30 September 2009

Ezine, Blog, or Social Media? Wrong Question

For non-writers, all this talk of having a website, then doing an ezine, and writing a blog, and sending bursts of info out on social media can feel overwhelming and confusing.

Anyone out there feeling that? Yep, thought so.

The question is not which one should you do, but why and when will you want to do one or more of these forms of writing.

From my perspective as a web-presence marketing mentor-coach, I always say that a website is your home-base. It anchors all the rest of your marketing. This is the most important more or less permanent piece of writing you'll have to do.

The purpose of your website is to tell your potential clients what they are waiting to hear in order for them to know you are the right provider for them.

Blogs seem to work better these days than ezines for getting people interested in you and your services, and getting a little taste of what it would be like to work with you. So when you are starting out and needing to generate enough clients to fill your practice, a blog is a good addition to a website.

Ezines seem to work best to keep in touch with current and former clients, generating repeat business, providing targeted help on topics your clients have expressed an interest in, and reminding people you haven't seen for a while that you are still in business. This is a different purpose than a blog, so the writing should be different as well.

Social media work best to spark interest in something specific in the moment. They can be good for sending the curious and the prospective client to your blog or website for more extensive information, or to make an appointment. But for solopreneurs in the healing arts, they don't really directly generate a lot of new clients.

So, website, ezine, blog, and social media -- which will you work on today?

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28 September 2009

Are You Time Rich and Cash Stingy? Perfect!

For some reason -- whether it's because of hefty student loan repayments, poverty consciousness, self-sabotaging distaste for marketing, fear of doing the wrong thing and wasting money, etc -- counselors are notoriously risk averse when it comes to investing in their business.

I've noticed that many life coaches and some NDs are similarly reluctant to spend money to make money.

So here's the good news: it's possible to spend very little to get maximum impact. Here are my top 5 recommendations:

1. Get a do-it-yourself website -- it's THE best time and money saving strategy you can take.
Costs: from about $8-$16 annually for your own domain name, and from about $5-$30 per month for hosting
(online website builder programs are usually free with a hosting package)

2. Start a blog -- it's THE best fresh connection to your client niche you can continually & easily produce.
Costs: Nothing if using sites like Blogger or WordPress

3. Host tele-groups / workshops --it's so much easier than you think to reach many people at once.
Costs: Nothing if you have an unlimited long distance phone plan.

4. Do signature talks -- it's THE better, more comfortable way to do personal networking.
Costs: ranges from nothing if you are invited into a group or find a free location, up to $300+ to pay for a room.

5. Build your mailing list with free give-aways -- it's THE best way to get email addresses.
Costs: Nothing but your time.

Something here sound do-able to you? Not sure where to start? Check out the tips on my website.

27 September 2009

9 Turn Offs About Our Websites

Does your website suffer from any of these client turn offs?

1. Pop ups that block what they're trying to read in order to pry their email address from them or goad them into buying something.

2. Flash graphic intro pages that look cool but provide no information, and load very slowly.

3. Music or audio greetings that automatically start when arriving at the website -- too startling or creepy.

4. Pages that are too busy with too many graphics, different fonts, different sizes, different colors, things that flash or move and distract and compete so they don't know where to look first, and start feeling motion sickness.

5. Sites that require too much reading to figure out if you're the person they are looking for, or to find what they want -- usually because there are no paragraph breaks, bullet points, subheads, or questions addressed to them.

6. Sites that don't have enough information -- nothing that's quickly helpful, or relevant to their immediate need.

7. Sites that don't work properly -- broken links especially on navigation bar, forms don't download, have to scroll left to right to read the page, sound on video is barely audible,

8. Have to hunt for phone number or email link, making obstacles to contacting for appointment.

9. Sites that don't seem to have anything to do with the locator directory link they just used to get to your site.

Did you find something in this list that is keeping prospective clients from staying on your website long enough to know what an incredible person you are?

Is your website working against you? Time for a web-presence critique? I'd like to help.

24 September 2009

Is Networking Just Pushing, Competing, Persuading?

Are you networking-phobic? Hate pushing yourself on others, competing for attention, straining to persuade someone to hire you?

Makes you feel like a used car salesman? (no offense to my high school buddy who's now a car dealer)

Me too. So don't do it that way. Unless you're an uber-confident extrovert, that approach isn't going to work for most counselors and personal coaches anyway, and probably not for NDs either -- it's too much like snake oil huckstering.

