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Monday, February 11, 2008

Marketing For the Healing Professions

I am often asked how I started up my practice, and began to get a decent flow of clients. Obviously the answer to this is not black and white, nor does it depend on a set list of rules or the magic silver bullet. Much will depend on how you actually do the work, once people walk in through your door, how you help them, and how you then help them be autonomous with no dependence on you whatsoever.

Much will also depend on the work you have done on yourself, your self-examination (Physician, know thyself, we might say), and hence the degree to which you know yourself, are comfortable with yourself, and therefore comfortable with deep feelings as evinced by others in your presence.
Having said that, here is, nevertheless, a list of ideas to work with, that the beginning therapist might consider when hanging out the proverbial shingle:

The best way to start up a new practice is joining forces with an already existing practice (especially if the other practitioners do something different from your own speciality, or, if they are a totally different breed of practitioner), allowing you to “feed” off this friendly neighborly practice, so to say, as well as your other colleagues…so you are well on the road.

You might also consider this:

  • attend at least one networking event a week (even if it’s lunch or coffee with a potential contact, such as another practitioner)

  • become acquainted with practitioners of different types in your area, and begin to form your professional networking group, that is, the group of professionals you would feel comfortable in calling upon in a case of an emergency with one of your clients

  • call at least one potential contact per week (like other colleagues who might recommend you, someone who runs a group where you might give a talk (ladies who lunch…), etc.)

  • approach groups who might like to hear you speak about topics related to your practice (probably this will not bring you any money…just contacts and publicity)…whenever you do go and speak to them, always take a flyer about your practice with you…not just your card

  • develop a website and/or blog

  • write readable – people-friendly - articles about subjects related to your practice to give to clients or others as handouts, even if you don’t have a website to post them on (or create iPods they can download from your site, or short videos they can watch on it)

  • develop short workshops (for parents, for couples, for teens, whatever)

  • start collecting email addresses of anyone who might be interested in your services

  • send them a periodic something to remind them about your existence (that’s how I started my newsletter) – offer something of interest or value in this mailing

  • read Building Your Ideal Private Practice by Lynn Grodzki, check out her website http://www.privatepracticesuccess.com/ and sign up for her excellent newsletter

  • talk to local radio and TV stations to see if there is any chance you could come on any of their shows, even if it's just for a quick filler

  • if they are not receptive, and if you have already developed the newsletter, ask them if you might send them a copy of your current edition, so that they slowly become acquainted with your type of work

  • consider taking some courses…even if they are online...that are related to your particular educational background, just to give you another tool for your toolbox. Anyway, learning something new or different from the rest of your baggage is good for the brain cells

  • live life fully…the more you live and engage in life, the more you will have to draw on as experience in your practice

  • examine yourself…examine yourself…examine yourself

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