In the beginning…
As clinicians in Private Practice we all want to be working with our ideal clients. These are the clients that are good for us, who light us up and who by their very nature allow us to be kind to ourselves. Then we realize that actually attracting our ideal clients to us can be a lot harder than what we first expected, so we quickly start hoping and praying that all of our ideal clients will become our raving fans so that they will help fill our practices.
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I can hear you saying, “YESSS PLEASE – can I have some of that action Jo?”… Well, yes my friend, let me show you how.
As business coach for Health Professionals, a part of my intake process is to complete an audit of a prospective client’s online presence. I’m not really interested in learning what social media platforms they’re using, or what type of hosting they use, or what their FREE thing is. That comes waaay later.
What I am looking for first and foremost is consistency. YEP, consistency.
• Consistency in look.
• Consistency in feel.
• Consistency in language.
• Consistency with the images chosen matching the words used.
• Consistency in the functionality.
• Consistency in the messaging.
And you know what – I don’t often get beyond this point because, well, we are not very good at this. And at that point I know we have a massive problem. The problem is that there is a message-to-market mismatch, and that your potential clients do not trust you because you keep turning up differently wherever they find you. (And we all know more and more people are doing the Internet-stalking dance before they reach out to us.)
What we end up with is jigsaw pieces of a puzzle all over the place where the prospective client has to work really, really hard to put the pieces together to form a consistent whole picture.
This matters a LOT.
Without consistency we will NOT create TRUST.
• Without TRUST our potential clients will not BUY from us.
• And without Consistency a client who turns up once or twice may not stick around for the duration they need us for.
• And the ideal client who does buy from us will not know how to become the raving fan you need them to be (don’t panic, I am not about to ask you to get your clients to write reviews for you, we all know that is a No-No).
I get it, being “consistent” is akin to being “boring.” We’ve all been told by the marketing people who matter that boring is bad, boring is beige, don’t be boring. Again, in the true over achieving style of clinicians the world over we appear to have swung too far in this “don’t be boring direction.” Your prospective clients are not bored with you. The only person who is at risk of being bored by a consistent online and offline presence is YOU. You will become bored with you.
Being consistent matters because I, as a prospective client, want to know that when I read your LinkedIn profile and then go to your website that I have come to the same person and the right place.
I want to know when I’ve read your About Me Page, and then go your Book A Call page, that it’s the same person with the same intention – that intention is to help me.
Please remember that I, as a prospective client, am scared. I’m anxious. I don’t trust you yet. I’m still really scared that you are going to make me do things that will hurt me. And how can I trust you when every time I see you, you look different, or your logo is different, or your web copy reads differently than your Psychology Today profile.
What an inconsistent presence tells me – at often an unconscious level – is this: I don’t belong here I need to find someone else.
This is obviously a big deal isn’t it? The last thing we want to do is compel potential clients to look elsewhere before we’ve even had a chance to tell them how much we want to help them.
The TRUE currency of all health care is not money. It’s not the dollars in our pockets. It’s TRUST. Clients will part with their hard-earned cash when they know they can trust you.
The truth of the matter is this:
• A confused prospective client will not buy your services.
• A prospective client who does not “know” you will not buy your services.
• A prospective client who does not like you will not buy your services.
• A prospective client who does not trust you will not buy your services.
• A paying client who does not know how to explain who you are and what you do will not share you with anyone else. They simply do not know how.
The good news is this: A prospective client will buy your services when:
• They feel like you understand them.
• They feel heard.
• They can trust that you are real and authentic.
And to be brutally, honest many of our clients are looking for reasons to not come to therapy. When we make it easy for them to simply go oh, that’s all too hard, then that’s not very caring or compassionate of us. People won’t get the help they need. You don’t get to help the people you want to serve, and then you end up claiming to a coach like me that online marketing and copywriting doesn’t work.
So, how can I improve my consistency?
This is a pretty easy fix to be honest. You want all the places that people can find you – online, offline, on brochures, business cards, presentations to have the same look, feel and intention.
It is time to let go of “clinician speak” and embrace who you are so that you can talk to those people who you are best able to serve in a way that they can understand you.
Be assured NO ONE has ever come to me stating, “I need you to CBT my adjustment disorder so I can transform my life.” NO ONE HAS EVER SAID THIS.
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5 things you can do right now to improve your branding consistency
1. Review the images you are using of yourself!
Please choose 1 main image and let that be the primary, consistent image for anyone coming to look for you. Now, you can have a range of images with the same clothing and hairstyle in different poses, but they really need to look like YOU.
