Three essential marketing tools for complementary health practitioners

Massimo GaetaniThere are many practitioners who have been in private practice for many years and have a strong and well established customer base. These people have built their own business in the days when a sign on the door and an advert on the yellow pages was enough to generate new business. Several years and a few thousands of clients later their practice is entirely relying on their reputation and word of mouth marketing.

Professional practitioners starting a private practice in 2014, assuming they have the serious intention of creating a successful business, will require a bit more planning and correct execution of essential marketing and business development skills. Assuming time, money and resources being scarce it is essential to start from the most basic and important tools available to us all. They are:

  • Business Cards
  • Website
  • Leaflets

The order in which they are listed is the order in which you as a practitioner should approach them. Let’s see below a bit more details about why you should use them.

Business Cards

IMG_20140718_171052126However small and insignificant these pieces of paper might seem they are the cheapest and most immediate form of marketing you can access when starting a business. Please avoid altogether the temptation of designing and printing your own business cards as they will look cheap and tacky. The Internet is full of great offers to have proper business cards designed and printed by professionals; simply choose one. A few suppliers will even give you an interactive website, offering templates, images, themes and choice of fonts and colours. Take your peek and order a few hundreds of them. Avoid the cheapest option for paper and chose 3-400 gsm (Grams per Square Metre) luxury finish. I like to be ecological and believe that non laminated cards are easier to recycle but I’ll leave that choice to you. The business card should contain all relevant contact details you want to share with clients or prospects and perhaps a very short description of what you offer. This last piece of information should be expressed within 2-3 words. Avoid, like the plague, the horrid temptation of writing a long list of therapies you offer and try to transform your business card into a leaflet; it will look awful. Once you have business cards keep them close to you at all times. It is no point bumping into a friend or acquaintance, updating them about your new venture and having no business cards to substantiate your conversation. You can easily expect that 4 out of 5 cards you give out will get lost or left somewhere but, like in any sales activity, it’s a numbers’ game.

Website

WebsiteIn 2014 I am not going to explain why you must have a good looking, modern designed and recently updated website but I’ll explain here two main functions that your website will have for you:

  • Personal Identity: people might know you exist as a practitioner, might have heard of you, perhaps a friend of theirs pass them your details but many will want to investigate who you are, what you do and perhaps whether they like you before they connect with you. If you don’t have a website, if it looks bad or old fashion they might go to another practitioner which fits their taste. In order to be useful for personal identity your website will have to searchable by your name.
  • Business lead generator: people might be looking for what you offer (e.g. massage therapy) or for some conditions they suffer (e.g. back ache) and therefore your website should have a decent level of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to ensure that prospects will find your website, on the first page of Google, when they search for relevant key phrases, not just your name.

A couple of extra recommendations about websites:

  • Use your own name as domain name; it’s easier to remember, it helps SEO for searches which contain your name and it’s very good for personal branding. Some people will suggest you to create a brand for your business (e.g. Cambridge Sports Massage) but, honestly, unless you are in the business of creating a large organisation, creating a brand will incur in the double cost of marketing the brand and yourself as an individual. Just avoid one extra step and use your own name.
  • Use the “.co.uk” extension or the one that is typically local for your country of operation. Some people assume that “.com” is the way to go and that’s fine if you are in the USA. On the other hand if you operate from sunny Cambridgeshire there is no need to even suggest you might be based outside the UK, hence the “.co.uk”. I have clients which do regular voice therapy over Skype and they are interested in appearing international and that’s fine. Also, however trivial the difference, a “.com” domain will cost you nearly £10 per year while a “.co.uk” less than half than that much.
  • Rely on a well designed, professional website for your business and steer away for heavily advertised DIY sites that offer all in one designer, templates, images and allow you to design your own website. Results will look between poor and very poor and it will be obvious to most observers including your clients.

Leaflets

IMG_20140718_171134773Leaflets and other printed material allow you to explain, with some level of depth, what you offer and why people should decide to be treated by you. The previous suggestion about avoiding too much information on your business cards was in fact offered assuming you will have leaflets where you can indeed list your services and the benefits associated to them. You can choose among different shapes and formats but, in order for them to be practical and cost effective I would suggest A6, A5 or A4 folded in 3. In all cases you should, once more, avoid DIY and relying on professional design and professionally printed material; otherwise the results will look obviously home made and cheap. You can decide to have a single leaflet which explains all about you and what you do. On the other hand, if you offer two or more completely different therapies, suitable for very different audiences you better create several different leaflets otherwise your prospects might get confused by finding everything mixed on the same sheet of paper.

