TTE 34: Using Authorship to Become an Expert & Create Your Sales Funnel
Gigi Hamilton has authored several mental wellness books, which have served as springboards into doing local seminars and workshops. Because she’s an author, people take her expertise more seriously than non-authors. Thanks to her books, she has created a detailed sales funnel that incorporates her authorship, seminars, workshops, worksheets and counseling.
In this episode, we dive deep into the value of becoming an author and dissect Gigi’s sales funnel for your benefit.
Best Marketing Move for Business
- Becoming an author
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Gigi’s Amazon Author Page
- All of Gigi’s Books
- The Marriage Blueprint
- Let the Marriage Begin!
- Gigi’s Private Practice Website
Thanks to Gigi for joining me this week. Until next time!
TranscriptClick here to read the Transcript
Gigi: I am. Very excited.
Perry: Fantastic Gigi. So glad to have you on the show today. Let me tell our audience a little bit about you here. Gigi Hamilton is the founder of Personal Enrichment Counseling and Consulting Services and has spent over 20 years of her career working to help couples and families, children, military service members, business leaders, and other psychotherapists learn and grow professionally. Gigi is a licensed professional counselor, author and consultant, and holds a master of arts degree in guidance and counseling from Bowling Green State University, and is currently completing her doctoral degree in organizational leadership. She’s had the pleasure of serving the United States Army where she provided relationship therapy to service members and their families. Gigi currently holds the position of president of the Licensed Professional Counseling Association of North Carolina and has authored several mental wellness books such as Let the marriage begin, The marriage blueprint, and The individual corporation which are designed to focus on improving relationships and teaching individuals and couples how to run their lives as if they are running a successful corporation. Gigi, gave a little overview of you there but why don’t you take a minute, fill in the gaps from that introduction and tell us a little bit more about you personally and about your practice?
Gigi: Sure, absolutely. So I live in Charlotte, North Carolina and a couple of reasons that I really wanted to actually do this podcast today was just to talk about my passion for relationships. I actually specialize in working with couples and individuals. I’m actually expanding into another company called Relationship Redesign Services just to really focus on relationships. So that’s something new that I’m really excited about.
Perry: What is it that sparked your interest and passion in working with couples and helping them improve their relationships?
Gigi: Well, I like systems. I think of things in terms of systems, which is also where their organizational leadership expertise comes in to play as well. And being married before, it’s a system and if you don’t have that system working properly you sometimes need help to do that. And if you don’t get the help then sometimes it can be the demise of your relationship. So I think I want to help people get the system right.
Perry: I like that a lot. So what does the system look like for a successful marriage in your mind?
Gigi: It’s one that really is focused on having a strong foundation because what typically happens is couples come into the relationship thinking that love itself is going to be the core factor to keep them together without doing the work as related to communication, to understanding what boundaries are, and defining roles in relationship. So those are things that you have to develop separate of being in love.
Perry: All crucially important. As I know very well about five years into my marriage here. So Gigi, tell us more about your career as a therapist and your career in private practice. Let us hear your history and how you came about to building such a successful private practice and really being a leader in the state of North Carolina.
Gigi: Sure, absolutely. Actually, my career didn’t really start in the military. It actually started prior to going into the military. I worked as a substance abuse counselor while I was working on my bachelor’s degree, at a residential treatment facility. It was awesome. I worked third shift and I got to get home with them, so that was pretty cool. So I got the foundation for counseling while I was in my bachelor’s program. And in getting the counseling experience, of course it led me to go back and get my master’s in counseling. Once I did that I joined the army and that’s where I really got to get a good look at what I would like to specialize in. I had no idea that I was going to be working with couples long term. But that was certainly a good foundation for me. When I got out of the army and moved to Charlotte I ended up working in agency mental health. Agency mental health, I think every therapist should certainly have that experience because it gives you the variety of the different populations that you need to know how to work with. Such as the severely and persistently mentally ill. That’s really important. And I also worked in the leadership roles, and the leadership roles were really helpful because it also gave you a different way of looking at how to be a leader and how to work as a clinician.
Perry: And can you expand upon that for us? What are those differences and how do they work together?