Everyone says networking is essential to building a private practice. I disagree.

Being of service -- what I call help-working instead of networking -- is more effective for solopreneurs in the healing arts. Our clients don't like to be manipulated and sold. They like to feel heard, cared about, and helped.

Think about the difference it could make for you if the next time a "networking" event comes up you go with the intention to listen deeply, connect caringly, and offer help selflessly.

You're trained to do these exact things. You have a wealth of skills to draw on. You're even confident about and comfortable with being able to do this. That training and those skills can be just as useful in marketing your practice as they are in working with clients in your office.

Now from the practical perspective, I'd also recommend being ready with 3 things when you help-work:
  • a client attracting elevator speech
  • a business card with some help tips on the back
  • an article or report you can email as a follow up
The elevator speech describes who you work with, what they want, what they get as a result of working with you, and sends listeners to your website for more details.

The tips on the back of a business card shows you to be knowledgeable and helpful, and has more chance of being kept than a card with a blank backside, or with next appointment time reminder.

An email follow up furthers the relationship that gets started at the event, helps your name and services to be remembered, and subtly promotes you as the go-to person for the types of issues you can solve.

Networking works best when it's help-working. Try it. It's much more comfortable than pushing, competing and persuading.

21 September 2009

3 of the Best Freebies to Give to Get More Clients

People like free stuff. Most of us especially like free stuff that is useful in solving a problem. Giving away free stuff is an excellent marketing strategy (plus it's a good spiritual practice to be of service).

Here are the most successful freebies I've used, gotten, or heard about.

EFT Points on the Back of a Laminated Business Card

What a great use of normally wasted space. I got that card 4 years ago and still carry it around. I remember the clinician who gave it to me -- if we lived in the same city, I'd be her client.

I adapted that idea for my Emotional First Aid business card by putting a 4 step process on the back for breathing through a panic attack. Then I put a 4 step process on the back of my Stress-Less Counseling card that taught how to use the flower essence product Rescue Remedy. I still get calls from people who've picked up those cards, used the steps, and want more help.

Is the back of your business card working for you?

Bookmarks as Self-Screening or Self-Accountability Tools

There's more space than you might imagine on a bookmark. One of my favorites has a direct and specific question at the top, a picture of the ND, his email and phone number underneath, and the therapeutic order listed on the front side. On the back are common signs and symptoms of allergies, and self screening questions like: is your diet mostly wheat, sugar, dairy or eggs ? are you spending more time in the woods lately? have you gotten a new pet? etc. The bookmark ends with a call to action: If so, and your symptoms are driving you nuts, naturopathic medicine can help. Call today.

When I had a booth at a health fair and wanted to promote my work as an astrologer, I followed that example. My bookmarks listed key tips for getting along with each Sun sign, and the back gave tips on surviving Mercury Retrograde, which we were currently in.

Are you ideal clients avid readers? What could your bookmarks include?

Special Reports Available by Email from your Website

People love service professionals who are generous with their expertise. I have a whole page called Free Stuff on one of my sites with three special reports (Shame, Stress, and Grief). Each one is available for the asking. A request link opens a new email in the visitor's own system, and fills in the subject line with which report they want. All they have to do is click send. I respond with the attachment, and a very brief personal note.

And I keep the email address. Once someone has emailed you for information, you can legally send them more info without a specific request. Use this privilege wisely, and you'll develop the relationship that converts a requester into a client.

What could you provide as a special report to prospective clients?

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18 September 2009

Essentials of Your Marketing Message

One reason marketing is so overwhelming for solopreneurs just starting out in business is that not only do we need to know WHAT to do and HOW to do it, we also have to know what to SAY and how to say it.

What you say is your message.

You message needs to be crystal clear on 5 main points:
  • who you're talking to (your ideal client)
  • who you're not talking to (the prospects you intend to screen out)
  • the experience they have that they don't want (their pain or problem)
  • the outcome they want that they are willing to pay you to get (their need, goal, desire)
  • your claim regarding what you can help them get (benefits and value of hiring you)
This may sound like a lot to think about. Ironically, sometimes the best way to crystalize all this is by thinking of your tagline, or one breath introduction.

A trick I learned years ago when I was a journalist writing headlines is useful here -- you don't have to say everything in detail. Readers naturally fill in the blanks. Less can be much better than more.

