Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The 5 Most Common Business Mistakes of New Therapists

Running your own therapy practice is a wonderfully rewarding job, for many reasons. However, it is tough, really tough to get it off the ground. At The Therapists' Business School we work with a range of therapists, and we notice the recurring business mistakes when they are starting their own business.

Mistake 1 - Investing in the wrong sort of learning
I'm going to assume that if you have your own therapy practice you have a qualification which is recognised by your industry specific professional body and the CNHC. This is vital. Assuming this, you are already very capable of treating clients. So, how do you continue your education?  Time and time again we see perfectly capable therapists, who invest an excessive amount of time and money into more courses directly to do with their therapy type. This is great to increase the level of service you offer and is necessary to adhere to CPD requirements, however, if you are not seeing any clients, it is a wasted effort. Consider if that time and expense could be used to learn about business development. Bear in mind that potential clients, in general, recognise the job title and not the specific qualifications. You might be ten times as qualified as a similar therapist in the same area. However, if she has fantastic marketing, she will be the one seeing the clients. In the first few years, invest your time and money into learning about business, specifically marketing. Then, you can build a successful business and your therapy skills will naturally improve, through experience. Once you have a thriving practice you will have the freedom to further develop your skills.

Mistake 2 - Not spending any money on advertising
Word of mouth marketing is fantastic. However, you require a big enough pool of former clients to enable word of mouth marketing to generate a significant flow of new clients. While we do have to watch our expenses, some forms of paid advertising are necessary to generate that initial group of clients. The beauty of digital marketing such as Facebook and Google AdWords is that you can test various marketing strategies without committing large sums of money. You can set small budgets and test a few strategies against each other to establish the best one. We go through how to do this in more detail in our Business Success Course. Be honest with yourself about how much you have spent on training in the last year, including hotels, meals and transport. The chances are that the same amount would have been sufficient for your marketing budget for the year.

Mistake 3 - Lowering prices too much
There is a sweet spot when it comes to pricing your services. This differs dramatically between areas and therapy types, as well as between different therapists. Many therapists lower their prices (sometimes very dramatically) when they go through a quiet spell. It's a common mistake to think that lower prices will equal more customers. However, this is rarely the case. There are always quiet and busy spells, often coinciding with times such as the school holidays. Lowering your prices during these times will most likely result in getting the same number of new enquiries you would have done anyway but without the same income. Keep your prices steady through the quiet spells. Things will improve again.

Mistake 4 - Looking unprofessional
Whether we like it or not, first impressions count. Nowadays, potential clients will look at your website for a few seconds before deciding whether to leave the site or find out more. So, we have just a few seconds to make that vital first impression. Make sure that your website is user friendly and has no spelling errors. We once saw a hypnotherapy website with hypnotherapy spelled incorrectly in large letters at the top of each page! The same applies to photos. Make sure that the photo looks professional. Don't crop your partner out of a holiday snap and use that as your professional work photo! Yes, this is another website faux pas we have seen more than once at The Therapists' Business School. Perhaps ask a friend to read through your website and give their opinion. Of course, looking professional also applies to face to face meetings. Dress well for your therapy sessions. Be on time and make sure your treatment room is clean.

Mistake 5 - Lacking in Confidence
Starting a therapy practice is very daunting and it is very normal to feel a lack of confidence. Unfortunately, if this is too obvious, clients will also lack confidence in your ability to help them. Building confidence takes time, but there are strategies you can use. Make sure you have a support network of other therapists around you. Peer support groups are fantastic. Take the time to reflect on all the clients who have made a good improvement. Congratulate yourself often. Notice the language you use with your clients. Speak in a confident way about the therapy to instil confidence in them.

Building your own therapy practice is a very steep learning curve. Hopefully being aware of these common mistakes will increase the speed at which you build a thriving practice.

Our Story - The Therapists' Business School

The Therapists' Business School was created less than a year ago.  We recognized that, time and time again, very talented therapists, were having to give up their dream career, because they could not make the business work. As therapists we need to be business people as well as therapists and this is often the difficult part. It was heart-breaking to see so many great therapists have to return to employment and stop the career they love.
We realized that a lot of therapists lacked business and marketing skills. Often we, as therapists, have not worked in industries which required these skills, so have never developed them. To suddenly have to master these skills in your own business, with no support, is really tough!

We want more people to benefit from holistic therapy and therefore we want more therapists to be successful, to share their skills and help more people. We also want to see therapists who have been brave enough to take the risk of setting up their own business, to be able to live their dream.

We decided to set up this company to help other therapists, like you.

We are fortunate enough to have a team consisting of very successful therapists, who have been there and done it and have an in-depth knowledge of business and marketing, as well as experts in specific marketing fields such as social media and Google marketing.

