The working / marketing trade-off

Massimo GaetaniThis post is about the trade-off between spending time delivering your services as a practitioner in private practice and marketing your business in a variety of ways.  If your practice attracts the right number of clients to keep you busy and support your expected lifestyle then you have been doing the right thing for a while.   Your existing clients are enough to generate sufficient demand for your business and refer you to their friends and family; this is probably the best way to maintain a busy and healthy private practice.

On the other hand, if the amount of clients you see on a typical week/month/year is substantially less than what you’d like, you need to spend more time/money/effort in marketing your business.  Depending on your circumstances you can choose what proportion of money vs. time you want to allocate to your marketing.

I spend a substantial amount of time managing and marketing our clinic and I know it pays off by the amazing growth we experienced in both customer enquiries and by the number of practitioners who join our clinic on a monthly basis: we reached 60 therapists earlier this year and we have in the pipeline about 10  who are due to join us by the end of 2016.

I devote a significant part of my work  helping practitioners working at Salus Wellness to grow their respective practice; I do that by spending some time one-to-one with them and organising workshops and networking events for them.   My baseline advice to anybody running a private practice would be to spend on marketing all the time not spent delivering their therapy.  That means allocating a working week into their own calendar as if they were going to the office/shop/factory and working, regularly and consistently, 4-5 days per week 6-8 hours per day.  The illusion of making a decent income working 10-15 hours per week and doing nothing else is merely, as mentioned above, an illusion.

Being found on the Internet

Massimo during his presentationIn this post I will discuss some of the different ways people might be searching for you/your business on the Internet and in a few cases, with an increasing level of difficulty to be found.

There was a time when people would go on your website just when they knew you exist, perhaps after meeting you and they knew the URL of your website.  Then the search engines came along and we all got lazy.  Lazy because it’s no point anymore to look for the correct URL of a website; we search them using Google or other search engines of choice.  But how do we search for people, or a business?  We type a few words, a phrase into the search engine and check the results.  Most people will not bother to check beyond the first page of results so your aim should be to be on the first page of search results for all phrases you care about.

In order to make this example meaningful let’s assume you are called Joe Bloggs and you are a Massage Therapist in Cambridge. Here is the list of search terms in increasing order of difficulty to achieve:

Your name, service you offer and location

This should be your first goal to be found and the simplest way for people to find you on the Internet.   You should check now whether a search will work with one of the following sentences.  Obviously replace Joe Bloggs with your name, massage with your therapy and Cambridge with your location:

  • Joe Bloggs Massage Therapist in Cambridge
  • Joe Bloggs Therapist Cambridge
  • Joe Bloggs Massage Cambridge

If your website doesn’t appear on the first page of google then you should either speak to your web designer or someone who understands the most basic principles of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Your name and therapy – e.g. Joe Bloggs Massage

This should also be relatively easy to achieve in the hope there is not another therapist with your name who offers the same therapy as you do.

Your name and location – e.g. Joe Bloggs Cambridge

This might be a bit more complicated and is very dependent on how common your name is.  If there is a famous person who has a name like yours and lives in your  town it will be very difficult for you to be found on the first page of a search.

Your therapy and location – e.g. Massage Cambridge

This is the most difficult to achieve, particularly if you are new in this business or in your location; depending on the therapy you are offering there might be tens, hundreds or thousands of other practitioners offering  the same therapy in your area.  If that’s the case you might try to optimise your website for the so called long tail searches, e.g. not just the simple therapy and location but adding some extra information like the issue you are trying to address: e.g. massage backache Cambridge.

SEO  is about helping your web pages to be found by the relevant search terms.  A few tips to improve your search ranking and results would be:

  • Have a decent looking, well written and professionally designed website
  • Use WordPress as the content management system (CMS): WordPress has a structure which facilitates SEO.
  • Make sure that your WordPress installation has one of the relevant SEO plugins installed and properly configured
  • Keep your website fresh with new content (e.g. blogging) and add relevant articles about what you offer, how you offer it and so on

If you don’t know much, or anything at all, about SEO perhaps you should speak to an expert and see what he/she suggests.  Our affiliate marketing agency, Salus Marketing, is offering a broad range of marketing services including web design and SEO so you can get in touch and find out more about how we can help you.

Funnel marketing and health care

Massimo GaetaniI was recently chatting to a therapist who, quite unusually and interestingly enough, had proper marketing training as part of  her therapy course.  In fact it was an add-on course for an extra whopping £2,000 but nonetheless she had been exposed to the practicalities of marketing her business rather than being wrongly reassured that the phone will start ringing as soon as she qualifies as it happens in many cases.

I decided to write this post once I heard the approach that was taught to her in this expensive course where, instead of focussing specifically on marketing her health care business, they trained her in general marketing using a funnel approach which is usually applied to online marketing for e-books and other information products.

In a few simple words a funnel approach is where you have a combination of marketing tools to reach a large number of unqualified or semi qualified leads which you keep Emailing with information about your business and slowly move down into the funnel until they come out at the bottom as customers.  This is great for generic products which can be sold to generic people to address generic issues and across a wide geographical area, ideally the whole world.

I always predicate using blogging and social media to create and maintain a solid presence online which, if adequate in quality and frequency, will be found by search engines and connecting your content to the right audience which eventually can become your clients. When a therapist works in a specific geographical area offering therapy to the local community she/he will soon realise that using a funnel approach to attract clients toward her or their business will be very hard.  Main reasons are:

  • People are either shopping around for a specific solution to a health problem or they are not; so if the advert appears in front of the second category of people they naturally ignore it
  • People will not be looking to share their contact details now and get caught into the funnel expecting to be using a therapy later

While funnel marketing can be used to market and sell products or services which can be progressively pushed toward customers I would not suggest to use this approach to market and promote therapies which are usually requested as remedial treatments rather than preventive actions.

Delays in reaction for marketing actions and campaigns

Massimo GaetaniI was having a conversation with a therapist a few days ago and I was explaining to him various marketing techniques he could use to attract new clients.  The surprise came when he replied to my question about when to start as he essentially said that he is now “kind of ok in terms of clients” and will start some marketing actions in the New Year when he will need new clients.

At that point I realised that while it is obvious for me that to any (decision about) action there is a delay in reaction which is definitely not obvious for many.  Let’s see what the delays are which will be incurred when you decide to start a marketing campaign:

  • Development delays: anything that needs to be designed and developed, from a new leaflet or website, will take days, weeks or even months to be ready, checked, printed or published.  This is depending on what is already there, or not there, in this case.  Even a simple variation to an existing page or piece of marketing will take some time.
  • Deployment delays: as soon as the brochure is ready or the website is published it’s not going to happen that, similarly to the next episode of Harry Potter, all prospects are there waiting for it and to book appointments with you.
  • Reaction delays: yes perhaps some people see your new website or advertisement and ring you straight away, most of them will have to see it quite a few times and think about it. By this token when everything is in place and ready to go it will take a while before things are really going at the speed or intensity you expect.

Best suggestion for all people with little or no knowledge of marketing out there is to start today, now, and keep doing something every day.  You can be absolutely sure that there will be delays and things will not happen exactly when you expect but after some time everything will be in place and you will have your own marketing machine working for you.