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Archive for the ‘Selling Products On Your Website’ Category

Three Words Therapists Online Should Know

One of my passions is to filter out a lot of the buzz out there (marketing, internet, social media) and reduce it down to the core concepts that therapists should know about, and then filtering examples that you would understand.  You’d laugh if you heard my inner voice yelling at a lot of marketers who claim they speak to ALL types of businesses, but don’t!

Today’s post is actually really exciting to me because it’s not something that comes up in daily conversation with therapists, but it’s really the secret behind a lot of potential success.  I have therapist friends who are dying on their awesome products and services because they don’t know the below information .  And of course, actually implementing the ideas requires work and more know-how than a simple blog post can give you.


I still laugh at the slow, email-based coaching I did with a therapist on this idea of being an affiliate.   I’ve now sold over $1,000 worth of her e-book!   To explain an affiliate, let’s step back for a second.  You come up with a product or service and then have to get people to know you exist.  There are many ways to do this, whether it’s as simple as getting Borders to sell your book in its stores, contacting local boutiques to sell your wares, or using worth of mouth to let people know about you.  But the old line is true: you’ve got to spend money to make money.  This is why most businesses have a sales force, marketing team, and advertising team.  And this is a big reason why I worry about therapists learning to create products or services.  Without the ability to market well, most products and services are a big waste of your time and energy.

Across the board, at least 30% of the money generated on a product or service is likely going back into getting buyers.  If you’re in the business world.  (If you’re a therapist you tend to be a bit greedier, as much by ignorance as anything else.)  If you consider any product on your grocery store shelf, imagine 30% of what you’re paying is actually going into the marketing and advertising of that very product.  This is why store-brand items can be cheaper.  They don’t need to take their raw costs, desired profit margin, and add 30% to cover the marketing of it.

So what is an affiliate?  An affiliate is someone who helps sell your products or services.  They do as much work as you do finding prospective buyers and in return, they get a slice of the profit.  In the business world these people may be called SALES people.  My last corporate job involved sales of 1 million dollars or more so the sales people got hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of commission.  The idea is if the sales person weren’t around, that million wouldn’t be coming in the door to create the business, pay the employees, etc.  Again, it takes money to make money.  Your circle is only so big, but if you can join forces with other people’s circles, you can earn money without ANY effort.  So yes, you only earn 70% or 50% or whatever you decide to give your affiliates, but that’s better than the 0% you’re earning when you can’t find buyers!

With the internet  a lot of us who are free to do as we please and are very flexible (versus corporations with strict regulations, rules, product lines, management teams, sales forces.)  We can generate anything we want (a product, service, workshop, retreat, etc) and slap a price on it.  The real work (I think) comes not in creation, but in MARKETING.  Thousands of people can have the same idea, but only the person who can successfully market will earn money off an idea.  In the case of the therapist I referenced, I found her on Twitter, was intrigued by her e-book on marriage preparation written by a therapist (versus a marriage educator), and began the process of convincing her to enter an affiliate relationship.  My self interest  was twofold: offer my web visitors ANOTHER option of something to buy to enhance their marriage, and two, earn a little money.  I had to explain to her gently that I had no self-interest in linking to her e-book.  Just throwing people her way and losing any potential money people would spend on my wedding relationship book just made no sense for my business model.  (Note: for websites that generate profit off banner ads or other sales, they sometimes are fine linking to other people because their money comes not in one-off sales of e-books but in large numbers of visitors coming every day to see what the latest and greatest blog entry talks about.  Think about Oprah – she can tell people to go buy a lot of books and products, getting none of the profit from those sales, but HER profit comes in HER loyal visitors and businesses wanting to advertise during commercials to her viewers.)

Almost any marketing coach out there has affiliate relationships.  It’s the only way to grow and it’s just a smart thing to do.  I have three affiliate relationships so far for my premarital website, with two other products I purchased “wholesale” and then resell, because they’re actual products to ship, rather than e-books which require no shipping or handling.  The coolest part of an affiliate relationship is you aren’t wasting money advertising that may not bring in sales.  You basically pay to advertise “per sale” by losing whatever percentage you give your affiliate.

I must be a librarian at heart because I love research and finding affiliates requires a lot of research.  Contact me if you are interested in my skills to help you leverage your products/services.