Gigi: Let’s just say if you came out of college, you became licensed, and you just decided that you were going to just open up your private practice. You don’t really have much experience outside of your internships. So working in agency mental health it’s kind of like getting your stripes, getting your battle wounds. You learn how to certainly get people hospitalized because they’re at risk of hurting themselves or others, you learn what the mental health system is like in your community. That’s really important because the mental health community dictates kind of how you get paid as it relates to insurance reimbursement and things like that. So you need to know all of those different facets of how to operate within a clinical world based on those different dynamics.
Perry: So I’m a therapist, I’m close to finishing my hours and I have wanted nothing more than to go into private practice my entire life.
Perry: What do I do when I finish getting my hours? Do you recommend going and working for an agency?
Gigi: No. If you want to do your private practice, I say, go for it! I think it’s great but I think you need mentorship and leadership to help you know how to actually do that and do it successfully.
Perry: Absolutely. And I kind of would be more of the mindset of work for a larger agency personally to like you said, get your stripes, get your experience, understand your community, understand what goes in. You don’t want to work– If you want to start private practice don’t go work for a larger corporation but find like a smaller mental health practice, a group practice where you can have one on one interactions with the owner. You’ll be able to see all the different components of how a private practice functions and operates. And be able to take from that and educate yourself. Basically get your master’s in business in private practice, and then go out and start your own private practice. That would be my personal recommendation for people. Sort of how a lot of startups work, you work for a startup, you understand how the business metrics work and what startups look like and then you can go off and be more successful in starting your own.
Gigi: Right, right. And I love the idea of the group private practice. First, because it kind of gives you the best of both worlds. You get to learn about agency mental health, but you’re kind of doing it on your own. You just don’t have to worry about all of the issues that come with running your own business such as billing and making sure you’ve gotten your corporation in order. You don’t have to worry about those things but you get to learn the ropes as you go, so that’s a great point.
Perry: Absolutely. So Gigi, let’s take a step back here and let’s go back to a point in your career in private practice where you could have called it quits. The entrepreneurial journey, there’s so many highs and lows, mountains and valleys, and climbing up those mountains– When you fall down to a valley and climbing back up can be so challenging and so frustrating but as entrepreneurs and people listening to this podcast can attest to. That’s part of the journey and that’s part of the joys of being an entrepreneur but there’s definitely a point in everybody’s private practice where they were just as low as they could possibly be, ready to throw in the towel and ready to call it quits. Can you share with our audience what that moment was for you and then more importantly how you persevered through that to come out on the other side much more successful.
Gigi: Sure. I guess it wasn’t necessarily a time in my career where it was like, I’m just done. But one of the things that happened for me is that I actually wrote my first book Let the marriage begin! I was so excited to go through the publishing process. I mean literally it was done, and I was like, why am I not putting this out? Well, low and behold, the way the world works I ended up unbeknownst to myself at the time in the process of having to go through a divorce. And I was just, how can I put this book out? This book talks about how you actually have successful marriages and it was just– It took me a couple of years to finally get through the emotional process and realize that you still have valuable information. You’re human just like everyone else. And a lot of times I think there was a perception that therapists don’t go through regular life changes, does that make sense?
Perry: It does.
Gigi: Yeah. So that was one of my biggest struggles and I despite that eventually got the current to put the information out because it’s valuable information, it’s information that couples have now– I’ve seen them use and actually improve their relationships. So I’m really glad I was able to overcome that.
Perry: Getting that book out and getting that information out, what kind of impact does that have on your private practice?
Gigi: It’s kind of maybe– Well, not kind of. It’s made like the expert in the relationship arena. It shows people that, well, you’re not just using some therapeutic approach. You’ve kind of come up with your own philosophy of how relationship should look. And once they read the book they get it. And it has validity and it’s written in terms of conversation where a lay person can understand it and take the actual practical tools and use them.
Perry: And that book, it’s for sale I would imagine?
Gigi: Yeah. It’s on my website.
Perry: How do you promote that book? How did you start promoting it when you first wrote it?
Gigi: Well. Social media. I think social media is probably one of the easiest venues for marketing because you get to– It’s such a vast audience that you can attract.
Perry: Mhm. And do you find most of the people who purchase your book are people locally in state of North Carolina or has it expanded throughout the rest of the country as well?
