Are you feeling frustrated because you’d like to get more clients? Are you waiting for the phone to ring or constantly checking your emails to see if you’ve had any contact from your online directory listing? Perhaps you’re anxiously checking the number of clicks on your listing or your website, hoping that soon you’ll receive an enquiry.
Advertising in an online directory is often one of the first things we’ll consider doing to attract clients. It can be a cheap way to get started, especially if it is a free directory. It may come recommended to us by our colleagues who find clients this way.
It’s always useful to have a way for clients to find you if they’re looking for a therapist. However, relying on directories and websites is a very passive marketing strategy and this blog is about being more active.
It’s about creating clients rather than just responding to them.
When we’re waiting for clients to look us up in an online directory, or find us via a Google search, we’re only working with those people who know that they want a counsellor.
What about all those people who want help, but don’t know that counselling can help them?
People may think:
- you have to have a serious mental health problems before you can see a counsellor
- that the only way to see a therapist is via a doctor and the health service
- that their problem is something that counsellors don’t deal with and they need to find another type of therapist to help them
How will they know any different unless you tell them?
It’s important to say at this point that the need for counselling is not something that we’re generating. The need for counselling already exists. It exists as a result of the pain and suffering that people experience in life.
However, you are in a unique position with regard to your network of work colleagues, family and friends. You may be one of the few people they know with an understanding of psychological pain and how counselling can help. You can really make a difference in your world to people’s emotional wellbeing by sharing about the power of counselling.
Before you make the objection that you can’t work with people that you know, remember that these people are the ones who will make recommendations to others about you. By allowing people to know more about you, what you do, and how it can help you’ll be able to generate those word of mouth recommendations.
Word of mouth recommendations count for so much more than your directory profile or website. This is for couple of reasons:
A recommendation from someone is more likely to result in direct contact with you than if someone stumbles over you in an internet search. How many times have you looked a service up but not been sure whether to go for it? Having a personal recommendation helps people to have the courage to call.
If someone goes to a directory, they’ll be looking at all the different profiles and comparing them: perhaps making decisions based on factors such as cost or distance from home. A recommendation will send them straight to you without competition from other therapists.
But How do i generate more clients?
The key to generating clients is visibility.
It’s about getting in front of as many people as possible, as consistently as possible, so that people remember you and are able to recommend you.
It’s about being willing to share your interest and enthusiasm about therapy – but in a way that feels authentic to you. People have highly developed bullshit detectors so it is really important, in all you do, to speak from the heart.
Here are just a few ideas to raise your business profile:
- telling your family, friends and work colleagues about your private practice and asking them to refer people to you
- making contributions to conversations that highlight your understanding of psychological problems
- attending business networking groups
- informal networking wherever you go: strike up conversations with receptionists at public places such as the gym or the dentist, talk to people at your yoga class, chat to other parents at the school gate, the barista at the coffee shop. Be ready to tell them what you do. See if they can help you.
- visiting groups to chat and find out what people need, for example, mother and toddler groups
- setting up groups or workshops for people who fall within your client group (these can be online, offline, or both)
- look out for local events where you can advertise and meet people, such as health fairs or fundraising events
- keep an eye on the local newspaper. Write letters to them. Contact a journalist if you see an issue that you could comment on.
- listen to local radio. Have a story ready about your own journey into becoming a counsellor and why it matters so much to you. Communicate it
- don’t keep your business secret if you’re on social media. Share to your personal page so that your friends and acquaintances know what you do.
- have a professional profile on social media
- write articles that you can publish on your profile, your business page or your website that demonstrate your counselling skills
- create videos to share on social media and your website
What you’re doing in these activities are a couple of things. You’re showing people that you’re available and that you’re trustworthy. It’s building something called the “know, like and trust” factor.
You’re also creating an audience both on and offline.
There’s a lot you can do to let people know about your private practice and to attract clients … but …
are you feeling scared now?
This is a perfectly normal reaction, especially for counsellors who work in such a confidential setting. We’re not used to being visible.
Some (if not all) the things in the list may sound really scary. They may not feel like “you” at all.
They may also feel overwhelming. Where do you start, for example, in creating a social media profile, a blog, a video, a workshop?
There’s lots of free information out there about how to get started. However, I can help you shortcut the process with business coaching.
- I can help you identify your niche so that you can focus your efforts in the right area and speak to the people who really need you. I can help you know what to say and how to say it
- I’ll help you with the fears of getting out there and publicising your business
- I work with you to identify the marketing strategy that really suits you as an individual
- I’ll hold you accountable so that you’ll get things done.
I help counsellors find their purpose, their voice and their clients. If that’s something you’re interested in, please get in touch.