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Archive for December, 2009

Since March of 2000, (www.eTherapistsOnline.com) we have been

Online Therapy

providing to the public a pool of well qualified clinicians; mental health professionals who have at least 10 years post graduate experience, provided 6 personal and professional references that attest to their qualifications, “exhibited strong professional skills including a personal interview with a top clinician and management of our company, and in general have made it though the most rigorous screening process of any online therapy site we know of.

It has been extraordinarily rewarding to watch our “experiment” in online therapy grow at a rate we’d never dreamed would happen to where we are now one of the oldest, most established and most publicized online therapy sites available today.

We have conducted a few surveys with our clients over the years, but our most recent one  I find most interesting, at least right now. We asked our clients what were the top five reasons they chose online therapy over seeing someone in office and feel the results are so revealing we wanted to share them with you.

Our research was informal and consisted only of a follow up email to 200 past clients who had purchased an initial session within the last 6 months. We asked them to share with us the top 5 reasons for selecting online therapy.

The results are as follows:

# 5:  Availability — People cited that the therapist they wanted to see was available within the next 2 – 5 days as a reason for seeing someone online. Their comments indicated that this window of time, 2 – 5 days was extremely important and they felt that contact with a professional was more important than where the contact took place.

#4:  Ease of Use — respondents cited the ease of use of the site as the 4th top reason to select online therapy vs. in office therapy.  A frequent remark was that there was little effort to “sell” them on this form of therapy which they liked “Lack of pressure to buy” something was a typical response from respondents.

#3:  Price– The cost of sessions was reason number three given. They thought the range of prices from ($39.95 for 1 email to $85 for 1 60 minute chat or phone) was affordable enough to see if this would be a helpful way of “seeing “ someone and over 72% said they purchased an additional session even though we did not ask for this information.

#2:  Intake Process – While many people complained that the intake process was long, they also felt reassurance that this was “a legitimate” site; “real professionals” and “ethical licensed professionals” if they were asking this much detailed information beforehand.  Credibility, while not using that term, seemed to be the reason they were identifying.

#1:  Skill level of the professional – We post an extensive biography of each therapist on the site and the fact that qualifications was cited was not surprising to us, al thought it was surprising that it was the number one reason.  Because most of our professionals have at least 15 – 20 years post graduate experience and they write well (as demonstrated in their bio) seems to be an important indicator for those seeking therapy. This lends support to my belief that clients who seek therapy online tend to be more professional, highly educated group of people who are looking for convenience and quality in making a decision about what type of service to purchase online and where to make that purchase.

It was a fascinating experience to review the clients’ comments. While we do not have any plans now for future surveys, we will be conducting some as we go on. We do not present this in any way as an attempt at a “scientific study “so we will not respond (mostly for time’s sake) comments critical of the methodology we used.  Our goal here is simply to share information we found interesting. All comments and suggestions are welcome.

Visit us online for online therapy here. If you are a therapist looking to join an online therapy network, see if you can meet our qualifications.

For a therapist to see in office, find a therapist here.

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Cross Promotion Planning

Cross-promotions allow us to combine an effective message with free distribution. In a sense, it is a new advertising medium with no monthly bills. There’s no newspaper space to buy or postage to pay.

That’s right — free.

Free advertising is a new concept to most therapists and other business owners, but the power of the cross-promotion was certainly understood some 200 years ago when used by Benjamin Franklin. In some early editions of “Poor Richard’s Almanac,” readers could take advantage of valuable coupons from various merchants of the day. Ben evidently felt that discount coupons added to the value of his publication, making it easier for him to sell.

Cross-promotions are sometimes called “poor man’s direct mail,” a term not so richly deserved, for they have made many a merchant anything but poor. Cross-promotions are truly one of the mass media alternatives that can deliver us through the ’90s.

Take, for example, Nautilus Fitness Center, which implemented one of the healthiest cross-promotions that I have seen. Nautilus’ manager met with the owner of a local tennis club to explain how the two companies could work together in a cross-promotion. After explaining how Nautilus’ equipment could help tennis players prevent tennis elbow and increase the power of their serves, he provided the owner with special half-price coupons for introductory memberships for the members of his club. The coupons would then be distributed as a value-added service from the tennis club, giving its members a little extra something for their loyalty.

Best of all for the tennis club owner, the program cost him nothing! Nautilus paid for the paper and printing of the 1,000 coupons that were inserted into the tennis club’s monthly newsletter. Nautilus had a great return on their investment: eight coupons were redeemed for introductory memberships. Five of those eight were converted to one-year memberships and one to a six-month membership. Gross sales for the promotion totaled $1,803, and it only cost Nautilus $40!

This scenario may sound painfully simple. It isn’t. A close look at all of the subtleties involved will reveal that it is a very complex marketing tool — a tool with a very low tolerance for abuse. Implemented improperly, it can cause some major grief. On the other hand, when used properly, it can increase your profits enormously.

