You’ve just finished seeing your final client for the day. Your client has left your office with a smile on her face and you’re basking in the glow while reflecting on the great work you did together and the progress your client is making. You love this work and wouldn’t want to do anything else, even if you could.
But your warm glow quickly fades and turns into overwhelm, because you remember that you need to market your therapy business to make sure your phone keeps ringing and clients are coming through the door. And the last thing you feel like doing is another two hours of marketing at the end of a busy client day.
You’re not alone if you’re a therapist who experiences overwhelm when it comes to finding time to do marketing, learning how to use technology and software, or just simply coming up with marketing ideas.
But it doesn’t have to be like this.
Marketing your therapy business doesn’t have to mean spending hours on social media or attending endless networking events. It can be a lot simpler and easier than you think.
So don’t despair, because I’m here to offer you 10 practical, easy-to-implement tips and productivity tools to help you overcome marketing overwhelm.
1. Create clear 90-day marketing goals
To get started with any marketing, you need to have clear goals. But I like to set 90-day marketing goals. Too many therapists set goals such as “I want to have 15 clients a week by the end of this year.” This goal is too big and will likely not lead to results, but it will lead to overwhelm. When you set 90-day goals they feel much more achievable because you can visualise the possibility of completion within a shorter time-frame. And you then feel like you’re making progress – which feels great!
2. Clarify your marketing strategies
Now your marketing goals are different from your marketing strategies. A marketing goal of ‘wanting 5 new clients’ needs a strategy. And the strategy is the ‘how’ of moving towards achieving that goal. One example of a marketing strategy would be to use free talks in your community to grow your email list and offer a free consultation to clients. So the strategy is public speaking, which moves you towards the marketing goal of getting new clients. Get clear about the strategies you want to use to reach your goals before you start any marketing.
3. Break your marketing strategies into marketing action steps
Your marketing action steps are the smaller steps and tactics you are going to use to implement your strategy. These might include finding a location for your free talks by contacting local libraries, contacting businesses to see if they have lunch and learns or writing the copy for your flyer promoting your free talk. Your marketing tactics are all the to-dos that put your marketing strategy into place. For each marketing strategy, you will need to have a list of marketing action steps that you will be doing on a regular basis.
4. Block out time in your calendar for marketing and set due dates
While to-do lists can be helpful when used well, they can also be problematic when they become endless lists of things you need to do that you will never get to. This is where a to-do list contributes to marketing overwhelm. Instead of writing long to-do lists, block our specific times in your calendar for your different marketing activities and action steps. This way, you ensure your marketing activities get completed because they are scheduled in your calendar. And if you happen to come up with new business ideas or marketing ideas that are not relevant for what you’re doing right now, don’t put them on your to-do list. Add them to a separate ‘ideas list’ or ‘one day’ list so you don’t lose focus on what you’re working on now. My favourite to-do list manager that syncs in the cloud with all my devices is Todoist and I use Evernote to store all my ideas.
5. Choose your top 3 daily tasks to do on your to-do list
Another trick I use with my to-do list is to number from 1-3 the three top things that must get done that day that are non-negotiable. This helps with marketing overwhelm because even if you have a number of items on your to-do list, you know you only have to complete three for that day. Of course if you do more, that’s a bonus. But just aim for the top three. Nothing feels better than crossing off those top three at the end of the day and knowing you finished the most important things you needed to do. Then make sure you acknowledge your accomplishment and give yourself a small reward by doing something enjoyable or relaxing.
6. Slay your dragons early
If you’re feeling stressed by a project or task that is starting to make you feel overwhelmed, make sure you attack it first thing in the morning. By ‘slaying your dragons early’, you can address the one thing that is proving to be a challenge or stress to you before all other tasks for the day. Most people defer or avoid doing the thing that is creating them stress until later in the day, but what happens is this actually contributes to more stress and overwhelm in the long run. The trick is to get up and get started on that task before you do anything else (including checking email or social media) so you can reduce your overwhelm and be more productive and less stressed later in the day.
7. Defer checking your email
We all know that email is a huge time suck. We are constantly being bombarded by emails throughout the day and night and it can feel like you hardly ever (or maybe never) get to ‘inbox zero’. By deferring checking your email later in the day, you can significantly decrease marketing overwhelm. Remember, email is other people’s urgent, not your important. So when you think of email like this, why would you prioritise other people’s urgent over what’s important to you? I encourage you to try deferring checking your email until 12 noon (it could be a challenge!) and see how much more productive you can be with your marketing. It’s likely you will make significant inroads into reducing your marketing overwhelm.
8. Only touch each email once with delete, defer and delegate
One more important point on email is to only ever touch each email once. I use David Allen’s principle from the famous productivity book Getting Things Done, where he says you should only ever touch an email once where you decide to delete, defer or delegate. To help me with this, I use a great app called Mailbox, that has revolutionised my approach to email and helped me reduce overwhelm and increase my productivity significantly. The app helps you quickly reschedule the email to reappear on another day and time when you can address it. And of course, you can also delete the email or send it on to someone else (delegate) to attend to it. Another app called Boomerang, which is plugin for Gmail, does a similar thing and helps you return emails at a later date when you can action them.
9. Work on one task or project at a time until completion
Lots of therapists lose focus by working on multiple marketing activities at once. The truth is multi-tasking is not an effective use of your time and often leads to greater overwhelm. Work on only one task or project at a time until you have completed it. When you can immerse yourself in the activity, you will have better focus and likely produce better work in the long run. Make sure you shut down all distractions – social media notifications and email – to keep your focus until you finish the task. When it comes to working on bigger projects, don’t start other projects until your current project is completed. This also helps you keep a laser focus on your bigger goals.
10. Review your progress and set new goals after 90 days
It’s important to take stock on a regular basis to check how you’re progressing. Have a look at how your 90-day goals are going and see what else needs to be done to reach the 90-day goal. Also review your progress by reviewing your statistics to get a clearer picture of the results of your marketing activities. This might include looking at the number of new opt-ins on your email list, your website traffic in Google Analytics, or checking social media stats like Insights in Facebook or your social media statistics dashboard in Hootsuite or Buffer. If you’ve completed your project or reached your 90-day goals, it’s now time to create new goals for the next 90 days and break them down into marketing tasks and activities.
When it’s time to market your therapy business, you don’t have to get overwhelmed. Through working smarter, being strategic in your direction, and setting strong boundaries with yourself and the way you work, you can be more productive and reach your private practice goals faster.
To get started, just commit to using one tip a day from my list above. Let us know how you’re doing with these tips in the comments below.
If you’d like to learn more marketing strategies for building a successful therapy practice, sign up for my FREE 5-part eCourse called 5 Ethical Practice-Building Strategies for Therapists.