The other day I was in the grocery store and was looking for the brand of margarine that I normally use. I was looking in the same place that is always is, but just didn’t see it. Then, there it was. The packaging was different. Instead of the usual round tub like most of the tub margarines come in, it was in a square container. So this got me curious.
Letting myself be a bit cynical, my original thought was that the change in packaging was to give less product for the same price. So I did a little research and this is what I found out:.
“The company calculates that the switch can increase warehousing efficiencies by up to 60% and shelf efficiencies by 50%. Grocers should be able to stack 60 square units on a refrigerated shelf in the same space where only 40 round units could have fit. Also, the product shelf facings, typically expanding from 10 rows for rounds to 12 rows for squares in the same space, are much more prominent with the new container style.”[sic] Article from Packaging World
How to market your practice
So this got me thinking about marketing and how we tend to market private practices and some of the mistakes that people tend to make in their marketing efforts. The good news is that we can learn a little bit from the margarine company about how we “package” our private practices as counselors, therapists and other mental health clinicians.
Have a Quality “Product”
First of all, and most important, you need to have a quality “product”. Even if you had to most attractive packaging out there, if the quality of the product was not good, people would simply quit using it. In the business of counseling and therapy our “product” translates to the services we provide. The way to provide quality service is first by having great clinical skills and knowledge. Secondly is simply having great people skills. Knowing how to connect well with others not only helps in sessions but will help when it comes to marketing your practice
Create a Brand
Secondly, if you do get the “product” right and the quality is high, the packaging does matter. Afterall, if it is a crummy package with poor branding, fewer people will buy it. So for that reason, it is important for clinicians in private practice to put some thought and effort into their “brand”. What this means is coming up with a logo that is easily recognizable and fits who you are and what you do. Good branding is simply images, colors and words that represent you and your mission. It invites and creates a connection with your audience. It should be a window to your client’s story and connects them with you.
Some of you might have noticed that The Practice of Therapy logo changed last month. I went through the process of creating the new brand with the help of Aaron Carpenter at Legendary Lion. Legendary Lion is a website development and brand design company that specializes in helping people create branding for their businesses. I would highly recommend that you do put some investment into branding your practice to help you “package” your private practice in a way that is genuine to you.
Marketing your private practice should be about the client
Most of us are familiar with Client Centered Therapy. For your marketing efforts to be effective, you will also need to practice “Client Centered Marketing”. The tip here is to write and market from the perspective of your ideal client. Tell how you will help them with their specific problem. Also instill hope for them and give them a picture of the end result of them coming to counseling with you.
The basic formula is:
Name the problem → how you help → outcome for the client
Here are some examples:
“Struggling with anxiety? We help free you from the weight of anxiety to empower you to get freedom from worry”
“Feeling depressed? We help people struggling with depression find hope and live again”
“Helping couples that are disconnected reconnect to have meaningful and lasting relationships”
Another important thing to remember about marketing is that you also have to get the word out. (AKA Advertising). To simply provide superior service and put it in a pretty package is not enough. Don’t let yourself fall into a “Field of Dreams” mentality of simply “build it and they will come”. Instead think about it this way- build it, TELL THEM ABOUT IT, then they will come.
People need to know that you are there. That is why it is important to have a good website, be on social media and make those personal contacts with referral sources. Getting the word out is not about “selling”. It is about connecting with people and having them remember you when they need or know of somebody that needs your services.
I learned some things from my new container of margarine. The packaging does matter. But more importantly the package needs to contain a quality product, I need to know where to find it and it needs to be delivered to me in an efficient manner. Done right, marketing your private practice is much the same. Marketing well will get your ideal clients to you and you can do what you love best. Helping people…
By L. Gordon Brewer, Jr., MEd. LMFT – Gordon is the President and Founder of Kingsport Counseling Associates, PLLC. He is also a consultant and business mentor at The Practice of Therapy. Follow us on Twitter @therapistlearn. Follow in Facebook.