Just one more thing. Don't forget to set the city and state where you want your ad to appear. I once lost $400 in a weekend because I forgot to do that. People in China and New Zealand were clicking on my sponsored ad for my counseling practice in Irvine, California.
Helping People Surfing the Web Get to Know You and Become Clients
After you have a web presence, then what? The purpose of a website isn't only to help web visitors locate you, but to help them get to know you and become your clients. Here are some tools for doing that.
Online Newsletter. You can offer web visitors a free report or newsletter, filled with tips and strategies of interest and value to them, which they sign up to receive as often as you choose to write it. Janie, who works with teens and their parents, writes a monthly online tip sheet titled "Surviving the Teen Years." Parents will often call and say, "I've been receiving your e-mails for a while and now we've decided it's time to make an appointment."
Online Appointment Scheduler. Another refinement to your web presence is an online appointment scheduler. Let's say that a potential client visits your website. She likes what she reads and decides she'd like to make an appointment. You can ease her effort by giving her an opportunity to do it right then, online. To offer this feature, you need to subscribe to an online calendar service, such as Appointment Quest.com, which can run between $15 and $40 a month. You indicate on the scheduler the times that you have open to see clients, and include on that same page a button that says, "Schedule an appointment." When a person schedules an appointment, you're sent an e-mail notifying you of the appointment. The system keeps track, so there are no double schedulings for the same time slot.
This can be a great feature for your existing clients too. Many therapists have found that it reduces the "telephone tag" around rescheduling appointments. You can even arrange to have reminder notices e-mailed to clients a day or two before their appointment.
There can be drawbacks, though. John, a therapist in Texas loves his appointment scheduler for its convenience, but he found that there was a higher no-show rate among new clients that scheduled with him online. With no personal connection between a potential client and a therapist—not even a voice on the phone—there's less sense of obligation to keep the appointment. John reduced the number of no-shows considerably, however, by calling clients within 24 hours after they scheduled their first appointment online. That personal connection made a big difference. He still believes it's an excellent idea to have the online calendar, because it allows him to make an appointment with a perspective client before he's actually gotten to talk with him or her, and usually the first therapist to connect with a person seeking a therapist is the one who gets the client.