Gigi: It’s expanded out. It’s everywhere.
Perry: That’s great. Congratulations. So I’d love to chat more about how you can use books and be an author as marketing your practice. So you agree that’s an effective marketing tool for you because it positions you as an expert in the relationship arena, correct?
Perry: So what are ways that you’ve used the book to attract new clients. Or has it just been word of mouth? People getting the book and then they want to come to you for guidance and help?
Gigi: Right. That’s a good question. I actually do a lot of workshops and talking about relationships. I go to a lot of different symposiums where I may have a booth out there, and I’ll have my books there for people to actually look at. But biggest way though is to actually put on your own training or a seminar so that people can come to hear you.
Perry: And so is that a local seminar that you typically host or have you done it through the web or do you travel? Tell us more about that?
Gigi: Yeah, mostly they’re either local– And I’m actually in the process of getting ready to create some electronic versions so I can get to a national audience.
Perry: And so you had a local seminar, give us an example of one?
Gigi: Sure. My favorite one is called Relationship Realities. It’s how to get them, how to keep them, and how to let them go. So it kind of hits anybody in the room can relate to any of those issues. You’re already in a relationship, how do you make that to have it continued to stay successful, and how do you actually sustain a relationship. And the biggest thing is sometimes you’re in relationship but are not very healthy. And we spend time talking about how to get that emotional detachment so you can actually go on and have some more personal growth.
Perry: And how do you market the seminar? You create the seminar Relationship Realities, I’m sure you’ve done it a number of times. How do you get the word out about that seminar to people?
Gigi: Social media. I wish I could say there was something else. There’s also now locally for people who are listening– I mean, don’t really ignore the press releases. Press releases are really good because news people will actually pick up your stories as well. For those who may not be aware of there’s always the, help a reporter out, it’s called HARO, and I would certainly suggest subscribing to that because as clinicians you’re considered the subject matter expert.
Gigi: All things mental health.
Perry: And especially if you’re an author as well.
Gigi: Exactly. And getting your name out in those arenas– So a press release. And then you have your way upside but, yeah, I can probably do a little bit more with the marketing but those are the basic venues that I use right now.
Perry: So when you have these seminars people come and how long do you speak for typically?
Gigi: Well, sometimes I’ll do a three hour, sometimes I’ll do an hour, hour and a half. It just depends. Sometimes I’ll do all day.
Perry: Do you charge the seminars or are they free?
Gigi: I have done some for free. I’m doing a couple coming up. I have one coming up in October, October 6th, that’s going to be a free relationship seminar. And that one is free.
Perry: So for the free relationship seminars people come and they hear you speak, and they have the opportunity to buy your book and then do you see a lot of book sales from that as well?
Gigi: I could see more. A lot of my issue is running the private practice or busy seeing clients. And quite honestly, I am knee deep in writing a dissertation.
Perry: So do you see, I guess, the– As a followup question. When people come to your conference and they do or they do not buy your book or your seminar, do you see– I’m sure a number of them actually become clients of yours as well, is that accurate?
Gigi: Yes, yes. Absolutely. So in addition to the Let the marriage begin I also have workbooks. The marriage blueprint and The individual corporation. And those workbooks are designed to really go through a process of helping you really reinvent the way you see your marriage. To really give you that solid foundation.
Perry: And so they get these workbooks and are workbooks for free or are they paid as well?
Gigi: They’re paid as well.
Perry: So they purchase a workbook from you, they fill it out, and they’re like, well, Gigi, we need your help for our marriage as well. So let’s hire you for some counseling. I mean that’s the sales funnel right there. That’s a definition of a sales funnel. So you go out, you created some books, you created some worksheets. You go out and you have a seminar, you find a place to get the seminar, you host it, you charge people for it or you give it away for free this seminar. They come, you pre-sell them on your expertise. Some people purchase books, some people purchase worksheets, some people purchase counseling. And then the percentage of people who purchase books and worksheets also go through the funnel even further along to actually sign up for your counseling services.
Gigi: Right. And what typically happens is when I do it for free the ultimate goal is to have you get a different program. To purchase a program once you leave.
Perry: I mean, that makes perfect sense. And then a percentage of those people are also become counseling clients of yours.
