Give Them Something to Talk About Word-of-mouth marketing can help grow your practice. Here’s how to make it work for you. In Private Practice
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In Private Practice  |   August 01, 2017
Give Them Something to Talk About
Author Notes
  • Jena H. Castro-Casbon, MS, CCC-SLP, is a clinician and private practitioner in Boston. She is the founder of The Independent Clinician, which provides resources for SLPs, occupational therapists and physician therapists looking to start or grow their own private practices. jenacasbon@gmail.com
    Jena H. Castro-Casbon, MS, CCC-SLP, is a clinician and private practitioner in Boston. She is the founder of The Independent Clinician, which provides resources for SLPs, occupational therapists and physician therapists looking to start or grow their own private practices. jenacasbon@gmail.com×
Article Information
Practice Management / Professional Issues & Training / In Private Practice
In Private Practice   |   August 01, 2017
Give Them Something to Talk About
The ASHA Leader, August 2017, Vol. 22, 42-43. doi:10.1044/leader.IPP.22082017.42
The ASHA Leader, August 2017, Vol. 22, 42-43. doi:10.1044/leader.IPP.22082017.42
Word-of-mouth referrals are the Holy Grail of marketing. Private practitioners rely on effective marketing strategies to grow their businesses, their caseloads and their income—and there’s nothing better than a personal recommendation from a trusted physician, clinician or friend.
The ultimate goal of most private practitioners is to become “the one” that people talk about. By becoming the one who specializes in a certain approach or population, your chances of having a successful private practice in the short and long term are amplified.
It can take a while to build word-of-mouth marketing. To maximize the potential, concentrate on these five steps.
Develop a niche
Some people get worried when they hear me talk about developing a niche because they are concerned about becoming too specialized and missing out on business. The truth is, most people get into private practice because they want to specialize in a particular area of interest. So finding the niche isn’t the problem. What can be challenging, however, is convincing people to see the benefits of committing to a niche.
People who are specialists and have niche private practices become big fish in the small pond of generalist clinicians. When you have a niche private practice, there is often less competition, and you’re able to capture more of the market share. Because clients trust you as someone who can help them, they are often willing to pay a premium for services.
To pick a niche for your private practice, find the intersection between your knowledge, your passion, and the needs of the clients in your geographic area. It’s vital to make sure that the niche you select is needed; otherwise, it doesn’t matter how knowledgeable or passionate you are about something, because the market just won’t support it.

If you serve your clients well, they will tell anyone who will listen how wonderful you are.

Become an expert
If you don’t feel like an expert, it’s time to take the necessary steps to become one. Becoming an expert requires advanced training and practice. The first step to becoming an expert is to deepen your knowledge.
One of the easiest ways to hone your expertise in an area of clinical practice is to add additional certifications and training to your expertise. Clients and family members are often looking for clinicians who are certified in specific programs, and you’ll want to make sure you’re publicizing this in your marketing. Many certification programs will add your name to the list of providers on their website and let you use their logo on marketing materials.
Some private practitioners worry that their geographic area is already saturated with people who have the same certifications. If this is the case, figure out how to further differentiate yourself. It’s all about building your expertise, establishing credibility and limiting competition.

You want physicians and other clinicians to give your name when a patient or client asks for a recommendation.

Provide high-quality care
You should be providing high-quality services in any setting, but it’s even more vital in private practice because your name and reputation are even more at stake. Most people seek out private practitioners because they believe these clinicians will help them achieve goals more quickly than what might be possible in another setting.
If you serve your clients well, they will tell anyone who will listen how wonderful you are—and more people will knock at your door.
Raise awareness of your practice
Unless people know about you, word-of-mouth marketing will never happen. When focusing on awareness-based marketing, you’re trying to attract people who might not fully realize they have a problem or need services yet.
For example, potential clients might not be in an active searching stage (looking for clinicians online, for example), but if they stumble upon you at a local health fair, see a flyer at your local library, or read an article about you in their local paper, they are much more likely to reach out to you.
Build relationships
People trust the ideas and opinions of people with whom they have relationships. You want physicians and other clinicians to give your name when a patient or client asks for a recommendation. But for that to happen, the provider has to know you and the quality of your services, and trust that you can help their client.
It takes time to develop and maintain relationships with referral sources. But once they are established, they are the best way to get high-quality, consistent referrals over the long term.
If you stick to these guidelines, you may find that physicians, specialists, other professionals, clients and people in your community start talking about you, referring clients to you, and recommending you as an excellent clinician who is the best in your area. But to become “the one,” you have to give them something to talk about.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
August 2017
Volume 22, Issue 8