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When marketing works well for your therapy business, it's a wonderful thing. Your phone is ringing, your diary is full and your cash flow is steady. But did you know that there are marketing mistakes you could be making that are actually costing you clients? Worst of all, sometimes you're not even aware of the damage you're doing to your business and your brand.
So here are the most common marketing mistakes I see therapists making:
Your marketing is based on 'feast and famine'
I know when a therapist is employing the 'feast and famine' approach to their marketing. I generally get a call from a therapist who says 'my client load was fine and now it's plummeted. What do I do?'
As soon as I hear this, or the like, I know this therapist is not being consistent with their marketing. As long as the clients are coming in (feast), they stop their marketing. But as soon as the client load drops (famine), they go into a panic and start up their marketing machine again.
The problem with this strategy is it doesn't support your business in the long term. The very nature of business is cyclic- meaning there will be times when your business is busy and times when it will slow down.
Effective marketing is consistent and regular- even when you're booked solid. In fact, I think the best time to do therapy marketing is when you're booked solid, because you're laying the foundation for the slow times- which inevitably come.
You use binge marketing and carpet bombing as your primary strategy
This mistake is often related to the feast and famine approach. When the famine strikes, therapists often go on a marketing binge or use a carpet bombing approach. You might start clutching at any marketing activities you can employ in a mad scramble to bring the clients in.
I also see the carpet bombing approach in social media. These are the therapists who have a business page you might follow on Facebook. Suddenly your stream is clogged with articles, images, quotes and links from the one therapist. Their desperation is tangible in this carpet bombing approach. It's an act of creating as much noise as possible and hoping someone takes notice.
Binge marketing and carpet bombing doesn't work. It only annoys people and damages your brand.
Good marketing is about adding consistent value to your community over time and becoming a valued resource that people look to as an authority and expert in your chosen niche.
Your marketing messages are not targeted for your ideal audience
A lot of therapists that promote themselves as generalists struggle with this one.
You know what the generalist counsellor is like. They tend to say "I work with couples, ADHD issues, adolescents, sleep issues, anger management, family therapy, drug and alcohol, trauma, depression, anxiety…" (You get the idea).
The problem with being a generalist is there is no clear marketing message that you're communicating to your community.
The most effective marketing is about communicating information about your services to a target audience or niche. This way, your marketing messages are highly relevant and specific to the core problems or needs that your audience is struggling with.
I mean, who wants to take their relationship to a counsellor that says they work with 20 other specialities? Not likely. You want to trust your relationship with a relationship specialist. Someone who has dedicated years of study and has lots of experience behind them.
If your business is not successful and you're working as a generalist, developing a niche (or several niches) is one of the most effective ways you can increase your client load. And frankly, I think it makes you a better therapist because you're focusing your learning and experience on one area to build your expertise.
Your social media presence detracts from your brand
Not all therapists are on social media at the moment. I tend to follow a lot that are to see what they're doing and what type of strategy they have.
Sadly, most therapists don't have a strategy for their social media presence. And it's this lack of strategy that actually hurts their business and their brand.
The most common mistakes I see are random postings and musing about any area that interests them. These therapists end up annoying the people who follow them and often cause their followers to unsubscribe.
The most common social media mistakes are:
Are you guilty of any of those? If so, time to pause and reassess your social media goals and strategy.
You have no marketing goals or strategy
Well this one speaks for itself.
Sadly, many therapists have no marketing strategy and do no marketing. I'm often amazed when I hear therapists say they don't have enough clients, yet they don't engage in any effective marketing strategies. It's as if they expect the clients to fall from the sky.
Many therapists do have an aversion to marketing and feel very fearful about being seen to sell themselves. Even if this is the case, it is possible to overcome this and learn the skills of marketing. They are skills and like any skills, you can learn and improve them.
In case you're stuck, here's a list of possible marketing activities to engage in:
That's a beginning. Now choose one and get started.
You have no strategy to build your list and community
In case you haven't noticed by now, not every person that visits your website becomes your client. I'm guessing that about 95%+ don't become your clients.
But don't despair. There's still a great way to stay in touch with these website visitors and build relationships with them until the point when they are ready to become your client- or recommend you to their friend.
The simple way to do this is with what we call an ethical bribe. Essentially you offer them something of value for free in exchange for their e-mail address. Fair right?
Then you can stay in touch with them via your newsletter or helpful articles, until a time when they are ready to become your client.
Not only are you building a relationship with these people, but you're also establishing your credibility and authority in the area you specialise in. They in return get to read your helpful articles and the occasional self-promotion you intersperse throughout your mailings, so it's a win-win.
Marketing is no magical panacea for getting clients. It's hard work, takes time and involves planning and forethought. That said, when done well it can bring you much satisfaction and even become an enjoyable activity. When you start to see the benefits of effective marketing, you feel more optimistic about your therapy business and are more likely to attract the clients you love to work with.
Are there any therapy marketing mistakes I've missed here? What would you add to this list? Add your comments below.
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