Our vision is to provide a collection of resources, including courses, to enable holistic therapists to grow their business, be successful and ultimately live their dream.

Creating A Marketing Funnel - Level 2

A marketing funnel is the most valuable marketing strategy your business can have. Although it is time consuming to set up, once done, it will run itself and generate lots of new leads. In our previous post, on creating a marketing funnel, we discussed landing pages, email capture, hooks and identifying your ideal client. If you have not yet read the first email you can do so here.

Assuming you have now identified your ideal clients and have your landing page ready to go, let's move on. It's important to get these stages done first, so, if necessary, go back to the previous post.

Your next step is to set up your ads. You can do these on a variety of platforms. However, for today, we will focus on Facebook.

The first step is to open up the Facebook page which is specific to your business. If you don't have that, please set up a business Facebook page before anything else. It really is important to be prominent on social media.

On Facebook start by creating a normal post.

First of all choose an image, which correctly represents the freebie you are giving away. Make sure the image is clear and the correct size. If there are people in the image, then aim to make them the same age and gender as your ideal clients.

Now for the copy. The text on the ad (or copy) needs to be snappy and appealing. Through a lot of testing, we have found the best format for copy is to state three problems that really resonate with the client, and express these as questions, then to offer your freebie and finish with a call to action.

For example:
Do you dread big social occasions?
Do you get nervous when meeting new people?
Do you worry about what other people think of you?
Then download your free hypnosis for confidence MP3 here.

The reason for asking three questions is to create something called a "Yes Set." Once someone has answered yes three times they are likely to also agree to the call to action.

The word "here" should contain a link which will bring the potential client through to your landing page, where they can enter their details and automatically receive the freebie.

Now to target your advert. In the previous blog post we talked about identifying the characteristics of your ideal client. Now we put this into practice.

Once you have created your advert, it is time to boost it. Boosting it means that you pay and the advert will be shown to people who fit your target demographic but do not necessarily like your page.

Click on boost at the bottom of the post and you will be brought through to this screen.

You are given a few options in which to boost the post. We recommend targeting to a specific audience.

Now target to the specific ideal customer you identified. Target based on age, location, gender and interests. For example, you might know that most of your clients are women between the ages of 50 and 70, living in the local area who enjoy travel, specifically cruises, and reading. Facebook is wonderful because you can be so specific.

Now it is time to set a budget. We recommend starting small so you can test what does and does not work.

Getting the advert right takes a lot of trial and error. A/B testing is very important in all areas of your marketing and luckily Facebook makes A/B testing very simple. A/B testing is when you test 2 posts against each other. You change just one thing about the post, for example the image or the copy, and run it at the same time as the first post you created.

At the end of the campaign, Facebook will tell you which post had more interaction. The best post will have the lowest cost per click. You can view this is Ads Manager.

By constantly performing A/B testing you can create the most effective advert.

Now you've learned how to create your advert, you can just relax and wait for new email addresses to come in.

In the next Marketing Funnel email we'll talk about how to convert those email addresses into clients.

Creating A Marketing Funnel - Level 1

In our most recent blog, we explained the concept of an effective marketing funnel. If you have not yet read the most recent blog, you can do so here.
A marketing funnel enables you to identify your ideal clients, engage in a conversation with them, to build up a relationship. Once a relationship based on trust has been built, a good proportion of these people will become clients.
Creating a marketing funnel is a very effective form of marketing but is a lot of work initially. Therefore, we are breaking down the steps across several posts. In this one we will cover identifying your ideal customer, creating your freebie (or hook) and creating a landing page.
The first step is to identify your ideal client. Look through your previous clients and find out who your typical client is.

  • Where do they live?

  • What presenting issue do they come to see you about?

  • What age are your typical clients?

  • Do you tend to see predominantly men or women or is it equal?

  • What are their hobbies and interests? 

  • Do they have children?

Once you have pinpointed these details about your ideal client, you can target your marketing specifically for them.

The next step is to create a freebie, which is relevant to your therapy. This is something, you can easily distribute online and is a big enough incentive for the potential client to take the time to fill in a form. Some examples could be:

  • A free diet plan if you are a personal trainer

  • A hypnosis MP3 if you are a hypnotherapist

  • A video of exercises for back strength if you are a physiotherapist 

  • An e-book or article

When the funnel is set up, you will target adverts to your ideal client, offering them the freebie. Both Google AdWords and Facebook advertising work well for this. However, we recommend starting with Facebook advertising as it is more user friendly, easier to target and easier to control spending, when you are starting out. We’ll go through creating the advert in more detail in the next module.
The idea is that a Facebook ad will appear targeted to your ideal customers. They will see the advert, want the freebie and click on the ad. This will them bring them through to a landing page. The landing page is the page which will collect their email address and distribute the freebie to them. There are many landing page services available but the one we usually use is
Here is a typical landing page. As you can see, the landing page gives some information about your business, reminds the potential client of the freebie and has a button for them to click.