Gigi: Yes, yes.
Perry: So I mean, I’m not sure how often people listening to this podcast really think about the visualizing sales funnel but when you’re marketing that’s what it is. If you just have a word of mouth, that’s your greatest source of marketing, word of mouth is so incredibly powerful and so essential to the foundation of any business. The sales funnel is pretty basic. You have clients, they refer you, people come in and the either see you for counseling or they don’t. But what you described here Gigi is a much more elaborate sales funnel that I think people can really learn from and take a lot of great information from to apply to their own business. So when you visualize a sales funnel it’s exactly that. It’s a funnel. At the top of the funnel are all the people who have heard about you or you have their email address, or are referred to you, or this case here, come to your symposium. Some of those people are going to fall of the top of funnel and nothing’s going to happen but some are going to get pushed through to the middle of the funnel and that’s where they’re buying your books or your worksheets, or taking a pamphlet home and learning more about you. And then some people are going to be squeezed all the way down, they’re going to fall there, but some are going to be squeezed all the way down to the bottom and those people are going to be ones who are purchasing your counseling services or purchasing more books from you, and they’re going to come out the side of a funnel and they’re going to become your clients. And that’s a sales funnel. I mean, you have an effective sales funnel running here and it’s propelled your business to great heights.
Gigi: Absolutely. It really has. And the other piece of that too is the consulting. As subject matter experts you have to really figure out what your passion is. And again I think that I started this out by saying that I like living at systems. So consulting allows you to go into different corporations to kind of look at their systems. And that’s a little bit different from the counseling aspect but we’re not taught in our counseling programs how diverse we can be. And there are so many things we can do with the education that we have, knowing that we are subject matter experts. You can just offer your services to go in and teach companies how to eliminate stress in the workplace.
Perry: That’s great. Have you been doing that?
Gigi: Yeah, I do that.
Perry: Tell us more about that.
Gigi: Okay, so there’s different employee assistance programs that most clinicians are familiar with. So the way the employee assistance programs work is that, one, the company will say, okay, you can go into counseling for free for so many sessions and call a therapists and you don’t have to use your insurance. And it’s good short-term therapy solution. Something that’s a solution-focused result. And people love to use that. But the other piece of that is if you’re stressed at work and the organization were like there’s some macro level issue going on, then they can call you in as a clinical professional to work with the whole group to actually deal with that issue whether it’s stress, work-life balance, how to deal with your children, whatever the issue may be you can actually help them with that.
Perry: And have you created a sales funnel for this process as well and for this segment of your business?
Gigi: Well, I’m pretty good at doing it. I actually have because I’m actually going to be meeting with the Charlotte chamber of commerce next week working with a group of women on how to deal with work-life balance.
Perry: There you go. You found a place for a symposium, you’re presenting information, presenting value, positioning yourself as the expert, and you’re getting all those people at the top of your funnel.
Gigi: Yes, yes.
Perry: I mean, it works if you work it. Sales funnels can be complex and they can be very basic, or they can be somewhere in between. And you’ve come up with a very straightforward clear definition of a sales funnel that you use very successfully in your business. That’s so great to see.
Gigi: Yeah. Now I will say it takes a lot of work to build those relationships because I am a networking phenom, and it had to be created. That process had to be created.
Gigi: Any minute I have that’s free I have to figure out what’s on the calendar, who do I need to try to have coffee with, what event do I need to go to at lunch time to give up my business cards? And for me, our area, the notion is it’s about relationships. It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.
Perry: People do business with those that they know, like, and trust.
Gigi: Exactly. So you have to get known, that’s it. People have to know who you are and they have to trust you.
Perry: So the people listening to this podcast, let’s say there’s a hundred therapists listening to this podcast right now simultaneously, which is very possible. And they’re like, wow, Gigi’s got this nailed down. I have no idea where to begin. What would you recommend to them to begin down the path of creating symposiums and networking and creating a sales funnel? What would you recommend that they do as soon as they get out of their car and get into their office for today?
Gigi: Really narrow down what their passion is. Because want to be able to speak to what you love, you speak to what you love when it gets yucky, and hard, and you don’t feel like doing it, that passion is what’s going to keep you driven to continue to do the work.
