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Marketing…it’s a word that brings a variety of thoughts and ideas to most people’s minds, perhaps even some emotions as well. (Expensive, time-consuming, “I don’t wanna do it!” all come to mind.) To some, marketing means spending lots of money to buy ads, business cards other promotional materials – and then crossing your fingers in the hopes that you make some of that investment back with the clients that hopefully decide to try you out.
Since that is the case for many people, I think it is important to share my definition of marketing before I share some of my truly affordable and effective marketing ideas. Simply put, I believe that marketing is everything that “touches” or makes an impression on a client or prospect and causes them to want to do business with you for the first time or the next time. I call this “every touch marketing” (also the brand name of my book, coaching program and other marketing tools and materials.) Of course in the case of negative touches and impressions, which I call anti-marketing, they may cause people to do business with you for the last time - or perhaps not at all!
By looking at marketing through this new lens and thinking of the way you impact people in all that you do, it should begin to be clear to you that you are immersed in marketing every single day regardless of whether it is “part of your job” or not In fact, marketing yourself starts from the moment you wake up and decide what kind of day you’re going to have. It continues when you leave your house and speak to the cashier at Starbucks or the grocery store and continues with the way you answer your phone or respond to client messages throughout the day. Every smile, sentence and moment of interaction you have with others is and can be a marketing vehicle for your practice whether you like it or not. Today’s successful practitioner and business person not only realizes this but takes every opportunity to send the right message and intention out into the world.
Now that we’ve settled that, you’ve probably gathered that I don’t think it is necessary to drain your bank account to grow your business. And after all, just because something costs more does not mean it’s better.
But in terms of free marketing, we have to ask the question “Is anything really free?” I’ve thought about this a lot and realized although there is an investment of some kind in most marketing, there are a few things we can do that absolutely free.
A few examples…
Other than the above most marketing tools and strategies aren’t completely free. Even if they don’t cost you any cash, they will cost you some of your other resources such as time or energy. Thus it’s also important to become aware of, budget for and keep track of ALL the investments you are making in your business.
Start by giving some thought to how much time, money and energy you are willing to commit to growing your business each day, week and month. In general as you are growing a full-time practice, you may not have a large budget of cash and will instead spend more sweat equity to grow your business in the beginning. You may also have some small up-front monetary investments along the way to purchase business cards, visit networking groups or do mailings.
I suggest you use a typical work week schedule of 30 – 40 hours as a basis for the time you commit to marketing and business development. As you start to fill in a few hours here and there with clients, the amount of hours marketing will likely drop back a bit. However, if you treat the business development part of your business as seriously as you would a full schedule of appointments, you’ll be well on your way to filling up those empty time slots in no time.
If you are already in practice and are primarily looking to maintain your existing clientele while continuing to bring in a regular stream of new clients, it will likely make more sense to plan a block or two of regular business development time each week. Here you may be spending more money than time via discounts or incentives given in referral programs, birthday offers or investments made in client communication tools. This also happens because your schedule is getting more full with clients and so the supply of “extra” money on hand may become greater than supply of “extra” time.
As far as simple yet inexpensive promotions, there are many different ideas I could share to get the ball rolling for you. However, I think the very first thing you should focus on is marketing yourself and your services to people you know (aka PYK). In fact, when you are trying to get more clients and dollars into your practice or business, one of the most valuable assets you can utilize is the pool of people you already know – and who already know you.
This group is made up your friends, family, social acquaintances, classmates, past work colleagues, people you regularly socialize with at school, church and other groups and the people you do business with. Since these people already know you, they will normally be more supportive of you and your business than total strangers will be.
Begin by sending an announcement or about what you offer along with an invitation to try your services out to everyone on your PYK list. You may want to offer special, limited time pricing or another incentive for them to try your services, especially for anyone who could be a good regular client or referral source for future business. I call this powerful yet easy combination…
Inform ~ Invite ~ Incent
It is important to let your PYKs know about your business and services while giving them a direct invitation (or several) and the incentive to try you out. Try it – it works!
Once you have compiled your database, formulate a plan for sharing your business details, services and offerings as well as special opportunities for discounts or new clients, referrals, and so on. Keep these folks in the loop as you add new staff, change locations, and host events. Of course, if you are staying in touch with them via email, always make it easy for them to opt out or to adjust what they receive notifications about from you.
You may also want to think about who in your PYKs could potentially introduce you to those who can benefit from your services or who have clients/customers who would also be interested in what you do.
For example, those who provide pain relief or wellness services may want to reach physicians and other medical providers. As the lines between beauty, wellness and health continue to merge, finding ways to connect and cross promote with these folks is vital to your business' well-being.
Other PYK Ideas
Click here to purchase Felicia's Every Touch Marketing: Home Study Program
Although AMTA-WA is offering this program to its members, AMTA-WA does not in any way endorse Felicia Brown. AMTA and AMTA-WA assume no responsibility or liability for the accuracy, suitability or completeness of the program. AMTA-WA does receive some financial gain from the purchase of this program.