Where do you start when marketing a faith-based practice? What are some things to consider when marketing a faith-based practice? Are there any specific tips for marketing this type of practice?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Whitney Owens about how to market and brand a faith-based practice.
Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counsellor 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.
In This Podcast
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Whitney Owens about how to market and brand a faith-based practice.
It’s important to consider what other people’s perspectives are, and think about how you can not come across as offensive, as well as how to meet people’s needs at the same time. Remember that people are at different places in their faith, so you need to put some of your own opinions aside to better serve your clients’ needs.
Branding a practice
It all comes back to having that vision we spoke about in the previous episode. When you have a rock-solid vision, your practice will attract the kind of clients you want.
Before you begin creating your marketing, you need to consider your ideal client at every stage. Would they like what you have created? Would they like your vision?
Think about where you are marketing too. Where is your ideal client hanging out? Would they respond to marketing better online, in magazines or in the community? Once you understand where they are, and what content they are consuming, get involved in it.
Tips on marketing a faith-based practice
Start in your own community first. Create those relationships with people who are working with your ideal clients. Set up coffee dates with them and establish those relationships. You’ll be surprised how many referrals you’ll get from it.
Secondly, for Whitney, her website has been the number one way to get clients.
This is because some people are nervous to ask other people about counselling so they come to a website to ask questions. Put time and energy into this. Consider the wording you want to say to include your faith, and also consider getting someone to do your SEO. Whitey’s calls tripled once she hired someone to do her SEO.
An example of beginning to write good website copy is to think through the pain of your ideal client. Where are they at in their life and their struggle? Talk about the healing and the revolution that happens after counselling. Talk about their current pain, the transformation and the healing process that will happen after counselling.
And finally, it’s also important to remember that when you do good work, people will tell other people about it. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there.
Thanks For Listening!
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Well, today on the Practice of the Practice podcast, we have session number three of the Faith in Practice series. We’re here with Whitney Owens. How are you doing today, Whitney?
[WHITNEY]: Great. It’s good to be back.
[JOE]: Yes. You know, we’ve covered some ground. Today’s day three of this. First day we covered ideal client, day two was vision for practice and today marketing and branding a faith-based practice. But you know, I got to say when I hear branding and marketing and faith all at once, I have a little bit of achiness that comes out. Like I think about in the 80s when there was a lot of those televangelists and like, “Put your hand on the TV screen and send money.” My grandma got sucked into so many of those things. She was such a like good Christian lady. Like I remember going to the 700 Club with her live and it just, like a lot of these things, you know, I think people have a natural like, Ooh, like faith and marketing and branding. I mean, so that, we have an uphill battle today, don’t we?
[WHITNEY]: Yes. Every day.
[JOE]: So, with that kind of start of, you know, marketing and branding and faith having been misused in a lot of ways, where do you start in regards to this conversation?
[WHITNEY]: Well, it’s good to know where people are coming from. And so considering what other perspectives might be besides your own is really important and thinking through how can you not be offensive in what you do, but how do you meet people’s needs and show compassion and understanding and knowing that people aren’t, even within faith, people aren’t all going to think the same and they might be at different places, and that’s okay. And being able to put your own, I mean, you want to make faith a part of what you’re doing and you can’t fully let that go, but kind of putting some of your own opinions to the side so that you can hear where clients are coming from.
[JOE]: Yes. And I think, I mean that’s a challenge even in the online marketing and podcasting space. There’s really hard sell, like used car salesman type of, you know, kind of slime balls out there. Or I can say, “Listen, I’m not going to hard-press someone into a product that they don’t need.” I can say, “Hey, if this works for you and you see a good ROI on it, awesome. If not, then that’s fine. We have lots of free stuff.” And so, I think that in any marketing, you’re challenging what people have experienced when it comes to just marketing a business.
