First thing everyone thinks they should do when opening a private practice is get business cards. Some even think it’s necessary to have brochures made that list services offered, and explain the generic benefits or process of counseling or coaching.
You might think about putting ads in local newspapers or specialty magazines, or joining leads groups like Business Networking International or LeTip to get your name out there.
So it might surprise you to know that these aren’t the first steps to take.
The first step — the foundation of all other marketing — is to get a website. And my suggestion, if you’ve never had a website before, is to take some time to pay attention to your colleagues’ websites in order to begin to get a sense of what you like and what you don’t in how you want your site to look.
The second step — Once you have a basic design approach in mind, decide on your branding. What colors will represent you and your business? What symbols and photos will represent what clients get from working with you? This is all part of a branded identity for your practice that the public will begin to associate with you. Be deliberate in your choices.
The third step — Know who your one specific most ideal client is and what they are suffering from right now. Get very clear about that. Frame your main marketing message in the emotional and every day experiences that this ideal client actually has.
If possible boil down your message to about 5 works that convey what clients get from working with you. That’s the tagline you’ll use on cards, brochures and websites.
The fourth step — is to write the content for the pages of your website. Be sure to write your own content, or pay someone to do it for you. It’s fine to get inspiration from professionals you respect, but it’s illegal to take what they’ve written and use it as your own without permission.
What Your Basic Website Must Have
A foundational website needs a minimum of 5 basic pages, each with 700 - 1200 words of helpful information for targeted ideal clients and some interactive features at least on the home page or resources page for the best search engine optimization. Those 5 pages are typically labelled:
Home — a compelling marketing message to your ideal client
Services & Fees — descriptions / photos of niche clients
FAQ — frequently asked questions about policies and process, directions, map, contact form, maybe PayPal button
About — your personal bio, including education and experience as relevant to your client
Resources — your own authored articles, tip sheets, audios, videos, etc to showcase your philosophy and approaches to your ideal client’s problem
In 2015, the contemporary style for a website is for the homepage to be more of a hub, directing visitors to the niche specific content that they are looking for. That means that each of your niche specialties needs its own marketing message page of about 700-1200 words, but that the homepage can have more minimal content.
It’s likely that you’ll soon find a lot of things to put on your website. I recommend getting a plan that that gives you more than 5 pages to start. Wix doesn't limit the number of pages in either the Combo or Unlimited plans.
If you tend to be a minimalist you need to know that sites with just 1-3 pages or less than 700 words per primary page look like sales oriented squeeze pages to Google, and they don’t get indexed as well. So don’t be afraid of being conversational, especially on the niche specialty pages. As a frame of reference, this blog post has 869 words.
Choosing a Webhost
There are many, many choices for do it yourself (DIY) website building. My current recommendations for the easiest online tools for a basic website with built in blog AND mobile site is the fast growing Wix. See my own website dedicated to building websites for therapists, coaches, and other advisors at DeWriteSites.com .
You’ll hear lots of recommendations from colleagues. Check them out with an open mind but a critical eye. I don’t recommend WordPress, SquareSpace, Weebly, Webstarts, GoDaddy, VistaPrint, or anything other than Wix anymore. Email me if you want to know why.
The main things to consider when choosing a webhost are
how experienced are you in using the computer
how much time do you want to devote to creating your site
how easy and flexible are the editing tools
how good will the site look on different browsers and devices
how important is it to you to be able to make changes to content and style
how easy do you need it to be to add video, SEO, and PayPal
how good is the tech support
Building your own website is not hard when you’ve got the right webhost for your skills.
But if you don’t want to do it yourself and do want an option that doesn’t cost several thousand dollars and lots of aggravation, hiring me to design your site and help you write client attracting niche marketing pages might work for you. See my rapidly growing portfolio and check my very affordable fees.