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This is reprinted with permission from an article by C.J. Hayden and is geared toward a general audience. Some of her suggestions may not  be appropriate for therapists, so use your best clinical judgement when deciding whether they are OK for clients.

All economic indicators say we are in a recession. Consumer and business spending is down; unemployment is up. It’s natural to wonder whether perhaps this is a bad time to be marketing your business.

Since I’ve been self-employed for over two decades now, I’ve seen several economic cycles come and go. What I notice about these “down” periods is that people who frequently struggle to get clients typically think these are bad times to market. On the other hand, people who have been consistently successful at landing clients seem to believe that there is never a bad time to market. Personally, I’d vote to follow the lead of those who are succeeding.

Professionals who have built successful long-term businesses have learned that continuing to market pays off in both the best of times and the worst of times. But you may not be able to produce new results by marketing in the same old way. Here are six suggestions for how to keep your marketing up when the overall business climate is down.

1. Turn up the volume. When people are distracted by bad news or economic concerns, you may need to communicate more often or more visibly. Where an email might have done the job before, now you may need to pick up the phone or send a postcard. Instead of just one follow-up call, you may need to make two or three. If your business is slowing down, make use of the extra time you have available to ramp up all your marketing efforts.

2. Become a necessity. When clients are cutting back on discretionary spending, they need to perceive your services as essential. Look for ways to “dollarize” the value of your services. How can you help your clients save money, cut expenses, or work more efficiently? Will your services help them gain more customers, increase their income, or experience less stress in tough times? Tell your prospects exactly why they need you, and why they shouldn’t wait to get started.

3. Make use of your existing network. It’s always easier to get your foot in the door when someone is holding it open. In a slow market, referrals and introductions can be the key to getting new business. Seek out opportunities to propose repeat business with former clients, too. Uncertain times encourage more reliance on trusted sources and known quantities, so warm approaches and existing contacts will pay off better than cold calls or mass mailings.

4. Explore partnerships. Working with a partner can create more opportunities for both of you. By sharing contacts, you each increase the size of your network. Together, you can multiply your marketing efforts and share expenses. A partner with a complementary business can allow you to offer a more complete solution than your competitors can. A photographer could team up with a graphic designer, for example. And you can help keep each other’s spirits up, too.

5. Meet people where they are. In a down economy, prospects are even more price sensitive than usual. Instead of slashing your rates to get their business, propose a get-acquainted offer. A professional organizer or image consultant could offer a reduced price half-day package for new clients. A management consultant or executive coach could propose a staff seminar instead of consulting/coaching work. Once clients see you in action, they’ll be more willing to spend.

6. Find the silver linings. When companies cut back on staff, opportunities are created. With fewer people on the payroll to handle essential tasks, downsized organizations present possibilities for project work, interim assignments, and outsourced functions. Economic changes beget other needs. People who are out of work need resume writers and career coaches. Folks concerned about their finances need investment advisors and financial planners.

Landing clients during a down period requires not just more marketing, but more strategic marketing. So instead of getting depressed by the news, get inspired by it. When you hear about coming layoffs, consider how your services could benefit those companies. When you read about negative consumer attitudes, use those words to better target your marketing copy. When prospects say, “not this year,” craft a proposal that ensures your place in next year’s budget.

For the successful independent professional, there’s no such thing as a bad time to market.

Copyright © 2008, C.J. Hayden

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I usually don’t write about my childhood stories, but this morning I was inspired by a dear friend who saw a picture of me at 10 years old. How far back does that go!

My father was an entrepreneur, although I don’t know if he knew what the word meant. A self taught man, there was nothing he couldn’t do, nothing he wouldn’t try, and I never recall him saying no to me if I needed or wanted his help with something. He liked that I was smart and although he would never say it, the smartest kid of 3 in the family; smart and appreciative, and so he had fun when we worked together.

One snow packy winter day, perfect for snowmen, when the lawn mowers are itching to come out of their winter hibernation, he went outside after breakfast and proceeded to build what I thought was a snowman. Well, after hours and hours he invited me outside o see the most beautifully sculpted snow horse I had ever seen. Every curve of its flowing white mane, every rippling muscle, nostrils wide and flaring, looking at those he was running at top speed.