If you have headshots taken with lots of makeup and lots of hair styling and when you turn up on a vlog or in-person without makeup or all the extra styling, ummm, guess what – you will confuse people, and confusion creates mistrust.
If you have headshots taken wearing a suit jacket and tie and you never wear a suit jacket and tie, the same applies. People will meet you and their first thought will be, “Who is this person, and can I really trust them because the look nothing like they did online.”
2. Do the images on your website, profiles, brochures, etc. actually match the tone of your voice? Do they complement what it is you are trying to say?
I get that creative images can cause a “disruption” – that’s awesome for social media posting to grab someone’s attention, but it’s very click-bait-like (which is when the post uses a great image that has NOTHING to do with the article but causes someone to click). Most web browsers have learned to recognize click-bait on sight and typically try to avoid it. In addition, avoid creating a situation where the pictures look like they have been simply cropped and dropped in without any thought to the look and feel of the page, brochure, or website.
YES, this stuff matters.
3. Do all of your pieces of content (all of your brochures, presentations, profiles, etc.) tell the same story?
Your content might not use all the same words, but the message needs to be the same. We want to take prospective clients on a journey with us: we want them to meet us through our website copy, and then seek out our Psychology Today profile to learn more, and then find articles we’ve written when they Google our name. We want them to think, “I know this face, I know this image, I know this person, and I like them.”
This journey includes: the words you use, the pictures you use, your website navigation and the functionality of your site, and the social platform that you prefer. I want YOU to take me (as a prospective client) on a journey where I get to know you, so I can like you because then I will trust you. Make it easy for me to trust you; clients want to trust you, but they are scared.
4. Are the words that have been used your words? Is it how you naturally speak? Is it speaking a language that your prospective clients can understand?
I know that we all want to impress our peers. I know that the fear of being criticized by our peers is awful. It produces crushing anxiety inside our chests.
Guess what? Our peers are not our prospective clients. (If they are, we need a whole other conversation.) So, stop writing your words to impress your peers, and start writing so that your client’s can know you, so they can like you, and so you can show them that you GET them, that you CARE, and that you want to help.
Yes, because the way you use LinkedIn is different to the way you use Facebook, your wording everywhere won’t be exactly the same. So no more copy-and-pasting all over the place, please! What will remain the same is your messaging. The best way to help you think about this as an example…
- Your prospective clients log onto LinkedIn when they’re going to work; they are wearing their work clothes and they are in work mode. When you write for LinkedIn, write to your those prospective clients as if you are speaking to them when they are at work.
- Your prospective clients have come home and are scrolling through Facebook, or are not at work today and they are in their comfy clothes. They are killing time now, but they are STILL THE SAME people you were talking to on LinkedIn so your underlying messaging should be the same. But the language you use to engage with them on Facebook will be different.
Remember, your message will be exactly the same. Your message is that you CARE about them enough to show up and have a conversation with them online.
There are nuances here that cannot be put precisely into words. They have to be learned, practiced and learned some more.
5. Create the conversation that you want to have with your prospective clients.
This will require you to know your prospective clients better than they know themselves. You will be required to know them more than a diagnosis or a set of symptoms. This allows you to really know them, and then to really know the problems they have in order to speak to them in your words, your pictures, your actions, the functionality of your website, etc. All the ways we communicate with clarity and with a single message.
That message does not need to be complicated. That message could be…
- I am here to help.
- I am here to ease your pain.
- I am here to help you take back your life.
What consistency does for us is quite remarkable. When we have a consistent message, we can stop chasing after every new social tactic or hack and simply ensure that we have a simple, elegant and strategic message that will speak directly to the people we want to serve. We can stop feeling like we have too much to do online, and acting like a flibbertigibbet (yes it’s a real thing, and no you do not want to be one).
We can turn up to any event and when some asks us, “What do you do?”, we can use the consistent message we’ve developed to state confidently our focus and specialties.
Consistency helps us know what to do and say – and when to say it – with clarity.
Consistency also means that your colleagues and peers can recommend you because they know with clarity and confidence what it is you do, who it is you serve, and how you help them.
Consistency also means that your clients can recommend you because they know with clarity and confidence what it is you do, who it is you serve, and how you help them.
So TODAY I want you to go through and do a self-review of how you’ve been representing yourself online based on what you’ve read here as if you were your ideal prospective client. Or even better, get someone else to review it for you, someone you know who will give you HONEST feedback. Just show them this article so that they have context around the feedback you need.
However if you need and would like help to work through this, then yes, I can help. I have a 3-month process that I have taken many people through called, “From Ideal Client to Raving Fan.”
You can learn more about this process here.
I would love to know how this blog post has helped you. Please leave a comment below to reach out to me directly!
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