When it comes to building a successful therapy private practice, knowing how to market effectively is crucial. However, all the marketing knowledge in the world won’t be of use to you if your fears get in the way of marketing your therapy services. The most common fears counselors have about marketing a practice are outlined below followed by some tips for overcoming them.
Common Fears about Marketing a Counseling Practice
Fear of being rejected. You may fear that if you put yourself out there, people won’t want or need your services. You may also fear that you are not good enough at what you do to attract enough clients for your private practice.
Fear of disapproval. Perhaps you are afraid that simply by marketing your practice potential clients and peers might judge you, or the services you offer, in a negative light.
Fear of failure. If you fear you might fail if you attempt to build a private practice, you might avoid taking the risks necessary to succeed.
Fear of being viewed as pushy or aggressive. This is a very widespread fear that stems largely from of a widely held misconception that you have to be pushy or aggressive in order to market effectively.
Fear of being seen as self serving.This fear stems in large part from the notion within the counselling profession that you are supposed to focus on your clients needs and not your own. In addition, you might hold a belief that promoting yourself means that you are “bragging” about yourself.
Fear of not knowing how to market a practice. Obviously if you have never marketed before and don’t know anything about how to do it successfully, you are more likely to be afraid of doing it.
Fear of being successful. You might fear success because you believe you are undeserving of it. You might also fear that if you are successful, your life will change and you might not like the change that occurs.
Mastering Your Fears About Marketing Your Practice
If you find yourself experiencing any of the above fears about marketing, the following tips may help you in overcoming them.
1. Identify your fears. Awareness is the first step. Write down all your fears about marketing your practice in detail and then develop a plan to eliminate each one.
2. Be persistent. Make a commitment to succeed at your private practice and hold a vision of your success in your mind. Revisit this vision on daily basis. Believe in what you are doing and act as if you can do it even when you feel you can’t.
3. Have a marketing plan. Set clear goals and read them over every day. You need to place constant attention on them so that you develop a “consciousness of success.”
4. Know the short and long term benefits of having a successful private practice. Write down all the short and long term benefits you will experience by achieving success. Focus on both personal and professional benefits.
5. Expect the unexpected. Know that you do not have complete control over the outcome of your marketing efforts. Not all of your marketing will be successful and you will make mistakes. In addition, you will likely be rejected more often that you had thought.
6. Detach from outcomes. This can be tricky. You need to have a plan, believe in it, and do everything you can to bring your plan to fruition. However, at the same time, it’s important to have some detachment from your goals so that when your results are not what you expected, you don’t get too discouraged.
7. Learn about marketing. Acquire marketing information and clear up any misconceptions you have about it. Take classes and learn from mentors and guides. Knowledge builds confidence and confidence is an important component in marketing a practice successfully.
8. Market your practice while honoring your integrity. Find a way to market your private practice that honors who you are and allows you to have fun. At the same time, don’t be afraid to stretch yourself beyond what you think you are capable of doing.
9. Surround yourself with people who believe in you. Stay away from people who do not believe in you or have negative things to say about what you are doing.
10. Seek support and guidance. Don’t try to do build your private practice alone. Find people who have succeeded with their businesses including colleagues, coaches, mentors and guides. Learn how they have achieved success and how they have overcome their fears.
Overcoming fears to marketing is a process that takes time. Like any other fear, just when you think you have conquered it, it will again rear its head. When fears do re-occur, make sure you pay attention to them and do whatever you can to address them. Don’t let your fears ruin your chances of having a successful practice. Learn from your fears and use them to energize and motivate you towards success.
© Juliet Austin, 2007
A version of this article was originally published in Cognita, the newsletter of the Canadian Counselling Association. Volume 36, No 2, April, 2004.
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