This Week's Poll
Should you actively market your practice or not? If your calendar is full, should you keep marketing your practice, and why? Two very good questions and I'm about to give you 5 good reasons why I think you should.
But My Professor Said....
First: Let me be brutally blunt. Long gone are the days when following the antiquated, off-the-cuff marketing advice of professors will get the job done. You remember,..."Rent a 10x10, buy the cheapest insurance you can find, then put a sign on the door and you'll be just fine"? It works 1-2 times out of 10 but who wants to base their practice growth on those odds? Good luck with that.
Proactively Market Your Practice or Not?
Second: The 20%-ers (the go-getters in any group being discussed) are using every tool they can find to tell their market as loudly as they can that they exist, and why they are the better choice than their competitors. If you don't toot your own horn, who will? How will the client-base you really want find you??
Third: The default answer to this question always seems to be, "referrals" (whatever that might mean) but that's not a proactive technique for lead-generation. It's a "wait and hope they come" attitude. It has a small place in your marketing toolkit, but not much.
So, "Should you proactively market your practice?" My answer is a resounding, "YES". And to drive home the point, "proactively" means purposefully, and with a plan far more substantial and focused than the default academic marketing program.
I Don't Need to Market, My Schedule is Full
Fourth: Let me give you two solid reasons why you should never stop marketing yourself and your practice. Ever.
What you really mean when you say, "my schedule is full" is, "my schedule is full, TODAY". Things happen and you better plan for them.
- Referral sources dry up for reasons you can't control, and it will happen.
- World events outside of your control, Black Swan Events, will occur and they will have an effect on your schedule.
Fifth: How will you ever raise your prices?
This is the advanced stuff so bear with me. If you're consistently booked out, say, two weeks or more in advance then you may think you've arrived (until you haven't!). You probably turn away a very small number of potential clients each week that don't want to wait two weeks to get in. Raise your self-pay pricing and see what happens.
- You'll lose a percentage of your current traffic that doesn't see the additional value you're claiming in your increased pricing. You haven't properly convinced them you're worth it!
- To make things worse, since the small crowd you turn away each week is (probably) a high percentage EAP or Insurance-pay, you'll have very few, if any, self-pay prospects willing to pay your increased price.
You suffer from an inadequate demand for your time, and you're stuck at your current pricing level. (BTW, if you're stuck with a less-than-full calendar, your current pricing may be a big part of the problem). So how will I ever be able to raise my pricing without potentially damaging my client calendar?
Create the Demand That Will Pay Your Prices
You need to create a demand for your services that far exceeds academia's "default demand generation scenario" used by 80% or more of your peer-competitors. Convince the masses that you are the preferred go-to counselor in your area so they're willing to wait as long as it takes and pay your asking price.
This is accomplished by proactively marketing yourself through a long-term, well-thought-out marketing plan which is beyond the scope of this particular post.
How will I know that a) my marketing is working and b) when it's time to raise my rates a bit? When you reach the point where you're turning away "well more than a handful" of clients each week you have apparently created enough demand for your time to raise your self-pay price and seamlessly replace any client load loss from that rate increase.
In other words, there are enough people clamoring at your front door to get in that you can now afford to be picky, and your price is how you're going to filter the crowd!
So there you go. 5 good reasons to proactively market your practice.
- The old advice we were given doesn't work for >80% of us.
- The 20%ers are the ones building dream practices.
- Relying on referrals is a passive, risky option.
- Events outside of your control will happen and affect your schedule.
- You'll be able to raise your self-pay rates without schedule interruption.
Don't wait on the world to come to you. Build a marketing plan, become an active marketer, and fill your calendar. Then set your sights on creating enough demand to eventually, and comfortably, raise your self-pay rates without disrupting your revenue flow, despite what events the world throws at you.
Squeaky wheel gets the grease so start squeaking, girlfriend, and the phone will start ringing even more. But you need to give them solid, professional reasons and insights into your mind and how you do things or all the squeaking in the world is just noise. You can do this.
Plan Smart. Be Safe. Serve Others.
Kathleen Mills, LPC-S, CEAP
Got An Opinion?
These posts are my beliefs based on my a) 32 years of practice as a mental health provider and b) my own research. Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to leave your civil, constructive comments below. I try very hard to back up my liberty-based statements with my own experience and/or verifiable facts and I would ask you to do the same. You do not need to be logged in to leave a comment.