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Introductory Guide to Getting More Clients: Marketing your practice effectively
Peter Delves writes: "Like many practitioners who work with energy therapies you may have set up a practice because you know the fantastic results that can be achieved with these techniques, and there are thousands of people out there who you could help. Setting up a practice means setting up a business. This means that to be successful it’s going to be beneficial to broaden your expertise beyond your therapeutic skills. Either that or be prepared to buy in the expertise that you don’t possess."
Peter Delves has been a licensed trainer for the GoE since 1999 and has been running a successful therapy practice since 1990.
Why you need to re-think
Like many practitioners who work with energy therapies you may have set up a practice because you know the fantastic results that can be achieved with these techniques, and there are thousands of people out there who you could help. Setting up a practice means setting up a business. This means that to be successful it’s going to be beneficial to broaden your expertise beyond your therapeutic skills. Either that or be prepared to buy in the expertise that you don’t possess.
Most practitioners are prepared to pay for the services of an accountant, maybe even a web designer, but what about investing in some marketing skills? When you reflect on the investment you have made to develop your therapeutic skills how does this compare to any investment in developing your marketing know how?
Any thriving business needs a coherent marketing strategy, one that consistently leads new clients to your door. Having been involved in training therapists for 15 years I sometimes meet people on courses who have not researched their target market or thought in much detail about how they are going to generate clients once they have qualified.
A common, unsophisticated approach can be to get some business cards printed, perhaps a brochure too, and place an advertisement in the local newspaper. Disappointingly they can find that business cards are gathering dust, brochures are uninspiring and advertisements turn out to be too expensive for the return.
So if there are thousands of people out there who you could help what’s going wrong?
If you’re not attracting enough clients, it's for one or more of the following reasons:
A. People don't want what you're offering. They're not interested, and no amount of persuasion will get them interested.
B. People don't know about what you're offering. They would be interested, if only they knew about it.
C. Lots of people know about what you're offering, but you're not doing a good enough job of converting those people into paying clients.
Which of the above do you think applies to you?
Here are my top 10 tips for successfully marketing your practice
1. Don’t fall in love with your marketing literature. That’s because it is just a means to an end. Review it critically and if it’s not working change your approach. At the very least keep it fresh and up-to-date.
2. Don’t think that just because you have a website people will find it. Even if it is listed by thousands of search engines you may not be appearing in peoples’ searches. Therefore you need to recognise that your website has to be ‘optimised’ giving it a better chance of being found. This is a real skill and something in which you might need to invest. Please note: For this month only I am offering to evaluate your site…..see below for details.
3. Don’t blame the market for a lack of clients. If they are not coming to see you they are providing feedback on how your business is being perceived. You have not provided a compelling case for them to make an appointment. Just listing tons of qualifications won’t do it. Potential clients want convincing evidence that you can deliver what you say you can. There are ways you can provide this even if you are just starting out.
4. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that the technique will sell itself or that once you have seen a few clients word will spread like wildfire. It’s great when former clients do recommend you. But remember that what you help people with is often very personal, so they may be reluctant to spread the word in the same way as they would if they had found a great plumber.
5. Do deal with any negative beliefs and feelings that you may have about marketing. Replace them with the belief that marketing is about communicating the benefits of your practice in such a way that people take action to become clients. And it can be fun!
6. Do provide press releases on a regular basis. Press releases are a great source of free publicity and are more credible to the public that an advertisement. They also provide more information. However there is an art to ensuring that your press release does in fact get published. The media are interested in ‘stories’. It could be your own (how overcoming a phobia for example led you to train in the therapy) or someone else’s who is comfortable about it being published. Have press releases ready for certain topical events. You can provide tips on issues such as fear of flying in the holiday season or dealing with exam stress.
7. Do invest in a website or critically look at your existing one. If you decide not to have a website, it better be good reason - a business reason. If fear of technology is holding you back sort it out – could be material for another good press release! The internet is probably the number one source of new clients. After all, they find you rather than you having to find them. It might sound costly to have someone design a good website for you, but it doesn’t need to have lots of pages and it should soon pay for itself.
8. Do become an author. You will then have authority. Newspapers, magazines and websites are crying out for material. You can start on a small scale, such as the tips I described with press releases. A couple of years ago I was speaking to someone who wanted to write a book on the Enneagram but found the concept too daunting. I suggested that she write a series of articles for her e-mail newsletter and when she had enough to compile it into a book. The book has now been published.
9. Do consider running workshops. It doesn’t have to be on a big scale and the profits might be modest initially, but it will get your name out there and build your reputation. You can provide special offers or run one for charity. If running a workshop would be completely new to you, perhaps it would help to have somebody assist you, maybe somebody you trained with who would value the experience.
10. Do ask for help and advice. You may be surprised how forthcoming people with specialist knowledge can be. Ensure that the any advice is from someone who can be objective. Friends or family may be reluctant to sound negative, and may not offer the insights you are looking for. Enlisting a business coach might be for you.