Recently, a Play therapist asked me a few questions on LinkedIn, starting with that line. I know a lot of people are in a similar place so here are some answers.
She was looking at different places to offer her service. Schools, private clients, workshops for parents, group offerings to schools etc.
We do this a lot. When something isn’t working, we usually try to offer it to a different group or try to come up with a different service entirely. It’s nearly always a total waste of time.
However, there is a solution. Here are two examples to help grasp what’s going wrong and how to fix it.
Tom (not his real name) had a regional newspaper column. He was a therapist and was never busy. Each week 150k people bought the newspaper and there were 3 million online views of the paper each month. In spite of the audience size, he was struggling financially and assuming that people didn’t want his type of help.
Anne (also not her real name) was a counsellor who had tried for years to get enough clients but was sadly reliant on her partner’s income to keep going. She tried to find different ways to offer counselling, 1-1, groups, into businesses, etc. and nothing worked, but each effort took a year or two to make it happen and see results before moving on.
She then changed her method of helping to CBT, then to coaching, each time hoping to catch the lucky break of the right service, the one people want.
I could recount hundreds of similar stories from therapists I’ve worked with.
It’s not the therapy type.
It’s not even how we offer it, or who we offer it too.
It’s that we give the wrong information!
Both Tom and Anne were talking about their therapy type. They wanted the world to know about it, how good it was, how it helps. They were saying everything except what issues it helped improve.
We must front-load the info we give with ‘what’s in it for them, the reader.’
Have a look at most therapist’s bios. They’ll list qualifications, places they worked, how they’re accredited, how experienced they are and so on, long before you find out if they help grief, relationships, trauma, IBS, backache, etc.
We assume people are looking for therapists, but in fact they’re looking for anyone who can help their problems. Until we talk about the problems, people literally don’t care about the therapy type.
Yet every week, all over the globe, I see people talking about their ‘new’, ‘revolutionary’, ‘evidence-based’, therapies but they rarely say what they are used for.
Pick up a local newspaper. Most weeks my local one has pieces by health and wellness practitioners going on about how natural, drug-free, and wonderful their service is, and rarely do they say much about ailments, problems, or symptoms by which people might recognise their issues.
So, what do we do about it?
Have a think about who needs your help.
To stay with the original LinkedIn question, they were offering help to kids. This is a perfect example as it illustrates all the options to make our case.
It’s the kid suffering who is the person who really needs the help. However, kids will very rarely be the ones looking for help. They certainly won’t be the decision makers as to whether it will be chosen and paid for.
So here we have a chain of decision makers.
Sure, the child must be comfortable enough to work with the therapist, but before they get to that point there’s a gatekeeper.
If it’s offered to the school, then we must be clear on two sets of problems:
1. What does the child experience that illustrates the problem?
2. What problems does that create for the teachers and staff of the school?
One informs the other.
Let’s take a hypothetical example: Rose is 9 and has trouble sitting still in class.
What Rose is experiencing will indicate the problems the gatekeepers experience. Whether they are the school or the parents, they will show us what difficulties need to be spelled out to create an awareness that help is available.
When we start our message by talking about the real issues that are present, it allows people to recognise that what we’re speaking about is relevant to them. It gets attention and it maintains it when we keep hitting the real life difficulties they experience.
Only then do we lead into the therapy method and why it might help and then on to ourselves and why we are the right people to deliver that help.
Think about it. Reading Rose’s situation above, is it obvious that help is needed?
Is it obvious that the help will not only support Rose but will also make her teacher’s life easier and have a knock-on impact for the whole class?
Doesn’t that already ‘sell’ the idea of why it might be worth investing in, before you even make a pitch about your therapy?
For her parents, is it also easy to see the value of getting therapy for the issue?
At this point we can see who it’s for, what’s on the line, and how much it has the potential to improve. Aren’t we much more interested in the method and the therapist now?
Yet most people switch audience or therapy type hoping to find what people are looking for but they continue to talk about themselves or their therapy type before they get the attention of those who need the intervention. At that point no one is interested.
I’ve seen so many people offer Reiki and talk about reiki all the time then switch to kinesiology because people weren’t interested in Reiki. Then they did the same -they spoke about kinesiology and still weren’t busy.
The same for counsellors who struggled and became CBT therapists and weren’t busy, so they tried becoming a coach, again without success. But in each case, they tried to convince people that counselling, then CBT, then coaching was the best option – without showing the life experience that might indicate you needed help in the first place.
Before switching from the school to the parents to the general public or any other audience, be sure that you’re showing the value of what you do in real life terms. That, to any audience, can lead to us getting booked out.
It’s not the therapy type. It’s the connection.
I’ve seen booked out Counsellors, Psychotherapists, Kinesiologists, Reiki Masters, NLP Practitioners, Acupuncturists, Nutritionists, Energy Healers, Hypnotherapists, Massage Therapists, Physical Therapists, Homeopaths, Chiropractors, and more when they talk about issues before their therapy and themselves.
However, most of those professions are filled with part time or hobby therapists who never make it to full time or a real income or to making a big difference in people’s lives because they simply don’t know how to reach and connect with the people in need.
Be sure your message is right before making any other change.
There are more people needing help than we could ever get through our doors. Let’s get their attention and offer them the chance for a better future. In doing so you also brighten your own future.
I hope you found this useful. If so, feel free to share or comment. Questions are welcome below too.
Have a great week.
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John Prendergast is an award-winning Success Coach and and Psycho-Trauma Anxiety Therapist.
He is also the Founder of Therapy and Coaching Success that specialises in helping Therapists, Coaches and other Wellness Practitioners, connect with those in need, build their diaries and earn the income they need.
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