Ok, the title of this article is somewhat misleading. I’m not going to tell you about 5 ways of marketing that don’t work. Rather, I am going to tell you about 5 Methods that therapists have told me that they believe do not work.
I can’t tell you how many times I hear, ” _____ (fill in the blank with pretty much any marketing method) has never brought any clients. I already tried that. It doesn’t work.”
I understand how frustrating it can be when you put a lot of work, time, and perhaps money, into a specific marketing strategy. And yet, often times when I ask a few questions of the therapists who say this to me I discover that their assumption that the marketing method is flawed is actually due to their lack of knowledge and skill in implementing it effectively.
The truth is most, if not ALL, marketing methods can bring results, to one degree or another.
Of course, the degree of effectiveness depends on a number of factors, mostly related to how effective you are at implementing the strategy. I have found that when counsellors assume a marketing method isn’t effective when they have failed at it, frequently this is due to the fact that they don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to marketing a practice successfully. It’s one thing to select and choose a marketing strategy that you have heard about, but successfully implementing that strategy is a much more complex story.
Below are some of the erroneous beliefs that I repeatedly hear from healing practitioners and clinicians when it comes to marketing. I’m going to discuss these faulty assumptions and what it takes to implement them successfully.
1. “My colleague tried marketing to doctors and she told me that she never received even one referral.”
Marketing to doctors is probably one of the most common marketing methods that therapists attempt to do. However, many fail at this typically because what they do is print up a non-compelling (read boring) brochure that is all about them, neglecting to mention what the client needs and wants, and then they send it off in the mail. Rarely will you get a response from this. Why? Because the doctor doesn’t know you and you have not made any effort to build a relationship with him or her. The doctor has likely gotten many of these over the years and most probably go straight into the recycling bin, and perhaps before the doctor has even looked at it.
If you want to market to doctors effectively you’ll need to focus on building relationships with doctors and positioning yourself as someone who can be of service to them. To do this, you’ll need to come up with a plan that includes keeping in touch with the doctors on a regular basis.
In addition, if you choose to send doctors materials about you and your practice, include materials that are helpful to the doctor and his or her patients. For example, recently a massage therapist who was a client of mine spoke to her chiropractor about referrals and he asked her for business cards that had space for him to write notes on when he gave her a referral. I suggested she create some prescription-like pads for using with this chiropractor and any others she wanted to market to.
I’ve also had a lot of success recommending that my clients create a pamphlet like document that has a brief article including tips or strategies that are helpful for the doctor’s patients, as opposed to a traditional brochure which is promotional and focuses on the therapist and his or her services. They key is to find out what is going to be helpful to the doctor and his or her patients.
2. “I listed on ____________(choose any) counseling directory for a year. It’s useless as I have never gotten any calls from people there.”
Just because you are not getting results from counselor directories, doesn’t mean that others are not. Some of the most popular directories with the best search engine rankings do bring clients to therapists.
If you are listed on any of these directories and are not getting results, instead of assuming that there is something wrong with the directory, you might want to ask yourself why you are not getting referrals from the directory and what you can do to change that.
Is your listing unique and compelling or does it need to be re-written? If you don’t already have a niche, do you need to develop one to be more competitive? Do you need to list on other directories that rank higher in Google for your city? A while ago I helped a client re-write a listing that was up for over a year and had never led to any calls. After the re-write, she received 2 calls in less than 2 weeks.
If you are listing on directories, do your homework and find out which ones are ranking on the first page of Google’s search results for your city (it can vary from city to city). Next, decide if you need and want to have a niche to be more competitive and then make sure your listing is compelling (based on copywriting principles) and is optimized for the search engines.
3. “My friend took a course on marketing and the person leading it said you can’t get clients from social media”.
I frequently hear that therapists won’t/can’t/don’t get clients from social media, and sometimes other marketing coaches have told them this. And yet, there are some therapists and healing practitioners who do get clients directly from social media.
While it is true that most therapists don’t get clients from their social media channels, it’s because few therapists have an effective strategy for using social media, and few choose to take the time and effort to learn how to do it. The ones who are attracting clients through social media are very active and are being helpful to their targeted audience, not just by posting helpful information, but by engaging with their followers A LOT.
It takes a lot of work and a solid strategy if you want to actively attract clients through social media. If you do not choose to do that, be mindful that there are others who are doing it and are seeing success because of it.
4. “I tried to offer a workshop on _________(choose any topic), but no one signed up, so it’s not what people want.”