I immediately began to cry. I had always loved horses, but we could never afford one, so this was my next best thing.  His name was Silver, not even a hint of a question about that, and he was the fastest horse in the world. Every morning and every night I covered him with a fresh coat of ice water to preserve him as long as I could.

Snow horse

Neighbors stopped by to comment, people driving by in cars slowed down to “ohhh” in wonder at this marvelous creation, and the local newspaper even did a feature story with pictures on my Silver and how it all came about. I loved that horse and I loved my father so much for such an amazing gift straight from his heart. I don’t know what prompted him to do it. I was only 10 and didn’t think to ask or know how to formulate the question.

But, good things too come to an end; and the day came in April when the sun rose too high in the sy and no matter how much ice water I used I couldn’t keep him from beginning to show the telltale drips that meant he was melting. I sat with him outside as one would keep vigil with a sick friend,  begged to sleep outside in case he needed me – “No, it’s too cold, Judy, you’ll freeze.’ From the wisdom of my mother. From my father, a tear – he understood but reality won out.

In the morning I raced down the steps and outside to see a shell of Silver, trying to stand proud, and melting. In 30 minutes it was over – he was gone.

I didn’t know at the time it was possible for a child to cry that much. I sobbed for hours, first hanging onto him and then in my bedroom. My heart was broken for the loss of the most gracious gift, the unexpected loveliness of it all, the hours we played together, and the possibilities of what might have been, the unrealized dream that has never died.

Exhausted finally from the tears and emotion, I went to sleep and dream t of my darling Silver, my father, herds of horses and love beyond measure.

Now what does this have to do with marketing, you ask. Of course, everything. Marketing never ends – building relationships never ends. Keeping your name “out there” never ends. You my dear therapists are providing such a marvelous service, helping people end their anguish and suffering. If you are good, you know it in your bones. Please share that expertise with others. My father kept that marvelous talent hidden for over 20 years – a terrible waste of a gift. And then one day, it burst forth – it was as if the world was too small for him all of a sudden – he HAD to share it.

He periodically did things like that as time went by – amazing, delightful surprises. He owned three businesses in his lifetime – all successful. And as I watched, and listened and learned, I watched him first build the trust which takes time. He was willing, more than willing. One of my very favorite tips he used – another grocery story opened their doors close enough to ours to be a real threat. A bit newer, more modern, but my dad had trust already stored up for years. When mom sent the kids to the store for a loaf of bread, they had a choice – newer or trustworthy. They always chose him. He      taught me his secret. When the got an ice cream cone, he gave an extra dip. When they got candy, same thing–”a little extra on the side for you, he’d say.  And countless other stories. It rubbed off…more value to the customer whenever possible, keep building the trust and he always shook their hand and said good-bye, come back now and called them by name.  I loved that man so much and never , ever told him enough. “Do you hear me now dad?”

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The holidays are coming upon us already! It seems like just a few years ago, the shops waited until after thanksgiving to put out Christmas decorations, now this year the day after Halloween they were out….almost a whole month earlier. Talk about aggressive marketing! This is certainly not the way I recommend you do your marketing, but looking at all the decorations did start me thinking about retailers and what we can learn from them in the marketing we do as therapists.
 

Marketing Moves

One of the things I hear most from the therapists I talk with when I do marketing consults is that they start something; maybe they’ve read a book or heard a talk and were inspired to begin a new program, but “Now I’m stuck! I don’t know what to do next. It’s already been three weeks and nothing’s happening.”
 
So let’s talk about getting “unstuck” with your marketing. Here are my top five tips for getting moving again, getting result – clients – and getting unstuck!
 
1.       Stephen Covey’s first of the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” talks about being proactive and taking responsibility for your life. Look at who is in your Circle of Influence and focus on them because those people are the ones you can do something about. You may find you need to expand your circle of influence and this is why every business coach you’ll ever meet preaches networking.  Networking is nothing more than building that circle of influence.  When you’re feeling locked from moving forward, begin making a list of your circle of influence. Write down the names of everyone in it. Writing the names is important because it makes us commit at some level to these people and the next step, which is contacting them and doing some face to face networking. Tell them you have some openings in your practice, and if they hear of anyone who needs someone with your expertise (here’s where you do your “elevator speech”) give them your name and a card. Make sure you have 10 -15 cards to give them.
 
