If you are a complementary therapist, coach or counsellor, your approach to marketing may be what I call the Â?Grudge ApproachÂ?. You know in your heart of hearts that you need to do it, but you object to it, almost in principle, and you begrudge the time and effort it will take. So you donÂ?t market your practice at all, or at best you put together a rather hastily planned and non-effective leaflet every few years, and when that doesnÂ?t bring in any clients you say, Â?There, marketing just isnÂ?t effective.Â?
I know what the Grudge Approach to marketing is all about, because I was an expert practitioner of it for many years!
So the first step is to change your mindset about marketing. The first step Â? as so often in complementary medicine, as well as in life Â? must come from within.
Ditch the false and self-limiting belief that marketing is somehow unprofessional, dirty (itÂ?s to do with money!), self-advancing, even unethical. This complex of beliefs lies behind a lot of the difficulties that practitioners have with marketing their practices.
After all, what is marketing? ItÂ?s not about making money. The dictionary definition is Â?the provision of goods or services to meet customer or consumer needsÂ? (Collins English Dictionary). And isnÂ?t that what we are in business as therapists for? To meet our clientsÂ? needs? How can we possibly meet their needs if we are not promoting ourselves and the benefits that our services can bring?
------------------- Be businesslike-------------------
Looking at it this way, it is distinctly unprofessional NOT to market your practice, for two main reasons. First, we are withholding our services from a potentially huge number of people who would benefit. And second, we have to be businesslike.
Let me explain the second reason in a bit more detail. We trained as therapists because we wanted to practise a healing technique that we believed in, were good at, and that probably had transformed ourselves in the past. We wanted to be practitioners.
ThatÂ?s great. You have to really enjoy your practice, and believe in it, in order to be successful. But thatÂ?s only part of the story. What they donÂ?t tell you at college is that running a business means you have to perform a multitude of roles, of which practitioner is only one.
You have to be chief executive, an accountant, a secretary, a product developer, an IT manager, a facilities manager and a sales and marketing manager as well. If you perform badly in any of these additional roles, your business will suffer Â? but no more so than if you neglect the role of marketing manager.
--------------------------------Keep up your commitment--------------------------------
So you need to change your attitude towards marketing. But thatÂ?s just the first step. What can help you maintain a healthy and businesslike attitude to promoting your services? Here are some tips.
= Make marketing part of your week. You should be spending a few hours a week on marketing Â? more if you are setting up your practice. Make sure you set aside this time as a necessary part of growing your practice. Planning is an essential part of the process.
= Be flexible. Be prepared to see any aspect of promoting your services as contributing to your marketing effort. One week, for example, you could be networking, another designing a leaflet, another distributing it, and another updating your website.
= Be creative. A lot of marketing is straightforward, but some of the best ideas come from thinking outside the box. So donÂ?t be afraid to be different, and to be daring. It will excite you and feed you, as well as help to promote your business.
= Be positive. A lot of us therapists are essentially introverts. ItÂ?s hard for us to channel our energy into an intrinsically extrovert activity such as marketing. But making the effort pays huge dividends. YouÂ?ll find you have huge untapped potential!
= Enjoy it. A Â?go for itÂ? attitude is hugely enjoyable. We learn best from our Â?mistakesÂ?, so treat these mistakes as steps on the path to success. Enjoy building up the relationships that a lot of marketing consists of. Even enjoy walking round town putting up your postcards and adverts Â? itÂ?s a chance to see people and get some exercise!
About the author:Kim Richardson - the therapists' coach - helps you make a success of your therapy business. To sign up for his free minicourse 'Seven Steps to Marketing Success', click here => http://www.therapysuccess.com
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