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Telepractice Marketing

 

TBHI Q&A #19: Marketing Your Telepractice Services: What is the best way to market telemental health services?

Telepractice MarketingMarketing is a rather involved issue, depending on your discipline, your state (and country) regulatory issues, as well as the population you serve. After taking more than $30,000 in training for online marketing, we at TBHI can tell you that much of what we see by the online marketing “gurus” is unprofessional at best, and illegal and therefore unethical for us at worse. For example, some clinicians don’t realize that they cannot offer “psychoeducation” over state lines because some states include the offering of psychoeducation as part of their scope of clinical practice.

Another issue of relevance to practice development for professionals is personal preference/talent. Some professionals want to develop marketing materials but lack skills. For example, while some professionals may understand the power of writing a blog to draw people to their website/services, but may have never mastered the art of writing for a consumer population. They may not know that their thesis-writing or dissertation writing styles are ill-suited for appealing to consumers, who prefer to see a list of solutions rather than etiology or elaborate descriptions of problems. Consumers don’t usually want more information about how a problem developed. They live the problem and therefore know it more than they like. They want solutions.

Similarly, some professionals understand the power of developing audio or video marketing materials for their practices, but they may or may not like how they sound/appear in their chosen media.

It may not have occurred to them to produce a sample and ask a handful of colleagues to give them objective feedback. They also could hire someone to do a “voice-over” or “screen capture” using their words/images. Next, they produce a short, 1-2 minute audio or video “demo” that is informally shared with a handful of colleagues with specific questions for them to answer. Doing the same for the finished product is also a good idea. Seeking the opinions of colleagues can protect any professional whose earnest efforts go south and they are held accountable to their licensing board for their words or actions as a professional.

If such professionals decide to go this route but lack technical skills, they may need guidance regarding how to produce or edit, and where to get professional assistance at a reasonable cost. They may also need feedback about legal and ethical strategies, given their discipline’s state regulatory code and national ethical code.

Understanding how to combine and integrate efforts in one or more media may also be be a challenge. It can be helpful to know that simple, tried-and-true formulas and metrics have been developed for marketing telepractices both legally and ethically. Professionals may want to compare and contrast such formulas to decide which is best for them, their time, their skills and interests.

For example, it may be helpful to know that marketing budgets for most telehealth businesses range from 20-30% of gross annual income. Understanding these metrics can help a hospital, clinic, agency, group practice and even an individual practitioner understand that marketing time, effort and budgets are not to be minimized when thinking about developing successful, integrated telepractice marketing campaigns.

Telepractice Marketing

 

TBHI offers a 6-hour practice development course to help you with legal and ethical marketing issues. We help you tailor your approach to your talents as well as the needs/preferences of the people you serve. You will find it discounted for past and current TBHI trainees. See Online Marketing Workshop for Behavioral Professionals and use this coupon for your $200 discount: TBHIMARKETING.

 

 

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2 comments on “Telepractice Marketing

  1. I didn’t think educational materials that I might put out related to mental health would be considered as therapy across state lines. I would bet that many therapists think of the issue the way I stated it, “education about therapeutic issues”, would never be considered to be under “therapy” laws across state lines.

    • Dr. Marshall,

      You are absolutely right. The thing we’re learning with training healthcare professionals about the use of technology is that many have lept into the proverbial pool without looking first. Technology-related training is much like cultural competence training. The professionals who need it the most are the least likely to realize that they need it. That’s why we at TBHI exists – to help professionals and their organizations learn the legal and ethical strategies to reach more people but yet be in compliance with existing rules.

      Back to your point, yes, we all need to be mindful of the state, provincial or national laws at play when we roll out services. The secret is to develop “educational” materials and avoid all reference or imagery that suggests that the service is “psychoeducation.” Then, of course, consult with knowledgeable professionals to make sure that all regulations have been met.

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