04 August 2009

Magical Thinking in Marketing

In counseling, we often deal with clients who have what we call magical thinking -- the tendency to base decisions and life on irrational ideas and cognitive distortions of reality.

Interestingly, as self-employed business owners, many clinically competent counselors, coaches, and naturopathic doctors engage in magical thinking when it comes to marketing. I thought it might be instructive to see this laid out in comparison to several of the types of cognitive distortions we more easily identify in our clinical patients.

All or Nothing Thinking -- Have you convinced yourself that all you need to do is have a website that lists the benefits of your services and your contact info, or put an ad in a newspaper or phone book, or a profile on a locator service, or get one time advice, and when that doesn't bring in enough clients to fill your practice, you do nothing else?

Marketing is like housekeeping. It's never finished. There's always something more that can be learned and done. It has to be part of your daily business-keeping routine.

Magnifying and Minimizing -- Are you magnifying the expense of getting your marketing foundation in place and minimizing the long term payoff in doing so? Are you over-relying on scattered piecemeal activities and under-utilizing a structured marketing plan?

Solopreneurs in the healing arts tend to sabotage themselves with a pay-as-you-go mentality, rather than having a mindset of investing in what creates life energy for their business and for the future. Many marketing tasks cost little more than time and self-discipline. The secret is in knowing where and when to put your resources for easiest maximum benefit.

Shoulding on Yourself -- Do you tell yourself you should be networking, seeking referral sources, blogging, speaking, etc, when that goes against your innate personality and skills? Do shoulds form the basis of your marketing expectations: for example, you should be getting clients because your website presents your credentials and the benefits of your work?

Assumptions and pre-judgment really get in the way of successful practice building, especially when you don't evaluate their validity or get input from experienced advisers. Marketing is a heuristic game. It requires you to be self-observing, self-evaluating, and self-correcting without getting stuck in shoulds.

Jumping to Conclusions -- Do you construct your own roadblocks by assuming what your colleagues will think of you if you market this way versus that? Have you concluded that niche marketing will limit your client base without actually trying it?

Personal insecurities and an unconsciously defensive attempt to escape them are at the root of this form of magical thinking in business.

A client attraction coaching program on the best marketing activities for your personality, along with work on your confidence level, can alleviate these destructive forms of magical thinking.

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