(A guest post from Jessica Improta)

Hey fabulous clinicians,

I was hanging out inside the Abundance Practice Builder’s Facebook Group (have you joined yet??) when I stumbled across some incredible insights from Jessica Improta. Jess is a meditation mentor, licensed therapist, coach and founder of OM*Lab. You can learn more about Jess and her Zero to Zen Un-challenge here.

In the post (which you can read in full inside the Abundance group), Jess spoke about what it’s like to experience a clinician’s or therapist’s website as the client. Because trust me – what we see is NOT what they see.

If you feel like your marketing isn’t working…. You need to heed Jess’ words – STAT!

Her insights follow….

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“So I went in search of a therapist a couple weeks ago for some garden variety fraud/comparison/existential issues rearing their ugly head in the face of building my business.

And it was overwhelming and confusing! So I’m taking the experience and sharing with you all in the hopes of providing even a brief a-ha. I hope I don’t piss anyone off. (i.e. by swearing… oops).

I decided to make it an exercise in anonymity…at least initially. I posted a request in a FB group of therapists (not identifying myself, though I’m sure now someone could figure it out). I made several calls. I did a Google search.

If you want some insight into where you can perhaps improve your marketing and sales, pick an issue you’re having and go try to find a therapist for that. You’ll discover a lot about what works and doesn’t.

Choice is overwhelming for most people, so it’s up to us to minimize the choices presented by making what we do as clear and easy as possible, especially if you’re not on panels.

Here are some takeaways:

Website copy 

With a list of names, I started checking websites. And man, so many of them look and sound the same! “Client centered, mix of approaches, safe”, etc…SnoozeFest! I know it’s hard sometimes with generic life issues to be snazzy and unique, but as I was reading, I realized I really cared less about what interventions you plan to use vs. knowing that you could HELP ME with MY issues and you were a real person. (photos & videos were nice to get a feel, but as a bonus, not necessary).

Addition to that – therapists seem to use really abstract ideas in their copy like “I help you expand beyond the boundaries that limit your awareness”…huh? like LSD?

Or “Using a strength-based approach, I work with individuals, couples, adolescents, and families, who are experiencing problems such as depression, anxiety, anger, life transitions, relationship issues….”.

Is this like a standard issue sentence that comes with every website? What is a weakness-based approach?

Again…I want to be confident that:

a) you know my issue and

b) you can help me with it.

(Same with Psychology today – clarity matters – especially if you don’t also have a website.)

Niche it up! 

I know, I know – I’m resistant too. But it was weird when someone would tell me that they specialized in working with “my issue” and then their site would have about a million other things that they “specialize” in too. I get it – we’re all probably reasonably good at a lot of things, but it’s true that when you try to talk to everyone, you talk to no one.

I think on some level, clients want to feel special… Or maybe it’s just me. (tell me I’m special).

Response time.

I’m STILL waiting on some calls back a week later.

What IS that??

I had a discussion with some of my friends in therapy, and most of them were seeing the therapist who called them back the quickest. For better or worse.

Sales skills matter! 

Learn to state your fee unapologetically and then zip it!

It was easy to pick out the hesitant or perhaps unseasoned therapists when it came to talking fees.

A tell tale sign? A lot of tapdancing and drumrolling, then finally stating it, and then quickly mentioning a possibility to slide. I think I could hear the faint trickle of sweat.

The most high priced therapist/coach ($250/hr) was the best at this. And honestly, after the 45 minutes I had spent with her talking about how she works, how she helps my issues, what I could expect, I really WANTED her, even though she was about twice what I’m willing to pay. I felt her confidence. And I considered it…for the future.

Value before $$ 

Help the person see why they want YOU before you talk $ or sliding.

Again, the high-priced therapist was double what I wanted to pay, and despite her knowing NOTHING about my financial situation, she was willing to spend 45 minutes with me before stating her fee…and ultimately not sliding anyway. But I really considered it because I felt like she understood.

A note – I am that person who thinks if someone discounts their fee then they are either:

  1. desperate
  2. not as good.

And I don’t want that therapist. So if you are willing to slide, consider the difference between saying “I have X sliding scale slots” vs. “I’m willing to slide for anyone who asks”.

Another note about sales and fees: I know that it’s not the general consensus to spend a lot of time on an initial consult – but it was interesting to me how much time the ‘high priced’ person spent with me – about 45+ minutes.

After she stated her fees, she said, “I spend a lot of time up front because it’s important to me that clients are clear on what they’re signing up for”. She was casual but blunt.

Here’s what didn’t matter as much to me:

  • If you are an intern vs fully licensed
  • What approach you take (i.e. if you say you incorporate yoga, I’d rather know WHY that is something I might want….left to my own devices and in pain, I *think* I want the therapist where I can just sit and cry on the couch all session, ya know?)
  • The ‘look” of the website – I like a clean website as much as anyone, but if the content was generic and boring, it turned me off way more than design.
  • How many blog posts are up

You just need to compel me to pick up the phone. And by the way, that also means a clearly shown phone number on the front page!

Compassion is what we bring, right? Well I learned a new sense of compassion for how clients find us and how we help them along. As you market and sell, remember that the easier you can make this for your future clients, the better.”

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Some extra insights from Jo: 

Jessica has done a brilliant job of explaining what happens when we look at our business through our customers’ eyes. The things that we obsess over often just don’t matter to our clients. And so they miss the message that they are desperately looking for in order to feel ready to reach out.

The biggest symptom Jess has described here is using our websites as a platform to talk about ourselves first, and our clients second. It’s time to flip that on its head.

When a potential client lands on your website, they need to know if you are right for them.

They don’t figure this out by seeing which modality you specialise in, your training, or your views on life, the universe and everything else. Mostly, not even price, as Jess has conveyed above.

People need to see themselves and their problems reflected on the page before they can trust that you’re the right person to help them.

 

Your homework:

Open up your website now.

Is it about you? Or worse, is it written for your peers and not your clients?

Or is it about your clients FIRST and how you can help them? (no therapist-speak allowed!)

Are you making it easy for your client to take the next step and contact you?

 

Thank you to Jess for this incredible post, and to Allison of Abundance Practice Building for facilitating this brilliant discussion and many more inside her group.

Here’s to your success,

Jo

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