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Growing A Perennial Practice
John Niland writes: If your reputation brought all the clients you would ever want - without selling, advertising, marketing, cold-calling or PR – how many days would you work? What would your income be? How many holidays would you have? What chores would you delegate? Growing a reputation is like growing a garden. If we prepare the ground, if we choose the right plants and situate them properly, if we nourish the relationships we want, if we occasionally prune - we can cultivate perennials that go on producing harvests year after year.
Cultivating a Perennial Practice
If your reputation brought
all the clients you would ever want - without selling, advertising, marketing,
cold-calling or PR – how many
days would you work? What would
your income be? How many holidays
would you have? What chores would
a reputation is like growing a garden. If we prepare the ground, if we choose
the right plants and situate them properly, if we nourish the relationships we
want, if we occasionally prune - we can cultivate perennials that go on
producing harvests year after year.
this article, we will explore some simple techniques to speed up growth without
draining our energy or our finances.
of us have lived through some of these problems.
Tick those that you are familiar with:
a key bottleneck.
love to delegate the administration or the marketing, but I can’t afford to.
to keep another job or business going, in order to pay the bills.
is not for me. I find it hard to walk into a roomful of strangers and start a
profession, I have to be a general practitioner. There is no common denominator
between my clients.
it hard to ask for money.
clients often need to keep my services confidential, so I don’t expect
dislike marketing and practice-building, and only want to work with people who
want to use my services.
I don’t wish to learn marketing techniques, practice-building is not
interesting for me. I would prefer to invest in therapy or counselling skills.
I could find the words to attract potential clients.
tried advertising, PR, cold-calling, networking … but been disappointed by the
ever be able to trust a marketing process, will the future always be uncertain?
I have achieved all I
want, but having got there I find I am trapped in my own practice.
1. Design the Ideal Practice
In order to do the things we
want to do, it helps to have a clear-cut vision of where we are going.
Who are your favourite clients right
What are your greatest successes?
If you had a gift that you could give
to those trapped by low energy, motivation, depression, anxiety etc., what would it be?
What would you do even if you were
not being paid to do it?
To grow a garden, we need to
decide what type of plants we want to grow. Are we attempting to reach large
corporates, mid-market businesses or consumers? Have we a previous speciality in teaching, HR, family,
Finance, Law or IT? What are our
natural talents – design? Organising? Influencing? Or Listening? Where have we lots of contacts - in crafts, retail, the City,
or media? Which of these people
will we love working with – even on days that don’t pay much?
How many days do we want to
work? Which days?
Two years ago, I chose to work a four-day week, forty weeks per year.
Everything in my business is now designed to support that: the diary, the fee
structure, the assistance I engage, the types of clients I work with.
But when I only had six
clients, this was a big decision!
2. Successful Stories
We don’t need glossy
brochures, fancy cards, or web sites to be successful. But we do need a way of
telling the world what we do, in language that they can understand, in a
one-to-one conversation that people find engaging.
“I am a coach” doesn’t
work. Neither does “I am a
therapist”. If we are going to attract clients, we need to get out of the “I
am a …” habit. Let’s start to think up and design a few alternatives. A
good seven-second introduction is more powerful than £10,000 worth of
advertising or PR.
is the key. The ability to get into another’s shoes totally changes our
language. Just as we have never seen the nose on our own face, we need another
human being in order to get the language right. The benefits are doing so are
immediate increase in confidence
being attractive to potential
clients, and other people who might be able to identify them for us
the joy of being ourselves and
expressing that, rather than some plastic persona that we feel obliged to create
ultimately, we can delegate the
prospecting to others, and give potential clients the language that allows them
to identify themselves to us - rather than us trying to find them.
(Just imagine if I had written
this in legal jargon!)
3. The Client Journey
Once we know who our ideal
clients are, once we have the language that reaches them, we have prepared the
ground and are ready to plant some seeds. In order to do so, sooner or later we
have to go outdoors. Just as we cannot grow a garden by watching Alan Titchmarsh
on TV, we have to put on the old trainers and face outdoors in springtime.
We can feel shivery in the
garden in February. We can feel
very sensitive when we start to disclose our profession to others.
Perhaps they will scoff, or question our competence. Perhaps they will
sidle away from the “psycho” word.
So, we need some warm clothes
to protect us in early spring. Our seven-second introduction is one such
garment. Knowing specifically who we are looking for is another. But the really
protective “macintosh” is having a simple follow-up system – that is
respectful, engaging, and does not threaten people.
Here’s an example. If you
are busy, would you like to receive “100 Tips to Find Time”. If so
please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Is it OK if we include you in our monthly email newsletter, which
is not a brochure, but similar tips and stories?
Did you feel threatened by
those last two questions? Here are two follow-up systems, and we haven’t even
met yet! There are dozens to choose
from – come along and pick one that suits you.
If we know where we will meet
ideal clients, and we know what our follow-up system is, meeting people is easy.
You can just turn-up and enjoy the occasion. You know what you do, and can say
that in a way that engages attention. You have a follow-up system, which you can
use with anyone who has given their permission. As you will see when we meet,
the rest is easy.
These are the first steps, the
first hurdles to a national reputation if you want it. For me and dozens of my
coaching clients, there is no Plan B required. It’s so simple, it’s
deceptive. If it doesn’t work, the kids wont eat!
But if my client’s reputations are bringing them all the business they
want year after year, I think I can trust the process. Many of us enjoy high
incomes, and there is no reason why you should not be equally rewarded for your
“If I had four hours to cut
down a tree, I would spend three of them sharpening my axe”
information about individual coaching programmes, please visit www.success121.com