The Guide to Mental Health Marketing (Behavioral Health Industry)
You have a passion for helping others, and that’s why you started your mental health or behavioral health practice.
You’ve spent time and money designing the best treatment plans and raising funds.
So much time and effort went toward recruiting and training highly-skilled staff to best take care of the people you serve.
Yet after all this time, money, and stress, your admission rate is still very low.
This is because although you know how amazing your behavioral health program is, no one else does.
That is where mental health marketing & behavioral health care marketing comes in!
In this guide, we will discuss why marketing your program / treatment center is important, the basics of building a brand strategy, and the 13 essentials of behavioral health marketing.
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- Events to Build Community
- Social Media to Build Awareness
- Blogging to Inform Readers
- Direct Mail to Reach Them At Home
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to Gain Visibility
- Google My Business (GMB) to Bring Local Traffic
- Sponsor Events to Reinforce Brand Recognition
- Email Marketing to Nurture Relationships
- Website to Convert
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) to Quickly Get Results
- Reputation Management to Build Trust
- Networking to Foster Relationships and Partnerships
- Empower Your Sales Team To Close
Why is Marketing Your Mental Health Treatment Center Important?
Now I know what you may be thinking. “I don’t need to market my treatment center because there are always going to be people who need help.”
Well, while that may be true, some people may be afraid to seek help or do not know where to start. To help those people find your company, you need to know how to market mental health services most effectively.
There is a lot of stigma surrounding mental health and addiction, so many people are afraid to educate themselves on the topic or admit when they have a problem. On the other hand, there are many who do not know they have a problem.
Through marketing, you can help them, or even their family, identify warning signs. Marketing allows you to inform others about mental health issues and let them know that you have the solution.
Even if they know they need help, people might not know where to get it. Scrolling through a long list of unrecognizable businesses and doctors can be overwhelming.
By building awareness for your treatment center through mental health advertising, you can break through the overcrowded market. If they have already seen an advertisement from you, your brand recognition will bring them comfort during their search.
Marketing Builds Trust
One thing that is very important in mental healthcare is trust. The people that you serve need to be able to trust that you know what you are doing. You can help them, and they should know that you have good intentions.
With marketing, you can build trust with your audience and alleviate any fears they may have. The more they see your business, the more they will believe that you are a well-established and reliable treatment center.
Building a Mental Health Brand Strategy
The first step to any great marketing strategy is building a brand. Your brand is the way you are perceived by others.
To establish your brand, you first want to take a step back and look at your mission statement and values. What does your mental health business stand for? What do you want your customers to know about you?
Having a defined brand differentiates you from your competitors and allows you to build a relationship with those you serve, which creates loyalty and trust.
By the way: As you are getting started in collecting data for your marketing campaigns, some of that data can also be repurposed for effective measurement-based care.
Digital Vs Traditional Marketing
There has been a lot of debate about which is more effective, digital or traditional marketing. While the digital marketing landscape is expanding, there is still lots of value in traditional tactics.
Pros & Cons of Traditional Marketing
Traditional marketing allows you to reach a broader local audience. Even in 2023, some people are frustrated by technology or are suspicious of it. Traditional channels are perfect for the elderly or those who don’t have easy access to technology.
When you use traditional marketing, like direct mail or flyers, it allows the reader to have a hard copy to browse at their leisure. They don’t have to try and recall the paid advertisement they saw on Google, they can grab it off their desk.
So, why do some argue that digital marketing is better? Traditional marketing tends to be a bit more expensive and can be harder to track direct results.
Pros & Cons of Digital Marketing for Mental Health
Digital marketing allows you to pinpoint your ideal audience and target them. You also can easily track your advertisements’ impact, analyze your return on investment (ROI), and make adjustments in real time.
That being said, there are still downsides to digital marketing. It can easily backfire if something goes wrong with an online service and it’s completely out of your hands.
For example, for many social media advertisers, if Meta crashes, Facebook and Instagram go down and they can’t do anything. If all of their eggs were in the digital marketing basket, they’d have nothing.
The best behavioral health care marketing strategies incorporate an omnichannel approach, reinforcing your message online and off.