I’ve alluded to it in the affiliate section but all web-based businesses talk about monetizing their websites.  What this means is “making money” off a website.  It isn’t used for places like Amazon which sell stuff and clearly make money.  It’s for advice-based websites, blogs that are personality driven, newspapers online you hear about how they struggle to “monetize” their websites since they don’t make much off ads on the website compared to the costs of journalists and their paper-based infrastructure.  The Drudge Report is the conservative news website and Huffington Post is the liberal version.  Both offer tons and tons of news, but have to figure out how to make money!  Psychology Today charges therapists monthly fees to be on their directory and then has people donate their time to blog in exchange for profit sharing of ads that are clicked on.  Huffington Post on the other hand does NOT pay its bloggers but offers something like 40 million monthly visitors to Psychology Today’s 1 million.  The exposure makes it worthwhile if the blogger can monetize their time in some way, even if it’s simply getting hired more because they are a HuffPost blogger.

The reason it’s important to know this concept of monetizing is because within your niche, you may find a lot of websites, with decent website traffic, that are not fully monetized.  YOU can then come in and figure out a way to give them some cash in exchange for their web traffic.  This may be through an affiliate relationship, a banner ad (a very common way for bloggers to earn money), or perhaps you pay for the exposure to have a “guest spot” on the blog.  Maybe a mini-advice column you run once a month, or really whatever other creative ideas you can come up with.  The idea is they may be reaching your exact target client, every day, and by leveraging the trust the website has with your ideal client, you may be able to become a trusted voice and face to your ideal client in a way that no therapy directory, phone book ad, or other marketing tactic could do for you.  (One of many warnings, however, is whether their web visitors are therapy-seekers, not just the right gender, age, and life stage.)

A Blogger

I blog (a big duh, right.)  You may blog. But are you a “blogger?”  The way I’m using the term is when you’re at a networking event, asking someone what do they do for a living, and they respond, “I’m a blogger.”  They have a niche website where they write as often as a few times a day, or weekly, or monthly, about a very specific topic.  And they make money on it!  I know a young blogger who created a wedding planning blog and it grew so much she can charge $150/month for one small square banner ad.  And she has tons of ads.  Bloggers find traffic and then figure out how to make money off it.  I was at a social media event recently and heard an amazing story.  A cruise line found the ten best and biggest travel bloggers across the country and said, “we’ll pay for you to be on our 10 day cruise.  All we ask is that you blog and Tweet throughout the cruise.”  That’s it!

At the end of the cruise, the number of blog entries was something like 500, the number of Tweets was like 10,000, and the overall “impressions”, meaning any mention of the cruise via a blog entry or tweet, that appeared on a computer screen of someone who follows them, was one MILLION.  The cruise spent the raw costs of 10 cruisers to get one MILLION impressions of their cruise, and many tens of thousands of people reading about real people on a real cruise adventure.  We do not know how many bookings the cruise had, but I do know it was money well spent!

So if you find bloggers in your target demographic, take them very seriously as a potential way to bring in new clients or sales of your products or services targeted directly to their audience. If you are offered a chance to blog on another large website, consider how you are going to monetize your efforts!  If you only see local clients, blogging on a national, advice-based website may not be the best use of your time.  Or, start building products to see if you can leverage the people who click through from your bio into your website and may buy something.

Not to overly self-promote, but the above is an example of the type of information and insider speak I share on my website marketing audio training.  I go through free and paid ways to market your website and some tricks to know in doing so to maximize your efforts.  All geared directly to therapists.   I realize most therapists email me with specific questions or issues, which is also fine.  I have a one time consult rate and a project rate.  I have a lot to teach and there is no way I could possible create products for everything I know and therapists want to learn!  And very soon I’m relaunching my website with new products and services.


Who are your web customers?

I finally found a tech company I trust to redo my entire Marriage Friendly Therapists website.  It’s always interesting how different people have different perceived goals of a website.  They were asking me about shipping and this fancy tool they have.  Nope, not our business model to be a mini-Amazon for books.  Eventually they got our current website and my pie-in-the-sky dreams.  I’ll await the costs but I’m very giddy about the growth and potential for our therapists!