The new networking we’re all hearing about is personal networking. Actually it isn’t new; it’s always been the best way to network. The online social networking sites just make it easier to meet people and make connections to follow up in person. So work on your list. Take 15 solid, uninterrupted minutes a day for a week and add to your list. You’ll be surprised at the end of the week how many names you have. If you’re not surprised, it’s time to network some more!
 
2.       Step 2 is one of my personal favorites and maybe the most powerful. “Recreate your vision.” When you’re feeling stuck and can’t move forward, remember why you wanted to go there in the first place. What was your original vision of the business you are trying to build? What does it look like? Where is it located? Who will your work benefit? What fulfillment or satisfaction will it provide you? Write down your vision of a successful business, or if you’ve written it down before, pull it out and re-read it. Allow your own words to re-inspire you to do the necessary hard work.
 
Among my best memories is of a time I was standing on the balcony outside my office drinking a cup of coffee. I had a free hour and as I stood overlooking the garden in the center of the building, I was struck with the realization that at a professional growth retreat some years before I had done an exercise in which I had to draw a picture of my business in 10 years. At that point I had 3 clients and rented hourly space from a therapist friend…not much of a business at all. But, my realization was that my picture that I’d drawn, in great detail, looked almost like where I was standing at that moment. A definite goose bumps experience! But I learned that visualizing works! Picturing what you want, in great detail, works. For 10 years I had been moving toward that picture without remembering it most of the time, but I had it embedded it my mind, a seed that was slowly growing and taking shape. I still have that picture, and every day I have fresh flowers in my office just like I had in the picture.  This morning I picked 3 beautiful pink roses from that back yard for my desk. Recreate your vision!

During the exercise in the workshop, the instructor had us use the big fat crayons that kindergarteners use so our “inner child” was freer to “draw.” I still use the exercise to this day when I’m starting a new project. I visualize it and draw it with fat crayons! Try it and let me know what happens with your picture.
 
3.   Face your fear. One of the most common obstacles to being successful at marketing is fear. Marketing activities may evoke fears of rejection, disapproval, embarrassment, and a host of other catastrophes. Instead of pretending the fear isn’t there, or attempting to ignore it, you may find it more effective to confront the fear directly.

Try to identify exactly what you are afraid of. What do you fear will happen if you make that call or go to that meeting? If you can identify the specific fear that is blocking you, it may be possible to soothe it by providing reassuring information or positive experience. For example, fear of rejection can often be lessened by setting up practice selling sessions where a role-playing partner responds with “yes” to every suggestion you make.

4.  Quit; then start fresh. There may be days when you feel discouraged enough to just throw in the towel. Maybe you should do it. The act of quitting can be very cathartic. Proclaim: “I quit!” Perhaps even write yourself a resignation letter. Then take off the rest of the day, and don’t even think about work. It’s a good bet that after you have a chance to blow off some steam, you’ll be ready to come back the following day re-energized.

5.  Act as if. Whenever you feel incompetent about some area of marketing, you may be able to tackle those activities anyway if you simply try to act as if you were competent. Try playing the role of someone you admire. For example, what if you were Julia Roberts? How would she make a follow-up call? Or how about if you were Sean Penn? How would he introduce himself in front of a group? A short time pretending to be someone you think of as confident and capable can make those qualities rub off on you.

The next time your marketing feels stuck, try one of these methods to help you get back into action quickly.
 
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SPECIAL THANKS TO C.J. Hayden, author of “Get Clients Now,” for her inspiration and contributions to this piece.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Judy

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We’re starting something new today! Wednesday’s are a good day for new things; they’re right in the middle of the week which means there are only a few days left until the weekend and that’s a good thing. So we’ve decided, in our great wisdom, to call our mini newsletter, “Wednesday’s Wisdom.” Today’s newsletter will be text only – no pictures or anything to distract you from the wisdom we’ve gathered here. We hope by this point you can tell some of this will be written “tongue in cheek,” but with real tidbits of wisdom thrown in here and there.

We’ll be sending these every other week, and they’ll be short and sweet and chocked full of goodies. We’ll ALWAYS include a special offer – so watch for it – near the bottom of the letter.

