December 2, 2022

Grow Your Psychiatry Private Practice pt.2: The #1 Marketing Framework You Need to Know

Written by

James Berges, M.A.

So you established your niche positioning statement, opened your practice, and you're ready to accept patients. Only one challenge: you need to get your name out there for people to find you. From an Osmind-led survey, we found that marketing was the #1 most time-consuming non-clinical activity for most solo cash-pay clinics.

Looking at other influencers in mental health, you may think, “ahhhh, I need to be dancing on TikTok, making reels, blogging, podcasting, and sending out a newsletter every week." So you start blasting posts into the void and realize you’re spreading yourself too thin and nothing’s really resonating. That’s a sure recipe for burnout. The good news: You don’t need to be everywhere at once. Before you write one blog article or social media post, you need to see how these marketing channels fit together.

We'll cover the one high-level marketing framework you need to set a strong foundation to grow your psych private practice—so you can think strategically about your marketing.

The buyer’s journey

Think about the last time you paid for a service—let's take an auto shop. Maybe you started by Googling "my hybrid car is making a buzzing sound." Then, you came across an article explaining what that sound could mean. Once you were aware of the problem, you searched for a solution: You searched "best auto shop near me." Then you looked at only auto shops that listed "electric and hybrid cars" as a specialty. Then you compared reviews or asked around on Nextdoor or social media, before finalizing your choice.

Choosing a mental health care provider is more personal than the average purchase, and prospective patients have more information at their fingertips than ever. Instead of using pushy sales tactics, you need to meet your ideal patients where they are in the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey is the path people take from hearing about your services to making a decision that you’re the right fit.

Prospective patients must be aware of the problem they want to solve before finding a solution and a provider. You can meet them at every stage of the journey.

1) Awareness stage:

Before a patient can seek services, they need to be aware that they have a problem they want to solve. For example, a patient realizing they feel depressed and anxious may start by Googling depression symptoms and treatments. They may not know what treatments are available, but they know they’re in emotional pain and need help.

a) Free ways to generate awareness: Your Website with search engine optimization (SEO) in the form of web pages and blog posts are your #1 piece of digital real-estate. We'll demystify SEO in a future article; for now, know that your website is like your digital office, and understanding the basics of SEO will help your ideal patients find your site.

For example, let's say you publish an in-depth article about the different treatment options for depression, so your article appears on the first page of Google's search results when a prospective patient searches "depression treatment options." 

You're more likely to get someone to click on your website if you create helpful content surrounding your niche. Another benefit of writing online: you'll have a body of work and resources you can point people toward if they have questions.

Another free avenue is answering questions in communities and forums.

Examples of these "digital water coolers" include:

• Facebook groups related to mental health
• Quora
• Reddit (there's a subreddit for almost every topic you can think of).

By answering questions without being salesy, prospective patients will start to see you as a trustworthy source of information over time. You can link to any blog posts you've written if they're relevant to the question—which brings them to your website when they click. But beware, there are lots of landmines you can encounter when giving any type of medical advice online. Make it clear that the information you share is for psychoeducation and not medical advice.

b) Paid ways to generate awareness: Paid ads are the digital version of billboards and print ads. When someone searches for a specific service, you pay to occupy that top "sponsored" spot on the Google search results. You can get really targeted by adding your location or specialty when applicable (e.g, “TMS in San Diego”). While ads can help you grow faster, they have a bit of a learning curve, and unlike other channels, actual money is at stake. The upside is that paid ads can semi-reliably get your practice website in front of people already searching for your service without needing to sink a ton of time into blogging and SEO.

2) Consideration stage:

At this stage, prospective patients are aware of their problem but not sure of the best way to address it. After some Googling and talking with loved ones, the prospective patient finds a few possible solutions to their depression.

They find a blog about curing depression by changing their diet, one that promises to relieve depression through weightlifting, and finally a directory of licensed mental health professionals specializing in mood disorders. They decide seeking out professional help is the best option. But which mental health professional should they choose?

This is where your reputation and reviews come into play. Again, we'll have a whole article dedicated to reputation management, review sites, and directories. For now, here are a few places to think about listing your practice:

• ZocDoc
• Psychology Today
• Alma
• Healthgrades
• Google business profile

3) Decision stage:

At this point, the prospective patient knows what type of solution they want—a psychiatrist specializing in adult mood disorders—but they haven't decided which doctor to choose. In-person or telepractice both work for them—so location isn’t a deciding factor. They’re curious about talk therapy, but also medical interventions like antidepressants or ketamine infusion treatments (KIT). After browsing through a few professional profiles on a directory that seem like a good fit, they Google each clinician's name to see if they have a website or reviews with more information.

One clinician has no website. The next has a website with way too much information and colors, making the patient more anxious. Finally, the third provider has an elegantly designed website with free resources like blog posts and guides, patient testimonials, and a clear description of the practice’s approach and services. The patient decides professional #3 is the best fit and submits an inquiry through their website contact form.

Important note: The contact form on your website needs to be HIPAA-compliant.

You can use Google Forms as part of a HIPAA-compliant Google Workspace. You sign a BAA as part of the signing up for your Google Workspace account. Here are the steps:

  1. Go to “Account Settings”
  2. Scroll down to click on “Legal and Compliance”
  3. Scroll down to click on  “Security and Privacy Additional Terms”
  4. Scroll down and click on “Google Workspace/Cloud Identity HIPAA Business Associate Amendment”


Marketing your practice starts with understanding your buyer’s journey! Your website, reviews, how you position your niche, and how you show up in Google’s search results will play significant roles in how prospective patients find you and make the decision to book an appointment. In the next article, we’ll dive deeper into showing up in search results using search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing.

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