Just be aware whomever you talk with has their own web experiences.  There are a lot of e-commerce folks out there where it really matters how high you rank for a widget and shopping carts are a make-or-break situation for customers to make purchases.  I even read recently about a company who helps you “recapture” people who went to your shopping cart and left, within an HOUR of that “abandoning” of the cart.

For therapists, your customers are very different.  Unlike a $15 book purchase, therapy is an intense process, a decision not to make lightly, filled with financial and logistical issues.  Even the idea of collecting prospective client emails makes some therapists really uncomfortable.  (It feels pushy and too business-like.)  Depending on what you say, how you say it, and your web design, you may attract a different type of client.

Really think about your clients.  Well, at least the ones you REALLY like working with.  What are they like? What common themes are there among them?  If they are middle-class traveling types, why not write a few fun articles on the psychology of travel?  Or on dealing with tension, anxiety, or moodiness while on the road?  Or maybe on the anxiety of finding the “best deal” and how trips can be ruined entirely on the preparation that turns into hell.  Maybe they love to go camping.  What can you share to make camping more enjoyable for them, psychologically-speaking?  Perhaps you attract a lot of people in the helping profession.  There is a whole lot you could write about how to manage the emotional landmines of working/living in the helping professions.  It could be parents are your core clients.  Write on anything that matters to them!  I’d read anything you can tell me about potty training a strong-willed child who does not respond to bribes AT ALL.  Or how parents can learn to listen to their intuition about child-raising.  What red flags are there in listening to your instincts vs experts?  Remember these are not topics they have to give you their email to read (that’s called a newsletter!)  These are free, no-commitment-needed articles on your website to whet their appetite.

The idea here is if I am your “ideal client” and run across your website, unique articles that talk to ME and what I love will stand out.  They’ll make me read more.  I’ll feel like you really get me, or you’re funny, or insightful, or can teach me something!  It will also do what I love – bridging the “therapy world” with the arena of psychological awareness.  After all, if your clients have similar interests and hobbies but are living in somewhat of a fog (of depression, anxiety, grief, marital strife, etc.) your website can hook them back into things they love to do and help them see that “working on their stuff” can make their regular life even more enjoyable.

These “articles” may only be 3-4 paragraphs.  And you may even experiment at the end of the articles with a link to a new page on “How therapy can help you enjoy ___ more”.  The link opens that new page and you have a brief overview of how therapy changes people, makes them calmer, more self-aware, and how that can improve the area of their life (camping, travel, etc.)  The reason you’d have that “how therapy can help” on a new page is so you can track who reads it!  Remember unlike a book where you have no idea what pages are being read, the web is fully analyzable.  You would be able to track all these fun articles through your website statistics and then see if, say, 20 people last month read your “Travel Tips from Dr. Psychology”, you could then see who kept going to the therapy page.  Maybe only 1 did.  Or maybe all 20 did.  How cool to see what people read!

Now if you’re still following my logic, hold on to how this little idea can morph into more!

It may be you write 5-10 of these small articles and two or three get tons of traffic.  Like, wow, people really love these funny, insightful, even snarky articles.  You’re getting enough traffic to those pages that you see there may be an actual demand for MORE.  You may write an e-book, or have an interactive guide book (assuming most hobbies/interests are shared with loved ones) and charge a little bit of money.  All the sudden you may be making $10 here or there from people who may never seek your therapy services but love what you write.  All you do is write in a Word document, transfer it to PDF format, and use something like e-junkie which is a very simple way to sell e-books (or real books, audio, video…)

And now that we’re in dream land, guess what?  You may gather proof through purchases that you really hit on a hot topic.  Now you call your local community education office and see about doing a WORKSHOP on that topic!  (Let them do all the advertising!  I’ve done this in two districts and each has a different way to pay, different class minimums/maximums, and you make a little bit of money…but you aren’t doing it for money.  There is no way you can pay for the exposure they can provide so you might as well start with a zero-advertising experiment on your topic.)

The class will be psychologically oriented, but on something people love to do, so it won’t feel like a heavy therapy workshop.  It’ll be engaging, fun, and developmentally right where people are at.  From the workshop you may build a reputation, get potential clients, and be able to call yourself a ‘speaker’ in your community.  People trust speakers!

