As the summer season is in full swing, therapists in private practice may experience the dreaded summer slump. If your client load decreases, it makes sense if fear and worry starts creeping in.
You might start doubting your skills or if the stress of being in private practice is even worth it. The financial stability may feel at stake.
It also can lead to comparing oneself to other therapists who seem to have it all together. “Why are they busy and I’m not?” or “Am I doing something wrong?” Which adds to the already stressful emotional burden
If this sounds like you, know that your concerns are valid and normal.
Setback? Or Opportunity To Get Marketing Done!?
A summer slowdown is a known phenomenon across various industries and therapists in private practice are not immune. School is out, holidays are happening, the vibe is light. These factors can contribute to a temporary decline in both new clients and in client retention.
Recognizing that this is a somewhat normal seasonal pattern can help you alleviate the panicky feelings, and instead, find an opportunity in the slowdown: now you have more time to focus on strengthening your marketing!
The slump is temporary – especially if you can take advantage of the additional hours for doing marketing.
It’s not a setback, it’s freeing up resources to invest more heavily into your marketing.
Let’s explore how you can make the most of your time during a summer slowdown so you can turn your practice into a client magnet.
We’ll break things down into four key areas: catching up on marketing tasks, improving existing marketing assets, exploring new marketing tactics, and marketing tools and systems for increased efficiency.
Start With An Assessment
Before taking action, step back and assess where your marketing is at.
- What are your goals?
- What strategies have your tried to reach your goals?
- What’s worked and what hasn’t?
Taking the time to reconnect with goals and aligning your next steps accordingly is a foundational first step. Understanding your past efforts in terms of what’s been effective and what hasn’t will help you pinpoint what’s worthwhile. Additionally, you may be able to pick up some clues as to what factors seem to lead to higher success.
Recognizing that some marketing activities have not really been effective for you could also help you understand what makes them ineffective. Did you try to get in front of the wrong audience? Did you have an unclear message? Did you not feel confident enough to authentically show up?
What you discover during an assessment can help you make adjustments to your marketing. Phase out what’s not working and turn up the volume on what does.
Imagine being able to do the types of marketing that actually works (and stop spinning your wheels putting time, energy, and money into tactics that don’t lead to clients coming in the door).
Once you’ve done an assessment, you ought to have some insight into what makes sense to focus on in the following areas:
1. Catch Up on Regular Marketing Tasks
During the summer slump, you may find yourself with more time available due to fewer client appointments. This presents a chance to catch up on essential marketing tasks that you may have neglected or haven’t been consistent with. Since you’ve uncovered what’s working during your assessment, consider focusing on items like the following:
- Email Newsletter: Did you say you would do a monthly newsletter and haven’t exactly been consistent? Or maybe it’s something you know is working for you but it’s always a mad scramble to write it the minute before it needs to go out. What if you dedicate some time to pre-write your email newsletters? Sharing valuable insights, tips, and updates about your practice will keep your subscribers connected.
- Social Media Posts: Social content works best if posted regularly and a summer slump means you have more time to prep posts in advance. By developing a consistent posting schedule and content to post accordingly, you could share articles, quotes, resources, or insights.
- Blogging: Blog posts help with credibility, authority, and get-to-know-ability on your site and they also can help with search engine optimization too. If your assessment uncovered blogs to be of value to you – dedicating some energy to creating posts could make sense. From insights to practical advice to inspiration, blog posts can encompass a wide range of topics to help attract clients.
- Networking: Forging authentic connections isn’t just about showing up for coffee. While you will have more time to get coffees or attend events, you could also use some time to research. Do you have a list of people to connect with, professional organizations to join, listservs to get on, Facebook groups to join? And there’s regular follow up as well: how long has it been since you thanked people in your existing referral network for sending clients your way?
2. Improve Existing Marketing Materials
Use the summer slump as an opportunity to assess and enhance your existing marketing assets. Consider focusing on the following areas:
- Website: Review your website’s content, design, and functionality. Does it reflect who you are and how you help? Is it user-friendly? Make sure everything is up to date and working well – both actually and in terms of how your site represents you.