Perry: Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more.
Gigi: Yeah. So that’s the first thing. And the other thing is, what’s happened for me, how I ended up coming up with my workbooks was we were finishing up with Let the marriage begin and my sessions, and I have this other assessment that I use, this assessment process, and I’m like, oh my gosh, I need more. And we were talking about this foundation and I just needed something else. And I had the information all in my head and I remember it very clearly. I was in the session one day and I was like, oh my gosh, I need to write this book. Because they need this. My clients need this and I didn’t– Sure, I could go to the internet and print off different papers and assignments that speak to that need, but why not make it something that’s your own?
Perry: Absolutely. That positions you as an expert.
Perry: If you’re taking what’s already out there, there’s nothing there, there’s nothing that’s unique about you and your perspective on things. And there’s so many different ways you can go about this. If you don’t have the energy to write a full book create an email course.
Gigi: That’s right.
Perry: And you can give away the email course to people. You can go to symposiums and speak and say, you know, I have a five-day course on how to improve your relationships. I’m going to give you a tip a day, anybody that’s interested here’s a sheet of paper, sign up! And you get their email addresses. And that puts them into your funnel.
Gigi: That’s right.
Perry: There’s all these different ways that you can visualize your funnel and you want to be able to give something away or charge a nominal fee for people to view you as the expert and get them into your funnel. And yeah, I never expected that we’ll have a full talk on sales funnels but I love it. That’s the kind of stuff that I’m really passionate about. I love sales funnels and chatting about that stuff. And I think it’s something that isn’t spoken about too often in the mental health private practice space is visualizing your sales funnel.
Gigi: And I think it makes those lay behind the curve ball.
Perry: It does.
Gigi: Yeah. I was fortunate in my graduate school program where we had this one course, it was called consulting.
Perry: Wow, you don’t hear that often.
Gigi: Well let me tell you, this is the crazy thing. I actually ended up– The class I was in was the last time they offered that class.
Perry: Go figure, right?
Gigi: Yeah. And this was in the 90s mind you. I don’t want to date myself but this was a long time ago. But that particular course, I don’t know if it was because the professor was so phenomenal, but it shaped how I thought about being a therapist and it thought me then that you’re not just required to sit in that chair and have someone on that couch. There’s other things that you can compile for your practice to actually get the word out to people and provide different services.
Perry: Absolutely. And you kind of took my next question away here. I was going to ask you, you went to school to become a therapist, not to get an MBA. What’s the one thing you wish you would have learned in school about starting your own business? And I think we can still expand on that a little more because you clearly have such a great business sense and you learned about consulting and how you can apply that in a private practice, which was really great. But what about business building? What’s the one thing you wish you would have been taught about building a business?
Gigi: I’m going to tell you a funny story. My freshman year– You know how you graduate high school and all these people come to your graduation party and adults are giving you envelopes with the money? That’s the best part of graduating.
Perry: Aha, that’s part of getting married too, right? Hahaha.
Gigi: Yeah, that’s right. But they’re asking you, what are you going to major in? And right out of high school I had no clue so I said business. And I went into school to– And I remember sitting in my econ class and it was macroeconomics and I was like, this is the most boring class ever. And that class was the deciding factor for me to change my major to communications. So only to now, years later, to realize how important it is for me to have a business background. So I had to learn it but I had to be in a place where I could learn it, if that makes sense.
Perry: It makes perfect sense.
Gigi: Yeah, yeah. So I wish they would have had a business basics for therapists, that’s what the class should be called.
Perry: What would you include in that class?
Gigi: How to setup a private practice, different options for therapists, to work different arenas they can work in. Because we’re still stuck in this narrow view of the person sitting on the couch. How to actually develop your business, are you going to be an LLC, are you actually going to incorporate all those different things. These are things you need to know. You need to know the advantages and disadvantages of partnering with other people. You need to know what services you’re going to provide. Everything. Are you going to stay local or are you going to do it nationally, how does that work, what does that look like.
Perry: Fantastic. That’s such great information there and everybody here, you know– I wish there was a course for that but unfortunately there is not and there really needs to be because there’s just so much great value there that people are just missing out on.