Unique-to-therapists website issues

This blog is dedicated to the nuance your webmaster likely has NO CLUE about.  It’s dedicated to therapists who have been doing this so long, they may have forgotten in their hearts the nerve-wracking, angst filled nature of clients finding therapists.  And yes, we know couples take 7 years on average to actually seek marital help.  (So what are they doing and thinking in those 7 years?)

In no particular order, here are my musings:

1 – from the point someone decides they are open to the *IDEA* of therapy, it may still take days, weeks, months, or years to actually contact someone.  It’s slightly easier if you really talk about the issue they’re struggling with instead of having a bullet point list of all sorts of human symptoms (that, frankly, every OTHER therapist also has on their list.)

Example: “I work with people struggling with depression.  Whether you’ve had an official diagnosis or are pretty sure you are depressed, I understand how any action at all can be extremely exhausting.  The idea of picking up the phone, talking with a stranger and coming to my office may feel like climbing Mount Everest.  I promise to give you all the care and attention you deserve when you get to my office.  My former clients can attest to the power of psychotherapy for depression.  There is hope.”

2 – Someone may find you are one of a few strong contenders.  However, if they have financial issues, or insurance issues, or scheduling issues, the therapist who gives details may win out because the client doesn’t have to call you to find out.  They can just go to the “Safe” therapist they already know takes Blue Cross, or who has weekend hours, etc.  If every therapist point of contact feels like a prick of a needle, prospective clients are reducing the pricks as much as possible.

3 – Animals.  You may love them, have them in your profile photos, or on your website.  You may have your “resident dog” in your sessions.  Just be aware NOT EVERYONE likes dogs (or cats, or birds, or horses…)  While YOU may be OK with a non-pet-loving client, the CLIENT is simply not going to call you and insultingly say they want your animal out of the office.  They’re just going to go elsewhere.  Be aware of this fact so you’re not unknowingly turning off clients who you could really help.  A healthy-client is not going to want to feel like she is insulting you or your pet by expressing concern.

4 – Watch your website traffic if you have access to it.  There is a big surge at lunch, morning (before work) and in the evenings (probably after dinner.)  Weekends tend to be slower for website traffic because people are busy and not focusing on mental health.  If you’re a very creative therapist, consider how you can leverage these peak times.  For websites that sell stuff, they may have “lunchhour sales” that are only for 2 hours.  It creates a sense of urgency and it’s when the peak traffic is online anyway.  Have you been to monster.com lately?  They have (I believe it’s Monster…) a “boss button.”  It’s a clever way if reading a website and if you hear the boss coming, you press the Boss Button and it changes the page to boring text.  All they have to do is use the back button on their browser to return to your website.  I mention this because it gets to the reality that JOB SEEKERS are most likely at WORK where they would be in TROUBLE for job searching.  Similarly, few people would be thrilled to discover their cube mate, boss, or nosy coworker watching them surf for mental health help.

5 – If most people ARE at work, at their lunch hour, and find your website, they may not follow up until the evening.  But do they write down your information?  What about a “javascript”, or using addthis.com or socialtwist.com tools to let them email themselves from inside your website.  This means their work email program doesn’t open, leaving “work evidence” of their email to you.  Obviously a contact form does the same thing – a point of contact without them opening their work email program. But remember, they JUST found your website and may be at the BEGINNING of their search and will not contact anyone until they’ve narrowed down their list.

I hope these help!  I’ve got a lot more but wanted to get this blog entry published today.  If you’ve got any pointers or hints, remember to comment!  It helps others, confirms I’m not talking to an empty room (I know I’m not because of my website traffic, but still… it makes me feel loved to get comments!)  AND commenting with a link to your website helps YOUR website traffic.

Money : Making It or Sharing It

This blog is inspired by my own natural progression in the world of the internet.  It started out writing a book with my father and along the way we’ve hit a lot of bumps and frustrations and fantastic questions regarding being a “merchant” selling stuff.

Our audience is engaged couples, parents of engaged couples, marriage educators, clergy, therapists, wedding coordinators, etc.  Right now we sell our book on our website, and we sell via an Amazon link where we make a small commission if people click on our Amazon link and end up buying ANYTHING (not just our book.)  That’s all fine until you realize how many other people out there believe in your book and have no easy way, in their role, of sharing the book.  It’s a bit awkward for many therapists and educators to handle cash on the fly to sell a book.  We tried this, offering a discount to those who resell it.   OK, so that doesn’t work, but what could?

