It’s normal when first starting out in private practice to believe that your clientele will just find you ~~ somehow. I call this the faith-based operating mode.
That belief soon shifts into feeling that the key to gaining a full client load is to discover the greatest need in your community, and then explain why your particular professional training resolves that need.
I call that the “ I have studied it / they need it / they will come” operating mode.
We’re schooled to have need-based thinking. Making a need assessment — aka, diagnosis — is the typical beginning of all client relationships for solopreneurs in the healing and helping arts.
No one disagrees that:
Couples need communication skills to discuss differences without devolving into fights and divorce.
A vast number of adults need health coaching to stay on track with their diet and exercise plans.
Women with low-self esteem need confidence building.
Men with inflated career competition and family demands need stress reduction or anger management.
This is the clinician- or coach-based logic operating mode.
But focusing your marketing message on needs doesn’t align with the strongest motivators for picking up the phone and squeezing therapy sessions into an already over-crowded life. These needs — which potential clients may readily agree they have — fail to push people into making the decision to get help.
You know, because it was part of your training, that lots of people in a potential clients life are telling them what they need. Bosses, spouses, parents, co-workers, neighbors….. your poor potential clients becomes deaf to hearing about what they need. They get resistant to getting help when others tell them what they need.
Need doesn’t bring clients to your door. What does?
What we want wins almost everytime over what we need. Want is the personal ownership that clients come to that propels them into taking action. Want is internal buy-in versus the external shaming / blaming / critical judgment or fear / or manipulative power tripping from others.
Most people don’t go into therapy because they need it. They go because they’ve got some problem that they want help getting rid of. Or they have an insatiable want / desire / yearning for something they are having trouble manifesting on their own.
What do your ideal clients want? A marketing message that focuses on their wants, and how you can help them achieve those is more effective in getting new clients on your practice schedule.
Want versus need. This is an important distinction to make. Make it early and save yourself lots of time, effort and money on wasted marketing.
What does your target niche want less of? What do they want more of? How much of your locator profile or homepage speaks to these wants? Hint: it should be 85-90 %.
Marketing doesn’t come naturally to most of us. And writing for marketing is like using a foreign language we’ve never taken lessons in. If you need help, email me for some consult time.