Value-Based Mental Health Marketing
Just like many clinics are switching to value-based care, they’re also seeing better results with value-based marketing.
It’s all about what you can do to serve the community, your partners, and your referents. Moreover, how can you solve their problems?
This is how everything we will be discussing below should be filtered. In terms of, “why do they do these things or operate this way”?
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13 Essentials of Behavioral Health Care Marketing
Now that you understand the importance of marketing your behavioral healthcare treatment center, let’s discuss what goes into it.
With today’s consumers and more competitors shifting to digital, your marketing should too. However, that doesn’t mean you should forget traditional marketing altogether.
By the time you finish reading this guide, you should have learned at least a handful of new strategies about how to market mental health services more effectively.
Here are 13 essentials of behavioral health care marketing that our professional marketing consultants put together.
1. Events to Build Community
The days of using free meals and other free gimmicks are no longer effective to get people to attend events. ‘Dutch Treat’, or the act of paying one’s way, has become the norm for business events.
Therefore you need to be able to create an event so powerful and valuable that people will pay their own way.
How do you do this? By being contrarian. Why do the same thing everyone else does? BE CREATIVE.
If you are always following other people’s lead, you have no value to offer and nothing that differentiates you.
Stop trying to be the cool program that uses buzzwords and hosts flashy events. Start being the mental health program that provides huge value anytime they put something together. This is key to behavioral health marketing.
Events In Action
Learn how to host events! Setting a dinner and letting people show up is not hosting. If you are looking to brush up on your hosting skills, we recommend reading The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker.
In her book, Parker brings to attention the lack of connection and effort in gatherings and shares a more human-centered approach that one can take to make a greater impact.
These events are your chance to talk directly with the people you are serving. There are two questions you should ask every single person.
- What is the biggest challenge in your business right now?
- What is the biggest challenge in your life right now?
Then, GO SOLVE THEM and watch how solving others’ problems changes the entire game.
2. Social Media to Build Awareness
Nearly everyone is on social media today. It’s where people go to connect with loved ones, learn new things, and stay up to date on the latest news.
Therefore, it is a great way to reach new people and build awareness for your brand. It is important to stay consistent in your postings to build trust and be rewarded by the social media platforms’ algorithms.
You can share educational posts about tips to better one’s mental health or ways to spot addictions. Just remember that every platform is different and should therefore be treated differently. People go to each platform for specific reasons, and if you aren’t providing what they are looking for, they won’t engage.
Remember, just promoting yourself is not enough. You have to provide value, which is where value-based marketing comes into play.
Ask yourself, “What can I GIVE to my followers today?” Your phone number and the fact you have available beds is not valuable.
What solution can you offer someone today that will actually help someone? How can you build your brand by engaging and creating a community online?
Social Media In Action
This can help you schedule out a month’s worth of content in one sitting. We recommend posting at least once a week, if not more.
Then, create a content calendar. Here you can highlight your staff, answer commonly asked questions about treatment, give tips for managing one’s mental health or addiction struggles, promote community events, and share articles.
Try to always include a compelling CTA, whether it’s to learn more about your services, read an educational article, leave a comment, or schedule a consultation.
3. Blogging to Inform Readers
Creating a blog is a great way to build awareness for your brand because it helps you appear higher up in search results. You can share blogs through social media and emails to drive even more traffic to your website.
A blog is a great way to position your business as a thought leader. You can utilize the experts you already have on your team to write the blogs because no one knows your services and values better than they do.
They can educate readers on your services and differentiators as well as answer questions you often get from the people your treatment center serves. Additionally, a blog may help people become aware of a problem they did not realize they had and point them toward a solution.
Not only is this a great tactic for mental health marketing & advertising, but it’s also a way to inform and educate more people, especially if they are not ready to seek help yet.
Blogging In Action
When writing your blog, first think about what type of questions you get from the people you serve. That would be a great starting point for topic generation, and from there you can begin keyword research.