Gigi: Clinicians are starting to create that. I know we have an annual conference for our counseling association here in North Carolina. And I think for the last at least 30 years they have had a segment on how to build your private practice.
Perry: Hmm, and what are some things that are taught there?
Gigi: Pretty much those very basic things of how do you really get clients. That’s the biggest thing. How do you secure clients when you have a private practice? And one simple way to do that is to go out to the doctor’s offices. Right now when you’re in the building mode you have that luxury time where you can go out, introduce yourself, offer to do a free hour lunch and learn for the stuff. I know they’re busy but you can even say, hey, if you need me to come in on Saturday we can come in and we can talk about– I love the stress one, everybody’s underpaid and so people carry stress all the time. If you offer to do something on helping them reduce stress, people will pick up on it and be more than happy. And you’re offering for free, they will absolutely love it.
Perry: I agree entirely. So Gigi, right now we’re going to move into the final part of our interview. The part we like to refer to as Brighter Insights. And what I really love about this part is we get to really distill down all your great advice and expertise into little soundbites and quick answers that our audience can use to inspire, motivate, and excite them in growing their private practice. Are you ready?
Perry: Alright. What or whom inspired you to become a mental health professional?
Gigi: My parents.
Perry: What is it that you do to clear your head and get a fresh start in your day?
Gigi: Ride my bike.
Perry: That’s a good one. What are some tools that you’ve used to leverage the power of technology in your private practice so that technology is no longer a hurdle but instead an asset for you?
Gigi: I’d say website for sure.
Perry: Haha. I’m glad that we can be a part of that with you as well, Gigi.
Gigi: Yeah. Famous plug. Hahaha.
Perry: Haha. What’s the quote that you hold near and dear, something that has helped formulate your perspective on life or has inspired, motivated, or provided guidance for you?
Gigi: I like the Japanese proverb, “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”
Perry: That’s great. Oh man, I really want to get a poster in the office of all these quotes that people give us here because they’re all so motivational and so fantastic.
Perry: If you could recommend one book to our audience, what would that book be?
Gigi: Oh, that’s easy. The power of who by Bob Beaudine.
Perry: And what’s that book about?
Gigi: It’s about really leveraging your current circle. We think that it makes to go out– I talked about the networking process and I still do this, but you go out to these places, you meet people, you give them your business part and you expect them to help you as opposed to you already thinking about your current circle and telling people in your circle what you need professionally. And they’ll go and do the work for you. So that’s what The power of who is about. It talks about leveraging your current circle.
Perry: Alright Gigi, last question. If you moved to a new city tomorrow, you didn’t know anybody there, and all that you had with you was 100 dollars and your computer to start a new private practice, what is it that you would do on your very first day?
Gigi: Oh that’s easy. And we kind of already touched on it already. I would first go to Starbucks with my computer and I would google all the different meetup groups that are in that city, the pretty ones specifically, and find out what’s going on in the city. I would actually look up the chamber of commerce and see what type of free meetings they have to go to. And then I would circle into one of those free meetings. Then I would take my 100 dollars and probably use it for gas money to go around to the different doctor’s offices and start offering my services for free. Lunch and learns and things like that.
Perry: Fantastic Gigi, such great advice. Where can our listeners find you to connect and learn more about you?
Gigi: Sure. My website is www.personallyenriched.com and it’s from Brighter Vision so check out my website.
Perry: Great. And of course you can learn more about Gigi and all the great resources she mentioned at this week’s show notes over at Brightervision.com/session34. Gigi, thank you so much for being so generous with your time, your expertise, and your knowledge. I know that I speak for our entire audience here when we say that we appreciate all the great advice that you provided and the therapist experience that you have shared.
Gigi: Awesome. Thank you so much for inviting me. I really appreciate the opportunity.
Perry: And thank you so much for tuning in today. If you have a question for us please email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and, of course, if you’re interested in launching a website please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Brighter Vision is the worldwide leader in custom therapist website design. For just 59 bucks a month we’ll build you a website that’s as unique as your practice is, take care of all of your optimization and all of your tech support so that you can focus on building your practice, not maintaining your website. To learn more head on over to Brightervision.com and drop us a line through one of our contact forms. That does it for today, thanks again for listening and we will see you next week.