Meanwhile we had enormous bank fees for accepting credit cards and that had to STOP!  In doing some research, I finally found the answer to so many of my dilemmas!  E-Junkie! I was able to wipe out our insane bank fees, drop our Authorize . net account, and only pay when we had sales.  And even BETTER, we could now allow therapists, educators, and anyone else (including YOU!) recommend our book and make a little bit of the profit.  Why on earth would we do this?  The reality is we can sell few books, or we can sell a lot of books with your help.  And for your efforts, we’d love to help you out.  Afterall, this is exactly what your local book store does.  They get the books in discount and make a little profit reselling them.  You deserve the money as much as the book store owner!

E-Junkie works on both ends.  I can now find people who sell e-books, recommend those books to my website audience, and make as much as I make selling my OWN books.  Everyone chooses their own commission rate and the higher the commission, the more likely I will be to try to sell it.  The ejunkie website basically manages things behind the scenes so if someone clicks through from your website to mine, it knows they are going to get the commission.  It is VERY hard to set up what are called “affiliate” systems on your own.

Beyond this commission stuff, Ejunkie makes it really simple to sell stuff.  You have huge flexibility on taxes, shipping,  “buy now” vs “add to cart” buttons and you can even put MP3 recordings on it!  I use this for my website trainings and it’s fantastic.  I have massive files and there is no way I could easily store them, let alone easily get those massive files to you if you purchased them online.  E-junkie then sends the final cash amount to whoever you use for credit card processing, whether that be Pay Pal, Google, Authorize, or many other credit card processors.  The difference is those processors can’t handle complex shipping, they don’t handle affiliates, they can’t send free copies of things (I can send free links to products via ejunkie.)

If you ever want to create e-books, have MP3 files, or want to sell your real books (at your author discount rates), I recommend at least checking out Ejunkie.  If you want to read our book, Take Back Your Wedding: Managing the People Stress of Wedding Planning,  to potentially recommend and resell it, let me know.  We give 50% of our profit on the e-book version and 25% on the paperback version.  You’d set yourself up as an affiliate of The First Dance : Join our Affiliate Program here. You then grab whichever books (the e-book and/or paperback) code you want and put it on your own website.  It’s simple and it’s pure because you’re linking them back to us to buy the book and simply having it on a potentially long list of recommended books you already have on your website.

Google Adwords for Psychotherapists

I’ve done Adwords for The First Dance (total failure for many reasons, all my fault.)  I’ve done Google Adwords for my husbands private practice therapy (learned quite a bit, stopped it at 80% of our free money and may have gotten 1-2 clients but because he ranks high for free, “Google” clients don’t say pay per click vs natural results.)  And now I’m doing Google Adwords for my father, Bill Doherty, who sells fantastic CEU trainings on couples therapy work.

I want to use this latest one, selling DVD’s that offer other therapists CEU’s, as an example of just how complicated Google Adwords really can be and how, if you aren’t careful, you can lose a ton of money, really fast.  I also hope I inspire you to think more carefully about your real goals and whether you’re really dedicated to the mental energy, and website reorganization, necessary to succeed at Google Adwords.  I also want to inspire you to simply think more deeply about your goals and to REACH your ideal client type with the fantastic options Google Adwords offers!!

First of all, you may call yourself a therapist, but you know who is on Google with those words?  Massage therapists!  Physical therapists!  Way more than all you folks.  Perhaps massage and physical therapists don’t go to as many conferences so they end up searching online in much greater numbers. Whatever the reason, mistake #1 would be to simply throw money at “therapy CEU’s.”  We’d get a huge variety of people that have nothing to do with psychotherapy and waste money really fast in the process. (Not to mention a lot of annoyed, confused, or frustrated massage or physical therapists wondering why we were advertising to them!)

Secondly, I talk about website organization (have a whole CD / MP3 on the topic!)   When it comes to making money on your website by using Google Adwords, it is ESSENTIAL to have things very clear, very direct, and send people to exactly what you’re advertising.  In the case of my dad’s website, he has five DVD’s and they were all on the same page yesterday when I began this project.  I’ll get into this more in a minute because it brings up another nuanced point but before I even did research on keywords for my ads, I had to split out ALL the topics onto their own page.  (That helps with my free search engine optimization, too!)

