How do other SLPs bring in leads for their practice? What services do they offer? Which marketing tools and techniques will be most effective for my business?
These are burning questions of SLPs wanting to offer their services to potential clients. And so, we recently conducted a survey answering those very questions.
We tapped into our network of SLPs to help you get an opinion on what is currently working for speech therapy marketing. Whether you are an established speech therapist or just starting out, we hope our findings prove interesting and helpful to you.
SLPs with Varied Experiences and Locations
We received 72 survey responses from speech-language pathologists on how they operate and market their business. We received a majority of US responders, followed by Canadian, Australian, and European practitioners.
Their experience levels vary, including 24% being veterans for more than 10 years and 21% being business beginners who started less than a year ago.
Let’s take a look at what they had to say about their practice.
How do SLPs work and which clients do they work with?
Pre-school and school ages are still a major target for SLPs. 85.5% of the speech-language pathologists work with these ages. 24.6% of the respondents also do specialized care, such as fluency, AAC, etc., while 8.4% are also involved in business to business sales to help other therapists through public speaking or training.
Many of the SLP respondents work with more than one service model. A majority of 85% works with teletherapy and 60% also use in-person locations at either a physical clinic or their own home clinics. 43% of them also do home/community health therapy, traveling to patients themselves for the services.
It isn’t necessary to dedicate full-time to speech therapy. While a majority of 61% are doing full-time and a total of 83% say they are fully dedicated to their private practice (both full-time and part-time), we also found that 17% of the respondents state that they have employment elsewhere and have a side private practice.
SLP for children still dominates most services, but there is also enough space for specialized care. Teletherapy is also a popular source of services and in-person locations, whether home health or at a clinic. It is also possible for SLPs to take on employment along with their own private practice.
What do speech therapists do to market their services?
SLPs see client search and lead generation as one of the most (if not the most) challenging aspect of their practice. A significant 82% responded with Yes to the said challenges.
Out of the 82%, 51% weighed its importance especially when starting out. The remaining 31% believed that it’s a constant challenge to their practice.
So, how do SLPs overcome these hurdles of lead generation?
We asked our respondents to tell us whether they have tried the following marketing channels with honest effort, and here’s what we found.
What Overwhelmingly Worked for Our Respondents
Client Word of Mouth
We received an overwhelming positive response with word-of-mouth. 86% of our respondents have tried or received business through this channel. 75% of respondents are also confident that client word-of-mouth is successful for their business.
“Word of mouth is most effective, especially in a relatively small community.”
Referrals through Doctors and Other Therapists
Referrals through doctors or other therapists come as a close second. Pediatricians or family doctors are the leading sources for referrals with 46% confirming their success. Many of SLPs have tried other points of referrals such as dentists (33%), occupational therapists (31%) and other SLP referrals (51%).
Our respondents also said that referrals work best by handing out marketing materials and giving a warm introduction to the respective people that you want to tap into. This could span from teachers in daycare centers to physicians in clinics.
For digital efforts, the SLPs responded positively towards joining Facebook groups relevant to your services (eg. “mommy groups” in their area). 58% of the respondents have tried to be active on this channel, and a moderate 28% of our respondents confirmed success in receiving business this way.
However, you must walk a fine line with this channel as many groups have rules that prohibit marketing and self-promotion. “Give more than you take” is a good motto to approach these groups with. Being helpful to members and being part of their community can lead to clients in the long-run.
What Definitely Did NOT Work According to Respondents
Organic Social Media (especially FB and IG)
Some of the respondents tried to use social media organically for their business (64% tried Facebook/Facebook Pages, 35% tried Instagram).
However, they also expressed that this channel was more of a failure than a success, with 28% responses of failure for Facebook, and 22% failure for Instagram.
While 44% of the SLPs used Facebook Ads before, only 4% of them confirmed that it was successful for their marketing.
33% of the respondents—a majority of the people that tried—have expressed that FB Ads have been a failure for their efforts.
What May or May Not Work (Controversial and Indefinite Results)
Google Ads (Search Engine Marketing)
31% have tried Google Ads before, but the results are close between success (17%) and failure (10%). We can, however, confirm with our experience providing Google Ads services that they definitely work in many cases, and with many of our clients.
We have found that a majority of our respondents did not set-up proper analytics and conversion tracking, and therefore the rate of success or failure was likely ambiguous for this channel.
Google Ads performance can be evaluated more concretely through proper conversion tracking, which is a crucial method often overlooked by those that place ads.
The results regarding email marketing were more ambiguous, with 11% saying that they found it successful, while 15% found this method to be a failure.
Only around 24% of our respondents explored this means of marketing. Again, proper analytics and conversion tracking via UTM parameters in the email links is key to verifying successful email marketing campaigns.
Blogging / SEO Optimization / Google Organic
Some respondents have made efforts to market their services this way, with 41% trying Google My Business and 23.2% applying SEO on their pages and blog content.
The respondents gave a higher success rate of 19% for Google My Business but gave an evenly split response when it came to SEO, with both success and failure responses at 8%.
A Note: Little to No Digital Analytics & Conversion Tracking Used
We’ve found that only less than 10% of our respondents said that they set-up analytics and conversion tracking for their digital marketing channels. 27% also stated that they do not track client sources at all.
With that in mind, it would definitely be difficult for SLPs to quantitatively track how their marketing efforts are working especially for blogging, email marketing and Google My Business.
Proper conversion tracking helps bridge the gap of ambiguously guessing where clients are sourced from. More importantly, it’s crucial for understanding and calculating the ROI (Return on Investment), which helps SLPs determine that they are not blindly wasting money on paid digital marketing, such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads.
SLPs greatly value client and referral relationships. They are still the top ways to market offline. However, some SLPs are not new to testing out online/digital marketing. Determining failure or success appears subjective since we’ve found that respondents usually do not track client sources, an aspect that needs improvement for SLPs to gain better marketing insight.
We hope that this survey helps you in marketing your own SLP private practice. We will be publishing future blog posts with more of the survey results broken down, such as if you should list your pricing on your website, or accept insurance. We will break down how many people do or do not and explain some reasons why.