Adapted from workshop with Nancy Benjamin
We are all getting used to a new normal, where we’ve had to overcome physical and emotional challenges with being isolated, learning new technologies, and navigating new changes to policies every day. In providing mental health services, the circumstances may have been particularly difficult to adapt to: seeing a bit more of your clients’ home environment but missing important clues that can give you insight into their mental wellbeing, getting yourself and your clients used to being in a different medium, or just having to sit on video calls for hours at a time with no time to rest your eyes and mind.
On the other hand, there is now arguably a greater need for your services than ever before. People want and need to hear from mental health professionals in this time of uncertainty.
In order to help you understand how to identify and better serve the needs of your clients, we invited Nancy Benjamin from Cultivate Advisors to host a workshop on Marketing Your Private Practice. In this post, we summarize some of the key ideas from the workshop. We also encourage you to check out Cultivate Advisors, a business advisory firm that specializes in helping small businesses grow and thrive.
Marketing isn’t just advertising, it’s about getting the word out to the right audience
There are many things you can do that qualify as marketing, and many platforms to market your practice: online or offline, using paid or owned media, even just outreach and networking. The challenge is to think about the objective in marketing your business. Are you networking to meet potential referral partners or to associate with groups where you can get clients from? Are you marketing to expand your existing caseload? Is it for brand awareness, so people know that you’re there? Is it for list building, so that you can reach more people? Or are you driving specific action (e.g. hosting a workshop, class)?
No matter what tactic you use, it’s partly your message, partly who you are, and partly the vehicle that you use to reach your audience. Marketing, in essence, is about reaching your market in a way that resonates with them.
Viva La Difference
One of the most important things to ask about your own practice is “What’s your niche or specialty”? Many businesses try to be something to everybody, but defining your specialty allows you to become a thought-leader/ expert in an area. Your niche can also define your audience and message.
But I’m afraid of getting too specific with my niche and turning clients away.
A lot of times, it actually winds up being the opposite. If you want to really draw people to what you do, you would be better off to be known for something specific. On the other hand, if you’re a generalist, it will be harder to distinguish yourself and become a thought-leader.
Your niche doesn’t have to be your market segment. Sometimes, your niche can just be your approach, or a specific set of traits that only you have. Create your niche by knowing your story, so that your target audience can get an idea of why you do what you do. Understand your cause and dive into the core of your practice. It may be a story about your own transformation, or what you stand for. It’s important to relate to your clients and show how you can contribute to a better life for them.
Knowing how you’re different from others, even if it’s just personality and attitude, can help turn those traits into your strengths.
MTTM: Message, Target, Tactics, Measurement
To craft a marketing strategy, Nancy suggests that we follow 4 steps embodied in the acronym, MTTM: Message, Target, Tactics and Measurement.
Create a clear message that outlines benefits for your audience, that showcases what your service does, not what it is. To more effectively communicate your message and create stronger connections with your audience, it is recommended that you use stories instead of numbers. Help your audience understand what is the problem that you solve, how you solve it more effectively, and finally, what is the result of solving that problem. Your clients want to know how you can help them.
Know your target audience. Depending on your objective for marketing your practice, you need to know who you should be putting yourself in front of. Once you have your message, you can start reaching out either directly to prospective clients, or to referral sources/ connectors that can put you in contact with the people you’re trying to help. Find out who has the problem that your practice solves, the urgency to that problem, the demand for your service, and the desire for a solution. By understanding your target audience, you can then be on the right platforms to reach a specific group of people who will respond positively to your services.
Once you have your message and know who you should be speaking to, it’s time to design some effective tactics. How will you reach your target audience, especially at a time when there is less face-to-face interaction? This can be a wonderful time to take on partner and affiliate resources and establish your network. Refer to this post, where we listed a number of ways you can sow the seeds to grow your referral network.
If you opt to use social media, be mindful of the way that you’re reaching out. Be authentic and connect with your audience on an emotional level, but also understand what your audience is looking for. By creating consistent, relevant content, you will be able to nurture a community of ideal clients who will get to know you, like you and trust you. For more information on effective social media strategies, we also encourage you to check out Rose Mills, a content strategist who recently hosted a social media workshop with us.
Finally, measure the effectiveness of your tactics. Don’t just put it out there, see if it’s working! Set some benchmarks for yourself, and see whether the needle is moving. With online content like your website and social media, there are now easy-to-use analytic tools to see whether your marketing tactics worked. You can use these tools to see how your web traffic changes, what content drives interest and engagement, even read reviews about your services. Use these analytic tools to understand who responded best to the message you put out, and in turn refine your target audience. Of course, last but not least, keep track of your revenue stream to help you understand which tactics really delivered paying clients.
About Nancy Benjamin
Nancy Benjamin is dedicated to helping small to mid-market businesses grow and thrive in today’s crowded marketplace. As a business advisor with Cultivate Advisors, she works tirelessly with clients to solve their unique challenges with action-driven plans to penetrate the market, promote their message, more effectively sell, recruit exceptional staff, scale the business and lead with confidence. Nancy worked for some of the top ad agencies for more than a decade, honed her marketing skills and launched products for a variety of prominent brands. She launched an international import business, running it for more than two decades, before she sold it five years ago and became a business advisor.
When she’s not building businesses and making life less stressful for business owners, Benjamin can be found hiking the Mount Everest base camp trek in the Himalayas, traversing the Kyzl Kum desert in Uzbekistan and observing bamboo lemurs in Madagascar.
Cultivate Advisors believes in offering small business owners a custom plan for their business. Every owner has unique challenges, experience and goals, and Cultivate is passionate about helping owners develop both personally and professionally to achieve financially rewarding businesses that grow and thrive.