Third, you may have the “broad category” in your head.  The broadest would be to say, “I want new clients!”  Less broad would be, “I want to fill my teen support group classes.”  And even less broad would be, “I want to hone in on teenagers who are online from 3-5pm after class, in a small geographic area, searching for advice on how to handle peer pressure or mental health issues they face, and I want to advertise my class coming up in 4 weeks.”  (Even more crazy would be to hone in on exact websites your ideal client visits and embed your ad inside those websites, which is an option you have.)  You may even be global enough in your thinking to realize it’s better to spend more money than you’d like to fill that FIRST class, because word of mouth advertising from those support groups is not only free, but a lot more effective than Google Adwords.  (Hint: losing money sometimes makes you more in the long term.  If you were willing to put $100 into filling a class, maybe consider what $200 can do…?)

This brings us to the fourth point.  If you are thinking about that class that starts in 4 weeks, you’re thinking about the topics you’ll cover and the mindset of the teens who may sign up, why would you EVER do the #1 mistake every type of business does?  The mistake?  Making your ad go to your HOMEPAGE, rather than directly to the class date, time, and details page.  Why would you engage someone to sign up, only to send them back to your homepage and make them hunt… they don’t care THAT much about you!  They may try “events”, or “support groups”, or “classes”, only to realize you labeled it differently than their first impression.  (You may realize it’s easier to call something a class but then do a switch and make it a more open, sharing environment, knowing more people will sign up for a class than group.)  And if week days and time matter, put those details ON YOUR AD so you don’t get people who work after school clicking on your ad.

Selling CEU DVD’s for therapists is turning into a big octopus, but one I’m having a blast trying to figure out.  This is my strategy, and I hope you noodle on what you would do and what I’m planning to see  if you can see the nuance.

Keywords – I’ve done my research and  I’m staying exclusively with the CE, CEU, CEU’S phrases.  I’ve decided there are way too many phrases actual couples may be using and since these DVD’s are for therapists-only, I want to be conservative in where I put my dollars.

I’ve also found three groups that I’m going to focus on.  Social workers, LMT’s, and the word “counselor”, or LPC.  Again, those words WITH the CEU in it.  This will ensure that my ads only show up for 1) the audience I have a product for, 2) the exact need they have, which is to fulfill ongoing training requirements.  I don’t want to show up for people searching for PROGRAMS on becoming a therapist, or finding a workshop to attend, or someone looking  FOR a counselor.

Now it comes to the ads themselves. Think about it.  Even if you did a “social worker CEU” Google search you don’t want ANY type of training.  You work with certain types of people, or perhaps want to get training TO work with a new client type.  Either way, some topics float your boat and others don’t. Why would I ever want a generic ad, knowing you may never see couples and therefor not buy?  The biggest mistake would be to have ads simply saying: “CEU’s for social workers, MFTs,  and counselors.”  You may get a lot of clicks, but how many are interested and will buy?  I’d rather see you have a harder time GETTING clicks but having them turn into sales.

This is where the octopus starts.  Google has CAMPAIGNS (which you’d want to use if you wanted to focus on different geographic areas or times of the day, say for teen classes vs parent classes at night.)  I don’t care about the time of day for my searchers, nor about their location, so I am just running one campaign.  But, I have different ad GROUPS.  Why?  I want to hone in directly on my three audiences (social workers, LPC’s, and MFTs.)  Each of them is always nervous about buying a CEU product that doesn’t qualify for their license, so by having their role in the ad itself, they will have more confidence on clicking to learn more. It’s also going to catch their eye because it’s the phrase they used to create the Google search.

The final part, since you may think I’ve done as much “honing down” as I can, is to actually hone in FURTHER on the exact topic of EACH DVD.  Each DVD deserves its own ad because each has a different lesson.  This means I’ll have at least 5 ads, representing each DVD, for EACH of my 3 audience types.  Some might argue I should really have 2-4 ads PER dvd, to see which ones work the best.  For now, I have $100 free Google Adwords money and think I’m making enough of a monster that I’ll just see what happens.  If we do sell DVD’s then we’ll use that money to keep the ads going, since they’re proving good “ROI.” (return on investment.)  I could be fancy and have a bundle “buy 8 CEU’s now!” with a Google Checkout button in the ad, for example.

