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Archive for July, 2009

Offering workshops is a great way to generate new referrals. C.J. Hayden has written a fantastic article on what to do if no one calls or signs up after you’ve developed a super presentation.

It’s the nightmare of every professional who offers group programs. You design a powerful workshop, schedule a date, broadcast your marketing message… and no one registers. Then what? Let’s assume you have the basics down. You’ve chosen a compelling topic, identified a likely audience, and clearly described the benefits of participating in your program. Even the price is right. You’ve already sent information about your program to a list of strong prospects. What else can you do?

Training & Workshops

Training & Workshops

-Preventive Measures-

First, let’s back up a step. There are several measures you can take early on in your promotion that will improve your chances of full enrollment:

1. Offer your program in house instead of to the general public. Selling your program to a company, association, or learning center with an established base of employees, members, or students can be much easier than trying to sell each seat yourself. You could also partner with an existing organization with a track record of filling programs, and share the profits in return for a full house.

2. Build your prospect list to equal 20-100 times the number of people you want to attend. A typical response rate from a postal mailing is 1-2%. Response to opt-in email is often even lower. (Don’t even consider using unsolicited email.) In general, expect no more than 1% to respond if they don’t know your work and rarely more than 5% even when they know you well. Make it a habit to capture the name and address of every prospect and get their permission to mail or email.

3. Plan to promote on multiple channels. Your promotion plan should include announcements in your ezine or newsletter, a description on your web site, postal mail, a brochure or flyer to distribute, calendar listings, and personal invitations. Don’t rely on just one or two avenues — students are much more likely to enroll when they see your program mentioned in many different places.

-Emergency Enrollment-

If your program has low or no registrations as the date approaches, here’s what you can do to increase enrollment:

1. Call everyone on your prospect list and invite them personally. Don’t count on mail and email to do the job. Place a phone call to each person you have a phone number for, give a brief description of the program, and invite them to attend. You’ll be amazed how many people will say, “Thank you for calling — I’ve been meaning to sign up.”

2. Ask clients and colleagues to make referrals. Just mailing an announcement to potential referral sources isn’t the same as asking for their help. Call or email people who respect your work, and ask them to suggest two or three others who could benefit. If they have suggestions for you, ask if they will also contact those people themselves to endorse your program.

3. Make a special offer. Tell the people who are already registered they can bring a friend for half-price. You’re not losing any revenue that way if the space would otherwise be standing empty. Offer a bonus gift with minimal cost to those who enroll — 30 minutes of your professional time, or an ebook, audio, or report you’ve produced. To encourage people to spread the word, offer the same gift to people who refer students to you.

-If All Else Fails-

In the last few days before your program, if you still have only a handful pre-registered:

1. Hold your program anyway. Invite people to attend for free if necessary to have good participation. Your clients will enjoy the chance to spend more quality time with you; colleagues will benefit from the opportunity to see you work and meet other attendees. Ask people who attend at no charge to write you glowing testimonials and refer paying participants for the next time.

2. If you can’t fix it, feature it. The meaning of this classic sales maxim is that if your product has an obvious flaw, make it a positive selling point. When only six people enroll in your big seminar, convert it to an intimate group experience. If you have only two people for a group, turn it into a success team. Your participants will be thrilled to have more individual attention. Never apologize for a smaller-than-expected turnout.

3. Plan ahead to do better next time. Analyze what went wrong with your marketing and strategize how to do it differently the next time around. Should you have allowed more lead time? Does your mailing list need to be larger? Do you need to factor in more promotion channels instead of relying on mailings or email alone? Make a list of all the key elements you think are necessary to successfully promote your next program.

Filling group programs becomes easier when you offer them regularly. When students see the same program advertised two or three times, they are much more likely to enroll. Think of all your marketing efforts as part of a long-term plan to make more people aware of your business. If the outreach for your workshop introduces your business to many new people, you may ultimately find that much more valuable than just filling one program.

C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Clients Now!™ Thousands of business owners and independent professionals have used her simple sales and marketing system to double or triple their income. Get a free copy of “Five Secrets to Finding All the Clients You’ll Ever Need” at http://www.getclientsnow.com.

