After nearly 15 years of coaching psychotherapists and other solopreneurs on client attraction marketing, I had the notion this year that things were changing and old methods weren't working any longer.
And it's certainly true that a lot of technology has changed. Social media has become an indisputable force in small business marketing. Clients access your marketing messages on their phones. No longer are you the only counselor in your town with a website. And Google has a huge impact on who even finds your website.
But in reality, many of the same marketing basics are as effective and necessary today as ever. Specifically:
1. Focus on an ideal client
2. Have an emotionally compelling outcome oriented niche message
3. Use a marketing plan to stay on track
4. Do at least one marketing task every day
5. Fill unexpected open hours with marketing
6. Use a combination of introverted, extroverted methods
When my colleagues panic about a slow down in client load, the problem can almost always be traced back to a lack of attention to one or more of these basics. Search through my website and blog to find more info on these 6 basics.
By far the 2 top reasons counselors, coaches, therapists, psychologists, and even intuitive readers experience empty office panic is because their marketing message is too general and because marketing isn't done every day.
Marketing is like hygiene -- you need to do it every day
Because you need to do something in the way of marketing each and every day if you really want to keep your pipeline full of new clients, it's essential to find 3 methods that you can enjoy. If you're an extrovert, have 3 ways to network in person. If you're an introvert, have 3 ways to market online. Consistency is key.
From time to time I use the fabulous marketing tracker spread sheet developed by CJ Hayden in her Get Clients Now! system. It's a great way to stay focused. It also help to tune your mindset into what actually constitutes a marketing task. Here are some examples:
writing a blog
hunting for a photo for the blog
posting a link to past blogs on social media
commenting on others' social media posts in a friendly way
posting a tip of the day on Facebook
hunting for blogging ideas
refining your ideal client focus or defining a whole new one
creating rack cards
taking rack cards to allied professionals
attending a networking gathering
designing a survey to discover what your client niche is worried about
promoting the survey in a blog
promoting the survey on Facebook
analyzing survey results
blogging about survey results
creating a panic relief video for your website
posting your video to YouTube
posting a link to your video on you social media pages
brainstorming ideas for a free report / give-away
outlining the free report
writing the free report
composing a nice cover for the free report
taking a screen shot of the cover so you have a jpg for it
posting the jpg of the cover with a link to the report on Facebook
As you can see, there are many small tasks that would "count" as doing marketing on any given day. I think it's a well kept secret that you don't have to choose only the big things -- like create a new website and try to get it done all in one day -- to count a task as having marketed your practice.
If you have a low client load, think of your open hours as the perfect opportunity to dig into your marketing. I recommend taking these steps:
Review Your Website
Does it need a fresh look?
Is your marketing message emotionally compelling?
Are visitors likely to feel like you "see" and understand their problem?
Is the site easy to navigate?
Do visitors know exactly what you want them to do, and have you made it easy for them to do it?
Your answers to these five questions will point your way to the first marketing tasks you should address. Once these are taken care of you can enter the next step:
Set Up a Blogging Topics List
What do clients ask you most frequently?
What is currently in the news that everyone is stressed about?
What how-to steps will help people for each holiday?
Strive for 12-24 topic ideas, enough for one or two blog posts a month. This will help you blog on the regular basis that is good for SEO and client attraction. When you have a good start on a list, start blogging. The more you blog, the easier it will be to just sit and write off the top of your mind. When you've become comfortable with blogging, you're ready for the next step:
Get Familiar with Social Media
Connect with colleagues
Observe how they interact on their professional pages
Get comfortable interacting with strangers
Repost inspirational and helpful memes
Ask questions and make helpful comments
Social media is an increasingly powerful way to market. But it takes a deep shift in mindset for most clinicians who aren't used to being personally visible as a way to attract clients. It took me a while to get comfortable with Facebook, and I'm still not a Twitter fan. But it's a useful took to learn.
Finally, divorce yourself from thinking that whatever marketing you do on Monday should bring in new clients by Thursday. Marketing just won't happen that way most of the time. But if you doing at least 3 things every day -- and better, if you spend 4 hours a day marketing when you don't have a lot of clients -- you're bound to see results over the long term if you keep at it.