[WHITNEY]: Definitely. I love your example because I think a lot of people are in that place. So when we talked at the beginning about your ideal client and thinking through where are they kind of on their faith journey and considering that, that someone in your situation probably isn’t going to want to tend to practice that’s overtly Christian and the branding in their logo. But someone who is extremely developed maybe hasn’t had that negative experiences that you had would be a lot more likely to want to go to a practice that had a logo that represented Jesus or represented some kind of faith.
[JOE]: Yes. And I think that that’s a great point that you said at the beginning that everyone’s kind of at a different point in it. And you know, even when we were talking about your vision, you having your vision for your practice first and foremost will attract the kind of people that you want to attract. And so if you do want that to be front and center, then you want to attract people that want it front and center. And if you don’t, then maybe that’s a little different. So where should we start? Especially in like branding, there’s so many things to consider, especially with a faith-based practice. Like I know you have a ton of content here, so let’s roll.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. Well I think we started in the right place with our first podcast in this series about your ideal client. So when you’re creating your marketing, your branding, your logo, really all the things that you do, you should be considering, your ideal client. Is this something that they would look at and that they would like? So not only with that, but also the things that you do with your marketing. So where are you marketing; online or in magazines or at places in the communities sending out your flyers? Like, in all those things, think about where is my ideal client hanging out, what are they reading, what are they looking at? And then tailoring your marketing to that.
[JOE]: So take us through, you have this type of ideal client, they’re, like maybe sketch out an ideal profile for someone and then pair that with the kind of branding that people should have on their website or where they should market.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. Well the easiest would be to kind of talk about what it was like for me at the beginning. So, like I said in one of the other podcasts, I found teenagers to be my ideal clients. And so I found that I was doing really well in my work with them. So I’m thinking, “Okay, well how do I create a practice that hangs with the teenagers, or that meets the needs of people that work with teenagers?” Because those are the ones that are telling the teenagers, “You’ve got to get a therapy.” So, I did a lot at the beginning and creating those relationships with people that work with teenagers. So I asked myself, “Okay. Well, who’s working with teenagers?” We’re talking about schools, we’re talking about doctors, parents, youth pastors. So these were some of the people that I started working with.
So, I actually, my husband actually is a youth pastor, so he was my first person. I said, “Okay, who are the other youth pastors you know and can you set me up a coffee with them?” So we did that. And then that led to other relationships of, “Hey, I know this person that needs somebody referred to me. You meet with her.” And then as far as doctor’s offices and starting with my children, their pediatrician, when I went in for an appointment, I said, “Hey, do you have therapists who refer to?” And so being able to let them know about my services and they were very happy about that. So, at the time I needed more people to refer to for teenagers. So I think kind of starting in your own community first and then going out from there and figuring out where those ideal clients are hanging out.
[JOE]: Whitney, I just want to kind of underline how many of those relationships you already had then open doors to new relationships. And so even if someone’s new in a community, it’s like you’ve got to just meet people, whether or not it’s just to like build your practice, like meet people, being invested in your community and then that’s going to open doors for your private practice.
[JOE]: So, then what other branding tips do you have? Maybe let’s zoom in on the website a little bit, because that’s going to be kind of your first digital business card for most people. They may see a Facebook page or something like that, but they’re almost always going to end up on your website. What should people consider around marketing and branding on their website for a faith-based practice?
[JOE]: Yes. So I highly recommend that you put the money into your website at the beginning. I know we’re all low on funds. We’re trying to boot strap as much as we can, but the website I have found has been the number one way that I’m getting clients. I’ve really thought, I live in kind of a small- to middle-sized town and I really thought it’d be word of mouth. Some of it is, but I get a lot more through the website; people who are nervous about asking people for where they go for counseling. So they get, that’s the number one place I’d say put your time and energy and then creating language on the website that may attract ideal client, language on the website that integrates faith in the way that you want to integrate your faith in your practice. Consider having somebody work on your SEO because that’s going to boost up your Google and you’re going to be able to get more hits that way.
