Establishing a steady stream of referrals that brings you more clients than you can imagine is a goal for most mental health professionals in private practice. This series will take you on a road trip; the purpose of which is to give you a whole new perspective and purpose when it comes to marketing your practice. Each message builds on the last. Learn what it takes to build your business and feel good about how you do it.
This is the third day of a 10-day series of messages created just for you. Today, we’ll continue our journey from Point A (not enough referrals) to Point B (a strong referral network). Today — we get where we are going, and realize our journey has just begun!
Day 3: Identify your Ideal Clients and know them like the back of your hand
Choosing a target market (or two) is the best way to make a name for yourself among the crowd of mental health professionals in your town. Just because you choose a target market does not mean that you cannot do “general” work. And… your target does not have to be hyper focused. For example, you might choose “anxiety disorders” or “depressive disorders” if that makes you feel more comfortable.
Having a target market helps you to better focus your marketing efforts on those people who have access to and influence over your potential clients. It allows you to tell people how you are “special”. You’ve got to tell them something they are going to remember you by.
Remember: the primary goal of marketing is to get “noticed” (exposure – attention – awareness)
You also need to become “expert” in your area of specialization – that’s a lot easier when that area is not “mental disorders”, in general. (More about that as we get further down the road this week)
The next step is to identify your ideal client, among your target market. These are folks who really energize you – the ones with whom you can do your best work. For example, one of my areas of specialization is working with clients with Borderline Personality Disorder. That’s one of my target markets. However, my ideal client within that market is the person with BPD who wants desperately to deal with the past and learn how to think and act differently in order to better manage herself and her world. I am PASSIONATE about serving these folks.
A new client with BPD who does not want to let go and move forward — one who wants to spend years massaging her pain — will not get the best of what I have to offer. Not because I don’t want to help; because I do. I want to help her find the right therapist who can best meet her needs in the moment.
In any case, once you identify your ideal client, there are four top things you need to know in order to really know who s/he is and how you can help.
- What benefits are your ideal clients looking for? (What do they need?)
- What goals are your ideal clients looking to achieve? (What do they want?)
- Where do they “hang out”? (Where can you find them?)
- What unique qualities or benefits do you have to offer them? (Why you?)
Once you have this information, you’ll be able to have a meaningful and informative conversation about what you do (best) with your potential referral sources. Rather than: “Um, uh, I’m a counselor who would be happy to see anyone you send me, here are my cards”, you can look them directly in the eye and say (gracefully and with confidence): “I help clients with BPD do the work they need to do, in order to feel stronger and have more rewarding relationships and life experiences.”
You’ll also have a starting point with regard to your focus and role in treatment; your passion for your work will enhance the therapeutic relationship; etc., etc.
Finally, because you know where your ideal clients “hang out”, you’ll know where to find them. You’ll know where to look to connect with them directly; and you’ll know which referral sources in town (people who also encounter and/or serve them) might be a great fit in your network of referral partners.
Don’t be afraid to: make some choices based on your interests and passion; hone your vision to those who bring out the best in what you do to serve; and do your homework to best prepare you for your clients and increase your reach in your target market.