Do Your Friends Know What You Do?
I remember shortly before I decided to go into private practice full-time. I was lead to take a paid course on how I could grow my business. My coach asked us the question, “if someone attempted to find you on Google what keywords would they use to search for you.” Instantly I thought that at a minimum, my friends and loved ones would include “social worker” in their search. I was really surprised at how many random responses I received. For a moment I felt a bit insignificant. I thought “wow, nobody knows what I’m doing and if my friends don’t know what I’m doing, how in the world will anyone else?.”
This reality orientation quickly prompted me to start making a concerted effort. This was to make sure that everyone I talked to knew that I was a marriage counselor. It also helped me to understand the importance of mastering keywords to increase traffic to my website. When people don’t know what we do or where to find us, we won’t have much of a business.
Avoid Being the Jack of all trades
Have you ever heard of the old saying, “jack of all trades and the master of none.” One of the biggest mistakes that can be made in private practice is functioning under the belief that marketing needs to be targeted to everyone. As practitioners, we often fear that if we do not express that we specialize in everything, we will somehow miss out on opportunities to convert clients. Although this sounds like a great idea, it really doesn’t work well in most cases. It took me a while to realize this as a professional.
It still makes me cringe when I hear business owners respond “I do it all” when asked for details about their business. This type of marketing becomes a challenge when the person who was given the description of your business doesn’t understand your niche and attempts to share it with someone else. Instead of them describing, “Micheal is a counselor and he does it all”. We want them to say, “Micheal is a counselor who works with troubled teens and he does an awesome job”.
Understanding Niche Marketing has saved me so much time and money. Every therapist has a preference for what type of client they prefer to see. Either on a day-to-day basis or the clients that they prefer not to see. For instance, I prefer not to see clients who have personality disorders. Because of niche marketing, I almost never receive clients who I am not best suited to serve. Narrowing your marketing to a niche will increase your ability to field qualified referrals. It will cut down on excess spending in your marketing budget. This is due to dollars being spent advertising to clients outside of your niche. You will also have an improved opportunity to serve the clients who you know that you can give the best results.
Be Willing To Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
One of the most difficult things for most practitioners to do is to step outside of their comfort zone. I remember receiving coaching instructions regarding the importance of blogging and creating opportunities to market face-to-face. My first reaction was, “ I’m not doing that.” But then I had to ask myself the question, “what are you doing? You only have about three or four clients, and you just got laid off. You are engaging with professionals who are successful at what they are doing but yet you have determined, “I’m not doing that.”
Fast forward, I’m still not a big fan of face-to-face, but I do it. I’m not totally in love with blogging, but it’s working. What I do love is the awesome opportunities that I have to share with others in ways I never imagined. I love the freedom and independence I receive in private practice. I also love how private practice has allowed me the opportunity to take better care of my health. And spend more time with family. Sometimes you just have to fall in love with the things that work in order to be successful at what you desire.
Choya Wise, LICSW, PIP is the owner of Aspire Counseling & Consulting Services in Huntsville, Alabama. Choya specializes in relationship counseling and hosts Online Social Work Clinical Supervision Groups in Alabama.