A great many qualified and highly skilled holistic and complementary therapists are very much underemployed simply because they cannot get enough clients. The main reason is because their expertise is in helping and healing people but they know precious little about effective marketing. It's a problem that affects a great many people that have products and services that they want to spread to a wider market.
So How Do You Attract More Clients ?
As mentioned above, it's really all about marketing. We know that many people in the field of holistic treatments feel uncomfortable with the term. It's smacks of commercialism but don't forget that practitioners of main stream medicine have no qualms about promoting their services and charging far more than you may ever charge.
So let's not shy away from using the term marketing - it's not a dirty word. It's what is needed to get the message about you, your skills, and your abilities out there. You've invested in gaining your qualifications so that you can help people. But how can you help people in difficulty if they don't know that you exist?
What is Marketing?
Here's one definition : It is how you apply your resources - financial and time - in an effort to achieve your objective i.e. to help people for a fair recompense. If we assume that your clients will pay a fair price for what you do then the focus must be on those activities that you engage in before any client ever arrives in your practice. Those activities are constrained by the limited availability of money and time. Therefore it is vital that you spend both wisely and only focus on activities and expenditure that will generate more resources than they consume. That is the theoretical side covered. The following is some practical marketing advice on how to attract and retain clients.
Marketing Techniques, Tips and Advice
Most people are aware of the tried and trusted marketing techniques and tools such as using business cards, brochures and leaflets however you should take a more holistic approach to your marketing. Methods and techniques that work in other areas of business can and do work in the area of complementary and alternative therapies. The following list contains marketing tips and advice which may not be for everyone but you should find something that has some practical application for your practice.
- Determine who your target markets are. For example; athletes, business people, children. Develop a specific plan for each target group.
- Do market research and find out what other therapists and practitioners in your area are doing and how they are marketing. Ask them to send you their flyer, card or brochure.
- Print up brochures, flyers, business cards, gift certificates etc. Be extra vigilant and treble-check everything. Mistakes with hard copy printing can be very expensive to rectify. Pay particular attention to your contact details. Make a mistake with those and you will definitely miss out on potential clients.
- Use both sides of your business cards.
- Develop an information kit for new prospective clients telling them everything they need to know about getting a treatment such as location, cancellation policies, educational material etc.
- Develop a therapist online marketing plan. More and more people are using their computers, phones, and other electronic devices to find services such as yours on the Internet. If you are not online then you are definitely missing out on potential clients. (More on this after this section.)
- Set up a PayPal a/c so that you can accept credit card payments to sell gift certificates from your web page / site.
- Most mobile phone packages offer a set number of free web text messages. Set up a text mailing list of your clients and use this free facility to contact them with appointment reminders, special offers, follow-up messages after therapy sessions, etc.
- Text / contact clients to remind them of their appointments.
- Text / contact clients to let them know you have time slots available.
- Distribute your leaflets, flyers, poster, brochures etc using notice boards and on counters in health shops, pharmacies, supermarkets, veterinary clinics.
- Use tear-off phone numbers on notice board posters.
- Try to work regular hours so clients know that they can count on you.
- Keep good records so that you can keep track of everyone who comes to see you and keep your mailing and phone lists up to date.
- Contact clients that you haven't seen for some time and let them know what time slots that you have available that week.
- Make every effort to return all phone calls promptly, within hours or at the very least, on the same day.
- Give regular clients a special volume discount e.g. pay upfront for four sessions and get €5 discount off each session.
- Ask your clients to write testimonials for use in flyers, brochures and on your web page / site.
- Contact / text your client the next day after a treatment session to see how they feel.
- Send offers for gift certificates for holidays such as Christmas, Valentines Day, Mothers Day etc.
- Write articles for the newspaper or regular local publications.
- Develop a one line slogan that can be associated with your practice.
- Send letters to other supporting practitioners in your area (naturopaths, acupuncturists, physical therapists, chiropractors, psychologists, counsellors, herbalists, doctors, osteopaths, orthopaedic physicians, etc.). Ask for referrals. Ask them for information about themselves too so that you can refer clients to them also.
- Find other health-related businesses and people to network with such as Yoga studios, health clubs, Pilates teachers.
- Send hand written thank you notes when appropriate.
- Donate gift certificates to auctions for local non-profit business such as schools or other local community services.
- Attend conferences, seminars and industry shows & exhibitions.
- Regularly research rates and price structures in your area to make sure you are competitive.
- Offer your clients a free treatment if they refer (say) three friends to you.
- Keep up on techniques and methods, constantly improve your self and your treatments.
- Watch out for low cost small advertisement opportunities in your local newspapers. Make contact with the person that sells the ad space and ask them to keep you in mind if they have late unsold space. Quite often this can be sold at knockdown rates.
- Make copies of interesting and informative articles to have on hand for distribution to your clients.
- Subscribe to a marketing newsletter or e-zine to generate ideas to help to keep you motivated.
- Offer a senior citizens discount.
- Join the Chamber of Commerce or local rotary club for networking purposes.
- Run promotions for the various holidays emphasising gift certificate sales: Christmas, Mothers Day etc.
- Volunteer your time to charities or not-for-profit organisations.
- Change your voice mail message every day to let clients know what openings you have each day or when is your next opening.
Online Marketing for Holistic and Complementary Therapists
We live in an age where an ever increasing number of people are using all kinds of electronic devices to search the Web for goods and services. Your potential clients are using laptop computers, iPads, mobile phones and a whole host of other electronic devices. Off-line printed directories are becoming far less relevant or effective.
It is essential that your marketing plan and activities incorporate a significant and effective Web strategy. It is not enough to just build a website. Your online presence must be highly visible to Google. As the joke goes; Where is the best place to hide a dead body? Answer: On the second page of Google search results - no-one ever looks there! So what are the do's and don'ts of online marketing for holistic and complementary therapists?
Read more about online marketing for holistic therapists
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