5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Abandon Marketing When You Have a Full Practice
Burnout is a real thing. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons private practice businesses collapse. It’s hard to go full speed and fill your schedule completely for a prolonged period of time. At some point exhaustion, disinterest, or compassion fatigue will hit and you will end up wondering “what is it all for?”
In the past year, the demand for therapy services has become so high that many therapists are experiencing a real sense of burnout. Every time I talk with my clients I hear: “it’s great for my business but it’s just too much. I feel overwhelmed.”
When mental health providers feel this sense of burnout, it affects not only their own mental state but also the sustainability of their practices. Day-to-day operational tasks are being pushed aside or left to deal with after-hours, the time that should be used for resting and recharging. But besides that, many providers are starting to question the longevity of their private practice and looking for ways to make a change in their professional life. A change that will not negatively impact their finances but will allow them to have a breather in their busy schedules.
But here lies the conundrum. Being so overworked and financially dependent on having a full schedule leaves no time to think about sustainable business growth that will actually help maintain a healthy level of stress and purpose.
With the last quarter of the year approaching, you might be preparing for your busiest season of the year. Some of your clients might be going back to school, some are heading back to the office after a prolonged time at home. The potential for the influx of new clients is high during this time of year in general, but this year it will be inevitable.
So how do you keep yourself from burning out immediately and maintaining a healthy work/life balance?
What I am going to suggest here might surprise you, because it has nothing to do with the traditional notion of self-care.
The answer is to focus on your marketing. I know what you might think: “I don’t need any more clients!” And it’s true, you don’t. But marketing tools are not only used for the sole purpose of attracting sales. Marketing is tightly integrated with your business strategy and your business strategy needs to focus on what you want from your practice.
So hang in with me here for just a little longer and I will give you 5 solid reasons why focusing on marketing right now will save you from burning out and help you sustain your practice.
1. You can automate a lot of your non-billable work. Automation is the biggest marketing trend that we are seeing in 2021. And for a good reason! Automating certain marketing tasks can really free up your time to spend thinking about the future that you want to have in your work. Besides that, it can just give you the time to recharge. Here is what you can start doing to automate your non-billable work right now:
- Booking appointments through your website will allow people to answer basic questions that you need to know before you speak with them. This will reduce the time you spend on introductory calls and emails.
- Add a chatbot to your website and your social media to help people engage with your practice even when you are asleep! This will help you screen the type of people who would not be a good fit for your practice and offer good customer service without investing your time.
- Automate your social media posts ahead of time. Schedule all your posts in batches that will help you grow awareness about your services and your brand. Another great benefit to batching your posts is removing the intimidation factor from them. Somehow, it can be easier to get into the groove of creating posts in just one day than thinking about it every day and worrying about what to post next.
- If you are not doing it yet, you need to start automating your billing right now. Not having a system to consistently bill your clients will not only hurt you financially but will also make you seem messy and unprofessional. Make sure that the billing services you use are HIPPA compliant and that they won’t make your bookkeeping become a total nightmare to deal with.
2. You can segment your clients. After all, it’s your practice and you can decide how you want to operate in it. You decide on the types of client that fit your practice best. If you are full, chances are that not all your clients are your “ideal clients” and the work with some is more fulfilling than with others. Spending time thinking about what kind of client you would like to work with from both a philosophical and a financial point can help you set the fees and the hours that work best for you.
3. You can focus on your messaging. The way you present yourself to the world in your written and visual messaging determines how people perceive you and your profession. Your message is your educated opinion on the topics of your expertise. If you are not presenting your opinion to the world, you will end up fighting the mass misinformation about mental health one-on-one in your office later or on phone calls that lead nowhere.
4. You can optimize your billable time. Pardon the cliche, but a therapist’s time is literally money. You trade your time for payment and the problem is that, like all of us, you have a limited amount of it. Sure, you can increase your rates and if you are targeting a luxury type of client that might be enough for you, but if you’re not, there is a limit to how much you can charge. There are many providers that start going the online course route and that is great, but it requires forming a whole new business entity. Also, you might not want to do that. But there are different ways that you can optimize your time, even if you are not interested in courses or coaching. You can offer group therapy, create types of “summer camps” for teens with similar issues, offer workshops and package certain services into a “product” that require only a few sessions.
5. You can spend time planning your finances. And I am not talking about your personal finances, although I would strongly recommend it too. I am talking about the operation of your practice, your marketing tools and software, and advertising. You need to look into what you invest your time and money in. It will help you see clearly what’s working and what is not. You might also be surprised at seeing other opportunities to create new sources of income for yourself and alleviate your schedule.
My point with this article was to show you that marketing is not only a sales mechanism, but a strategic tool to grow and sustain your practice on your terms. When you abandon marketing altogether because you have a full schedule and are not interested in attracting new clients, you are also abandoning your opportunity to get off the hamster wheel and create a sustainable work/life balance that will help you avoid burnout.
The demand for your services will only grow in the next few years. How are you preparing for it? Comment below. I would love to know what you are planning!
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