Strategies for Building a Professional Practice in the Digital World

How to Create Cognitive Momentum in Your Digital Marketing

Larry R. Taylor, PhD Student
ltaylor@sixlevel.com
Fielding Graduate University

In 2012 The New York Times, Lori Gottlieb’s article “What Brand Is Your Therapist?” (Gottlieb, 2012) illustrated such challenges facing the practice of psychology as student loan debt, competition, and not understanding business and marketing.  It’s important to realize that we live in a world where the consumer has the ultimate control of making choices.  They can search and evaluate shops, restaurants, relationships and professional services, all through the power of their computer and smartphone.  This puts pressure on professionals to learn more effective methods of communicating services, but unfortunately, this was not part of our education.  The consumer experience of your practice through digital technology will heavily influence whether they begin some level of connection with you or not.  This article suggests four important features for a digital strategy to improve your branding, engagement, and communications with your existing clients and to attract new clients that align with the focus of your practice.

Many professionals have websites that need significant upgrades in both form and function. Your website goal should be to create a cognitive momentum for visitors, the process of engaging visitors to take one or more actions along a path that you have designed and remain involved digitally or as clients.  Think of your website as a virtual employee that can deliver a clear picture of your practice and provide continuous relevant communication to support emerging relationships with potential clients.

Four Approaches to Build a Sound Digital Media Strategy

Develop an engaging website. When was the last time you updated your site such as changing its design, content, or features?  I suggest here some core elements to revisit that go beyond the obvious contact and background information that everyone expects.  Start with a clear navigation and organizational structure.  You want to make sure it’s easy to find the most important sections that will attract new clients.  Always think of what might be most useful to the visitor that will cause them to engage.  Create a robust description of the experience of your practice.  Share information about your expertise that will help establish a greater sense of who you are and how you help clients.  Be sure to answer the most common questions such as your specialty, fee structure, and which insurance programs you accept.  Lastly, provide regular updates that can be a part of a subscription newsletter or newsfeed. Your site should also serve existing clients by providing useful information and updates.

Share your unique digital persona.  The digital persona should reflect the uniqueness of your practice, methods and philosophies.  Paint a clear picture of your practice and how you’ve helped others and your approach.  This will help your prospective clients to decide if they wish to use your services and also help you align your practice to those with whom you wish to work.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is through the use of social media. If implemented well, this can prove to be one of the most powerful ways to actively engage your audience of existing and prospective clients.  Your approach may be as simple as writing an article for a monthly blog post. To enhance that you can use Twitter to share it among your followers. There are many other social platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn you can use but the blog and Twitter are excellent starting points. These two action steps can draw new visitors and establish new professional relationships.  To get started create a list of topics you are most passionate about and write in a non-technical language that lay people can understand.

Create attraction factors Attraction factors can make the difference in developing new client relationships.  In addition to the information I’ve previously described, adding content such as a free report, checklists, guides, etc. can be the type of content that people will save, revisit and potentially share with others.  To improve upon this, you can require the visitor’s first name and email address in order to receive it.  This provides a valuable contact for your database and subsequent follow up. The key point to remember is that you must have a reasonably active stream of valuable information moving through your website to keep it alive and flourishing.

Establish trust and confidence. As in face-to-face relationships, your digital strategy must support building of rapport, trust, and confidence.  Those that read your online content, emails, or social media posts will evaluate you based on what they read.  If there is little information and content available, it’s likely that they will bypass your site for someone who provides more.  Nurturing of trust and confidence requires the regular delivery of content and information updates through newsletters, social media, and/or blog posts.  You may choose to place active clients on a different cycle of communication where you share practice news, events and helpful information for their progress and growth.

Summary

These four elements can be extremely effective in creating cognitive momentum and a sound communications plan for your practice to attract and engage your clients. An investment in a digital media strategy can help create a powerful representation of your practice that works for you 24/7.

Reference

Gotlieb, L., (2012). What brand is your therapist? Retrieved from: http://j.mp/1apIK9z

Full reference link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/magazine/psychotherapys-image-problem-pushes-some-therapists-to-become-brands.html

One thought on “Strategies for Building a Professional Practice in the Digital World

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s