THE THREE “C”S OF CROSS-PROMOTIONS

Cost

In the Nautilus Fitness Center example, the manager was able to have 1,000 coupons distributed for free. The only cost he incurred was the printing, which was very inexpensive.

Why would other people be willing to pass out your advertising for free? They wouldn’t — unless there is something in it for them. Therefore, you must create a perceived value for your cross-promotion partner. The Nautilus manager supplied the owner of the tennis club with 1,000 coupons representing thousands of dollars of savings for his members. Obviously, the Nautilus manager wasn’t giving up thousands of dollars, yet the owner perceived it as such.

The success of getting your advertising distributed for free depends on your ability to present the value of the program to your partner — to stress the “you” benefits. “We’re providing you with these coupons to provide to your customers, at no cost to you.”

Control

When advertising in a local newspaper or tabloid, you have very little control over your advertising. You can’t control how many messages go out, where they go or who gets them.

For the most part, using mass media means that your message goes out to the masses, but your customer base may be a very targeted group within it. With the cross-promotion, you have numeric, geographic and demographic control.

Numeric Control. If your local newspaper has a circulation of 30,000, and you place a coupon in it, you have to distribute 30,000 coupons. Many times that may be way too much exposure. When you’re dealing with a limited amount of merchandise or can handle only a limited number of customers, numeric control can keep you from upsetting customers because you ran out of the item or they had to wait too long.

With the cross-promotion, you can limit the number of coupons you distribute. If the weekly customer count of your promotion partner is 15,000, and you want to pass out only 5,000 coupons, you provide only 5,000 coupons. Distribution can be limited to two or three days or until all the coupons have been distributed.

Geographic Control. Even though some publications have zones that allow you to section off part of your distribution, you still have your advertising reaching a large area. With mass media, you may be reaching many people who probably won’t become your customers. If you have a number of locations, the mass media become more important, but even then you will find it valuable to have more control as to where your message is exposed.

Demographic Control. In the mass media, you may be able to target by age and sex to some degree, but you are still reaching the masses and paying for it. With a cross-promotion, you can work with those merchants or organizations that will attract the type of people that will likely become your customers. For example, a restaurant may wish to cross-promote with a movie theater because after a movie, many people look for a place to eat. Likewise, customers of an office supply store may be prime candidates for quick printing services.

To determine good candidates for cross-promotion for your company, ask yourself, “What other types of products and services would my customer need?” People buying new formal wear would probably need dry cleaning services. Young couples buying engagement rings are usually in need of information about photographers and florists. Some businesses are natural complements to others.

Credibility

Perhaps the most interesting and beneficial aspect of cross-promotions is credibility. It is also the most subtle of the three C’s. However, it can be responsible for saving you thousands of dollars that might have been forfeited due to over discounting or over couponing.

When you advertise a discount or coupon in the newspaper, there is no doubt in any reader’s mind that you are buying that space to discount your products or services. You are, in effect, telling the public that you are willing to give them a break in price. Your regular price becomes meaningless since you are willfully disregarding it. People will respond to these ads, but if you coupon constantly, you may train your customers to expect a coupon all the time.

This problem is further compounded by having your employees asking customers if they have a coupon. That customer has just been informed that somewhere out there people have coupons and are paying less for the same items than he or she is.

As you’ll recall from the Nautilus example, the coupons they passed out said “compliments of” the tennis club. When those 1,000 members of the tennis club received their coupon, they didn’t think the Nautilus club was providing them. “Compliments of” implied that the tennis club had secured the coupons for them. The responsibility of the discount was transferred to the tennis club.

In some cases, your cross-promotion partner will like the idea so much that they will want you to do the same for them in a two-way cross-promotion. You will then each have coupons for the other partner’s business to distribute in an effort to trade customers without spending a large amount of money on advertising. In this situation, all printing and paper costs should be evenly split between both companies.

Whether you are setting up a one-way or two-way cross-promotion, it’s important to include all the proper disclaimers and qualifying information on your coupons. For example, you may want to limit the coupons to one per customer. It’s also a good idea to mention that your discount cannot be combined with any other coupons or special offers. Also, don’t forget an expiration date.

In essence, cross-promotion is people working together to help each other get the most from their advertising budget. Its brains over bucks, mind over money. It’s creating an “everyone wins” situation. Cross-promotion is boundless, limited only by your imagination.

SETTING UP CROSS-PROMOTION

When approaching a potential partner for a cross-promotion project, your attitude is important. You shouldn’t think of it so much as selling, but as an offer to participate in a valuable promotion. By building up the perceived value, you will most likely to get cooperation from your partners in both accepting the project and in implementing it.

Approach the person in charge and introduce yourself. Make sure you’re talking to the decision maker, not an assistant; relying on someone else to explain your proposal rarely works.

Be prepared to show some sample coupons to illustrate the proposed cross-promotion. It’s important for your credibility that the sample is real, not a photocopy or rough sketch.

Explain that you’ll pay for paper and printing costs for the coupons. Position the cross-promotion as a nice surprise for their customers when they pay their bills.