[JOE]: I want to go back to the copy on the website. Talk a little bit more about what good copy looks like based on the ideal client. Because you said, “Write copy for your ideal client,” and some people might be like, “I don’t even know what that means or how that would look.” What are some examples for people that they could use?
[WHITNEY]: Yes. So thinking through the pain of your clients. So that ideal client, where are they at? So like for example, recently we, one of my therapists does eating disorders and so we added a page to the website. So we’re thinking, “Okay, when you’ve got a teenage girl who has an eating disorder or a college student who has an eating disorder, where are they in their pain?” Well, they’re not realizing they have it or it just kind of started and they didn’t know that it was coming, or did they first start thinking about their image, they first started thinking about their food and how they couldn’t stop thinking about food? So, where are they in their pain? And then considering where do you want to take them in their counseling so the healing or the transformation can occur?
So, speaking to them about their pain, about the transformation that happens in counseling, the healing that comes, being able to speak alone with somebody, someone that doesn’t judge you, being able to understand the eating disorder. And then at the end talking about the revolution or the healing that happens. And so then when you’re done with counseling, you’ll be able to go and feel good about your body. You’ll be able to eat well, you’ll be able to have healthy relationships again and not be so fixated on where you were in your pain. So kind of the pain and the transformation in the healing process.
[JOE]: Yes, I think so many people miss that on their homepage where it’ll be some, I don’t know, benign statement, like ‘There’s hope for your family.’ And it’s like, well, there’s nothing about counseling on this page, there’s nothing about therapy. It could just as easily be a funeral home or it could be, I don’t know, workout facility. It’s like to be clear right away that that person is literally on the right page. They’re on the right webpage. It’s so important and you know, identifying that pain early on. So what else on the website? You said SEO. Talk a little bit about SEO.
[WHITNEY]: Oh, that’s Search Engine Optimization. And I will be honest, I know some, but I’d refer to the experts on SEO and I have someone hired out that does SEO for me and she does index and on the website and I would say our calls on this tripled once I got somebody involved on that.
[JOE]: Who is she?
[WHITNEY]: She’s, actually a local friend of mine.
[JOE]: Oh, awesome.
[WHITNEY]: Yes, that —
[JOE]: And I think that [crosstalk]. Yes, it’s, you know, finding people that can help you, whether that’s local or if you don’t know, like reach out to someone. Like we have Jessica Tappana with Simplified SEO Consultants. I think I nailed that. We’ll put it in the show notes if I, yes, she’s awesome too. But it’s amazing when people put a little bit of time into it, especially in our space because like, there’s so few people that are putting any intentional SEO work in that you do even like a microscopic amount and it makes, you know, three times, like what you just said.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. And Jessica is awesome. She did a teaching that I attended and she talked a lot of like little things like, “Hey, your blog needs to come out every other week or every week at the same time. That increases your SEO.” And I was like, “Oh, I never knew that.” Or, “You need to have at least 500 words in your write-up to be able to get more SEO.” So some of these really simple tactics that she was able to teach us that I know enough about my website that I can get on there and write that page and do that SEO, so, that was really great.
[JOE]: That plugin she taught us at Slow Down School called Keywords Everywhere. It’s a free plugin that you can use in Chrome. Now if I Google anything, like if I Google ‘Christian counselor,’ it’ll tell me exactly how many people a month search that nationwide, and how much it usually is going for. And I mean, it’s such a cool tool that you can find out what’s actually ranking for searches. Yes. So what else with branding? What else would the marketing?
[WHITNEY]: I think not underestimating good clinical work as marketing. So when you do good work with your clients, they’re going to tell people about you. So, that goes far. Also when clients come in and they have other relationships in the community, maybe they have a church that they already attend or maybe it’s a student who has a school that they’re at, getting the release of information if you can, and reaching out to those people. So when a pastor gets a call that says, “Hey, I’m seeing one of your parishioners. This is how counseling is going. Do you have any concerns? What are you seeing going on?” They love that and that you want them to be involved and that’s going to increase that trust factor. So then when someone comes into his office and says, “I’m struggling with depression,” he’s thinking, “I’m calling that girl that called me yesterday about that client.” Same with school counselors. They don’t always get calls back and they’re meeting with their students maybe even once a week. And so when they get a call from a counselor that is good and knows what they’re doing, they will refer their students to you.