Final words.  If this post as horribly confused you, don’t worry.  It either means you’re learning and stretching and with time will “get it”, or it could mean you are a brilliant therapist but analytical stuff like Google Adwords may not be your cup of tea.  That’s completely valid!  I’d then consider hiring someone to do the work for you, or AVOID Adwords altogether.  Not every type of client is going to be reachable by Adwords, or perhaps not as timely as you’d want filling a practice or support group.  You may be better off spending $3 on a cup of coffee for the personal trainer at the YMCA, picking her brain on what she’d love to see to help her clients with their mental health!

What Is Your Web Strategy?

This post is really about MY strategy, my worldview, my approach to websites.  It’s what I believe, it’s what I do, and it’s what I think everyone should do.

What is it?

I think your web strategy is to share what you know.  The stuff in your head that people want to know, need to know, or don’t know they don’t know. 

The way you make money is either selling one-shot ways to learn more (CD’s, books, etc) or YOURSELF (therapy, consulting, groups, presentations.)  You can also make money putting ads on your website, but that’s another topic for another day.

I’m the anti-marketer in the sense that I hate drawing in people’s emotions without ANY solutions, without ANY solution other than “buy my stuff.”  This is really common,for example,  in the chiropractic world where some (not all!)  share all the problems you may have, from joints, bowels, headaches, and the SOLUTION is only found through them, their services, and their products.  Often they even “re-educate” you on why regular solutions don’t just work but are bad for you.  Yuck!  (And for self-disclosure, I went to a chiropractor like that and did greatly benefit from not being able to lay flat for over a year nor walk without pain, to being able to lay down and walk with a lot LESS pain.  But I also saw the dirty underbelly of that business.)

The reality is there are many solutions and many people doing what you do.  The reality is also that if you were to get in an accident tomorrow, if you HONESTLY felt you were the saving grace of kingdom come for what you do, it would be irresponsible to not have yourself spread out – train others, engage people, offer a lot of free help.  Your “resume-based” website or profile statement won’t help anyone if you’re gone tomorrow.

Any time I see a ‘competitior’, whether that person is inside my professional worldor not, I let my heart skip a beat and let the panic swell. Oh NO!  Someone else is doing what I’m doing?!  Are they making more MONEY than me?  Do they have more customers, followers, fans?

And then I chill out.  I research, read, absorb, see what they’re up to, who they are and how they got there.  I read whatever I can.  All that is to get a real sense as their peer, of who they are and how they compare and contrast to what I do.  It’s rarely someone identical to me so I say hey, that’s awesome that we’re tooting the same horn!  I don’t want to spend my life tooting the same horn!  If I did, I think it proves I have a bad strategy because if a movement isn’t swelling, education isn’t helping,  there may be a better approach.  Sometimes they have a radically different approach and that actually helps me better articulate myself!  Either way, I literally try to reach out, send them an email hello, so we have the chance of becoming FRIENDS, not enemies.  (Plus, self interest states that all the frustrations you have, they probably have too.  It can make you feel so much better to complain to a peer who knows exactly what your ups and downs are!)

The reason I’m posting this today is because of something I’ve blogged about before.  It’s those one-page websites where it’s various size fonts, with testiomonials, pricing for what you WOULD expect, more text, and more, and more, scrooooooooollllling way down to the end where you either “buy now”, or Register. I won’t even send you to an example because I don’t want to give them traffic!   I followed a link from someone on Twitter this morning because I was intrigued that a wedding person was linking to social media training.  I thought wow, that’s awesome whenever someone is INSIDE the industry and can teach others what works FOR YOUR industry.  But alas.  It was one of those one pager websites. 

Instead of stopping there, I did a little sleuthing and am even more grossed out.  Turns out a group of people created these video series of social media experts, but have decided the best way to sell their wares is through…. you got it, social media!  They clearly have a strategy, and a longer term goal.  What this group is doing is asking people to register with them, which creates their own unique link.  These people (like the wedding lady) share her customized link to all her followers.  Anyone who buys from that website is giving this wedding lady 100% commission (in this case it’s just $17 for a supposedly $1,100 worth of learning.) 