Conclusions and recommendations

The three essential marketing tools for the complementary health practitioner are meant to be used together as part of the so called marketing mix. It is said that most people will need to see a marketing message or a brand 7 times before committing to it so I hope it will be clear to you that one of this tool, by itself, might not be enough to secure a new client. Two extra rules about your marketing:

  • All marketing material, like the ones described above, should be independent from the others and self sufficient. Each of them should convey the right impression and message, assuming that people will not necessarily try to find and collect all material available about you. Contact details should be accessible and easy to find; maybe it is me but I find very frustrating when I struggle to find a person in order to buy something from them.
  • All marketing material should look as it was designed as part of a suite. It’s really no point having green business cards written in Times Roman and red website written in Helvetica and then yellow leaflets written in Verdana. If you have no idea what the sentence above means that’s an extra reason why you need to work with professional designers and printers. Invest some time and thinking about what colours best suit you, your audience and the therapy you offer. Do you need a typeface (font) which is very serious and pompous or something a bit more relaxed and laid back? Once the decision is taken than apply it to all of your marketing material and keep it that way until you have a very good reason to change.

MANUAL LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE (MLD) Massage: the healing power of gentle touch

ManualLymphaticDrainageWhat is MLD really? Let’s start by debunking the myth as, if you have never received MLD treatment or read about it before, your body is in for a nice ‘shock’ when you next try it! The name makes it sound slightly clinical and scary to start with.

After initially having read a considerable amount about its benefits to physical and emotional health, a couple of clients requested the treatment at the clinic but none of us therapists were trained in it so, unfortunately, we could not offer it. I then decided to train in MLD at the London School of Massage so that I could help a wider range of clients. The technique was harder to master than I originally thought and maximum concentration was required at all times to get the moves right. It was especially hard for those like me having previously trained as standard massage therapist. It was a whole new challenging experience in uncharted waters but truly rewarding nonetheless.It’s certainly nothing like you’ve seen before as the technique it’s very different to that of standard massage routines. However, do not underestimate the healing power of MLD!

I was taken aback when practising the MLD massage technique and routine. All my course colleagues questioned how a very ‘fairy’ massage starting on the side of the neck face up and working all the way down the body just using very light touch with no pressure whatsoever could be so effective. Well, you’d be pleasantly surprised to hear that this extremely relaxing massage is hugely beneficial to your immune system.

When I went to visit my friends after my training they commented on my ‘special glow and how beautiful my skin looked’ on that day. I was delighted to hear that and that people had noticed an important physical change in me but, also, I personally felt much lighter, extremely at ease, full of renewed energy as if my batteries had suddenly been charged.

From body detox to extreme relaxation and help with relieving swelling, stress, etc… the benefits of MLD are plenty and clients generally love it. They have reported looking and feeling ‘re-energised’ and ‘deeply relaxed’ following a treatment. It’s a massage recommended for most and you don’t need to be ill at all to have a MLD treatment – in fact even if in good health one every 3 months is generally recommended. This is also the all-in-one solution therapy for those of you who generally do not like standard massage.

In a nutshell, the MLD therapist works by manually moving the lymph (body waste) located on a very superficial layer under the skin to the nearest lymph nodes so that the lymphatic system can process and remove its waste from the body. S/he performs it by gently stretching the skin and using a rhythmic circle motion, physically ‘moving’ the unwanted fluid in the direction of the nearest lymph nodes.

Research has shown that MLD has numerous general benefits to the nervous and muscular systems. Moreover, by helping improve the flow of lymph it has a powerful effect to health and wellbeing: It helps fight infection, aids healing and recovery from illness and relieves pain including migraines. It is not just a deeply relaxing massage, MLD helps improve chronic conditions such as sinusitis, arthritis, acne and other skin conditions, it is also a great addition to other detox programmes as it encourages fluid flow in the connective tissues. Therefore, it is an effective treatment for cellulite and water retention, being especially effective for the treatment of ‘lymphoedema’ (swelling in the arms or legs due to an impaired lymphatic system). It is also an ideal Pre/Post-operative treatment that improves the skin’s texture and promotes healing of scar tissue, torn ligaments and sprains.

