Marketing Your Therapy Practice – The Elevator Pitch

June 30, 2012 by  Filed under: Marketing 

Marketing your therapy practice can take many different forms. One of the most important types of marketing you will use on a day to day basis is simply explaining to people you meet what your practice is all about.

A refined version of this little spiel is sometimes called an “elevator pitch.” The idea behind it, is that a business person who meets a potential client in an elevator will have only about 30 seconds to a minute to make their pitch for a sale or perhaps another meeting, so they should always have a well-rehearsed “pitch” at the ready. Their pitch needs to deliver key information about who they are, what they’re selling, or what they’re hoping to accomplish with the client– all before the elevator doors open when it reaches its destination.

Most therapists don’t like to even think of the word “pitch” in relation to their practice or marketing their practice. It sounds a bit “salesy” doesn’t it? I like the elevator example though, because it illustrates how quickly and concisely you need to get your message across to the listener (who could be a potential patient or a potential referral source). Think of it in this way: when you are telling someone about your practice, they need to know what kind of a therapist you are, what kind of patients you see, and what makes your practice special BEFORE THE IMAGINARY ELEVATOR DOORS OPEN and they step away.

I’m often surprised, when I talk to a therapist for the first time, at how much they struggle with explaining what they do. Even clinicians who have fantastically unique niche practices have a hard time putting into words what they do. To me, it seems obvious, but to them, it’s a real struggle to put it into words.

Frankly, some of this is often shyness. Marketing means getting out of their comfort zone for most therapists. If you fall into the shy category, let me tell you that polishing your elevator pitch can actually help put you at ease when you are marketing your therapy practice. Instead of feeling like you don’t have anything to say the next time you’re at a networking event or a party, you’ll at least have a conversation starter to rely upon.

So let’s see how the elevator pitch works in a social scenario. We’ll pretend I run into Ted at a party. Ted happens to be a psychologist. I inquire about what Ted does for a living and I let Ted answer my question, first without the help of the elevator pitch, and then, with his elevator pitch.

“So Ted, what do you do?” I ask.

Answer A:

“I’m a clinical psychologist.” he replies.

Answer B:

“I’m a clinical psychologist and I work primarily in treating eating disorders in adults, although I do see some older teens from time to time. I have a private practice on the East side of town with two other psychologists – XXZ Therapy Group. It’s really rewarding work.” he replies.

The Ted in answer A could be any generic psychologist in my town. If I have a lot of people to meet at the party, I may just say “Nice to meet you Ted.” and move on to meet another guest, having really learned nothing at all about Ted and his practice. Such a bland answer makes the person who asked the initial “What do you do?” question do all the work, since it will require a series of follow-on questions to get more info.

In Answer B, the Ted who rehearsed his elevator pitch was able to get out quite a bit of information about his practice very quickly. And which Ted would you like to continue talking with at this party? The Ted who rehearsed his elevator pitch was much more engaging. I also like that Ted’s elevator pitch ends on such an upbeat note. “It’s really rewarding work” makes me think I’d like to learn more about Ted and what he does. Since what Ted does sounds interesting, I’d like to know what his colleagues do as well.

Give some thought to how you explain what you do and what your practice is about to strangers right now. Here are some things to consider:

  • Is your current “elevator pitch” engaging or could it use some polishing?
  • Is the focus of your practice clear to the listener in your pitch?
  • Is your pitch understandable to a layperson, or is it too “jargoney?”
  • Is your pitch too short or too long?
  • Do you sound enthusiastic about your practice?
  • It may seem silly, but rehearse your pitch in front of a mirror until feel comfortable saying it to your reflection.
  • Practice until you have it down comfortably and can present it even when you feel nervous or pressured.

It can be very helpful to bounce ideas off a friend or colleague while you’re working to perfect your pitch (you’ll probably have a few good laughs along the way!). Remember– you’re not just any therapist and you have a unique practice. When you’re marketing your therapy practice it’s up to you to let people know that.

Copyright © 2012 Real Psych Practice LLC

Heather Hill-Spaine offers more articles, tips and tools for starting, marketing, managing and growing your successful private practice on her website at http://www.realpsychpractice.com.

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