"Helping people who help people"

I’ve got a series of blog posts on this topic, so today I’m going to share the myths of marketing a bit.  It’s no wonder therapists hate marketing when they have false ideas of what it really is!  I would never be excited, write 300+ blog posts in a year, and be remotely interested in training you on what YOU think marketing is.  Blech!

I saw an image the other day that summed it up best.  It was “Old School Marketing” vs “Web 2.0 Marketing” and listed the core differences, which I’ll address in the next few blog posts.  I was listening to an audio of a big, wealthy person the other day trying to convince therapists on the call to do cold calling and not worry and oh it’s all so good, good, you get used to it after a while.  I wanted to groan!  No.  No!  NO!  That is simply old school marketing nonsense, ineffective, and a soul-crusher experience.  Plus it’s really gross for most of us and especially for  therapists who need to pretend like having a Masters degree or Ph.D. makes them “above” this marketing nonsense.

When my husband started his private practice we had The Therapist Mindset.  I swear to God, you enter a graduate program and this Mindset is carved into your head or something!  I hear marketing coaches try to undo this mindset on lives calls and I just crack up.  You’ve gotta have a sense of humor to get past the mindset that results in desperation, vulnerability, and a sense that anyone in their right mind would spontaneously pick up a business card or flyer in a coffee shop and spend $3,000 with you on their inner most issues.

My husband and I had what was a slightly better than pure crap marketing campaign.  I knew direct mail didn’t work, but I thought a Targeted direct mail campaign with a cool message in the letter would work. SILLY ME! But hey, let’s wipe our egos off the floor and go into denial we’ve ever done something stupid, ok?  (Or even better, comment on this blog with Your Ridiculous Disasters in Marketing so we can laugh..no no, I mean learn.)  And to defend my brilliant but failed marketing idea with my husband, the idea was an awesome one but requires actual marketing, not what we were doing!  I will be doing that idea the Right Way when I become a therapist.

First: Marketing is NOT ADVERTISING

The best way I’d like to describe is it to imagine the junk mail you get, probably every day, with coupons for local businesses.  That’s advertising.  Most of it doesn’t relate to you and gets thrown away.  Advertising appears out of nowhere, is not from anyone you know, and you didn’t ask for it.

Marketing is when you go on Facebook and ask your friends and colleagues for a recommendation to a vet because you have two new cats (me a few months ago!)  I saw plenty of advertising.  In fact, very “helpfully”, the Humane Society where we got our rescue cats had a 3 pager list, in small font, of all the vets who participate in their first-exam free program.  Wow.  Not helpful at all!

Marketing, then, is best thought of as “joining” with the marketplace, being out in the hearts and minds of people who have worked with you, who have a shared passion, or who deal with your ideal client base.  If my friends didn’t rave about this particular clinic, I would not have gone there.  MY marketplace told me it’s a great place and I trust them.  This is marketing, this is social media, this is simply the way anyone under 40 gets things done!

Second: Marketing is NOT Offering Your Passion/Schtick

OK, so now some therapists get the difference between ads that don’t work because most eyeballs are not interested.  But the next step is they hear “share your passion to your community to market!”  This is only partly true, folks!  Too many therapists have their quirky interest, or their overly broad interest, and give no thought to what’s already out there, who is out there and the best way to deliver the information (workshops, audios, print, private phone/therapy, podcoasts, webminars.)  Therapists forget or pretend that the marketplace doesn’t yet exist!!!  They completely forget there is this thriving environment where their ideal client is hanging out, whether others are serving them, and where other people with the shared passion are in conversation and engagement.

These therapists wonder why nobody is biting.  They can’t fill classes, sell their wares, and get so frustrated because they see the need out there!  What they’re missing, however, is the entire reason I buzz with excitement, am awed with humility, and have a crush on a tool called Twitter (training info here.)  It’s about building authentic relationships with the wide world out there.  It’s about lowering your guard of professional perfectionism, it’s about putting your ego aside to listen, engage, not assume you have the answers/solution, and it’s about finding shared interests with others.  And it’s about failing in such a huge way that you never again listen that devilish Therapy Marketing Mindset carved in your head in graduate school.

Stay tuned for the next blogs in this series.

Let me just remind you, if I can find this crazy world of marketing exciting, I know I can entice some of you to join me on this journey to finding where your passion meets the needs of the world!   Just call me your enthusiastic techie SEO ninja guide along this twisty, windy road.

And as a personal aside, during the writing of this blog post I got the Call to End All Calls.  The marriage and family therapy graduate program called to set up an interview with me!  My therapy journey humbly begins.


Comments on: "Therapy Marketing Part 1: Why It’s Not What You Think" (2)

  1. Great article and CONGRATS on your school call!

    Looking forward to reading the rest!

  2. As always, great advice Elizabeth. Woo Hoo about your graduate school interview. Any program would be lucky to have you. I can’t wait to refer to you!

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