Why You Need a Marketing Plan
If you're like me, the thought of business and marketing plans doesn't thrill you. I never believed they were useful for a one-person psychotherapy practice.
Until they worked and increase my client load.
I get that you might be thinking the same thing -- marketing plans, who needs them? So here are a few things to consider, when you are worried about gaining clients, and if you haven't yet tried this approach.
Solopreneurs Are Service-Oriented
One reason healers, helpers, and therapists resist getting all business-y is that we innately disapprove of how the business world operates. We don't want to align with cut-throat competition and consumer manipulations. We see our work almost as calling -- something noble and pure.
That's admirable. And we all do want to hang on to that sense of calling.
And on the other hand, there are some realities about getting paid to do what we do. That getting paid thing -- whether directly by clients or through their insurance company -- means that the government sees us as business owners. Landlords who rent out office space view us as running a business. To continue helping people, we have a responsibility to pay our rent and our taxes, which means having an obligation to stay in business.
The moment you leave agency work, or that unrelated 9-5 job to be in private practice, the pressure is on to get clients and operate a business as a sole proprietor or limited liability corporation.
Believe me, adopting a bit of business mindset and learning the more helpful of business practices will be to your advantage.
Business Plans Keep You Focused On Your Vision
If you set out to accept insurance payments for mental health care, it won't be long before you feel like your calling has morphed into a circus. Between slow payments, justifying treatments, worrying about HIPAA compliance or records audit, the bright shiny vision you had for being in private practice soon feels naive and unrealistic. The idea of needing a business plan when you don't even feel in charge of your business does seem silly.
And, you know that CEOs running corporations with dozens or hundreds of employees need complex plans. You might not know that you don't. All a solopreneur needs in a business plan are the following:
a one sentence vision statement -- what is the purpose of your work in the world and what does it give you or mean to you?
a one sentence mission statement -- who is your ideal client and what kind of difference do you want to make in their lives?
3 main goals for the current year
3 main goals for the next 5 years
resources you have and those you need for accomplishing goals
methods you will use to accomplish those goals
a way to track how often you are working with those methods
No one needs to see your business plan. You can sketch it out in 10 minutes and use it as a point of focus when you start getting pulled in directions that don't feel right to you by insurance companies, marketing gurus, clients, friends, and family.
Marketing Plans Help You Get More Clients
A marketing plan is where the juicy energy of a private practice is generated. To understand this, let's first list what a marketing plan is not. A well crafted and successful marketing plan Is not :
a set of analytic measures
a bunch of tasks without a coherent strategy
an unrealistic comprehensive intent to market in all possible ways
a list of places to advertise
lots of attempts to getting your name "out there"
a collection of discounts on services
a set of networking meetings to attend
a busy schedule due to people saying it'd be good exposure for you
So, then, what is a marketing plan? It's a calendar of activities that move you forward in becoming known as the trusted go-to resource in your area of specialty.
And it's a way to stay organized and hold yourself accountable to the process of tending your baby -- your new or struggling business.
Every Business Has a Life Cycle
In the beginning, a private practice is a newborn, in need of constant care and feeding. A marketing plan is your baby's feeding schedule.
A marketing plan organizes the most effective and time /resource efficient activities you can do yourself do get a flow of clients going.
A good marketing plan prioritizes the activities that make the best use of your energies and personality, so that trust and professional credibility are continually building and working on your behalf, even when you are meeting with clients, or sleeping.
A successful marketing plan establishes a set of mechanisms that work for you and work together, so that you can reduce the amount of time you need to spend tending to that baby business.
If you want a simple, sustainable, and effective 28 day marketing plan system that you can adjust every month according to the needs of your business's life cycle, I'd love to consult with you on how to construct one.