Private Practice 101 (Week 6): 6 Reasons Why Marketing a Business is Like Finding a Spouse

by Kimberly on April 15, 2010 · 11 comments

We’re nearing the end of our Private Practice 101 series! By now you’ve started to lay down the foundation of your business, from it’s structure to paperwork to getting paid.

But it doesn’t matter how strong your business structure and services are…if no one knows about them.

Today we start talking about marketing. I’m going to cover this topic over two weeks. This week, we’ll talk about what needs to happen during the marketing process. Next week, we’ll cover some of the tools that may help.

Marketing is Like Finding a Spouse

A business has one main purpose: to create and keep customers. No matter how big or small you are, you will only survive if you have customers and are able to keep them around for awhile.

With that in mind, it’s important for us to take care of our customers, both current and potential ones (called prospects). It can help to view yourself as entering a business marriage with your clients. And like any marriage, you need to spend time wooing them and building the relationship.

That’s where marketing comes in.

Marketing, technically, is the process where you create value for your customers and build strong customer relationships. And like courting a potential spouse, there are some basic things to  keep in mind that will make your marketing strategy successful:

  1. Go where they are. If you want to find a spouse who really likes reading, doesn’t it make sense to spend more time around libraries and bookstores than the sports bar down the street? Same with prospects. If you really want to serve children with autism, then connect with your local autism society meeting, talk to parent support networks in the area, and set up meetings with the special ed teachers in your school district. Don’t make them come to you; you need to go to them.
  2. Be Helpful. When you help someone, especially if you do so with “no strings attached,” that makes the person feel good. You make a person feel good and there’s a better chance that they’ll remember you. Not only that, but they’ll also begin to trust you (and trust, as you know, is the foundation of any marriage). You do this often enough, then all of a sudden you’re the “expert” in your area who people trust and who gets all the referrals.
  3. Listen. I once heard someone say that having a successful business isn’t dependent on your ability to organize and manage the business, but your ability to be creative and respond to needs. And isn’t that what we do as therapists? We “listen” to our client’s needs (e.g. goals) and respond appropriately in our treatment plans. Same with any business relationship. Listen to your clients, offer them what they need, and your business will thrive.
  4. Expand your Network. Every wonder why professional sports players get paid so much money? It’s because they literally entertain millions. As a general rule, the more people you serve, the more money you’ll make. Part of your marketing strategy will be to actively seek out organizations, support groups, agencies, and other groups. Better yet, don’t just reach out to them, but try to find a way to help them. This is a surefire way to build trust in your business and help it grow.
  5. Always Be Nice. Whenever you talk to someone about what you do, you are marketing your business. It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to get that person to become a customer or not–to that person you represent your business. You never know when, down the road, that person will either turn into a customer or will send business your way. So be nice and helpful to people you meet. Always.
  6. Be Patient. You are planting seeds with every person you talk to, every presentation you give, and every contact you make. And sometimes it takes those seeds a while to begin blooming. I have had client contact me to begins sessions 6 months after seeing me at a presentation. Be patient, be persistent, be helpful.

NEXT WEEK: Next week we’ll cover some of the tools (print and digital) you can use in your marketing strategy.

P.S. Earlier this week, I wrote another blog article for Psychology Today. Titled “Music Therapy and Dyslexia: There’s Still Hope!” it is my response to an article that appeared in Science Daily called “Music Therapy Fails Dyslexics.” I’ve gotten some interesting feedback about this article. If you have something to contribute, please comment on the post!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Adelaide Dupont April 15, 2010 at 11:42 pm

1, 4 and 5 are interesting points.

6 is important.
.-= Adelaide Dupont´s last blog ..Running sheet for Key Concepts and Development: prelim and first draft, with pics and sounds! =-.

Christine Ockenfels April 16, 2010 at 8:56 am

Your series on how to start your business is so incredibly helpful since I’m going through that right now. So first of all “Thank you for sharing!!!”

I love this post especially and I have to totally agree with number 5. You never know when you run into a future customer or at least a chance to educate someone about music therapy. For example, yesterday, I went to the store. The salesperson was overly friendly and my first reaction was “you’re bugging me, leave me alone” but then I decided to change my grumpy- early-morning attitude. So we had a conversation and tuduh- I had a chance to tell her about music therapy, she asked for my card for her friend- plus I got a discount 🙂

Natalie April 16, 2010 at 1:45 pm

You know, number 1 is so awesome because I’m working on that right now. Sort of. My start up date is a ways in the future, but I’m brainstorming a list of potential referral sources and today scheduled my first inservice with the local autism society’s parent meeting! That, in conjunction with my conversations with our school district’s special education program, is making me feel pretty good about where I’m at right now.

Kimberly April 20, 2010 at 7:47 am

Congratulations! Networking is definitely built up over time and you are on the right track 🙂 ~Kimberly

Kimberly April 20, 2010 at 7:48 am

Bonus for the discount! Isn’t it amazing where we end up sharing our story? And who knows how the cashier will end up using that informatio in the future. ~Kimberly

Natalie Mullis, MT-BC December 31, 2010 at 12:11 am

I’m having a bad experience right now with the agent who is handling my rental of my new space. I really am considering linking him to this article, but adding in FOLLOW THROUGH. You don’t pick up a wife/husband by batting your eyes at them and then asking them to marry you. You get them by being consistent and trustworthy as well. A big issue in my current situation.

Kimberly December 31, 2010 at 8:39 am

Sorry to hear about your frustration 🙁 My only recommendation is, if you do decide to share this with your agent, don’t do it out of anger. Plus, it’s always okay to drop someone who isn’t working out for you and find someone else! ~Kimberly

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