In helping a lot of people over the past few years, I’ve heard the same pattern explained by therapists time and time again.
It’s usually this pattern:-
We start full of enthusiasm and hope. We organize a place to work, get cards printed, often spend a bit on flyers or brochures, and frequently get a website created though only about half of us do get the website at the start.
We’ll have our qualifications, and insurance, and we’re ready to go. We pretend we’re not waiting for the phone to ring, but we are 🙂
The next step is more variable. About half will take out a newspaper advert, a small few will try Google Adwords. Many put cards and flyers around town.
Then comes more waiting. ‘I hope people want what I’m offering’, ‘I hope I’m not putting people off with my fee’, ‘Surely people will see the need for the amazing thing I’m doing?’.
We get very excited with those first few calls, we think ‘it’s all working and going well. Happy days’.
However, the feeling of worry grows slowly but steadily as the phone doesn’t usually ring much. We’re still hopeful, waiting for it to take off. Every client we get reassures us that we’re on the right track, but yet we’re not seeing enough clients to really pay the bills.
This is where many of us start to draw the wrong conclusions. We start to feel bad and often assume the problem is with our skill or they type of service we have.
It’s too early for that conclusion. The reality is that an advert in a newspaper, putting cards out, and maybe the odd post or ad online is just not enough visibility to build a practice. Let me tell you why this is good news.
Some people are ready to act when they hear about you, but far more will act when they consistently see or hear about you over time. Most therapists and coaches give up quickly, worrying about the cost of advertising and hoping that somehow they will be ‘discovered’ by lots of people.
If you want it to happen you have to make it happen.
That is easier now that ever before. I’ll explain how below, but first back to how things usually go…
Most people, once they get disheartened, start to accept small numbers. They get comfortable with the disappointment of only helping a few people. They still get to say they’re a therapist or coach and they protect the ego, but they aren’t professional any more – it’s not their profession, it’s a part time thing and they have to survive on other income. The worst part is they are now helping a handful of people rather than dozens, or more, each month.
We can go a long time in that bad feeling because it’s tolerable. We can keep hoping, dreaming, and seeing the odd client. Always thinking ‘hopefully next month will be better. It’s got to take off sometime.’
The bad news is that for most it doesn’t take off by itself. We need to lift it.
For people who are moderately busy, the average time it takes for word of mouth to give a significant boost is 3-5 years! I’m not kidding here. I’ve gotten this feedback from scores of therapists in seminars and in coaching. And for most who only see just a handful of clients, it can take over 10 years to make a difference. There are always the lucky ones, and also those who say they just started and were busy, but asking a few questions of these that I met, they all seemed to discount things they did. There were always practical steps that they had easy access to – getting profiled in a local paper because they knew someone there, a friend telling local business networks about them, and so on.
In short, success is rarely random and fear can hold us back, second guessing ourselves, and keep us from getting the word out.
But this is good news. Good for you that is. Over 70% of therapists and coaches stop or go very part time in their first year. Very few make a consistent effort to help people. You can be the person who does. There is far less competition than you might expect when you consider how few do step up and take their help to their communities.
Here’s one way how you can succeed:
Decide what 3 things you want to help with most. (These should be problems – Psychotherapy is not something you help, but grief might be, Hypnosis is not an offering but Stop Smoking Therapy might be, Business Coaching is not an offering, but breaking through procrastination might be, got that?).
Talk about those 3 things consistently for at least 3 months. If it’s working – keep going. If it’s partly working – drop the one getting least interest and keep going with the other 2 and add a new one. If you’re getting no interest pick 3 new offerings you’re able to help with and keep these for 3 months.
The golden rule is try stuff and keep doing more of what works.
Put these out wherever you can. Newspapers (an editorial is way better than adverts), on Facebook, in video format on YouTube, on Twitter, on your blog, on Pinterest, Linkedin, etc. Anywhere you can. Use the same content in as many places as possible.
Post weekly if you can, in as many places as you can. Use the same content, or parts of it, on each. You don’t need to write new stuff for each platform. If you write 600 words for Facebook, send the paper a 250 word version of the same stuff, maybe the headline is your twitter post, put it all on your blog – just get maximum value from your writing. You can also record it as an audio or video option. It’s the same piece, just getting more, and more, and more value from it.
Put some money behind it. Not a lot. But a bit. I recommend that if you have a lot of spaces to fill, you should spend 10 a day on average. As you fill spaces, you can reduce that amount and you’ll also have more income to pay for it. How many client sessions would it take you to cover the cost of spending 70 in a week? Probably 1-2 at most for the majority of therapists.
Look at how much you have spent on your qualifications. Look at how much of an income you want to earn as a therapist. Now, isn’t it worth some investment in telling people where you are and what you help?
We usually overestimate other people’s understanding of what we do. You have to present it in easy to grasp ways, free of jargon, and regularly, to make it easy for people to reach out for help.
Help others in this way and you create a win for you too.
Consider that I spent 3+ decades in anxiety and depression before finding help that got me over it completely! That help existed and was available even before I was born. I just didn’t know or understand it.
I guarantee you thousands of people in your area have similar experiences around the problems in their lives and businesses. Please help them. Get your message out there!
You can build a practice in less than a year with minimal effort, seeing more clients in weeks and building that significantly in under 6 months with the right approach, but just sitting back and worrying, will most likely keep you poor, frustrated, worried, and leave a lot of people without help.
Embrace the chance and go for the win/win!
If you’d like to see how I built my practice to being booked-out with just 1 hour a week putting the word out, and averaging less than €1 a day advertising you can sign up for 3 FREE training videos at:www.TherapyandCoachingSuccess.com
Have a great week!