The long term approach is this company could ATTEMPT to find people with $1,100 to spare.  And not succeed.  Or they can say wow, we have 10,000 or 50,000 eager people willing to make some easy money.  Let’s give all those people the entire profit!  In the long term, this company for NO money spent, created 1) very happy marketers who do all the work to find customers, 2) generated a HUGE list of emails from people who are willing to part with their money to learn more…these people are “hot leads” who are statistically more likely to buy again because they’ve done the action before.

Now all they have to do is collect all that information and for their NEXT product, spend no money and email everyone who ever bought something.  And they’ll likely create another product to ask THOSE people to share and make commission.

Now  I’m not naive.  I know this is how the world works.  The same things were happening before the internet.  And the reality is sharing in commissions is an awesome strategy if you have like minded people in your world with MORE energy, MORE passion, and MORE followers.  You’re basically only paying them if they sell stuff for you.  Commissions vary wildly, but that doesn’t gross me out.  Frankly I’d rather a peer of yours get the money over some PR firm who charges you big bucks.  And I participate in this back and for with books and classes on my website.  I protect what is on my website, personally view it and can then authentically say it’s worth my readers to buy it.

But can you see how having a one page website grosses me out?  A one page website is not designed to share anything but your emotional vulnerability.  It’s not designed to “brand” yourself, to make yourself an expert, to build something larger.  It’s designed purely to sell.  I know marketers love those websites because you can’t get distracted with clicking on all sorts of other pages.  I get that.  But not only is a one page website the opposite of internet marketing (where more content is golden, on more pages, with great tags inside each page), but it’s not giving long term solutions. It’s not building a movement and it’s not having peers and showing the world you are part of the broader community of your profession (whatever your profession may be.)

Stepping off my soapbox now.  🙂

Can You Be An Optimistic “Debbie Downer”?

For those who don’t know the Saturday Night Life skit, a character named Debbie takes any happy conversation among a group, on ANY positive topic, and turns in into some super depressing, or negative thing.  It’s funny.

Sometimes I feel like Debbie Downer!  I feel there is so much hype about what the internet can do and the vast bank account enhancer it can be for you, if only you have (insert: a website, a blog, use Twitter, use Facebook….)

I love the internet.  I love websites.  “Website junkie” is generally what I consider myself, because I’m not really a webmaster, or web developer, or search engine optimizer (I do this for my own sites and teach it but it’s too nitty gritty and in my opinion, so highly personalized for mental health professionals that I refuse to get into that.)  I’ve proven my success at attracting people to my websites.

But as I wrote about a few days ago “why markters scare me”, the reality about the internet is it is HARD WORK.  Sometimes people gasp when I say if we had hired out, for both the website updating I do on my own, and the search engine stuff, I don’t doubt we would have spent $40,000-$50,000 between the Marriage Friendly Therapy website and The First Dance.  And as I like to CLARIFY, neither website has that kind of budget!  So our options were to struggle and die, or learn and grow. And in learning and growing  I had so, so much fun.  A whole lot of stuff clicked for me.  Meeting with a branding/marketing guy and learning about search engine stuff clicked.  Knowing why we got into each venture, search engine stuff worked (the internal drive as well as desire to honestly improve the world.)  Seeing results was an amazing high!

Soon I’m going to have lunch with a family friend therapist.  My dad laughed at him when he thought he could throw up a few one-page websites for his books.  My dad knows enough now to laugh.  But that is all my dad knew.  🙂  So, for the thousandth time, (well, not literally), I have to both pump up and deflate a therapist who has amazing things to say.  And, as always, I will enjoy seeing his reactions to what I have to share.  Does he think the work is worthwhile?  Can he get over his learning curve struggles?  Will the budget to get going keep him away, or get him excited that he’s “doing something real?”

I’ve got a million ideas and am a VERY resourceful person. I’m able to excite others.  But I  never, ever want to turn into that person where talk is cheap and you never quite see the success they claim is possible.  When I was building my trainings, I was so distressed with anxiety, wanting to make sure I wasn’t one of those people….who tell tons of stories but never really say anything.  The feedback I got was exactly what I care about.  NO FLUFF.  No superiority (I learned and still learn a ton from mistakes and gladly share!) Getting people excited.  VERY useable information that you can put to use right away.  I was so relieved, even if I didn’t sell a single CD! 

There you have it.  Optimistic Debbie Downer.  That’s me!  I’m your cheerleader, but I’m never going to lie to you!

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