So here we go – Wednesday’s Wisdom! Here are the five best ways for professionals to get clients:

1. Meeting prospects or referral sources in person, at events or by appointment

2. Talking to prospects or referral sources on the phone

3. Sending personal letters and emails to prospects who already know them

4. Following up personally with prospects over time

5. Speaking to groups likely to contain prospects at meetings and conferences

Now here’s the most important thing to remember. In this context, prospects are NOT clients. Prospects are those professionals who come into contact with your prospective clients; doctors, lawyers, teachers, pastors, insurance agents, dentists, nurses, hairdressers. . .those people who deal with your clients everyday in their profession.

These are the ones you invite for coffee or lunch. These are the people you get to know so they can get to know and refer to you when they see a potential client in their office.

So, there it is – Wednesday’s Wisdom for the week. Schedule a time on your calendar right now to make that call and invite your hairdresser or barber for coffee. Ask them about their work and what they do when they think a client of theirs needs someone to talk to – a trained clinician like yourself. And leave them with a stack of your business cards – and the next time you see them, ask if they need more!

Special Offer :  $40 OFF!

New subscribers will receive $40 off a premium or enhanced listing when they mention this promo. Learn more about our available listing packages at Find-a-Therapist.com. Call today to take advantage of this special! 1-866-450-3463. Expires November 30, 2010

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By: C.J. Hayden, MCC

All economic indicators say we are in a recession. Consumer and business spending is down; unemployment is up. It’s natural to wonder whether perhaps this is a bad time to be marketing your business.

Since I’ve been self-employed for almost two decades now, I’ve seen several economic cycles come and go. What I notice about these “down” periods is that people who frequently struggle to get clients typically think these are bad times to market. On the other hand, people who have been consistently successful at landing clients seem to believe that there is never a bad time to market. Personally, I’d vote to follow the lead of those who are succeeding.

Professionals who have built successful long-term businesses have learned that continuing to market pays off in both the best of times and the worst of times. But you may not be able to produce new results by marketing in the same old way. Here are six suggestions for how to keep your marketing up when the overall business climate is down.

1. Turn up the volume. When people are distracted by bad news or economic concerns, you may need to communicate more often or more visibly. Where an email might have done the job before, now you may need to pick up the phone or send a postcard. Instead of just one follow-up call, you may need to make two or three. If your business is slowing down, make use of the extra time you have available to ramp up all your marketing efforts.

2. Become a necessity. When clients are cutting back on discretionary spending, they need to perceive your services as essential. Look for ways to “dollarize” the value of your services. How can you help your clients save money, cut expenses, or work more efficiently? Will your services help them gain more customers, increase their income, or experience less stress in tough times? Tell your prospects exactly why they need you, and why they shouldn’t wait to get started.

3. Make use of your existing network. It’s always easier to get your foot in the door when someone is holding it open. In a slow market, referrals and introductions can be the key to getting new business. Seek out opportunities to propose repeat business with former clients, too. Uncertain times encourage more reliance on trusted sources and known quantities, so warm approaches and existing contacts will pay off better than cold calls or mass mailings.

4. Explore partnerships. Working with a partner can create more opportunities for both of you. By sharing contacts, you each increase the size of your network. Together, you can multiply your marketing efforts and share expenses. A partner with a complementary business can allow you to offer a more complete solution than your competitors can. A photographer could team up with a graphic designer, for example. And you can help keep each other’s spirits up, too.

5. Meet people where they are. In a down economy, prospects are even more price sensitive than usual. Instead of slashing your rates to get their business, propose a get-acquainted offer. A professional organizer or image consultant could offer a reduced price half-day package for new clients. A management consultant or executive coach could propose a staff seminar instead of consulting/coaching work. Once clients see you in action, they’ll be more willing to spend.

6. Find the silver linings. When companies cut back on staff, opportunities are created. With fewer people on the payroll to handle essential tasks, downsized organizations present possibilities for project work, interim assignments, and outsourced functions. Economic changes beget other needs. People who are out of work need resume writers and career coaches. Folks concerned about their finances need investment advisors and financial planners.

Landing clients during a down period requires not just more marketing, but more strategic marketing. So instead of getting depressed by the news, get inspired by it. When you hear about coming layoffs, consider how your services could benefit those companies. When you read about negative consumer attitudes, use those words to better target your marketing copy. When prospects say, “not this year,” craft a proposal that ensures your place in next year’s budget.

For the successful independent professional, there’s no such thing as a bad time to market.

Copyright © 2008, C.J. Hayden

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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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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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