So I just found yet ANOTHER “therapist marketing coach.” I’m starting to laugh at how fast this budding market is growing. It seems ya’ll have a reputation for being introverted and bad at marketing yourselves. It also seems that you’re desperate to make tons of cash (not sure that is true, especially when it has this get-rich-quick feel to it) and your pressure point is finding YOUR ideal client (that is for sure true.)
In any event, whether you ever do more than just read my blog or not, here is my advice:
1 – anyone who claims they can set up a blog or website but is ALSO a marketing guru likely is not a website designer. This means if you look at their portfolio, all their websites will have the same look and feel. This is fine if you LOVE the look, but marketing gurus tend to find one look they love and use it over and over and over. Designers are more like artists, designing the feel, emotion, and personality of YOU, as reflected in a great website design. (My husband designed his website and it is not like anything else out there.) Sadly I have not an ounce of design skills but also sadly, I rarely see marketing gurus with great websites. I think there must be a marketing gene tied to a certain style of website those folks love… 🙂
2 – anyone who sells you on all the latest social media (blogs, twitter, facebook) is probably a “leading edge” person. Just be wary if they don’t focus on the core basics, like a solid website without all those bells and whistles. My personal belief is that therapists do not always want or need to be doing social media stuff because the very act of therapy is deeply personal. Therapists I follow on twitter, some of them anyway, really act more like a newspaper in that they just share links from media stories on psychology. Interesting, perhaps, but I don’t really see how that sells more clients. And some therapists are now finding ethical or boundary issues. Do you REALLY want your clients following you? Do you really want them to “friend request” you on Facebook? I know of a therapist who has offended clients when she did not “friend” them on Facebook. I also think many clients seek therapy and then want to move ON. They are not looking for their therapist to be like the celebrities and high school friends they follow on Twitter or Facebook. It’s a one time relationship and it ends.
3 – the balancing act is always between overly marketing yourself and being a professional who doesn’t need to overextend themselves to find clients. By that I mean that I take the philosophy that most therapists are busy DOING therapy. A homework project should be to understand what a website is, what it can do, learn the core, and then as you slowly find time or a bit of energy, add to your website. I find a therapist who doesn’t intuitively get this stuff is likely going to make things worse (to the “native” internet user who sees a desperate attempt to be hip.) I’m reminded of a therapist who had a young client tell him his website was SO cool because it was SO RETRO! The reality is the therapist made the website himself, without any skills, over 10 years ago. While it is truly a horrid website, young people, after gasping in horror, may find it endearing that “the old guy doesn’t know how to do a website.” Perhaps the rule is the worse your site is, the more pity you get. Of course pity doesn’t necessarily turn into clients calling! hah
4 – always find someone who you like. You like their writing style, you like their background, you like their vision, you like how they operate. Does your gut like them?
5 – price is a biggie! People who have a ton to say and have set themselves up to be full time marketers need to charge a lot to maintain their lifestyle. Ironically the more you spend the more likely you will actually be working with a low paid person who is contracted to do the “small potatoes” work. This is like in the wedding world where you’re sold on the photographer, only to get to your wedding and find someone ELSE who works for that photographer. Just be very aware of who you are working with. Often the top dog, who has a lot of the knowledge, and has done a ton of work to “dumb it down” into logical sequences, may end up having that information deluted, through the lower-rung distributors of the information. Put another way, the further you get from the person, the less energy, passion, and experience you are getting. That trainee was hired by the top dog and may not have that intuitive feel of what you need and doesn’t have a huge wealth of experence to help you the way the top dog would who is off trying to make new money to maintain the enterprise. (By the way I am NOT critiquing this business model. It is the WAY it has to be! One person who wants a good living has to charge a lot to a few people, or a little but acquire a ton of clients. It is the way of life.) This is why I can offer an amazing, unique set of products at or below anyone else, because I am not a full time markter so you are not paying for my $2,000 magazine ads, or $1,000 monthly Google Adwords. Marketing dollars can take up 60% or more of that retail price you pay. I like to think I’m the condensed, lower cost, more powerful version. 🙂 I’m organically marketing, slowly through state newsletters in therapy associations, through workshops at conferences, and through a Psychotherapy Networker article I’m writing. As I like to tell people, I have a 4 year old, 2 year old, 3 websites and more blogs than I can ever remember at one sitting. I am wanting to share as much as I can with as many as I can, which means I can’t spread myself thin. I spend countless hours on my CD trainings with the idea you CAN learn this and DO this, just as I did, without hiring anyone.
