The Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Private Practice Marketing (and why it Matters)

Smartphone on a white table next to glasses, a cup of coffee, a keyboard, and a green vegetative plant. Putting together a private practice marketing plan requires therapists to make many choices if they want to do it right. Because implement a proper strategy is an ongoing process, not a one-stop solution. Decisions have to be made daily. Oftentimes, a decision made that doesn’t seem like it has anything to do with marketing ultimately affects marketing, e.g. sharing a personal story with a Facebook group. Which is why it’s paramount for therapists to understand some aspects of marketing lingo if they want to be successful. Doing so helps therapists align their practices with a growth mindset, one that helps them help more clients. Consider this post a lesson in “Marketing 101 for Private Practice Therapists.” Today’s topic? The difference between inbound and outbound marketing. Two scary sounding terms that will help you grow.

What Is Outbound Marketing?

Everything you need to know about outbound marketing is in the word, “outbound.” You do outbound marketing every time your practice (and yourself) is out there. What does that look like? Well…
  • Online banner and display ads
  • Physical billboards
  • TV and radio ads
  • Google Ads
  • Facebook ads
  • Yellow pages
  • Mass Mailers
  • Cold Calls
  • Piggy-backing on another business’s email list
All of the above is something similar to putting a message in a bottle and sending it out to sea, hoping that the right person reads the note you’ve stuffed inside. Of course, outbound marketing should be a little more targeted than that: instead of an ocean, maybe a lake where clients congregate to relax. Notice something similar about all the above? There are two aspects actually. The first is restating what’s already been said: you’re going after a large audience and will, if it works, get a small number of people to respond. The 80/20 rule applies here. For outbound marketing to work what’s needed is a large audience. Therapists in major cities such as New York or Los Angeles have huge populations to send their message out to. Therefore, they’re more likely to get a response. In this way, outbound marketing is a numbers game. But if you serve a narrow niche, traditional outbound marketing may not reach enough potential customers. This is doubly true if you work in a small community. The second, and, often, a more important aspect of outbound marketing is money. All of the above stops working once you stop paying.

Then Is Outbound Marketing Worth The Effort?

Neither of the previously mentioned aspects means that outbound marketing isn’t effective. What it does mean is that outbound marketing requires a large audience to target and ongoing financial investment. Keep in mind, also, that results take time to build. Outbound marketing won’t fill your practice overnight. Because a majority of potential therapy clients aren’t ready to call the first time they learn about your services. But consistent use of outbound marketing strategies will help keep your practice at the top of their minds, so you’re the one they call when they are ready to seek help. Person writing in their notebook in a cafe, crafting their inbound marketing message.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing follows the same general principle we outlined before, except this time instead of reaching out it pulls inInbound marketing is all about bringing your audience to your practice. What does that look like in practice? It means creating content. In the world of digital marketing that refers to a few things. Well-built websites feature specialty pages detailing a private practice’s services, regular blogs posts, free reports, quizzes,  possibly a video providing an overview of the practice, etc. The point is that people who engage the inbound marketing content you create for your private practice are interested in the services you offer. Otherwise, they wouldn’t engage them, would they? Rather than trying to whittle down a huge audience, you’re targeting a specific audience—potential clients. Which is why inbound marketing tends to have much better returns. Unlike outbound marketing you’re not paying to turn a faucet on that will—hopefully—bring in potential clients. Once you create content, like a thorough specialty page, it’s out there permanently with no money needed to maintain it. For as long as you choose to keep your website alive, potential clients will be drawn to you.

Slow and Steady Growth

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that inbound marketing can be a slower strategy than outbound marketing. It takes much more time to build a great website, with appropriate materials, than it does to punch in your credit card to run Google ads. As with anything, momentum takes time. You might remember this as a student of therapy: it takes time an effort to acquire the education necessary to help others. The same applies here. Just remember that patience is rewarded in the end.

Inbound Vs. Outbound Marketing: Which Strategy Should You Use?

Sorry, we’ve misled you here. This is not an either/or question as the subtitle suggests. The most effective marketing strategies rely on both inbound and outbound marketing. Though it’s rarely the case that private practices should give 50% of their efforts to both. As always, where you put your efforts works on a case-by-case basis.

What do I do then?

What we’ve learned after years of building effective therapy websites that rank on Page 1 of Google is that starting with inbound marketing and then moving into outbound marketing provides a better foundation to grow. What do we mean? Start by building an effective website detailing your private practice’s services. Focus on showing clients who you are first. Once that’s established then you can worry about running ads and other outbound tactics. Apple computer displaying marketing analytics.

Make The Most Of Your Private Practice Marketing Strategy

This short lesson is simply meant to help introduce concepts from marketing for private practice therapists (see also ‘Do I Need An LLC For A Private Practice?‘) (see also ‘Do I Need An LLC For A Private Practice?‘) (see also ‘Do I Need An LLC For A Private Practice?‘). Knowing the difference between outbound and inbound marketing will help you approach your practice from a growth-mindset, giving you the tools needed to help more people. As always if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. If you want to learn more about getting started with your own private practice website take a look at how we build the best therapy websites.
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