Here is a simple checklist to help guide your blog writing:
- Write a compelling headline
- Create skimmable subheads
- Develop informative and engaging body copy – Answer questions, address their problems, and add a hook
- Include relevant internal and external links – But don’t link to competitors
- Give all the information you can or link to another blog that will so they don’t have to leave your site
- Make sure it’s readable – the average population is at about 8th-grade reading level or lower
From there, you can decide which medium you want to share it on and begin optimizing it for search engines.
For blogging inspiration, check out Neil Patel’s website which has blogging resources and tools.
4. Direct Mail to Reach Them At Home
As part of your behavioral health marketing strategy, you can implement direct mail (or snail mail if you prefer) to add a more personal touch, & reconnect with previous patients.
With your mailers, you can follow up with people you’ve served in the past, offer resources, and get your business in front of new people.
Direct mail allows you to have a wider reach and can be useful for those who aren’t as active online. It’s also a more personable form of communication. People find it less intrusive than many digital channels and 76% of consumers find print more trustworthy.
When creating your mailer, you want to ensure you are providing value in some way, capturing the reader’s attention, and making everything readable. You don’t want them to be intrigued by your business’s offerings but unable to read your name and number.
Direct Mail In Action for Mental Health Marketing
USPS offers several resources and services to help businesses get the most out of direct mail. You can get advice from their specialists on designing your brochures and flyers as well as insights into ways to save money and be more efficient.
They also offer a free mail route mapping tool to help you target addresses so you can create the perfect piece of content for the right audience.
It is important to remain in compliance with all privacy and ethical laws when sending any personalized mail.
5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to Gain Visibility
Search engine optimization is when you optimize your website and content to appear on search engine results and bring organic traffic to your site. Most people put a lot of time into researching their health care, and you need to make sure your website comes up in their search.
You can do this by using keywords, links, and images with alternative text (alt-text).
Here are a few items you should be sure to address in your mental health marketing SEO strategy:
Your SEO checklist should include:
- Keyword research and selection
- Optimized title and meta description
- Internal and external links
- Optimized body copy with the keyword in it
- Relevant anchor text for links
- Optimized H1 and H2s
The idea is to use keywords that your target audience is actively searching. It is important to note that you only want one core keyword for each page you make.
Incorporate carefully crafted SEO frameworks and backlinking while maintaining the integrity of your brand. Remember, you are creating your content for people, not robots. Unethical SEO practices like paying for backlinks will only hurt you in the long run.
The most important part of traditional SEO for addiction treatment centers and mental health practices is to create content that answers real mental health or addiction problems people are facing in their lives & while providing clear & tangible value to the reader. That content could take the form of articles, blogs, infographics, or even whitepapers.
SEO In Action
SEMRush has tons of features to help your SEO and content development. You can:
- Do keyword research as well as look at your competitors’
- Manage your links and get backlinking recommendations
- Perform a site audit for technical SEO
- Develop SEO content for your website
- Get additional SEO tips
Yoast is a great plugin to have if you use WordPress. It can help you check your SEO and give you recommendations to improve it. Plus, it will help you check your readability, so you can be sure you are producing your best work.
6. Google My Business (GMB) / (GBP) to Bring Local Traffic
Google My Business (Newly known as Google Business Profile) is a local SEO tactic to get more business in the area directly surrounding your business address.
It starts by setting up a profile and inputting all of your treatment center’s information and then maintaining your profile with business updates and new information.
GMB is especially important to behavioral health marketing because many behavioral health businesses get 60% or more of their business locally. Once your profile is set up, when someone searches for behavioral health practices in your area, yours will have a chance to appear in the local map pack results. This is also where those searching will find reviews that others have left about their experience with your business.
You can also create temporary posts that can appear under your business result. Here, you can give some more information on your services and treatment.
Build a relationship with your clients and their families by being a human with them, not a business owner. Then, get them to promote you by word of mouth. After all, consumers are more likely to listen to friends and family rather than a business.
Just because you are outsourcing to an agency doesn’t mean you can be completely hands-off. Manage your digital marketing (and all other) vendors relentlessly because no one will care about your business as much as you do.
GMB In Action for Mental Health Marketing
Step 1: Sign into your Google Business Profile Manager to set up your account.