For example, look at the tagline for this blog:
Getting More Clients to Your Door with Grace and Ease for Solopreneurs in the Healing Arts. It tells my ideal client -- solopreneurs in the healing arts -- and by specifying that it implies who I intend to screen out -- retail businesses with employees, executive coaches, etc. It suggests the problem -- you need more clients -- which also is your outcome goal and desire -- actually getting more clients. Finally it makes the claim that I provide easy solutions that will feel and be graceful to implement.

How you relay your message is key.

There's an old adage in the retail business that the 3 most important factors of success are location, location, location. For professionals like coaches and counselors, and even the solo-practice ND, who market primarily on the internet, the 3 most important factors of marketing success are emotion, connection, and delivery.

The most important lesson from this post is: describe, don't explain.

Describe your client. Describe what they want. Describe the problems they have in getting it. Describe how that impacts their life. Describe what they want instead.

Describe using emotional words. Name the pain. Actually say: you're feeling this (it implies: and I know it). Why? Because that begins to create an emotional bond. It begins to feel to them like they are connected to you. Feeling connected naturally leads to calling for appointments.

Delivery is about style. Be yourself in writing your message. Speak with the warmest, most authentic and empathetic aspects of your personality. Don't explain that you are warm and caring. BE warm in caring in your delivery.

There ya go -- the quick Friday lesson in the essentials of your marketing message. Work on that this weekend, and let me know what you come up with, eh?

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17 September 2009

17 Easy Ways to Gracefully Promote Your Website

Too often, counselors, coaches, and NDs have the impression that once their website is built and online, that's the end of that project.

Um, sorry. No, that would be like planning a party but never telling anyone when and where it is.

A skilled marketer is never really done with their website. Getting it online is when the real work starts. (Hated to tell you that, but it's the reality.)

So here are some easy ways to tell potential clients about the party. I mean, your website.

9 Easy Static (Do It & Forget It) Methods
  • list your url on your business card, brochures, fliers, direct mail campaign postcards, etc
  • add a signature block with a link to your website to every email you send
  • put your url on your letterhead, bills, invoices, etc
  • list your website with online directories
  • add your website to a web ring
  • put the url on promotional products like bookmarks or pens
  • add a url link from your blog to your website
  • get a hat or t-shirt made with your logo and domain name
  • put the url in every article your write, in the body or bio

8 Easy Active (But More Time Intensive) Methods
  • write a weekly or quarterly ezine, include the url in the header
  • write a daily or weekly blog, include the url on the sidebar
  • create an e-book, include the url in the footer
  • create an autoresponder series, include the url in the footer
  • Tweet daily about something on your website, include the url
  • send website update emails to subscribed prospects, with signature block url
  • seek out joint venture partners, add your products/services and url to their prospecting list
  • give a workshop, advertised in the classifieds with your url

16 September 2009

A Little Levity: "Julia Child is on a Rant About WordPress.com"

For anyone who has ever struggled with WordPress, this will lighten your day.
Produced by Website Creation Workshop and found on YouTube, this is a must see.

15 September 2009

Do You Soak in Self-Fulfilling Messages?

Remember when mother used to say: watch what you say? She was wrong.

It's much more powerful to watch what you think.

Most of us bombard ourselves with conscious and/or unconscious mental messages everyday that guide our beliefs about what's possible. Then we take the actions that live up to those beliefs.

This is true in every area of life, and it's no less true with regard to being in business for yourself. What are the messages you give yourself about what it will take to succeed?

Here's a list of some of the more destructive self-fulfilling messages that have lead to a lot of counselors and coaches I know going out of business this year:
  • I don't have time to market
  • I can't narrow down my interests to one ideal client group
  • I don't want to limit myself
  • It doesn't feel professional
  • I don't want to have to sell myself to get clients
  • I can't possibly spend money on marketing when I don't have clients
  • It's not my style to set goals and track progress
  • I'm not comfortable being an aggressive networker
You may have these messages in your head, or others that are keeping you unfocused, scared, unproductive, and stuck. If you aren't working on changing these mental mantras, they will drive you out of business.

What can you do?

Get very clear about what your destructive self-fulfilling messages are. Make a list.

Then choose the one that has the most power for you, the one you're most afraid to change, and imagine what could be different in your business if it magically shifted. Do you like what you imagine?