6 – Do you need help with your website marketing? Or with general marketing? Or with “how to write in a marketing way?” You may need all three. Different people likely have different strengths. Just be aware of what you are buying. I’d say the vast majority of therapy marketing coaches are MARKETING folks, not INTERNET marketing folks. There is a big difference. Both are very important. But a sales pitch without website traffic doesn’t do much. And there are a ton of scams out there on how to “get a lot of website traffic.” I personally find a lot of marketing/sales stuff a turn off, so my PERSONAL opinions may differ. I focus on getting the write words for Google and then articulating yourself in a way that makes you stand out from an overcrowded world. My hope is to get your wisdom out of your head, not to get “sales pitch 101” on your website. Part of my mission is that when someone is up at 3am freaking out, your website helps them calm down, through your words, wisdom, knowledge. Whether or not they call you, part of your “civic duty” as a mental health professional, in my view, is to use your website to aid everyone, not just the few who call. A website never replaces therapy, but this is where I stand on therapy websites.
7 – Everyone has a personality and view of the world. And I have seen most of the therapy marketing folks out there (and I’ve somehow become one of them, by accident), and each has their OWN notion of how to market. This is great. This is America, land of the free! But just be aware no matter what one person tells you (including ye old blogger), there is always a different perspective. The best markter, in my opinion, is willing to admit there is another point of view and is willing to give you the pros and cons to different marketing ideas. I dislike the “jump on this bandwagon because it’s the greatest thing EVER!” In fact, few things are a panacea. I even redid my entire CD trainings this year to be more than “just get Google traffic.” I realized therapists and educators don’t even know the basics, nevermind whether they can get free internet traffic. I also think too many people are charging WAY TOO MUCH for this type of help. It makes me very frustrated.
There are downsides to common marketing advice that sometimes only certain people “see”, like GenX and GenY’ers. Our view of the web is very different and we often cringe, and sometimes laugh at the failed attempts of older folks to “speak to our generation.” In fact this reminds me of a time I lead a group of “young adults” at my church to run an entire church service and to raise money for young adult programming at the national level. We had one aging hippie in the group and he could not FATHOM that we didn’t want contemporary rock music in the service. Not a single one of us wanted that music but he was so blinded by his view of young people that he tried to steamroll us and force the issue. It would have been laughable if it weren’t just plain insulting and rude to tell us what we “should” want because we were young. This is the dicey game advertisers play trying to “act like young people” but who with ONE word, ONE phrase, or a certain tone of voice, destroy their entire campaign.
8 – Is the therapy marketers website or blog clear and easy to understand? Remember if they are experts at marketing then they should be good at marketing to *YOU*, the therapist. (I admit I’m so busy marketing to couples seeking therapy, and engaged people looking for wedding and marriage preparation help, that I’m having to research how to market to therapists and educators who aren’t even aware my services exist!)
This is a reason I’m using this particular blog look, which is a bit dull, but VERY straightforward. You see the top bar has “About” and all the typical things that help you orient to who I am. And you see Categories on the left, with topics that make sense. Even if you’ve never been to this type of blog, you probably “get it” enough that you can navigate it. You probably wouldn’t feel as connected to me if I had this weird, splashy, busy website with all sorts of things like “RSS”, “digg”, “stumleupon”, and even my twitter account on here I’ve considered getting rid of to avoid confusing anyone.
So there you have it. It’s a huge world out there and a lot of people selling themselves. From my vantage point you want to buy from the person who gets you excited, who has proven experience in what they’re claiming, and who fits into your price point enough so you don’t have a panic attack. As my husband reminds me in my “oh my God what am I doing???” moments, people are not just getting the knowledge from me, but they’re having that information come to life, through all my failures, successes, and vantage point. This is why you must like your teacher!