- Directory Profiles: Ensure your directory profiles like Psychology Today, Therapy Den, or beyond are jargon-free and client-attractive. With limited space, it’s even more important to make sure the content on your profile reflects you. Also, if you haven’t created and uploaded a video to your profile, now would be a great time! Video will supercharge your profile’s connection-factor.
- Business Cards: Evaluate your business cards and consider if they need any updates. Include obvious things like the essential information and ensure that the design looks current and professional.
- Social Media Profiles: If you have a presence on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn, you may want to review how your profile appears including: the profile image, the bio, and the overall vibe of your posts. Do any aspects need an update to feel present and more you?
- Professional Photography: Don’t forget about the importance of having high-quality, professional photos of yourself (and your office if you’re doing in-person therapy). Professional images lead to increased connection and credibility across all marketing materials. If you need new photos taken, now you have the time.
3. Explore New Marketing Tactics And Skills
Summer is an ideal time to explore new marketing tactics and invest in learning about them. What marketing tactic have you been curious about but have not yet tried?
Have you been wanting to try short form video, like TikTok? Or perhaps you’ve been wanting to blog. Or, what about making a concentrated effort to build out your referral network like never before?
In addition to implementing tactics, it would also be helpful to use a summer slump to improve marketing-related skills. Look towards the things you naturally gravitate towards in your real life to get the best results.
For example, if you loved writing in school, why not learn writing skills for marketing and sales? Or if you are analytical and detail-oriented, consider diving into a course to learn how to optimize your website for search.
And for all the drama kids, video content creation would be a totally aligned skill to pick up.
Whatever you’ve wanted to do or learn in terms of marketing, a summer slowdown provides a unique opportunity to act and explore. Try new things, learn new things, and you’ll have a more stable flow of clients in the future.
4. Invest in Marketing Tools and Systems for Efficiency and Automation
While tackling the summer slowdown, therapists can also use the time to invest in marketing tools that save time and automate repetitive tasks. By streamlining their processes, therapists can free up time and energy to focus on what they actually want to focus on: serving clients. By focusing on what you are doing repetitively in your practice, you can uncover opportunities to find software that does the task for you or with you. Here are a few areas where automation might be possible:
- Social Media Management Tools: For therapists who are posting on social media consistently, exploring social media management tools can allow you to schedule posts in advance and across multiple platforms. You can be more consistent with regular posts without the need to manually log in and post in multiple places.
- Graphic Design: If you’ve been creating visual social content from scratch, consider purchasing or creating templates to speed things up. Setting things up for yourself to easily create visual content in a software like Canva can make your future of social content creation more efficient.
- Online Scheduling Systems: If you continue to play phone tag with every new inquiry, consider integrating an online scheduling software for those first consultation calls into your website or social media profiles. Enabling clients to easily book appointments at their convenience will reduce admin for you and improve their experience as well.
- Systems For… Everything: Generally, anything that you’re doing repetitively in your marketing could be better systematized. What are you doing over and over? And what system can you set up now to make it more efficient moving forward? For example, are you spending hours weeding through old emails to follow up and stay connected with your referral sources? Or are you blogging regularly and every time you need to post, it’s like a tornado has blown through 20 different documents of ideas, content plans, and images that are stored in 8 different places?
Systems, while they may take an upfront investment to set up, can save time in the long run. By automating and systematizing, therapists can streamline processes and focus more on other aspects of their practice.
Seize the Opportunity, Invest In Marketing For The Long Run
Summer slumps are temporary – your private practice shouldn’t be.
The summer slump presents an opportune time for therapists in private practice to strengthen their marketing. By catching up on regular marketing tasks, improving existing marketing assets, exploring new tactics and skills, and investing in marketing tools, you can use this period to strengthen how you show up and attract a steady stream of clients. The summer slump won’t last forever so if you’re able to use the extra space and time strategically, you’ll end up better set up for long-term, private practice success.
What would it take to lay the foundation for attracting a steady stream of clients?
Use your time wisely – with the long run in mind. Could embracing the summer slump help you emerge stronger than ever? I think, yes.