It was only about 10 years ago that the vast majority of therapists and coaches were skeptical about the role of the Internet for marketing a private practice. Most professionals used Yellow Page ads, small community newspapers, business cards, tri-fold brochures, and not much else.

I experienced that skepticism first hand back then when I began telling therapists about my plans to build a website for me and a few other therapists here in British Columbia. The response was a curious blend of quizzical looks and laughter. To most it was an odd concept. To some it was interesting but completely foreign.

It’s amazing how far we’ve come since then, and the site that I started back then – CounsellingBC.com – now has over 400 therapists on board, most of whom also have their own websites as well. People don’t laugh about the concept of having a website any more. What was just a concept is now seen as a necessity.

Nevertheless, history repeats itself – over and over. Clinton Power, of Sydney Australia, and I (the two of us now call ourselves the Therapy Marketing Geeks) are completely clear that Mobile Marketing is the next big consideration for professionals who are marketing a private practice, in addition to developing a social media presence.

When we talk about mobile marketing we are greeted with the same skeptical responses that came 10 years ago when marketing on the internet was just getting going. This too shall change, and those who are open now will clearly benefit sooner.

The following information may surprise you:

Did you know that 90% of mobile users in the U.S. and Europe are now able to browse the Internet from their mobile devices, whether it be a mobile phone, iPod, or other “tablet” mobile device?

Also:

Internet usage from mobile devices is expected to double within five years as mobile overtakes the PC as the most popular way to get on the Web.

This should mean something to you. Think about it. If people are searching for a therapist or health care professional online from a mobile device, and you do not have a mobile presence, what might that mean for your business?

The good news is that there are several things that we know you can do now to ready yourself for this huge shift. The following three are certainly worthy of immediate consideration.

1. Website and Email Display Considerations

Whether or not you use a smart phone or other mobile device it’s important to learn to think from the perspective of someone who does. If you happen to be looking at information on a very small screen then you, as a potential client/customer will become increasingly frustrated if the display of an e-mail, newsletter, or a website is too complex and/or difficult to read or to navigate.

What I mean by this is you want to make sure that your readers pick up your information quickly and efficiently.

When readers look at your content on their smart phone screens or other mobile devices it will be even more important that you consider that they may not have the time or willingness to scroll through long paragraphs to reach the information that you want them to read. One thing you can do to make your information more readable in the mobile format is to break up your paragraphs so that they are no longer than three sentences.

Also try to keep essential information near the top of your emailed message and web page as much as possible.

Make sure that images in emailed newsletters are not large as they may not display well on mobile devices, if at all. Your best bet it to send a test message people you know that own mobile devices and ask them how readable they are.

2. Clear Calls to Action

A call to action an action that appears within a website or email and assists individuals to act. Whether the call to action says “Click Here” or “Phone Number”, making sure they stand out helps clients (or potential clients) contact you, or sign up for a newsletter or course, etc.

You can make your calls to action stand out by bolding them or making them a different color than the rest of the text.

Also, again thinking like a mobile device user, recognize that a number of links close together will be frustrating for the end-user. It can be really challenging to click on a link on a mobile device because the screens can often be very small.

Make sure you add at least one extra space between links than you would for the rest of the text.

3. Find ways to let clients know that you have a mobile friendly website once you have one

If you have taken the trouble to create a mobile website, let people know about it. Add the information to your brochures, your business cards, your emails and your website.

Another clever way to do this is to create quick response (QR) codes, which are two-dimensional barcodes that mobile device users can photograph with downloadable barcode readers. These downloadable readers are mini programs that translate the visual image of QR codes so that that a webpage, sign up box, phone number or other important information of your choosing appears on the device instantaneously once the code has been scanned.

One of the great things about QR codes is that they enable your potential clients to access information without having to type in numbers or website addresses. Note though that while they may seem ‘gimmicky’ at first, this can be a powerful way to drive potential clients who are offline to your online information, products and services. And it will definitely attract a section of the population that readily embraces technology.

If you are interested in getting a QR code a quick search on web will reveal several sites that allow you to create them. You can also check with your webmaster of website developer, although many are not yet up to date on mobile marketing approaches.

These are just some of the things to consider in developing a mobile strategy. We know that learning about mobile marketing now will not only benefit you now but will produce be increasingly valuable in your marketing efforts given the increasing number of individuals that use mobile devices (rather than desktop computers and notebook computers) to access the internet.

What’s your opinion about mobile marketing for therapists? Leave your comments below.