If so, tackle this as a professional and personal improvement project. Determine what actions are needed to overcome this message -- what risks need to be taken, what resources need to be acquired, what timeline will you set for changing this false belief, and who will help you be accountable for making it happen?

14 September 2009

Which of These 5 Fears Keep Your Practice from Success?

I hear a lot of counselors, coaches, and NDs voice a reluctance to engage in certain proven marketing strategies. When pressed, the reasons for not taking marketing risks come down to these 5 basic fears:

  • fear of being too visible
  • fear of sounding too ego-centric
  • fear of getting more business than can be handled
  • fear of looking sleazy
  • fear of rejection (failure)
Which one stops you?

Fear of Being Too Visible

This one is most often voiced by women in solitary offices who work with high-risk populations where personal safety can be an issue. It's understandable to have a need to be cautious. Creative marketing can accomplish that while still attracting clients you can safely serve.

Fear of Sounding Too Ego-Centric

While it's good to not let an inflated sense of self rule our public persona, I more often hear this from clients who haven't fully claimed their own power, and may be suffering a bit of low self-esteem. Think of it this way - if you don't project confidence in yourself, why should potential clients have confidence that you can help them?

Fear of Getting More Business Than Can Be Handled

Hidden in this fear is self-doubt about your competence, along with an anticipatory sense of overwhelm. There are reasonable solutions to this particular "problem" of success -- hire a partner or an assistant, or refer out to colleagues who aren't as busy. You're in charge. You can actually turn down clients and the sky won't fall.

Fear of Looking Sleazy

Short of promising a free pony to the 10th caller in the next 5 minutes, or meeting clients in a Bedazzled semi-see through half t-shirt and hot pants with 6 inch spiked heels, you don't really have to worry about looking sleazy. In fact, I sometimes ask fearful clients to hold this as their anti-standard. You aren't sinking that low, you're doing fine.

Fear of Rejection

This is the opposite of the field of dreams syndrome -- what if you build it, and no one comes? Well, the key here is to not take it as a personal rejection, but rather an important piece of business feedback that you need to do something else, something more, something different. Let the disappointment of not getting instantly fabulous results teach and guide your next set of efforts.

Marketing is a game of trial and error. The only real risk to fear is the choice to do nothing, and to not pay attention to the response you get.

13 September 2009

4 Good Customer Service Tips to Protect Professional Reputation

When you're in business for yourself -- and especially when your knowledge and training are your primary "product" -- your professional reputation is an extremely valuable asset. Many things go into building an excellent professional reputation including:
  • abiding by professional ethics
  • observing high personal integrity
  • holding good boundaries
  • providing service commensurate with the fee
  • promptly resolving consumer complaints
With more customer review websites coming online, such as Yelp where anyone can post about you, and Angie's List that does include health care providers, it's a good idea to take some time to think about your customer service policies and practices.

To my mind, there are 4 practices counselors, coaches, and all doctors can follow that will help protect your professional reputation.

1. Listen without Defensiveness

When a client has a complaint, no matter how small, listen with openness to their point of view. Try to hear it as valuable business information rather than a personal attack or judgment about you.

Receiving their perspective without getting defensive -- even in the face of their anger or upset -- will go a long way toward regaining their respect and willingness to listen to you.

2. Tell Me What You Wanted and What You Got Instead

People sometimes aren't very direct or specific in how they articulate what their complaint is. Help them sort it out by asking what did you want and what do you feel you got instead. These simple questions tend to help people feel heard and taken seriously. Often, this is all they really want.

And knowing what they wanted and didn't get from you is excellent feedback that helps you examine your service practices and make useful changes that can improve your business.

3. Make good

Always offer to make up for the mistake, misunderstanding, or unintentional mistreatment in some way. In retail businesses, customers get replacement items. In advertising, the error in your ad is corrected and re-run at no extra cost.

As counselors, coaches or NDs, we can't give back time or take back words, but we can give a make good session at no charge. If you have products -- such as CDs, books, or a dispensary -- you can offer a free product in addition, as a good faith gesture.

4. Give More than Expected

Even in customer service, an ounce of prevention is worth the proverbial pound of cure. You can build up such excellent good will with your clients by always providing more than is expected that they feel no urge to complain.

