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Marketing for Wellness: 4 Ways to Attract New Clients

April 10, 2024

A person wearing a purple sweater sits at their laptop and writes in a notebook while an illustration shows a magnet pulling dollars, hearts, messages, and thumbs up icons out of the screen

As John Clarke puts it, “grad school left me grossly unprepared to be a business owner, even though I was quite ready to be a therapist.”

The graduate of Virginia’s James Madison University realized that times had changed. One couldn’t simply throw up flyers around town and wait for people to pile up to give out great referrals. So Clarke dedicated the first few years of running his practice — the San Francisco-based Calm Again Counseling — to learning how to navigate the minefield that was the internet.

After mastering digital marketing, he ended up opening a professional workshop instructing other therapists and clinical professionals on how to attract clients and run their businesses.

John Clarke smiles for the camera outside a building with glass windows. He wears a blue jacket with a purple checkered shirt underneath. John Clarke of Calm Again Counselling

Clarke’s story isn’t unique, either.

Dr. Rebecca Hopkins began marketing her chiropractic studio before it even opened. A graduate of Toronto’s Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Hopkins was laid off during the pandemic. But she didn’t stop working. Instead, she took to social media where she began cultivating a reputation online. She eventually moved to Texas and opened the doors to The Wellness Studio.

“The goal was to open my practice and the pandemic really forced me to do that,” she says. “It’s been two years and I haven’t looked back, it’s been amazing.”

Here are four ways Clarke and Hopkins have attracted clients and built their successful practices — and how you can, too:

1. Be specific in both your work and your marketing

One of the first lessons Clarke teaches in his workshop is how to work with SEO (search engine optimization). After all, if people can’t find you online, you don’t stand much of a chance.

“Having a niche is going to help you have clarity in your practice, but it’s going to help Google [search results] as well,” Clarke notes. Honing in on one audience as much as possible is recommended — that way your site stands out when potential patients are searching for specific conditions.

A definition of SEO against a purple background

The key, says Clarke, is to aim with a putter rather than a driver. That’s why it’s better to go with, for example, a site “that’s entirely about trauma therapy in adolescents, and we talk about that one thing on every page in lots of different ways. You might be targeting 100 people instead of 1,000, but those 100 are going to be more in line with your business and who you’re likely to serve.”

Before you dive into SEO, it’s important to identify your niche. First, think about who your ideal demographic is. Then, adjust your communications to meet their specific needs. Here are a few examples:

  • If your audience is teens, then write your website copy in a conversational way that’s easy for them to relate to and not full of jargon.
  • When servicing diverse communities, include photos that showcase different abilities, ethnicities, and gender identities.
  • If your clientele is dealing with a difficult time in their lives (like navigating grief, infertility, etc.), use language in your marketing that shows compassion (i.e. “We’re here to support you”).

2. Take your brand to social media

Much of Hopkins’ success is tied to refining her personal brand. Faced with time off due to the pandemic and immigration issues, she went right to social media, where she spent a year working her personality onto the screen.

A definition of brand against a purple background.

“Being laid off was a blessing in disguise,” admits Hopkins. “No one knew who I was, so I created my page in 2018. I devoted the whole year to grow and create an online presence so that when I opened my doors I could create a stable flow of patients coming through Instagram.”

Referrals eventually helped in that process as well, but Hopkins, who now has over 40,000 followers on Instagram, has largely expanded her client base with the help of social media.

Here are some tips as you get started with building your profile — whether it’s on Instagram or another platform:

  • Identify how your brand presents itself online. Consider which photos you want to use, your color palette, and how you’ll write your copy. If you’re creating a personal brand, remember that your image and voice will be front and center — and you’ll want to factor in how you bring your followers into a conversation online with a friendly, approachable tone.

  • Create content that will interest your audience. Before you start posting, consider your ideal clientele. Do they prefer consuming static images or videos? Helpful content that answers their burning questions over a pretty, curated feed?

  • Monitor engagement and pivot. Social media is all about testing. Take a look at your posts’ engagement weekly or monthly and see what’s really resonating with your audience. It’s fine if one piece of content doesn’t land the way you thought it would — it’s an opportunity to get creative and try something new!

3. Consider what you have time and money to do

Of course, it’s not easy (or possible, given the time commitments) to do everything yourself.

Assess which areas of marketing you value and be realistic about what you have time and money to do. For instance:

  • Would you prefer to prioritize a website or social media account?
  • Can you realistically do this project from the side of your desk?
  • Do you need to look into hiring someone to help you accomplish your marketing goals in the short term? In the long term?

Some practitioners might thrive with a DIY style, while others might find it beneficial to delegate tasks.

For Clarke, presenting a polished, professional-looking site to clients is something he values.

“You’ve got to have a strong brand, and often that means working with a group of really strong designers. And good copy — you could have a gorgeous website, but if the copy sucks, you know it’s not going to compel people,” Clarke says.

It also helps to research the topic before hiring extra hands. “You need to know how it works and what you’re outsourcing,” says Clarke. “If you’re telling someone to do your SEO, what exactly does that mean, what does that entail? It’s good to have a handle on how it all works and fits together.”

To look into marketing freelancers, check out these sites:

4. Build relationships outside of the treatment room

Building relationships can start before people even walk into your space. If potential customers get a handle on your personality from your marketing materials, it can help them get familiar with you before they actually have a chance to meet you.

Hopkins, for instance, has a ton of posts on her Instagram profile about stretches and how to live without pain, but she also has fun with it. Some light-hearted posts included a blooper reel and a video revealing to her parents that she’s pregnant.

Dr. Rebecca Hopkins smiles for the camera. She wears a white blazer and gold necklace against a black backdrop. Dr. Rebecca Hopkins of The Wellness Studio

Clarke and his staff of eight run a weekly newsletter called Mental Health Mondays. “We throw out three- to-five really helpful tips related to improving mental health that are focused on who we help,” he says. “And we make sure to announce if we have a new clinician or are offering new services, anything like that. A lot of people enjoy that content and like hearing from us.

At the end of the day, be yourself

All of these strategies only work if you’re authentic to both who you are as a person and as a professional.

When Hopkins moved to Texas from Ottawa, the shift in both clientele and setting was massive. But it didn’t stop her from being herself. “It was interesting for sure — everything was new, it was my first time living in the US. The profession is different; the philosophies and theories were something I hadn’t seen before,” she admits.

She tried a few things, unsure if they’d stick. But she never wavered from doing what came naturally and felt authentic to her, even in a wildly different ecosystem.

“I knew I would just have to go with it for a bit. Things got better and then really good. I’m loving it now and I think my patients are, too.”

Want more advice from clinic owners like John and Rebecca? 🙋🏻‍♀️

No matter what stage you’re at in your business, we’ve got you covered with Front Desk magazine. Filled with helpful tips and insights into clinic life, you can get print issues delivered right to your clinic! 📖

The cover of Front Desk magazine

This article was originally published in issue 1 of Front Desk magazine and has been modified and updated.

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