Marketing Your Practice on a Shoestring?
Starting out and in the early years, most people don’t have either the financial resources or the confidence to commit a large amount of money to marketing their practice. Some investment is needed, because even though you might feel the whole world is looking at what you do, in practice, there’s so much information out there, and so many services vying for attention, that you have to shout quite hard to be heard over the noise.
So you want to start promoting your services, but you have very little money. So what do you do?
Start Close to Home
Those of you who read these posts often will know that I am a huge fan of starting with the people who already know you, and are well disposed towards you. Family, friends, neighbours, past and present work colleagues, tutors and so on, won’t be clients themselves, but will all know people, lots of people. Some of those people will know people who may be looking for a therapist or counsellor, and your mission is to make sure that it’s your name that pops into their head at the right time. How do you do this? By reminding them that you would welcome clients.
Start by making a list of everyone you know. With some you will feel more comfortable than with others, approaching them either by phone or email, or if you are on social media by posting something. Make it easy for yourself, don’t take on too much at the beginning.
Moving the circle out a little wider, take a walk in your locale, and take a pile of business cards with you. Look at each business you pass, asking yourself if they are likely to have people who might be in need of your services. Obvious ones are those who are in health related areas, such as doctors, dentists, physiotherapists, opticians, and alternative health and fitness such as health food stores, yoga, reiki and so on. Less obvious ones are convenience stores, coffee shops, local and community services. Look to see if they carry cards for other businesses. If they do, ask if you can leave some of yours. Yesterday, having a cup of coffee in my local coffee shop, I noticed a dresser displaying leaflets and business cards, so I added mine. Get used to carrying your business cards or leaflets with you, so that you can avail of opportunities like that.
Local and community newsletters and advertising magazines are often open to articles on subjects of interest to their readers. Articles can often be more effective in catching the eye of a reader than advertisements. You could write about tips for managing stress (make it topical: back to school, holiday, financial…), or recognising depression, helping children with exam worries; the topic need not be a complicated one, and the article can be short, a couple of hundred words. Contact the editorial team to see if they’re interested. Don’t forget to include your contact details!
Make a Splash
Take the opportunity presented by some change in your circumstances to make a press announcement. Starting out? This is ideal. You could also announce a new qualification you have achieved or a service you’re now providing. You could respond to something that is topical, such as the impact of the budget on mental health services. You don’t need to hire a hotel room or caterers. Have a friend who’s handy with a camera take a photo of you and a colleague talking. Attach a short written piece saying what you want to say, and send it off to local papers (national are unlikely to cover it so don’t waste your time.)
Pool your resources with another practitioner, or with a few, and buy collectively. One website covering a number of practices means you can share the costs. Or use the same design for the website of several practitioners. (If you are in different parts of the country, all the better.) It’s cheaper to print larger numbers of leaflets, so you can get better value for your money. You can either print all your contact details, or leave a space where your contact details can be stamped in. Even buying services such as bookkeeping, you may be able to negotiate a reduced fee if several of you are buying together.
There are always ways in which you can promote your practice, even when the budget is very tight. If you find yourself holding back because of concerns about the cost, maybe I can help you? Contact me here for your free 20 minute consultation, or leave your comment or question in the box below.