[JOE]: And answers their phones and returns phone calls.
[JOE]: It’s crazy how it’s those very simple things that so few people do.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. And honestly that’s a lot of why I want to refer within my practice to the other therapists here. Because even getting another therapist, like if I’m working with a client and they’re working with a family and that therapist isn’t calling me back, I’m like , “Goodness, I don’t want to get, I’m working with one of my therapists because at least they’ll talk to me.”
[JOE]: It’s amazing how even just like a thank you card goes so far. Thanks for the referral. You know, you don’t have to write the person’s name and then just, “Thank you for the referral. Let us know if you have any questions or concerns.” So, if people have done all of that, any other kind of final tips on marketing and branding that you want to make sure people walk away with?
[WHITNEY]: Yes, I’m kind of going back to where’s your ideal client hanging out, really in regards to like social media or what kind of magazines are they looking at, what kind of blogs are they reading and getting involved in those? So a couple of examples of things we’ve done in our practice; there’s a really well known website here called southernmamas.com. It’s for moms to go get event information, stuff in the low country area. So like Georgia and South Carolina. And so we do an advertisement once a week and we pay for like a six month membership. And so we’re posting a blog with helpful information for parents every week. There’s also some advertising on the banners; on the horizontal and vertical banners. So we’ve gotten a couple of people who have read those incoming for that reason, or there’s a really well known magazine in town and because we’re a cash pay only practice, I was this kind of a magazine is kind of that clientele that would be reading that. So we did marketing in that. So thinking about what kind of magazine is my clientele reading and getting involved in that or offering, like I’ve written an article for a couple of local magazines that I think my clients are probably reading. So thinking through those with the social media are, you know, if you’re on Facebook or if you’re on Instagram, I’m thinking through who’s looking at those?
[JOE]: Yes. I think especially on Instagram, those quote cards are going over really well, but also doing a lot of Instagram lives and you know, just what is it like to live a good life and to be, you know, people poke around and they figure out who they, who your client or I’m sorry, who your counselor is well before they come in. And if you can show them that on Instagram or Facebook ahead of time, it’s amazing how fast you can get clients.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. Videos get far.
[JOE]: Yes, absolutely. Well, in the next session we’re going to be talking all about marketing to churches, like how to do that, right and to do it effectively. And then in the last one, we’re going to be talking to all about adding clinicians to your practice, from a faith-based perspective. If you want any resources, head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/faithinpractice. We’ll have resources there for you and after this, we’ll tell you what the most current resource is. Also our YouTube channel, these are all on YouTube. We have, I want to say over a hundred videos there all on private practice. So go check that out if you’re listening to the podcast as well. Whitney we’ll talk to you tomorrow.
[WHITNEY]: Sounds great.
[JOE]: Whitney, that was such a fun interview there and we have a webinar coming up on November 12th, 2019 at two o’clock Eastern, one o’clock Central, 12 Mountain, and 11 Pacific. It’s all about faith and practice where you’re going to go deeper talking all about these issues, but then, you know, adding more or doing some Q&A. What sort of things are you excited about in regards to this webinar?
[WHITNEY]: Yes, well, I’m excited to answer your questions. I know that starting a practice and growing your practice is not only a lot of questions, but then when you’re specifically talking about how do I make my faith a part of that, we’re talking about a whole new world. So being able to kind of meet people where they are in that and specifically address this.
[JOE]: Yes, so if you want to register for that webinar, head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/faithinpractice. And when you do that, you’ll go right to that registration page. And if you happen to miss that webinar, we’re going to redirect to something awesome in the future and maybe the email series and maybe future webinars. So if you heard this after November, 2019, fear not. There are lots of resources there for you to talk about Faith in Practice.