Self-care, therapy, wellness and mental health are not just buzzwords for marketers to cling to. These are real actions and lifestyle changes that affect someone’s day-to-day and how they interact with the world.
A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 90% of Americans feel the country is experiencing a mental health crisis. Mental health providers must adjust their marketing strategies to reach a larger majority of people — ensuring their services are not only accessible but reliable to everyone who needs them.
Here are a few unique challenges facing these professionals, the benefits of incredible marketing and strategies that can make a world of difference.
The Unique Marketing Challenges Facing Today’s Mental Health Professionals
Coming off of the pandemic, there are still more social, economic and personal challenges ahead that will continue affecting affected people’s mental health. Research by the National Institute of Mental Health notes that 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. struggles with a mental illness, but is unable to find care.
There are barriers keeping citizens from seeking help such as financial strain and a lack of in-person options in their area. However, telehealth has taken a positive turn for rural communities and those who do not have access to in-office mental health specialists.
Unlike other health sectors that require physical examinations, psychological well-being is based on trust in your doctor and a safe space to communicate.
Reaching these individuals in need, however, is the biggest marketing challenge facing mental health care professionals.
Understand Your Audiences
Like all brands, mental health marketing must have a strong grasp of customers’ perceptions and attitudes. This means tapping into when and why consumers’ values shift so you can touch on the points that matter to them most.
Mental health awareness campaigns aren’t meant to necessarily boost your brand, but to expose your company as one that is in touch with the reality of its customers.
Commercials on social media by BetterHelp are excellent examples of understanding your customer base. This is about a young person diving deep into what he wants in his life, the things that are missing … only to realize his roommate asked him what he wanted to order from a restaurant. This commercial reveals the importance of professional help when your roommates, friends and family aren’t always the best sounding board for deeper conversations.
Just like working out or reading a book, many people feel as if they don’t have time to go to therapy. The National Council found that 46% of people either have or know someone who has driven an hour round trip to see a therapist. It’s important to communicate the convenience available to see a licensed professional with hour flexibility, telehealth services or at-home visits.
Frictionless processes are a growing necessity for all industries. Whether someone is buying something online, reviewing a toxic workplace checklist, or filling out an intake form at an office, those seeking services should find signing up as easy as possible — and that includes seeking a therapist.
Mental health marketing should offer a door toward what patients need. A simple sign-up and a comprehensive form can help narrow down the right therapist in a potential patient’s network. The key to great psychology marketing is removing the barriers that keep people from finally making the right decision for themselves.
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Meet Patients Where They Are
There are groups of people who have historically been excluded from the conversation of mental health for a long time. Before getting a marketing strategy together, psychology organizations need to ensure that patients feel both safe and understood when they walk through the door (or open up their Zoom meeting).
This means diversifying your organization to include people from all cultural contexts that can connect with diverse patients. After developing an inclusive office, marketing campaigns should communicate their services in a culturally sensitive manner.
Why didn’t Peloton’s holiday commercial click with audiences? For some, the ad sent a negative message about women’s health in a heterosexual marriage. She seems uncomfortable while they’re watching her progress videos together on the couch in the end, potentially sending the message that her husband expected her to exercise. While not everyone may agree, this is just one example of how a marketing campaign needs to keep its audience in mind and consider everyone who may be watching.
The Benefits of Great Mental Health Marketing
There are many benefits of an excellent mental health marketing campaign. Reaching people in need to help them find the best way to reorganize the world around them is a benefit all in itself. There are greater benefits beyond this, though. Here are a few:
BetterHelp made an incredible ad about two Western-looking men in the desert. One of them clearly has a snake bite on his foot as he hobbles by the other. Overall, the ad communicates that someone masculine can still ask for help and live on and not hurt his own masculinity in the process … often a taboo topic men face when the conversation of mental help comes up.
Therapy is coated in stigma, but a humorous take on a common challenge can really resonate with those who hold these beliefs at heart to break through and fix the trauma they may be carrying.
Increase Access to Care
Personalization is a necessity for all industries, and the technological advancements around video conferencing and data analytics allow the health care industry to further its personalization for potential clients. For example, someone searched for therapists in their area. With a pay-per-click (PPC) ad, their social media and internet search results pages will likely capitalize on this inquiry. Increasing access to care is a major milestone for both caregivers and patients and the right marketing tools can get you there.
Utilizing patient mental health data can help reach people in certain demographics, areas, age brackets and so on who may be interested in finding a therapist. The digital mental health space provides direct-to-customer apps that can focus on advertising the ease of use and discrete on-demand application processes.
The Most Effective Mental Health Marketing Strategies
The culmination of these tips can help break the barrier people face about seeking help with their mental health.
1. Call Out Your Specialization
If you specialize in a specific type of mental disorder such as post-traumatic stress, bipolar disorder, anxiety or depression, call this out in your advertising. This will not only reach the people who need it, but will also break down the stigma regarding these types of diagnoses. The more public spaces that talk openly about the reality of a mental disorder, the less shame a person may feel about seeking help and support.
2. Take an Omnichannel Approach
Along with understanding your audience, you should also know where they spend their time online. Social media marketing can help connect your target audience with simple ad spend and local SEO.
HubSpot notes that Gen Z and Millennials are using YouTube more often than ever before, whereas Gen X relies on TV ads. All 3 generations use a mixture of Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.
However, if you’re seeking patients in the Baby Boomer generation, a more traditional approach may be your best bet as they do not typically agree with brands taking a stance on social issues online. An email campaign could be your best bet in service outreach.
3. Start a Regular Blog
Mental health services are not immune to the sales funnel. Customers often research different brands to choose the right one for them based on several factors such as the tone of voice, competency in the industry and ability to relate to their customers. With a blog, you can address major mental health trends and offer insight to readers. Base the blog on keyword research and what you’ve noticed patients might need to work through each day.
4. Optimize Your Website
Develop your website with search engine marketing in mind. This might not be possible to handle in-house, and if that’s the case then it’s worth outsourcing the development process to an agency that offers personalized web design for therapists. If reaching new audiences is a priority for your mental health practice, it’s important to rank on search engine result pages (SERPs) high enough to get noticed. Hiring a search engine optimization (SEO) expert may be your best investment next to your degree. An SEO specialist can ensure you have all of the right keyword-rich content, video, images and links so potential patients can organically find your website.
5. Manage Your Online Feedback
If you manage a private practice, online reviews are a must. You could ask current and past patients to leave a review on Yelp, Vitals and other review platforms about their experience. While therapy is typically protected under HIPAA, 94% of customers will base their decision on a brand after reading online reviews. While a patient may choose to remain anonymous, the more positive reviews, the better.
Remember Your Why
You might not have gone to school for marketing, but the current digital landscape is unavoidable. Whether you hire a digital marketing specialist or join a platform like Nuna or BetterHelp, getting online so your patients can find you can change your practice for the better.
All it takes is for a meaningful connection between you and your patient to make a difference. While you’re typing out your newest blog article, never forget your why.