And when the occasional curmudgeon lights into you, you can still safeguard your professional reputation by going out of your way to take extra good care of them. Thank them for their complaint, let them know you value their feedback, demonstrate that you have made reasonable changes when you can, and follow up with a how am I doing now feedback card or email.

You can turn complainers into allies and good referral sources if you give their perspectives a fair hearing.

For more on this topic, read Diane Stein's Don't Be an Ostrich!

12 September 2009

4 Web Techie Tools Even I Can Use

I keep saying I'm not a techie. But it's true that after some 10 years or so of doing web-presence marketing, I have learned a few things.

Here are 4 techie tools I use and recommend because they are supremely easy, free or really cheap, and have high benefit even if you are still figuring out your first website.

www.Constant Contact.com

A broadcast email marketing service.
  • 60 day free trial
  • Then only $15 for up to 500 names on your email list(s)
  • You can have as many lists as you want
  • Send as many emails a month, week or day as you want
  • Plenty of design templates are attractive and customizable
  • Includes ability to have one autoresponder option that sends up to 5 pre-set email installments when triggered

Online free html tutorials.
Scroll down past all the junk on this site to the links for the tutorials. I'm totally intimidated by the thought of computer programming, but his instructions are very clear.
  • Really really easy to understand
  • Instructions for making text bold or italic
  • Creating a bullet list, and many other basic html code features
  • Make your web-presence stand out even more
  • Examples of what to do and what happens

Free membership gives lots of very cool features to add to websites and blogs.
Listen, if I can do these things, you can too. Bravenet makes it easy.
  • Poll widgets
  • Email forms
  • Speaking avatars with your recorded voice
  • Message forum tool you can use to add a discussion board to your website
  • More spiffy tools available from Bravenet with paid membership upgrades
  • You can use the free stuff forever

Free membership to see how much site traffic you're getting and where it's coming from.
  • Track the most recent 500 hits to your websites and blogs
  • Multiple "projects" lets you track many different sites you own
  • Shows what country visitors came from
  • Gives what pages they looked at, how long they stayed on your site, and more.
  • You can pay to see more than the most recent 500 hits
  • Old hits are replaced by new ones, so most of us don't really need that paid feature

10 September 2009

3 Ways to Counter the Creepy Crawly Feeling of Networking

Okay, I'm talking to myself here. I admit it. I hate networking.

Well maybe it's more that I'm intimidated by it. Those horrible early morning breakfast clubs of bright eyed, bushy tailed people are my worst nightmare besides dreaming about snakes crawling on me. (Funny, they both give me a creepy crawly sensation)

However ----

Most of us do more informal, unconscious networking than we realize. Time to reframe the creepy crawly feeling, and optimize these moments to help us stay in business.

My favorite form of unconscious networking is to be an active, helpful participant in several online communities. There are multiple opportunities for using this tactic:
  • membership forums and topic specific discussion boards
  • Yahoo groups and other e-lists
  • social media -- post questions, links to resources, compliments to others, not your daily activities
  • blogs -- yours and your comments on others
A second form of unconscious networking that doesn't involve breakfast is the random sharing of info and resources on a personal basis. Whether a tactic for staying in touch with former clients, or cultivating new ones, you can:
  • pass along links to online resources of interest
  • forward notices of others' events
  • send new tips sheets of relevance
  • recommend books, services, workshops
  • ask for their opinions or help
And third, make a point of meeting influence leaders in your niche for lunch or coffee. Ask for their help in understanding the concerns of their friends, colleagues, or clients (as relates to your specialty, of course). Use the information you gain to develop a tip sheet, and send it back to them with your thanks (and your card!). Request that they pass it along to everyone they know who'd be interested.

There. Now isn't that easier than trying to get a word in edgewise at 7:15 am that's coherently self-promoting?

07 September 2009

4 Tips for Managing Marketing Overwhelm

One of the most frequent things I hear from counselors, coaches and naturopathic doctors is how overwhelmed they feel with the sheer volume of marketing tasks they perceive it takes to build a successful practice.

And it's true -- there's a lot to do in the beginning and most of us were never trained for exactly how to do it. We quickly end up feeling like we're operating in the dark.

Here's the advice I give my clients:

1. Start with only the strategies that fit your personality.
That is, if you're an extrovert, capitalize on your outgoing networking skills.
If you're an introvert, develop a dynamic web-presence.