Over the 15 years I have been helping therapists build their businesses, I have heard this one countless times. One of the biggest mistakes I see here is that people don’t understand how many people you have to reach in order to fill a class or workshop. Depending on where and how you spread the word about your workshop, how high the demand is for it, the copy you use to promote it, you can likely only expect a 2-10% response rate (the rate is typically higher if you are already known to those you market to and if the demand is high for what you are offering). This often means that you need to reach several hundred — and even thousands– of people who want and need what you have to offer to fill a workshop with 20-30 people.
If you want to succeed at marketing workshops, you’ll have to understand all the complexities of how to do this successfully in order to maximize your results. There is a learning curve, and just because you “failed” once or twice, doesn’t mean you will the next time.
5. “I worked with this other marketing coach and he told me not to waste my time trying to rank high in search engines.
Ranking high in the search engine results pages (SERPs) has gotten a lot more competitive and much more complicated over the years. Further, Google is constantly changing it’s algorithm which, unless you read all the top search engine blogs on a regular basis, it will be challenging to keep up with and understand what you need to do to rank high. Because most therapists and healing professionals rarely do more than the basics in terms of search engine marketing (e.g. optimizing with keywords and title tags)–if they even do that– most websites (particularly new ones) are likely not going to rank very high without a lot of work.
Older websites tend to rank higher in most cities because Google uses the age of a site as one important factor in how they rank websites. Niche-focused websites also tend to rank higher because there is less competition. There are over 200 factors that go into search engine rankings, which is far too many for the majority of therapists to learn and become experts in. And, of course, the competition varies from city to city. There are therapists who will hire people to help them, and they can have a leading edge because of it.
So the truth is that search engines can and do bring therapists’ clients. However, if your site is not ranking well now for the key terms people are looking for, you are going to need to go beyond the basics if you want to increase your rankings. Marketing with content (e.g. articles, videos, etc) is now essential if you have a site that is not ranking well and want to boost it up in the rankings.
I would also argue that even if you do have good search engine rankings at this point in time, that may not always be the case. As I said, the search engine game is changing all the time. As well, if one of your competitors starts to work on improving their rankings, you may see your rankings go down from where they are currently.
If you have made any of the above assumptions about marketing, don’t be hard on yourself for not knowing any better. However, if you want to succeed, it may be time to start doing something about it instead of feeling discouraged or helpless, thinking there is nothing you can do about it. There is ALWAYS something that can be done to market a practice even in locations where there is a lot of competition.
There is a saying that about 20% of businesses in any given industry are doing extremely well and the rest are either doing all right or are struggling. The 20% that are doing well are succeeding because they invest in the effort, time and/or dollars and learn what it takes to succeed. But–they don’t stop there, they then take effective actions steps on a regular basis to ensure they get to where they want to be.
So the question is, do you want to be in the 20% or in the 80%?
If you know it’s time for you to get your marketing plan in place and start taking responsibility for your results (or lack thereof), join me for the next Marketing Plan Mini-Camp for counselors and health care professionals.
Wow! So much helpful information here. I will forward it to my health practitioner friends. Thank you!
I have been struggling with how to connect/ build relationships with doctors. I like the idea of creating a document that would be helpful for the doctor’s patients.
Thank you for the article! Very helpful!
Amrita, I invite doctors for a gathering with drinks and snacks. Meanwhile I have articles ready for them about how to spot postpartum depression or anxiety or….
Good luck with it!
Hi Juliet. Great article! I can find myself being one of those people who say “x” doesn’t work, when the truth is it’s something I haven’t executed well, or taken the time time to learn to do well. And I’ve also realized that I can’t do it ALL, so I have to decide which marketing practices feel right for me and my practice, and then set out to execute them well. It’s an ongoing practice, and I value your information as part of that.
As I said in the post, Amrita, I have a lot of success with that method with my clients.
Juliet Austin says
Thanks for sharing your experience, Barbara. No one can do it all. When you try to do that, you end up scattered and unfocused and then wonder why you are not seeing results.
Juliet Austin says
Thanks for sharing what you do, Veronika. having articles for doctors on how to spot depression, etc is a great idea. I can see that working really well and combining it with an article for patients on coping with depression or something like that would be great too.
JoAnn Jordan says
I wonder if my marketing doesn’t work because I haven’t tracked how I got the contact to know what is working. As always, I look forward to your shares.
Juliet Austin says
Hi Jo Ann! Yes, it is important to track where your clients are coming from otherwise you are correct, you won’t know what is working. 🙂 It doesn’t take long to ask the client.
Jessica | Birth Takes a Village says
I love this article and just insisted all the doulas read it. I’m always hearing about how their marketing isn’t working!