Step 2: Add your business
Step 3: Add your location
Step 4: Complete your listing profile:
- Name of your treatment center
- Category of the Business (pick a primary and two optional sub-primaries) – for example, you can pick “Addiction treatment center,” “Alcoholism treatment program,” “Eating disorder treatment center,” or “Mental health clinic.”
- Business Address
- Local Phone Number (do not use an 1-800 #)
- Business Hours
- Business Description
- Business Photos (upload at least 4-5 photos)
- Make sure the main profile photo looks good (as this will be the one first shown on search)
- Business Videos
- Business Posts or Promos (if you have any)
The more you fill out, the more points you get.
You can also create temporary posts that can also appear under your business listing. Here you can give some more information on your services and treatment options.
You should also list all of the services you offer on the profile to help increase your ranking for those keywords.
To increase the ranking of your Google Business Profile listing you should optimize your website for local keywords such as “Chicago Addiction Treatment Center”, build lots of listings of your business in the most important online directories, and make sure that your NAP (Business Name, Address & Phone) number is listed exactly the same way on all of these directories to increase your authority & trust with Google.
You should also work to build as many positive reviews as possible since those are the #2 most important ranking signal in Google’s algorithm for Google Business Profiles. (The #1 ranking signal is the distance of the searcher from the business address listed on the profile).
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7. Sponsor Events to Reinforce Brand Recognition
Sponsoring events is all about getting your name and brand out there to create awareness and recognition.
Before deciding to sponsor an event, make sure you do your research on the parties involved to ensure you work with values-aligned organizations.
This can create strategic partnerships that bring synergistic opportunities. Remember you want these relationships to be mutually beneficial.
Some things to consider are if their event aligns with your target audience, if their offer is worth it, and what the organizer’s past event performance was.
Sponsorships In Action
There are several types of sponsorships you can offer depending on the level of time and money you want to invest and how involved you want to be.
The more common type is financial sponsorships where you donate money. There are often different tiers of financial contribution you can provide that come with special offers.
Value in-kind sponsorships often involve volunteering your time or goods such as sponsoring food and beverages, branded swag, or supplies for the people they serve.
8. Email Marketing to Nurture Relationships
So you have captured tons of email addresses, but you don’t know what to do with them. Well, emails are a great way to nurture existing relationships, and even reconnect with previous patients. Whether they have just expressed interest and given you their email or have worked with you in the past, communicating via email is beneficial for growing your connection.
By using email strategies, you can keep your business at the top of their mind (and inboxes) and help answer any questions they may have that are holding them back from working with you.
For mental health marketing efforts, it is especially important to provide valuable & actionable information in your emails to help your current and even potential patients. This will help you build trust with your audience and warm up colder leads.
But, keep in mind that an amazing email is nothing without an attention-grabbing subject line to convince them to open the email. The average person receives over 100 emails every day, your subject line can help you break through the noise. Including their name, an emoji, or a shocking question can capture their attention and get them interested to learn more.
Don’t have any subscribers? Don’t worry! You can build lead magnets that provide value if the visitor leaves their email address. Just don’t forget to create a sales funnel to nurture these new contacts.
Email Marketing In Action
There are several platforms you can use for behavioral health marketing including HubSpot and MailChimp for your email marketing. In order to make your life, and your sales team’s lives easier, you can get a customer relationship manager (CRM) platform. This allows you to manage all of your customers’ data throughout their sales lifecycle and beyond. Plus, you can use it for email marketing and build-out automations.
You can send out newsletters that touch upon different services you provide, any new events or industry news, or mental health issues that impact your audience. Additionally, you can segment your email lists by interests or actions, so that you can create more personalized messages.
If you want to nurture leads without having to manually send out emails, you can set up an email automation sequence based on certain triggers such as actions they take, behaviors, or events (like birthdays).
Need some inspiration? Learn from the email marketing expert, Chase Dimond. You can also visit Convert Kit to grow your subscribers, automate your mental health marketing, and sell your digital products.
