Set It and Forget It Marketing -- a Bad and Expensive Idea

Updated April 2019

Years ago I was contacted by an out of state “firm” who had trawled the Meetup group I was hosting for clinicians seeking marketing help and wanted me to recommend their services to “my constituents.”


In checking out their glitzy website, I discovered that their offer included an onsite assessment from “secret” patients (as if my practice were a clothing store or restaurant), a report replete with statistics on demographics, psychographics, and growth goals, and a strategic business plan – all for only $5000.


Further checking showed their minimum recommended level of budgeting for marketing was $5000 a year, and included items such as promotional incentives and gifts to get new clients – common practices in some industries but of questionable ethics and value in psychotherapy. This firm could apparently accomplish everything for me short of driving new clients to their appointments.


Of course, most solo practitioners don't have $5000 a year to spend on marketing. Shows how little research these companies put into knowing their own target audience.


But hmmm. When you’re a one person show, it’s very tempting to want to outsource all the thinking and planning and implementing of business operations and client attraction work.  An offer like this appeals to our desire for set it and forget it marketing.

An offer like this is almost always a scam.

Reputable marketing companies

don't solicit your business out of the blue.

I can remember the time when I too wished I could hire a promoter to get clients lined up at my door. It would have been a great solution to the anxiety and insecurity I felt about having to talk about the benefits of counseling in a way that would convince people they needed it, and that would persuade them that they should hire me. Now that I've retired as a therapist and make a living as a website designer, there are seasons when I still wish for this magic wand approach.


But what this approach to marketing your private practice fails to consider is that tactics that work in retail, or for large impersonal clinics with multiple clinicians and admin staff don’t work for counselors and coaches with a solo practice.


Our distinguishing feature is in the quality of relationship we build and sustain with prospective, current and former clients. That takes constant personal attention. It can’t be wholly outsourced.


No slick advertising or website / brochure produced by an out of state consulting firm can successfully capture your unique personality and healing presence — at least, not without your very active participation in the process.


Phew – you’ve just saved yourself several thousand dollars.


Here's what to be asking yourself:


  1. When you feel resistant to marketing your solo practice, what anxieties and insecurities are under that resistance?  

  2. What do you need when feeling those anxieties and insecurities?  

  3. How can you feel them, and not let them stop you from extending your warmth and humor and genuine personality when connecting with potential clients?


Need some help to sort it all out? A 30 or 60 minute consult with me can outline an effective marketing plan for you that will save you thousands of dollars.



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