourcing is you should do everything yourself, or at least understand the task before you outsource it. Because the odds are, you’re not really going to know what it takes, or what the value is. And you’re not gonna know even how to supervise it, if you don’t really know what the task involves. So I would say, starting there and learning enough about Google Ads to know whether you want to keep it on your plate or outsource it.

Can therapists learn it? Absolutely. Just a few years ago, we used to run Google Ads for therapists. We ran them for over three hundred therapists around the country. We then took that model and translated into our now our Fully Booked program where it’s kind of a hybrid of Done For You and kind of Done With You. We have a massive Google Ads library, we have over three thousand negative keywords, that is a list that you’re going to get and plug into your account; it’s going to start saving you money right away. We’ve got landing page templates. So it’s kind of like we’ve already built the process for you, you take those materials, plug them into your account, follow our instructions to set them up, and you start getting calls pretty much right away, and then a lot of therapists find that that’s sufficient. Once you’ve got their ads up and running, they require very little maintenance if everything is set up properly. So that’s part of what therapists learn in our Fully Booked program.

That’s great. And then it sounds like as your practice grows, and maybe you’ve done Google Ads and it’s helping, then considering SEO maybe after that would be a pretty good investment. I mean, would you agree with that?

In a perfect world, you do both. And you focus on both all the time. So like I mentioned, I’ve started this new practice in San Francisco. And roughly, in the past eight weeks, what I’ve done is I created a website, just like what I talked about earlier, that’s good enough, it’s compelling, it’s got good copy, it’s clean, it’s got good calls to action. I’ve basically done some basic keyword research and placement for SEO. So that means I’ve gone and used some free tools to figure out what people are searching. And then I’ve taken those words, placed them in the right places on my website, I’ve started a blogging strategy so I can slowly build organic traffic. I’m running Google Ads so I can start getting traffic immediately. And the third thing that is actually producing the most results in my business right now is building and continuing to update and fill out my Google My Business listing. This is free money that’s left on the table for most therapists. I started focusing on that listing while having zero traffic, and actually focused on that and on my Yelp listing, and within the first, like, two and a half weeks, I already had four inquiries that were coming just from those listings.

So to get good organic traffic, especially in an urban area like San Francisco, it’s gonna take me six months, it could be nine months, it could be more because the competition is steep. And you need to slowly build that trust with Google, for them to rank you well. So my best bets for now are running Google Ads with a competitive budget, and really honing in on my local listings.

I’m glad you brought up Google Business. I kind of have been hearing about that lately and I actually just hired someone that does the marketing for my practice, because it was just becoming too much. So I’ll make her listen to this podcast. But anyway, she just started doing a bunch of stuff with the Google Business, and added photos and everything, and it was just amazing how quick the turnaround was on that, like, as I’m looking at how many people are going there, it’s just a very untapped resource I think that therapists don’t use.

It’s huge. And the thing is, again, Google is… they are loyal first and foremost, not to us, not to the business owners, they’re really loyal to consumers. They’re trying to provide the best possible experience to consumers. So if I’m going on to Google, or if I’m on my phone, and I’m on Google Maps – which a lot of us use, myself included – and I go to Google Maps and I type in pizza, which I’ll do right now on my phone, even though you can’t see me, something’s going to happen, right? I’m going to see a whole bunch of Google My Business listings. And I look through and there’s a bunch of variables that affect which listing it’s going to show me first. Yes, proximity is one. But then you start looking around and you see one pizza listing, it’s got this really awful, really old picture of pizza, it looks really bad, it’s clearly taken from a flip phone, and then that’s the only picture they have, or they have one more picture the outside of the business, but not the inside. That doesn’t really inspire trust between me and this pizza place.