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Are you worried about the economy? Wondering how it will affect your practice? Wondering what you can do to increase your revenues?

Managing a small business (and yes, a private practice IS a business no matter how small), is not an easy task during tough economic times. But, the good news is that there are ways to keep your practice profitable, even during downturns, even when your client billable hours are not increasing or even declining.

There are basically two ways to stay profitable: Increase revenues and/or cut costs. Here are some cost-cutting tips to help you deal with economic uncertainty:

Minimize staff and maximize talent.
A friend’s consulting clients recently encountered hard times. She offered two nonessential employees an extended leave of absence (with a promise to call them back when the economy improves) and replaced them with an answering service. “Electronic Medical Records reduce the need for clerical staff by reducing staff workload and improving work processes.” (Tricia L. Erstad, MSN, RN, Journal of Healthcare Information Management, Vol. 17, No. 4). While layoffs aren’t pleasant, a company and its employees might not have a future without efforts to trim the budget. Job sharing is another option to across-the-board layoffs.

Cut back on or share advertising.
Calculate your monthly advertising fees. You may find that you could save more by reducing the size of print ads. Try negotiating better rates with where you advertise.  Most companies would rather negotiate than lose your business. Keep the smaller ads effective, however, by adding red ink for emphasis or bolding critical text. Notice we say “cut back” but do not eliminate your advertising. This is the best time to advertise and pick up those clients that are out there looking for a therapist! If you don’t, your competition will. Do some joint advertising with colleagues who have a different specialty from yours and share the costs of the ads.

Learn new skills. Reclaim some of the tasks you currently pay someone to do. For example, one therapist used to pay someone more than $400 a month to burn CDs and training DVDs. He also paid a printer to collate and staple information packets. Paying an employee to collate and staple cut his production costs in half.

Purchase in bulk. Many companies overstock inventory in anticipation of a rush on product. Negotiate terms with your suppliers that allow you to purchase as needed with smaller minimums. That means you’ll pay less upfront. Check with a few colleagues and purchase office supplies jointly for a bigger discount.

Review your policies and implement other cost-saving measures.
Review your worker’s compensation, vehicle and office building insurance policies. Some coverage may be redundant. Work with your insurance carrier to determine if policies can be grouped for a multiple policy discount.

Use your credit to your advantage. Credit card companies want solvency and on-time payment. If you have both, call the credit card company and negotiate a better rate, or take your business elsewhere. Credit card companies are settling for pennies on the dollar because of the large number of defaults and bankruptcies. Work your credit history to your advantage, and keep shopping until you find the best rate.

Know Your SCORE. SCORE, the service corps of retired executives is a great FREE federal program that matches successful, retired business executives with small businesses and offers advice and support. http://www.score.org/index.html

Attempts to cut costs can add up to thousands of dollars saved every year. Choose carefully, and you’ll be among the fittest survivors.

Find-a-Therapist.com offers a  complete suite of practice management tools including billing, electronic claims submission, online appointment scheduling, ability to accept credit cards and a private HIPAA compliant account for your clients where they can  track appointments, billing and balances.

Improve your cash flow, increase your administrative efficiency and enhance your patient satisfaction! Find-a-Therapist offers one stop shopping for your practice management and marketing needs.

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A friend, a therapist sent us this wonderful story after she grew tired of complaining about the economy and the state of her practice. She told us she became incredibly inspired after reading it, started doing some marketing she had long neglected . . . and got two new clients the next week! While we make no promises about new clients, we thought it was definitely worth sharing. lake-from-above

Become a Lake

An aging Hindu master grew tired of his apprentice complaining, and so, one morning, sent him for some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it. “How does it taste?” the master asked. “Bitter,” spit the apprentice. The master then asked the young man to take another handful of salt and put it in the lake nearby. Once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.” As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?” “Fresh,” remarked the apprentice. “Do you taste the salt?” asked the master. “No,” said the young man.

At this, the master took the young man’s hands, offering, “The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things . . .

STOP BEING A GLASS. BECOME A LAKE.”

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