2. Get your basics in place as soon as possible so they can run on autopilot.
That is, do first all the things that need to be done just once (get your website up, list on locator directories, get give-aways loaded into an autoresponder feature or email link to you, design and order business cards, develop a brochure or promotional flier, etc).

3. Set aside dedicated time every day to keep yourself moving forward until all the basics are in place.
Optimal is 3-4 hours every day. Realistic for those with families, or another job, may be 3-4 hours a week.
Schedule it as an appointment with your business, as if your business were a client.
Perhaps put this on your schedule as an appointment with someone named Business Self.
Enlist others to help you keep this time commitment, because it's vital.

4. During your Business Self appointments tame overwhelm by:
  • having a plan to guide your efforts each week
  • being clear about your daily task goals
  • getting instruction or examples to calm the uncertainty
  • doing the easiest tasks first
  • recognizing your signs of creeping overwhelm
  • taking short breaks -- get away from your desk
  • avoiding second guessing yourself
  • letting go of perfectionism
  • asking a knowledgeable friend or colleague to give you feedback
  • working with a coach to avoid reinventing the wheel
  • postponing the marketing tasks that require repetition* until the basics are done
  • taking a week off once your basics are in place
*Examples of tasks that require repetition:
  • blogging
  • social media
  • attending networking groups
  • approaching referral sources and following up
Becoming systematic is the key building a successful private practice, and that includes having a method or system for your marketing as well.

You can do this.

04 September 2009

Client Appointments Slowed to a Trickle? Try One of 4 Ideas

Are you like my friend* Julie, whose business as a life coach has taken a nose dive in recent months?

Maybe you're in the same boat with my colleague Arty, whose counseling clients are getting fewer and farther between?

Or, is your situation more like my client Dr. Genefer, who is considering closing down her naturopathic medicine practice and working as a natural supplements sales rep?

There's no question that the recession is impacting the bottom line of the solopreneur in the healing arts. But before you start cleaning houses, flip burgers, or throw in the towel altogether, ask yourself if you have tried enough creative, alternative ways to generate income in the field you love.

If not, here are 4 low cost, quick to start, in your field ideas to consider. BTW, these aren't as much for generating quick cash as for consistently keeping your pipeline full.

1. Start a Group

  • Pick a dire need that your clients are desperate to end, improve, or achieve
  • Make sure the target market is viable enough to be willing to pay for group membership
  • Be direct and grounded in how you market the group
  • Do it in person, by phone, connected to a networking organization, or sponsored by a company
2. Write a Self Help E-book
  • Focus on a specific, definable problem with easy to describe steps to end, improve, or overcome
  • Limit profesional jargon, maximize step by step instruction, and keep length to 15-50 pages
  • Include pictures or clip art, and worksheets
  • Include a plug for your regular services at the end
  • Be assertive and persistent in how you market the e-book, whether as a free tool, or for a small fee**
3. Produce One or More Downloadable Self Help Audios
  • Use a free conference call service on the internet if your computer isn't capable of recording
  • Script out what you will say and rehearse it with a friend before recording
  • Be clear in your diction, simple in your words, and slow-ish in your speaking
  • Invite several friends or clients to participate in the recording with their questions
  • End with a call to action for buying your e-book, or making an appointment for regular services
  • Capture the wav file and save to your computer, then load onto to your website
  • Market via social media
4. Develop a Creative Payment System
  • Borrow and adapt from concierge or boutique practices
  • Offer bonuses or discounts if clients will pay for a package in advance
  • Seek out private contracts with small business owners to serve their employees
  • At the least, get a shopping cart or PayPal buttons on your website and start taking credit cards

*Of course these aren't the real names of my friend, colleague.

**Check with your state -- in some places electronic products like ebooks and audio downloads are now taxable when sold.
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02 September 2009

One Deadly Personality Trait That Kills Business

For some mysterious reason, there seems to be a rash of solopreneurs from the healing arts who share a deadly, self-sabotaging personality trait. It's curious, because they are highly skilled counselors, coaches, and naturopathic doctors.

But there's just this one habit that is really holding them back from achieving success. The prime saboteur, I call it.

So what is it, already?

It's feeling like you need permission.
  • Permission to invest time, money, and energy in your business.
  • Permission to charge what you're worth.
  • Permission to promote your practice by talking like a specialist.
  • Permission to set policies and boundaries that make your work easier.
  • Permission to believe in the value of your own experience and the level of your competence.

