17 June 2009

Think: Dating and First Impressions

Relationship marketing, like dating, is a process of getting good prospects to know you, like you and trust you, so that they will want to see more of you. First impressions count.

If we come across as interesting and nice, or funny or helpful, we likely get a second date. If we come across as an unapproachably emotionally cold, intellectually distant, and like a professional know-it-all, those good prospects go elsewhere.

I'm reading a great book right now called
The Relationship Cure by the famous relationship therapist, John Gottman. It's not about marketing at all, but does have some interesting parallels to consider regarding how we make bids for connection that cause listeners to turn towards us, away from us, or against us. Obviously in marketing our private practices, we want ideal clients to turn towards us, and to want connection with us.

Basically what works in marriage, parenting, friendship and co-worker relationships, works in client attraction as well because marketing for the healing arts is all about using relationship skills to be of service when others are suffering. I'd boil it down this way:

1. Prioritize your prospective ideal clients' needs over your own
2. Engage with sincere interest in their experience of their pain or problem
3. Downplay your wonderfulness (credentials, training, associations, achievements -- nobody likes a show off)
4. Do tell compelling stories about your own life / imaginary clients that relate to theirs, but don't over do it
5. Take time to be genuinely helpful (with no expectation of a goodnight kiss--er, uh, signing up a client)
6. Have a way to ask them out for more dates (follow up marketing)
7. Listen with enthusiasm and compassion, validate emotions and worries, be supportive

This is a qualitative checklist that can be applied to a wide range of marketing tasks no matter who you're trying to date. Um, I mean, attract as clients. Like mom always said, just be yourself, and you'll be fine.

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