What is Mental Health Marketing?
And just what is marketing really?
The American Association of Marketing (which is really where it all began) defines marketing as ‘…the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large’. (2)
This is an expansive and accurate view of the entire marketing function. As it applies to mental health marketing, whilst we want our businesses to thrive, there are many more layers to consider. The value in marketing for the mental health industry includes the activities of communicating and offering value for clients and society.
Differences in general marketing and mental health marketing – limitations
Before talking about who mental health marketing helps, it is important to understand the limitations placed on our industry to protect our clients, the community and our business. The AHPRA guidelines govern all marketing of regulated health services such as mental health. (3)
There are many detailed guidelines and it is critical to refer to the detail. Other than standard trade practices law which governs all business dealings in Australia, just some of the main limitations to remember are:
- All claims must be able to be substantiated (no superfluous aggrandisement) with evidence.
- Generally, avoid comparison advertising
- Be accurate with clinician titles, registration, competencies and qualifications
- Never advertise gifts, discounts or inducements to use a service
- Do not use testimonials in advertising
- All images of real people must be as they are – no photoshopping, or 30 year old photos. What the potential client sees should be what they get.
Who is Helped through Mental Health Marketing?
Mental health practitioners
If the marketing is for your practice, then of course you benefit. There are few ways clinicians can tell people about themselves or their business. Creating marketing messages and dispersing them to the general public, the hope is that the group most likely to need your services will be informed.
Other health professionals
General Practitioners (GPs) and other allied health professionals are continually coming into contact with people who need mental health care. These professionals are busy and for them to proactively find information on mental health clinicians to help their clients is an additional task. By mental health organisations marketing directly to these other health professionals with clear and helpful advice and information of their practice, they can save GPs etc time and ensure those needing mental health support are seen to earlier than later.
Those who can’t get access to mental health professionals (for various reasons)
Most middle class, urban dwelling Australians have access to affordable, timely mental health professionals, it is important to note that this is not the case for all.
In rural and remote areas of this country there are similar numbers of people needing mental health support, but there were only about half the number of mental health clinicians in these areas. (4)
The mental health marketing that is designed to be informational (such as blogs) is often the first time rural and remote people may have had to put a name to how they are feeling. The benefit of this is that it may drive some to actually seek help.
The actual information we deliver through marketing online is often the only mental health information some people in some countries may have access to. There is also an idea that some young people in these disadvantaged circumstances see another potential outlet for their career due to marketing the mental health industries.
Those who want to help others in their lives
For the many people who are in relationships with those who may need mental health support, our marketing can highlight information and issues which may help them to raise issues with their loved ones.
Answer questions of the confused
Feeling strange? Confused? Questioning yourself? Mental health marketing supports the public service of providing information to again help people seek advice and support when they are not sure of themselves or symptoms.
Clear the stigma of mental health issues (1)
One of the most visible differences for the better over the last 20 years has come from mental health awareness marketing. The stigma from mental health issues is losing some of its sting and people are speaking up about their own issues regularly.
It is however important not to make the diagnosis a marketing tool (5). Some social media influencers with no mental health qualifications use their own mental health journeys as a way of ‘selling’ other products.
Give potential clients a glimpse as to your brand ‘persona’ and get to know you
Who you are as a brand, clinic and professional is a good way for a potential client to ‘get to know you’ before committing to a new relationship (with you). Mental health marketing allows the clinicians to provide a window to their methods, ethos and a little of their personality. This is most evident through blog posts and social media sharing.
The broader community benefit from better mental health all around. It also benefits from the idea that you cannot have Good Health, with Good Mental Health. All of the systems break down with poor mental health such as the Health care system, finance system and education.
Actually, drive clients to your door to help them.
You may be the best clinician in the world, but you wouldn’t set up shop in your garage with no sign and expect people to find you. Without good marketing, those in the mental health industry would not be found and the worst thing about that (no, not the income) …is that there are thousands of people who wouldn’t have the support they genuinely need.
Author: Julie Sanderson MBA (Marketing) of Jacaranda Grove Marketing