9. Website to Convert Leads
Your website is the first place people go to learn more about your mental health treatment center. In fact, if you’re wondering how to operate a successful recovery and treatment center, the website should be at the top of your to-do list!
For marketing behavioral health services, you need to have a website that is easy to navigate and clearly provides information. Include information about the services you provide, what value you bring to the people you serve, and what they can expect when they arrive at your treatment center.
The most important factor of your site is your call-to-action or CTA. The action you want your audience to take needs to be clear and repeated throughout your website.
While a well-designed website is important for aesthetic purposes, you want to make sure you are mostly focusing on the function of the site. You will want to optimize the website for search engines and mobile devices.
Your Website In Action
The first step is to build your homepage. This will most likely be the page with the highest traffic while your website is still new, so you want to make sure it has everything your reader may need to make a decision.
We like to think of your homepage as a story you are telling to your potential people you may serve. First, you define the stakes and address the problem that is holding them back from achieving success. Then, you present yourself as their guide who will take them through the steps to success.
From there, break down your programs into different pages so you can get as detailed as possible. The more information you can include and objections you can address on your site, the more likely they are to convert.
If you want to capture leads on your website it is important to include value-added materials and content that someone would actually give you their email for.
There are many tools you can use to optimize your website. Crazy Egg is a great plugin that you can add to your WordPress site to improve the user experience through heatmaps, surveys, and A/B testing.
10. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) to Get FAST Results
While all forms of paid digital advertising in this industry tend to be a decent investment, that investment is becoming more and more worthwhile, especially because the average revenue in the mental health market is continuing to increase year to year.
Unlike SEO which brings in free, organic traffic, PPC involves paying for your business’s advertisement to be seen by your target audience and is placed above the organic results. You can pay for advertisements on Google, Bing, Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram.
Now you may be wondering why you should pay for your ad to be seen when you can get free traffic. Well, PPC brings in results a lot faster.
With a PPC ad, you can target people based on behaviors such as websites they visit and demographics, such as age or location. We suggest running tests to see which type of advertisement has a greater conversion rate and return on investment so you do not waste your money.
PPC In Action
First, determine what your goal is. Do you want to build brand awareness, get more leads, or convert?
If you are trying to build awareness, you can focus on display ads. But, if you want to get people who already know what they are looking for and are at the bottom of the funnel, you will get more conversions with Google search ads.
When using Google, there are specific character limits you need to be aware of, while social ads can be a bit more flexible. Google Ads and Google Analytics are great resources for tracking and optimizing your campaign.
11. Reputation Management to Build Trust
Most people in today’s digital age do extensive research before making final decisions. One thing they highly value is reviews from those served by your treatment center.
88% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as they would a personal recommendation from a friend.
The first step to managing your reputation is getting reviews through your Google My Business Profile and other review sites such as RealPatientRatings and RealSelf.
Once you start getting reviews, it’s important to address both the good and the bad ones as quickly as possible. If they are bad, you will want to direct them to a private message where you can discuss the situation more.
Reputation Management In Action
So how can you get reviews?
The easiest way to get reviews for your treatment center is to add it to your discharge process. Whether it is paper or digital, give them a brief explanation of the importance of their feedback, and then leave a space for them to.
Additionally, you can send out emails to people you have served in the past with a digital survey.
Adding a discount code or offering free merchandise can incentivize people to leave a review.
You can use Google Alerts to track online mentions of your company or any executive so you can respond immediately.
12. Networking to Foster Relationships and Partnerships
Networking doesn’t work. I know you didn’t expect us to say that. What we mean by that is your current form of networking where you go to an hour-long event making small talk and handing out business cards is no longer effective.
Instead, build networks by adding value to people’s lives and creating opportunities for them. Make introductions to value-add relationships. This means going out of your way to solve their problems and making yourself a vital part of their professional (and personal) lives.
After all, we’re in marketing to help solve problems, right?
Some of the best ways to find new people to serve is by referrals. Therefore, building a network is a very important step in your marketing plan. This is especially important if you are a startup and just beginning to form relationships.
Networking In Action
Here’s the truth, people form relationships with others when they believe it will benefit them. This is true for both personal relationships and business.