Maybe this comes from a misguided sense of politeness. Perhaps it's a delay in developing an internal locus of control. Or not enough chance to grow into your own personal power.

Whatever the reason, this sabotaging mindset comes across in client attraction marketing like you are asking for your prospective clients' permission or approval to offer or provide something. It makes you reluctant to voice firm details about how you work.

It's quite self destructive when it risks you being viewed as a naive professional who isn't seasoned enough to help others.

I know that sounds overly negative, and perhaps a bit harsh. But think about it from the perspective of a person who is ready for your services and is in process of sorting through the field of options to find the best provider for them.

How much direct, grounded, comfortableness with being in business you exude becomes how much confidence that person will have liking and trusting you enough to hire you.

So let me whisper in your ear:
  • You already have all the permission you need.
  • It's already deep down inside you -- it's the urge that's called self-authority.
  • You can trust the self-authority instinct that tells you it's okay to be bold, clear, and direct.
  • You can soften your style of directness and still be clear in your boundaries and statements of what you want, need, and expect.

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01 September 2009

7 Ideas for When You Don't Have Time to Market

When you think you don't have time to market, that's a problem. Your practice may have enough clients right now, but do you have all the things in place that you need to ensure that there are always people coming into the pipeline to replace those who "graduate" from your services?

Ideally, to get a private practice in the healing arts off the ground successfully, conventional wisdom says you'll need to be engaged in marketing tasks 4 hours a day 6 days a week for 6 months to a year.

I can hear a lot of you groaning about spending that much time.

About half of my business coaching clients aren't new at their work, just changing status from agency or clinic or corporate employment to private practice. Some are moving away from taking insurance to being completely cash-based. Your practices have been successful for a while, and you don't want to feel and act like a beginner, putting that much time in.

Okay, here's what I'd recommend when you're in transition or have very limited time. Missed and cancelled appointments are perfect times for accomplishing any of these marketing upkeep tasks.

What you'll need: a laptop and internet access in your office.
What to do: pick just one of the tasks below to fill your available time.
Assumes: you already have a website, are on some locator directories, maybe do some blogging.

1. Review and refresh your website. Make sure has strong, emotionally compelling messages on the home page. Ensure that the target niches are current. Check all the links to make sure they still work and eliminate the ones that send people off your site. Time expense: 2 hours to half a day now, and once every year).

2. Add visitor capture widgets -- some way and reason for people to provide you their email address in exchange for something they can implement immediately, like a tip sheet or a quiz. Time expense: 30 minutes or less, once.

3. Add articles you've already written. Recycle old blog posts, ezine topics, publication articles you've submitted to update references, statistics, etc. Time expense: 30 minutes or less for adding to website, 2-3 hours or less for revising each article, one per week or month.

4. Review and refresh all locator directory profiles. Make sure they are consistent with your refreshed website, and are speaking to your current target niche market. Time expense: 1 hour or less per profile, once a week until done.

5. If all updating is complete, brainstorm a list of questions your clients ask you. If you have a blog already established, and if you can post in draft mode (unpublished), start a new blog draft with each question. This forms a ready prompt for later. Time expense: 30 minutes - 1 hour.

6. Pick one blog draft prompt question, and off the top of your head start writing a conversational answer. Voila, you have a blog post. Edit for spelling and grammar, and publish. Time expense: 20-40 minutes.

7. After publishing new blog post, go to your Twitter account and Tweet it, thus driving traffic to your blog. Time expense: assuming you already have your professional Twitter account established, 5 minutes or less.

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Amazing Statistics of Socialnomics

I admit to being an early skeptic of the value of social media for building a solopreneur private practice. Unlike a friend of mine, I have a low tolerance for trivial minutia of daily life, and just don't care to know who's having beans for breakfast.

However, I've been getting my toes wet in the universe of Twitter, Biznik, LinkedIn, Xing, Plaxo, and other SM sites and am starting to see the remarkable value for counselors, coaches and NDs. More on that in future blog posts. For now, you can view how I'm using Twitter at http://twitter.com/NoHypeCoach.

Today I want to share with you this video linked by Coach Reporter. If you brain is as old as mine, you may have to watch it twice to catch all the details, but it's well worth it.

To make it readable, click to full screen with the button that's second from the right. To return to the blog, hit your ESC key.