Now, on the other hand, I look at the top listing and it’s got great, high quality, professional photos of the pizza, of the staff, of the inside of the business, of the outside of the business. They’ve got all sorts of reviews. They’ve got a very active, they’ve got a very active listing, you know, they’re continuing to update, etc. Well, Google sees that as a trustworthy business and they think well, because of that, a consumer like me is probably going to have a good experience. So let’s show them this one first. Because then I have a good experience with this one I’m looking at, Marcelo’s pizza, and as such, I kind of trust that if I do a similar search later today for auto repair shop, they’re going to show me good results, and good trustworthy businesses. So that’s really all this whole thing is, is developing that trust and reliability with Google so that they can feel good about promoting you to consumers. And then again, once you’re in, you’re really in, and it’s just about continuing to keep your presence going, continuing a good blog strategy, just keeping your business, your online presence, fresh and updated. That’s really all there is to it.

That’s great. And we talked a lot about starting out. And I really love this model that you’re doing, like, showing us how you’re starting it yourself and that’s really cool. But for people who are listening that are group practice owners, do you have any specific marketing tips, digitally, for them that you think they need to focus on?

For group practice owners?

Mm hmm.

Yeah, the biggest one, and the other overlooked piece, is your email list. So you know, you’re doing all this work to drive traffic to your site, both paid and organically. And what a lot of group practice owners completely forget is to grow and engage their email list. So you might have, let’s say, your client contacts in your EHR, like Simple Practice or TherapyNotes or whatever, but you absolutely need to have an email list because it’s a centralized place where you can keep in touch with everybody who has ever come into contact with your business. Your email list is not something that’s going to change your business overnight but it’s a much longer term play that’s going to act as like the glue, keeping it all together. Also, for what it’s worth, if and when you ever decide to maybe sell the business, which more therapists should be thinking about, your email list is one of the assets of the business that’s going to be very, very important, right? Otherwise, let’s say you’re selling the business and what you’re selling is a website that has traffic now, but what if it stops getting that traffic? Then all of a sudden, it’s like, well, what about all the contacts of the business? Well, we don’t have them, or they’re only in our EHR, or whatever it is. So you have to be continually building and engaging that list. And that’s going to really create some serious brand awareness for your business over time.

In setting up this new practice in San Francisco, I kind of migrated my old practice email list with this new one, sent out an email, and a client who I haven’t seen in seven years was so glad to hear from me and see this update, see my new website, see my new office. So he reached out and became a client again. If I think about, again, that cost for acquiring a new client, it’s infinitely more expensive for any business, not just a therapy practice, to acquire a new client versus to kind of win an old one back. So your email list is going to do that for you. It’s just such a powerful asset.

Yeah, that was one of the other things you taught in the mastermind that I went to, was about email lists. I actually started my email list right after that, and I’ve been investing in that and growing that and it was that point you made that if I do want to leave the practice, now I’ve got this thing to prove that we have these followers. And so that’s really good advice that you’re giving there.

It just takes the pressure off… it takes some of the pressure off of basically lead generation, which is what we’ve been talking about for the most part, of getting in front of people who’ve never heard about the business and getting them to inquire; that’s where a lot of the heavy lifting of marketing comes in. With your email lists, really the purpose, the functions of it are to collect leads, to warm them up through a nurture sequence, or some sort of automation that’s sending them a sequence to really warm them up to you and your business, and then to kind of segment your leads and actually understand, especially in a group practice, if you got… you’re gonna have people usually with all different sorts of interest in the practice. And that’s fine. That’s a good thing. But if I have, you know, I have a couples’ therapy retreat coming up, but most of my list are here because of, I don’t know, anger management, trauma, child therapy, etc. But then I just bothered my whole list about my couples’ retreat, versus if I have segments of my list, and I use segmenting or tagging, or whatever and I just send that announcement about the couples’ retreat to people in the practice who are in that segment of the list. Well, that’s a really powerful communication tool. It’s like having a captive audience.

Mm hmm. Yeah, we’ve been using tags as well and it’s super, super helpful. I actually didn’t know this stat till the other day but what I had read was for every dollar you put into your email list, you get forty-four dollars back. Have you heard this before?