Pregnant ladies and the elderly can also hugely benefit from MLD as it helps Clear areas of congestion such as swollen ankles, puffy eyes and swollen legs and improvement stretch marks after childbirth

All in all, this is the ultimate body and mind detox experience to feel pure inside out. MLD is a decongestive massage therapy that stimulates the lymphatic system with gentle, light rhythmical massaging strokes, accelerating the processing of toxins, excess fluid and bacteria. In turn, this helps the body eliminate fat. The technique was invented by massage therapists Dr Emil and Mrs. Estrid Vodder in the early 1930s. I have just introduced the treatment in Salus Wellness Clinic in Cambridge. Visit www.facebook.com/ElenaAroma4Life to take advantage from an introductory offer and feel free to contact me on info@elenagonzalez.co.uk for more details (Elena Gonzalez, Aromatherapist and Massage Therapist @ Salus Wellness Clinic, Cambridge, UK)

Mind your mind

SaimaDinRWhen was the last time you had your car serviced?   Annually, biannually, or did you leave it till it broke down? Occasionally we don’t even know there’s a problem, until it’s too late… but often, we hear the churning sounds, an unusual knocking or a flashing warning light, indicating all is not well.

For a car a trip to the garage for a service or just a drop of engine oil may be enough to makes the journey just a little more pleasant. We regularly maintain our cars, but what do YOU do when you’re not feeling at your best?

We know who to turn to with a broken bone or an back problem, but who do we turn to when the problems relate to life’s little ups and downs? Problems which are caused by examination stresses, finances, children, career, family quarrels, weight gain or just getting on with the daily life. We all have different situations to deal with and often our own wellness is at the bottom of the list.

As a parent, I put my children first, as a teacher, I put the class children first, as a daughter, I put elderly parents first. But then what about ME?   What about YOU? It’s all too easy to overlook our own spiritual needs, and often we leave it too late…but to what effect?

Our minds are affected by the impact of situations we experience. We need to train our minds to manage anxieties caused by these experiences to enable us to enjoy a happy, fulfilled life. How can we ensure the mind is able to cope with the impact of life’s challenges? Well we can’t replace parts of our mind, like a car …..Yet! But we can learn to replace lost energy, boost confidence, develop motivation and manage our state of mind, to help us live life positively and to the fullest.

A calm mindset has a significant impact on healing the body and soul. It’s the source of spirituality and peace which, in turn impacts on the health of the physical body. Stress on the body has many different side effects. You may have a spot break, hair loss, exacerbation of pre diagnosed illness, depression or worse still.

Just as we care for our cars and our loved ones, our mind and body are entitled to be cared for too. We all need the odd session of TLC or at least a regular MOT. Unfortunately not many of us recognise the significance of mind maintenance?

Regular meditation aligns the spirit, soul and body and is always a great place to start. Meditation yields a surprising number of health benefits, including stress reduction, improved attention, better memory, and even increased creativity and feelings of compassion. There is a growing body of scientific evidence telling us about meditation and how it can change the way our brains function. In today’s day and age, when we have so many distractions, meditation can seem like hard work. It takes a lot of practice to get better but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

If you prefer to benefit from support and guidance of a professional, you can retrain the mind from negative to positive and from anxious to calm, through the mediums of Hypnotherapy and Neuro Linguistic Programming.   With the aid of a good practitioner, interventions sessions are created with the individual needs of the client. A good practitioner will incorporate into the session any areas of concern which arise from the intervention. Through the power of suggestion the client will naturally and effortlessly absorb positive suggestions which are ergonomic to their life choices.

Interventions which combine NLP and Hypnotherapy often provide solutions within 1-3 sessions, with ad-hoc sessions booked for top up, as and when required. Clients are taught techniques to support their transitions, which makes the intervention a transferable skill, applicable to other areas of their lives.

We are not cars, we are people who in turn have many people relying on us. If something is going wrong for our minds health, lights don’t flash on our dashboard. You need to be aware of how you care for your mind and care for yourself. Prevention is better than cure.

If you are interested to learn more about Hypnotherapy and NLP, visit my website for a short introduction

Book a FREE consultation session and claim your FREE Calmness download.

www.reachinside.me       Enquiries@reachinside.me

Spring into clean!

