11 June 2008

To Niche or Not To Niche -- this is the question

Therapists and other healing arts practitioners like to think of ourselves as generalists. We take pride is being well trained in a broad range of problems. Most of us provide a holistic, integrated approach to solving those problems. So why should we limit ourselves to working with just one type of person or issue?

This is a very common concern. But it misses the point. Marketing is about attracting the highest number of people you most want to serve. It's about presenting yourself as a specialist. And yes, we Are all better at some things, or with some people, than others. (We'll talk later about the prevalent reluctance to claim our power)

The generalist's concern is also misguided. It assumes that if we market to a niche that's all we'll get. But the reality is that by marketing to a very clear and specific niche and establishing yourself as a specialist, others will naturally assume you to be great at their problem, too.

Niche marketing in no way limits who you actually take as a client. It only makes more probable that your marketing will be compelling and will generate greater numbers of clients than the vague shotgun approach or the clinician credential-centered marketing attracts.

Niche? Absolutely!!

09 June 2008

Are You Fully Ready for Online Marketing?

Do you have a website? Does it do a good job of attracting clients to your door?

Are you giving away free help on the site, and making more help available in exchange for collecting email addresses?

Is your site a central place for potential, current, and former clients to return for ongoing additional or updated information that will directly benefit them?

If you don't have a website, or if your website doesn't do these basic things, any online profile in a locator service you might have a much harder time converting prospects to clients for you.

I'm constantly surprised when looking at online marketing forums how many therapists and naturopathic doctors post profiles but don't appear fully ready to "complete the sale" by sending people from their profile to their website. This is a big mistake, and one that may be costing you a lot in lost clients.

Marketing online is no field of dreams -- if you build it, they won't necessarily come. You have to build it right, which means, you have to be client-focused in the content of your profile and your website for those two marketing tools to work well for you.

At minimum, here's what's needed in both profiles and websites:
  • speak directly to a target client type
  • speak about their experience of their problem
  • speak about what it prevents them from doing or having
  • use words that have strong emotional impact -- name their pain
  • make your profile be 80% about your potential clients, and only 20% about you
  • make your website be 60% about your potential clients, 30% for your current clients, 10% about you (remember that on a website that 10% is a whole page or two, not just a sentence or two as in a 200 word profile)
  • give the propsective client content on your website that is immediately helpful and directly meaningful to them -- put yourself in their shoes, what would you feel desperate to know or get from a website in the middle of the night when you just can't stand the problem one more second?

08 June 2008

Before You Place that Print Ad ---

We all have gotten seduced into running display ads in local newspapers and/or phone books. For the most part, these never work for therapists or coaches, and don't work that well for NDs.

The reason is two-fold:
(1) The theory of mere exposure explains that people need to see an ad at minimum 7 times before taking action on it -- that is, assuming they perceive a need for your service and judge you to be the best person to fill that need.

Part of the failure of print ads related to this theory is that the ad is placed where your ideal client is not likely to see it. People rarely select a therapist from a phone book, although they are more likely to call an ND with a phone ad.

Another piece of this reason is that you've made the wrong assumptions about where your ideal clients can be found. For example, it seems logical to think that people interested in health in general would by extension be interested in mental health.

But folks who handle their emotions by going to the gym or seeking pharmaceutical solutions may not believe their depression or anxiety can be better treated by sitting and talking about it. Advertising in athletic related publications or trying to get referrals from general practice MDs could be the wrong venue for connecting with your prospective clients.

(2) The second part of the reason ads fail is when the ad itself is all about you, and doesn't speak compelling enough to the ideal client about their problem. If your display ad is only announcing your existence and credentials, it's unlikely to connect with people's suffering.

If your ad doesn't connect to their suffering, it won't be memorable, and hence, YOU won't be remembered as someone who can help them with their pain.

Strong, compelling, client attracting display ads are like strong, compelling, client attracting online profiles. They look prospective clients in the eye, name their pain, and imply a solution by contacting you.

If you must satisfy that urge to run print ads, be sure they are 90% about a problem & 10% your contact info.

07 June 2008

Time & Priorities

Do you ever feel that time is moving way too fast? Is it creating a sense of urgency in you that's promoting frustration or anxiety?

This is not an uncommon occurrence, especially for people in business for themselves. Usually when we have this sense, it's our internal clock that's responding to some story we're telling ourselves about our needs and priorities. Gotta hurry, it's important, this HAS to get done -- all are forms of the childhood Chicken Little message of the sky is falling, the sky is falling.

Paradoxically, the best way I've found to manage that feeling is to stop everything. That's right. Stop. Stop trying to do more. Stop trying to go faster. Stop telling yourself the messages that create the urgency.

Take a breath. I mean that literally. Take a long slow deep breath. Exhale in the same long slow manner. Breathe more time into your body, and into your mind.

Now, combine that breathing -- I hope you're still breathing long and slow -- with stretching. Yup, actually get up off that chair, step away from your desk, and reach for the sky, pardner. Reach beyond your comfort zone just a little bit while inhaling. Then let your arms fall S-L-O-W-L-Y to your sides while you exhale.

Take a fast, deep breath through the nose now, hold for nanosecond, and blow it out fast through your mouth. That's a cleansing breath. Do that again, so you get the hang of it.

Now bring a new, oxygenated mind to your time management and ask yourself these questions:
  • What 3 things do I really need to get done today? Is that possible?
  • What 2 things can I cancel or reschedule? Do that right now. (go ahead, I'll wait)
  • What is my most important priority today that will serve my health, my relationship, my spirit, or my work?
  • How can you most efficiently accomplish that priority in the most satisfying way? Schedule that into your day.
There are lots of time management tricks floating around, I'm sure. This one works for me. I hope it works for you.