Yeah, a lot of people will say, you know, to go along with that is, you should be making at least one dollar a month per email subscriber. So especially when people are valuing, like online businesses and things like that, it’s not really about the size of your list, it’s about what you’re doing with it, what you’re generating from it. But, yeah, I think that’s absolutely true. And again, if I think about how cheap email marketing is – free, or really cheap – and its ability to, again, keep in touch with people, keep you top of mind and reactivate old clients, then the value is probably even beyond that forty-four bucks or whatever. So absolutely, that seems right to me. Yeah. We have a kind of a neat resource; we have basically built a funnel that we teach in Fully Booked. It’s basically a prebuilt funnel in ConvertKit that has a place for you to put your lead magnets. It has a pre-built nurture sequence, and it has a prebuilt tagging feature, like, all in one funnel that you can basically download and put into your account. If people want to check that out it’s just, for ConvertKit. So if you check out that link, you’ll see a way to test out the funnel. You can try it for free and if it works, great, you can set up the ConvertKit account. But it’s just a way to build, or to start using like an advanced funnel in your practice right away.

I love how practical you are, like, you see what clinicians really need. And you’re like, I’m going to create this thing so that their lives are a lot easier. So that’s just wonderful. And so, John, if somebody wants to get in touch with you, or maybe wants to get some consulting or work with you, can you talk a little bit about how to get in touch with you and what you offer clinicians you’re working with?

Of course, thanks for asking. The main place to find me is We have a podcast called Private Practice Workshop, of course, wherever you’re listening. We have a YouTube channel which is now actually our biggest platform; we have one of the biggest YouTube channels in the private practice industry. We put out weekly videos there. If you just head to YouTube and search for private practice workshop. I have basically two core programs that we offer. And right now, we actually open them twice a year, including in October. So this month. One is Fully Booked, that’s my training program where we’re showing you and teaching you our proven system for getting new clients consistently. You can learn more about that on our homepage. The other one is our mastermind groups called Business Made Human, and that’s about really designing a business that fits into and feeds your life rather than takes away from it, and in a business that’s really designed based on mission, vision, and values and also really infusing yourself into your business and leveraging your personality and strengths. So that’s a really, really wonderful community as well. So yeah, those two programs are kind of opening up here in October and then they’ll close again for another six months. But those are two great ways to get involved and do some work with me if you’re interested.

Perfect. And now I’m going to hit the question that I ask everyone when they come on the show, you know, our audience is mostly faith-based audience building their practices. And so what do you feel like every Christian counselor needs to know, or better understand?

Oh, man, this is the spin off of the Joe Sanok question, huh?

That’s right.

I think, obviously we haven’t even talked about this today but I think if faith is part of your differentiating factor, kind of your X factor for your practice, don’t be afraid to let that be a core part of your marketing, and I’m sure you’ve talked about this on the show a lot. But don’t be afraid to use that as a core part of your marketing, and what makes you different is I think certainly people that are looking for that and looking for a safe space to explore their faith or find a clinician who has a similar faith, I think is super powerful. And also, from a clinician standpoint, and a hiring standpoint, I think it’s a really wonderful angle as well in terms of building a faith-based practice and creating the kind of company culture you want based on your faith. So I would say, just really own it, just really own it and go for it.

My own therapist, growing up – who was my therapist for the longest period of time, he’s the reason why I’m a therapist – I actually went to graduate school and then I came back and I saw him again. And he was sitting there and I’ve always tried to figure out his theoretical modality and stuff, like, is he psychodynamic, is he CBT, whatever? And even after going to graduate school, I didn’t totally know. But I came to him and we were sitting there and he said, do you want to know where every single one of my interventions comes from? Every single thing that I do in session comes from? And my guesses were like, yeah, you know, some CBT, some psychodynamics, whatever. And instead he just pointed to the Bible. And it actually made a lot of sense, even though it wasn’t always overtly kind of faith-based counseling. That was his entire modality, that was like literally his kind of clinical modality and that really changed the way I thought about clinical modalities in the first place. But that was really neat. And that was kind of a moment I’ll never forget.

Thanks for sharing that story. That’s really powerful. And I think our listeners will really be affected by that. So yeah, well, John, thanks for coming on and making digital marketing seem a lot easier.

I try. Thanks again for having me, Whitney. This has been a lot of fun.


Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also, there you can learn more about me, options for working together, such as individual and group consulting, or just shoot me an email [email protected]. Would love to hear from you.

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