If you’re just starting in private practice counseling or coaching, here’s the single most important thing to know about building your business:
It takes time.
Creating compelling internet presence, building referral partners, getting known in your community, developing a reputation as a go-to specialist, generating marketing momentum — all the broad stroke steps take time. Sure, you’ll have some encouraging successes. And it will be tempting to think you can stop marketing when they happen.
Working a marketing plan is like giving sunshine, nutrients, air, and water to the tender shoots of your growing business. Healthy growth requires daily tending.
Even seasoned solopreneurs in the healing arts sooner or later find themselves in a slow down period of new client calls. It’s in the nature of a private practice to have ebbs and flows. And when your entire business depends on filling your appointment calendar every day, this normal blip in the business cycle typically sends many counselors, coaches, and NDs into a bit of panic.
Slow starts and slow downs are discouraging, for sure, but can be reframed as crucial information about your marketing plan. Rather than wasting too much time feeling scared or frustrated, here’s my prescription for how to stop feeling discouraged and start drawing clients to you.
1. Commit a chunk of time daily to making and working a marketing plan.
Two to 4 hours A DAY is not too much, and will gain results much fast than 1-2 hours a week or less.
BTW, a good plan includes setting up and updating a website, blog, Facebook and Google+ business pages, reaching out to potential referral sources, and creating resources that help potential clients know, like and trust your expertise.
2. Approach marketing as a creative experiment.
What works for colleagues in other states, or for those who market for different populations than you do, and by those with different personality style and energy from you may have success that eludes you.
Because 90% of success with any client attracting marketing method is in the persistence of it, experiment until you find what you like doing. Then do it in a creative variety of ways. Balance updating foundations with creating resources with having some kind of community outreach. Balancing personal style and strengths combined with persistence is what creates repetitive success.
3. Practice detachment from outcome.
Marketing is not a direct A=B in 72 hours activity. There is no credible formula that can guarantee that if you blog or Tweet, or meet with 3 pediatrians, or spend $200 on Adwords, that you’ll get 5 new clients the next week and every week.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is either leaving out the significant amount of preparation in laying the groundwork they have done plus the personal and professional contacts they already had, or they are lying about their results.
Good marketing isn’t magic. It just doesn’t work this way.
Marketing is a process of developing interest, likeability, trust, and desire. It takes more than an occasional and casual effort for this to pay off.
What I’ve found is that when I focus on completing my planned daily, weekly, and monthly marketing tasks and hold the intention for creating a reputation as a helpful, knowledgeable resource, the outcome takes care of itself.
So, what are you doing on a daily basis for the health of your business? Are you trying to do marketing activities that make you uncomfortable? what if you did less of these? Which client attraction activities are you doing that you enjoy? How can you do more of these?