Agree on a time span for distribution; usually about one week. Ask for an average customer count during that time span so you know how many coupons to print.

Ask for a copy of their logo, preferably black on white.

If you want to make the coupon compliments of the manager, it’s nice to have his or her signature. Get it in a couple of different sizes in black ink.
Issue the manager a free card or token gift certificate of some kind. This is not a bribe, nor should it be treated as one. It’s merely a thank you for their cooperation. It will also help ensure that your coupons are distributed properly.

The next step is called the “glue,” because it helps hold the entire promotion together. Determine how many employees your partner has, and provide each one with a small token of appreciation. It can be a 10 percent discount card or anything else of more value than the coupons that the customers will receive, but less than the value of the manager’s gift. This will let the employees know you realize that stuffing these coupons in the bags or handing them out to customers is a little extra work, so you are making it worth their time.

Take the information to be printed on your coupons. Give yourself enough time to get it all done properly. Don’t promise to have the coupons ready in less than a week — you don’t want to risk any mistakes.

About the Writer: Jeff Slutsky is a professional speaker, consultant to many Fortune 500 firms and author of Street Smart Marketing and Streetfighting, which is based on finding low-cost advertising for companies.  This article originally appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of Entrepreneurial Edge.

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Find-a-Therapist, Inc is happy to pass along this special, limited time offer from Casey Truffo, Founder and CEO of the International Therapist Leadership Institute. This organization is dedicated to supporting and enriching the lives and careers of therapists everywhere. They provide resources, seminars, events and networking opportunities. Learn more below.

Casey Truffo, International Therapist Leadership Institute, wants to offer you an end of the year gift… The 300+ page book ‘Be A Wealthy Therapist: Finally You Can Make A Living While Making a Difference’ is now available until Monday, December 21, 2009 to you as a PDF Download AT NO-CHARGE.

To get your copy, go to http://InTLI.com/blog/ebook for your no-charge PDF copy of Be A Wealthy Therapist by Casey Truffo.

Some very nice people have said some kind things about Be A Wealthy Therapist: Finally You Can Make A Living While Making a Difference:

“Reading this book could not only give you more time with friends and family, but can make you thousands of dollars. Clearly written and very sound. Get it, read it, implement it and reap the emotional and financial rewards.” –Bill O’Hanlon, psychotherapist and author of over 30 books

“I have read just about every book on marketing a practice. Casey Truffo’s book is the easiest to read and to apply.” –Debra Taylor McGee

“I got happier the day I stopped sitting around waiting for clients to call me, and dropped the fear that I had to take any client that came in my door. So what helped me? Casey Truffo! Her book is a perfect blend of coaching strategies, life experience, and, most importantly, no-nonsense ideas that work. “Be a Wealthy Therapist” will really help you build a successful and wealthy practice.” –Jason Fierstein, LPC

One note though…if you are looking for a boring textbook with big words, this book isn’t for you. Be A Wealthy Therapist is a very quick and easy read – with coaching questions to get you thinking and motivated.

So, Are You Ready To Get Your Copy?

Go to http://InTLI.com/blog/ebook for your no-charge PDF copy of Be A Wealthy Therapist by Casey Truffo

Happy holidays!

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There are many discussions here and elsewhere that make it seem as though the first thing every therapist who opens a private practice should do is get a website. But, I am not convinced that t is essential.

I fully agree that you need a web presence. If you can’t be found online today, you might as well not exist if you are in any kind of business, and providing therapy is a business too. Everyone “googles” any business they intend to use now before spending a penny. Research is the name of the game if you’re going to see a dentist, a doctor, see a movie, buy a pizza…everything!

If you are not online, most people are going to wonder what’s wrong with your business…and they will believe something is wrong if they can’t find you online.

But, websites can be expensive – there are many ways to find inexpensive ones, but most people don’t know enough about design, hosting etc, to be able to make good decisions about hiring someone or doing it themselves.

Having a website presence is possible without spending a a fortune is possible. We have developed a new website, http://www.FindHealthPros.com and are offer a 6 month free listing for health care professionals.

Take a look: there are many features included in the listing that give you a great web presence for only a fraction of the cost of a website, and with the FREE trial, no risk at all.

Obviously, there are many, many other directories as well, some good and some not, and we recommend that you get listed on 3 or 4 of the good ones and stay there. Use them as a significant part of your advertising budget.

You DO have an advertising budget, don’t you? Well…if you don’t, that is another article for me to write and a conversation for us to have!

Having a web presence is crucial in today’s marketplace, but that definitely DOES NOT mean you have to have your own website.  Look at www.find-a-therapist.com and www.findhealthpros.com, two excellent directories that are easily found by clients, provide great mental health information and provide more than enough space for you to say everything about your practice that is important to say. Listing is not expensive; one client more than pays for the cost of the listing, and your presence on an attractive, prestigious directory that is not plastered with ads contributes to your expert status and professionalism.

For more information on the free trial listing, Go to http://www.findhealthpros.com and use the contact form or call us at 866-450-3463.

Judy

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