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Archive for January, 2010

January is the crucial time to sit down and re-visit your marketing plan. Reflect deeply on what worked for you and what didn’t in 2009. I hear from therapists all too often that they “don’t have the time” to sit down and plan like this and I am at a loss for words. To those people, their “business” isn’t really a business at all; it’s a hobby. Can you imagine Apple Computers, Johnson and Johnson or Verizon saying something like that!  Planning is key!

MAKE the time to plan for your business to succeed or you will be sitting by, watching it fail!  It’s also the best time to develop a marketing calendar for the upcoming year.

January is the perfect time to re-visit your Marketing Plan for the New Year. An annual marketing plan will assist you in figuring out what it is that you need to do, how to do it, and when to do it. This marketing plan should go hand-in-hand with your business plan. Take the time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t in 2009. Your marketing plan should reflect changes and goals based on the previous year’s marketing experience. Put time and effort into creating a strong marketing plan and it will become a great tool to help you work smarter not harder at achieving your marketing goals this year.

Here are some of the topics that you should address while completing your plan:

1.   Preparation of your mission statement and vision for the upcoming year.

This is more than just setting your goals and it’s very important as it will determine your success. You need to get connected to your ‘WHY’ and keep reminding yourself WHY you are doing what you’re doing. This is your vision, mission and driving force.  If your ‘WHY’ is big enough, then you’ll figure out the ‘HOW’.  Stephen Covey has  some excellent material on creating mission statements and you can find most of  it free by searching online.

2.    Discover and define your niche markets.

Today, clients want an “expert” and nicheing lends itself to the perception of expertise.  Marketing yourself as a generalist makes you forgettable.  And, marketing yourself as someone who has a special interest in X, makes you memorable. Nicheing allows you to market your services in a more focused way.  That translates to more money, less wasted time, and more strategic contacts. Most therapists are afraid to define their “niche” for fear it will limit the clients they see. “I’ve been in practice for 20 years. I can treat anything by now.” (Actual comment I just heard today).  And maybe that’s true. But to a client that sounds like, “I’ve been working on cars for 20 years. I can fix anything that drives in my shop.”  Well, maybe, but do you know about computers and chips and how electronics are integrated into the engine now, etc. etc. Not so sure anymore. . .? Niches are important. They show  you care enough to specialize in an area or two that interests and uses your specific skills and talents. Niches define you as the kind of person who is smart enough to be an expert in something!

3.    Describe and identify your services.

When describing yourself and your services, use words that provide evidence of its value. Some examples include; honored, acclaimed, certified, recognized, approved, proven and recommended. Take advantage of these key words when writing marketing or promotional materials that describe your services.

4.   Develop and plan your marketing strategy and goals.

This is when you review and reflect on the previous year to see what has worked, what didn’t, what were your successes, failures, good and bad decisions. It’s very important that you do this and think about how you can improve.

Goal-setting is important for every aspect of your life, not only for your business – relationships, family, emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, career and financial.  So, you need to set goals and create a vision for your entire life. Think about  the things that you want to achieve in life and focus on them. In my experience, they will be on your mind all the time. The key to having success in your life and in your business, is to know exactly what you want and stick to it.

5.    Explore and identify your competition.

Do a little “market research” to identify who your professional competition is out there. Use the internet to conduct searches for other providers in the area that offer similar services, etc. Learn their background information, credentials, fees and the marketing tools they are using. There is no shortage of valuable, inexpensive ways to engage in the research you need. The important thing is to take advantage of them. Don’t be afraid of your “competitors,” embrace them. There is enough business to go around.

6.   Create a marketing calendar that contains a month-by-month schedule of marketing activities and events for the upcoming year.

This is probably the most important aspect of creating your annual marketing plan. It’s important to be pro-active with your marketing and to do that you need to be prepared for the upcoming events. Plan early and take advantage of the many opportunities that are out there each year. This tool will show you what marketing events, media campaigns and merchandising efforts are happening when and where, as well as the results. In the coming months we will highlight a target market for the month to help you with ideas, but be creative. Find your own. There will even be opportunities for you to collaborate with your “competition.”

Like a business plan, a marketing plan is an important document that needs to be updated on a regular basis. At least once each year this should be reviewed to address changes in market conditions, demand, pricing issues, etc. With a little extra time and effort now you can make 2010  – Your Best Year Ever!

The Find a Therapist Team

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