Congratulations: you made it! 2020 has passed and a new chapter is here.
We are not the biggest believers in “new year’s resolutions” at MyWellbeing, but we love every opportunity we’re given to reflect and create goals. Let’s take a moment to look toward the opportunities this new year presents together.
What are you calling in this year? What do you want to learn? How do you want to grow, as a practice owner and as a person?
When I asked the therapists in our community this question a few months ago, 88% told me that they wanted to get better at marketing your practice (yes, that’s an exact number from a survey!). I’ve heard over and over again in gatherings, Zoom webinars, email threads, and so many conversations that marketing is one of if not the major sources of stress for you.
If one of your goals for 2021 is to get better at marketing, I would love to help as one of MyWellbeing’s biggest marketing nerds. Here are a few goals that we highly encourage you to set this year:
There are hundreds of different tactics and variations on tactics that you can use to market your practice. With all of the options out there, it is no wonder that marketing work can quickly get out of hand. With blogs, podcasts, and consultants recommending a new tactic seemingly every day, it can feel like you’re already behind on a marketing technique that you’ve never heard of.
It is okay to tune out that noise, or to welcome it in only when it is helpful to you. In fact, it is really important to figure out which methods are helping you grow your practice and to focus on those methods.
Beneath all the jargon, techniques, hacks, funnels, and “must use” strategies, marketing is simply letting the people you help know that you can help them. There is no single “right” way to reach a particular audience.
Think about your ideal client’s needs, and then use your marketing to speak to them. Don’t worry about whether the words you write or the images you use can apply to everyone--the only person you should be thinking about is your ideal client. Figuring out what your ideal client needs to learn to move forward into therapy will help you focus your marketing on bringing them into therapy and reduce the amount of work you need to do on marketing strategies that are less likely to help you grow your practice.
If you have experience in agency settings, you have likely worked with a wide variety of clients with different issue areas and needs. It is wonderful to have that diverse experience.
However, when someone looks for a therapist, they are not looking for a range of experience. They are wondering if each therapist understands what they are going through and how to grow or feel better. A person who is struggling with daily panic attacks may not care that you have experience working with clients with depression, bipolar disorder, relationships, perfectionism, and self-esteem; they want to know if you have worked with people with panic disorder and if you can help them.
This is why niching is so valuable. Niching is simply choosing a specific population or issue area(s) that you work with in your practice so that you can speak directly to that person and convince them that you can help them.
Niching does not mean that you will turn away anyone who comes to work with you who doesn’t fit your niche, or that you will spend the rest of your career in one niche. It doesn’t even mean that you will have one niche right now; we have seen therapists build very successful practices with 2 or 3 niches. However, showing people that you understand their specific problem by speaking to a niche can help you grow your practice now, and change it over time so that you can build a practice that works for you.
If you aren’t sure about whether narrowing the range of clients you serve will help you get more clients, try it for a set period of time (we’d recommend a few months) and see. Target your marketing and your tone to your ideal client, and help them solve the problems that keep them out of therapy. You will likely be surprised by how many people move forward when you are speaking only to them!
Once you have figured out which marketing methods really matter for your practice (e.g., which help bring in more clients) and identified your ideal client, it is time to cut the efforts that don’t matter.
You can choose efforts to cut in a few ways:
Yes, your marketing can help others. Not only that, helping others through your marketing can actually increase the number of clients you get and make it easier to convince them to work with you in your initial consult.
Let’s look at an example. Say that a person wants to start couples therapy but their partner is resistant. If you are a couples therapist, you could write an article for the person who wants to start therapy about “how to talk to your partner about couple’s therapy” or an article for their partner about misconceptions of couples therapy. If you are the person who convinces the partner to go, the couple will likely place you at the top of their list of potential therapists--if you solved the problem that kept them out of therapy, they will be more confident that you can help with the other challenges they face.
We have found firsthand that thinking about how your marketing can help others first can prevent the “icky” feeling or embarrassment that can come from promoting yourself.
A little while ago, I spoke with a therapist who had just returned from a wonderful vacation, but they looked as stressed as they had before they left. They told me that, while their family was seeing the sights, they were inside working on their marketing to try to bring in more clients. Unfortunately, it was the holidays, one of the times when few people look for a therapist. The therapist had brought in more clients in the first few weeks of January with less focus on marketing than they had during their vacation.
I encouraged the therapist to take a break, and their response gutted me: “I feel guilty when I’m not marketing my practice.”
Please give yourself permission to rest. Take a break from your marketing, even when it isn’t going as well as you could hope. The time away is crucial to help you see all the efforts you’re putting towards marketing your practice and identify the ones that are working for you. It is hard to gain perspective when you’re in the middle of the work all the time.
This is especially true if you are feeling burned out, exhausted, and overwhelmed, or struggling with compassion fatigue.
Spend a few hours doing something you really enjoy (or a combination of things you really enjoy!). Most importantly, try not to think about your practice or your marketing for a few hours, and try to observe and let go of any guilty feelings that stepping away from marketing or your practice evokes.
This advice is doubly important if you are managing a group practice, because it can be so much harder to let go of the guilt when others depend on us. However, you will be a better marketer and manager for your practice if you make time to rest, reassess, and return renewed.
What goals are you setting for your marketing in 2021?
As for me, my goal for 2021 is to help you love marketing almost as much as we do at MyWellbeing. I want you to feel like your marketing is a rewarding part of your practice, and I want you to feel confident that your marketing will help you bring in more clients ethically. My colleagues and I will be sharing articles, training, ideas, and other support to help you grow your practice ethically this year; sign up for our free newsletter to join us! We are so looking forward to growing together.
Match with the *right* clients for your practice while growing your professional community.