Therefore, it is important when networking to make sure they see how this partnership will be mutually beneficial. You can do this by offering some sort of free resource when reaching out.
One great way to find new people is through Linkedin, a social media platform built for businesses. You can start an outreach campaign where you connect with other professionals in the healthcare industry. Begin by introducing yourself and asking to connect, then provide them with a piece of value-added content.
If you need help developing a powerful network instead of just a stack of business cards, we recommend buying Networking is Not Working by Derek Coburn.
13. Empower Your Sales Team To Close
At the end of the day mental health marketing can only take you so far. You can bring in leads, but if your sales team can’t close them, you won’t be making any return.
Handing someone a credit card and saying “go talk to a therapist!” isn’t a marketing or sales strategy. Just because someone is in recovery doesn’t mean they have a clue about what makes a good program, a good clinical team, and a valuable asset to the community.
If they are pitching to another business they should be able to explain why someone should refer a client to you.
Sales in Action
You do not want to neglect your sales team. Handhold them, empower them, challenge them, and push them out of their comfort zone.
The first step is to get them into your clinical meetings. Then, get them into meetings with other clinicians.
Have them prepare an “elevator pitch” that they can say whenever they talk to someone. They should be able to describe the most detailed nuance of your programming and philosophy to anyone as well as the value your company provides. If they can’t describe your program to a five-year-old, they don’t know what they are selling.
Finally, remember they are the face of your company. Create a presence for them on LinkedIn and other social channels so that when people look them up they are seen as an industry leader.
The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon & Brent Adamson analyzed thousands of sales reps and it lays out which methods work.
- Know Your Audience – Knowing who you are marketing to is crucial to the success of your campaigns because you’ll know which problems you need to be addressing.
- Increase Return on Investment – By continuously optimizing your paid campaigns and analyzing results, you can increase the return you see on your advertising spend.
- Quality Over Quantity – When creating content for your marketing, always remember the importance of quality work, not quantity.
- Focus on the People Served, Not Yourself – When creating your marketing, make sure all messaging is focused on the needs of your customer and not just bragging about yourself.
- Start Small and Expand – Don’t try to master every marketing tactic all at once. For example, start on one social platform and build an audience before trying to tackle them all.
Create A Successful Marketing Strategy for Mental Health Services with C4 Consulting
As you can see, there are many mental health care marketing tactics you can try in order to build your brand awareness, get more admissions, and strengthen your relationship with the people you serve.
- Create a presence on social media to build awareness of your brand, scheduling at least one post a week.
- Write compelling educational SEO blogs for your website and share them through social media to inform your readers.
- Optimize your website and content for search engines by using high-volume, low-difficulty keywords to gain visibility.
- Develop a thorough Google My Business account for your treatment center locations to bring local traffic.
- Nurture your relationships with email marketing through newsletters and personalized automated sequences.
- Build an easy-to-navigate website that focuses on the needs of the people you serve to convert.
- Get results quickly with well-targeted, pay-per-click advertising on Google and social media platforms.
- Manage your reputation through online reviews to build trust with the people you serve.
- Network on LinkedIn and at conferences to foster mutually-beneficial relationships and partnerships.
- Now you’ve gotten started on learning how to market mental health services!
Want to start building your marketing strategy but don’t know where to begin?
Overwhelmed with all of the factors that should be included?
We are here to help with your mental health marketing & behavioral health practice as a whole!
C4 Consulting provides marketing services for behavioral health care providers. We’d love to get creative with you by defining a brand identity and marketing strategy that will create abundant opportunities for growth in your business.
We offer behavioral health consulting to drive sustainable returns on your investments.
The marketing landscape, especially digital, is constantly evolving, and you need to keep up. Let us help you navigate the complex world of marketing, so you can focus on what matters— providing quality care to the people you serve.
Remember, mental health marketing is just one piece of the puzzle in growing your treatment center. We also offer in-depth insights on other aspects of managing your behavioral health business, such as behavioral health revenue cycle management.
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We’d love to get creative with you in clearly defining your marketing strategy to create abundant opportunities for growth in your business.