MarlowWe find ourselves answering an inner urge at this time of year, the return of sunny days enjoining us to clean the windows and to let in the fresh brisk air; the riot of new growth in the garden has us hustling for our shears and trowels in preparation for the promise of the next harvest.

Physically we often do a minor review at this time – how have we fared with our new year’s resolutions?! Did they get buried in the cold dark winter nights? Here we are, emerging, feeling perhaps, blinded and sluggish in the wake of the lengthening days; restless to be out in the garden, on our bikes, actively inhabiting our bodies.

Spring is a jubilant, sap-rising time of year and just as nature responds to the tilt of the earth and longer days, so do our bodies. The Chinese know a thing or two about how energy flows in nature and consequently in our bodies. Spring is associated with the element of wood, which corresponds to the liver and gall bladder. As ‘The General’ of the organs, the liver is a power house and multi-purpose generator, a strategic Overlord of sorts. The excitement of the season serves to activate the liver and thus it is an ideal time to focus and support it by giving it a ‘Spring Clean’.

In modern culture we tend to overindulge in many practices that tend to tax our livers heavily, resulting in symptoms ranging from a lack of energy, headaches, digestive troubles, irritability, craving of stimulants, difficulties in decision-making to sleeplessness. One of the characteristics of someone with a ‘dodgy liver’ might be to make rash and sometimes dramatic decisions (or to be paralyzed and unable to act) perhaps as a sort of backlash against the general sluggishness and feeling of toxicity.

The secret of success for most ventures lies in the preparation. There is little value to be had in ‘painting over the cracks’, so too when we seek to ‘do a cleanse’ – Fasting, Diets, Cleanses – very much in vogue these days. Many novice enthusiasts undertake their new regime of juice and greens with great gusto and good intentions – unfortunately the success rate can be disappointing without a little preparation and understanding.

There are many ways to undertake a liver cleanse ranging from cutting back on alcohol, coffee and sugar to a more rigorous regime that may include fasting and the use of herbs, acupuncture or remedies.
In my practice I am occasionally asked if I can ‘give a pill’ to effect a cleanse. The answer is, “Yes and No.”

YES – There are remedies that have a proven track record in promoting the clearing of the system and there are others that are known to specifically support a damaged or struggling liver. These remedies are prescribed under particular circumstances (based on the WHOLE PERSON) and act as a safe, gentle and effective support to the individual’s best efforts to be self-regulating.

NO – It would, in my opinion, be irresponsible to prescribe a pill with the intention of cleansing an organ without tending to the person as a whole. This is where a little understanding comes in and the marriage of common sense, nutrition and lifestyle meets homoeopathy. If we are serious about a Spring clean, we need to be thorough and take into account that it would be counter-productive to stir up a lot of dust without opening the windows! To that end, remembering that the bowel, skin, kidneys and lungs are major organs of elimination, it behoves one to make sure they are functioning and supported before initiating the clear out. This again is where remedies can play a pivotal role.

Diet is also crucial part of the whole process. I will occasionally recommend a fairly simple diet guide to patients to support them in their re-calibrating process. This eating plan offers a gentler approach to cleansing than a more rigorous juice and or fasting regime.

The Liver Diet

Do this for 10 days to 2 weeks. During this time make sure you are drinking 8-10 glasses of fresh (non-fluoridated) water per day. Get plenty of sleep and spend some time outside in the sun every day. Also, if possible, have regular saunas and consider treating yourself to some reflexology or massage sessions.
Keep warm and pursue gentle exercise to keep yourself flexible. Take naps!

AVOID ALTOGETHER

  • salt, meat, dairy
  • sugar, fats, spices
  • wheat, alcohol, processed foods
  • coffee, tea and tobacco

Drink warm water with lemon first thing every morning. Eat LOTS of fresh organic green vegetables, fruit, seeds, onions, garlic and rice.

Be advised that a change in diet can create very noticeable effects. Headaches, low energy, skin eruptions and irritability are not uncommon initial reactions. These will be passing symptoms, If they persist beyond the end of the 10 days consult a practitioner / homoeopath.

If you do decide to have a ‘proper clear-out’ take heart, nature is on your side and will lend her abundant energy to your endeavour. You will emerge feeling lighter with a sense of renewed vitality and clarity.

Happy Spring!