Once the button is clicked they are brought through to a form.

When selecting which template to use, select an Opt In Template. This style of template contains the functionality to capture email addresses.

Research shows that the fewer fields there are on the form, the more likely potential clients are to fill it out. Therefore limit the fields to only ‘First Name’ and ‘Email Address.’

Leadpages can be integrated with email systems such as Mailchimp and Aweber, so that any new signups are automatically added to a list. Alternatively you can set up your landing page to send you an email when a new prospect signs up for your freebie.

Another great feature of a landing page is that you can set it up to automatically send an email to the new client containing the freebie. It’s important to do this. People will expect to receive their freebie immediately. If they don’t, you risk destroying any trust. So, if it’s a recipe, video or MP3, you can send this immediately by email when the potential new client signs up on the landing page.

We’ve gone through creating your landing page, characterizing your ideal client and designing your freebie. Once you have these three steps completed, you are ready to create and run adverts. In the next installment we’ll go through the advert creation and testing. 

The Problem With Leaflet Advertising

Here, at The Therapists' Business School, we recently conducted a survey of holistic therapists in the United Kingdom.
An interesting finding was that many of you are using leaflet advertising. However, for all of you who use leaflets, this was your least effective form of marketing. Leaflet advertising generally has a very poor ROI (return on investment) both in terms of the financial investment and the time investment required for leaflets.
There are several reasons that leaflets produce such a poor ROI. The first is that this form of marketing is not targeted. You are marketing to everyone in the local area, regardless of whether they are interested in having therapy or if they are your ideal customer. To market your business effectively, it is much more beneficial to invest only in those who are interested in your specific type of therapy. You can do this with more targeted forms of marketing such as Google AdWords and Facebook ads.
Secondly, therapy is a very personal experience. The client will be revealing themselves, whether that’s physically by taking of their clothes for a massage, or emotionally by talking about their issues in a counselling session. Of course, many people very anxious or vulnerable when doing this. Therefore, they do not choose a therapist hastily. A client will choose a therapist they trust and will only continue to see them, if they continue to trust the therapist. A leaflet builds no trust and therefore is a very inefficient form of marketing. A much better way to build trust is to use a marketing funnel. The marketing funnel will be explained in detail over the next few blog posts, (it’s quite meaty so we decided to split this technique across a few weeks).
Therapy is generally a reasonably expensive service. To be able to charge a good price for your services you must portray a professional, trustworthy, upmarket service. Sending leaflets puts your service in the same category as local takeaways. It’s not the impression you want for your business.
So, how can you build up a good level of trust in a cost-effective way, which will bring new clients into your business without a huge investment?
The best way is to use a marketing funnel. This style of marketing is known as permission marketing and is much more effective and less aggressive, than big brash marketing, which annoys people. The marketing funnel allows you to start a conversation with a potential client, to build trust. The client does not have to spend any money initially so there is no risk to them. The beauty of modern technology is that it is possible to build these conversations with a large group of potential clients for a very low cost.
A summary of the way the funnel works is as follows:

  1. There is an initial hook which encourages the potential client to give you their email address. This is the only part requiring a financial investment from you.
  2. You send an informative email campaign to the client, providing them with useful information and telling them about your business but without aggressively selling.
  3. Once a relationship of trust has been built up, you can sell more overtly and convert a portion of these conversations into sales.
  4. You constantly ask for feedback and assess how the different steps of the funnel are working.
    In the next blog we will go through a step by step guide to creating the most effective initial hook

Are You An Artist Or An Entrepreneur?

What was your dream, when you started your therapy business?
  • Was it to do work you love?
  • Was it to engage with people on a one to one basis.
  • Was it to make a dramatic and positive change in people's lives?
  • Was it to have the freedom and flexibility of being your own boss?
These great, highly motivating reasons, are some of the most common for setting up therapy businesses. Unfortunately, many  talented therapists don't live their dream, because they cannot make enough money to pay the bills.  
This pathway from dream to Artist back to employee is very typical.
What do we mean by Artist?

Well, many therapists fall into the Artist category. We have a craft we are passionate about. We care deeply about our work. We feel personally responsible for our client's satisfaction. It is these traits that make therapists wonderful at what they do.
In contrast to an Artist, the Manager is someone who likes systems and structures. They like fixed ways of doing things and can identify the most efficient ways of performing a task. They also tend to be great communicators and people managers. The Manager is brilliant at managing a department in a corporate environment and is often the type of person that Artists (such as therapists) would want to employ to manage the day to day running of their business.
The third type of person is The Entrepreneur. The Entrepreneur can be defined as a successful business person, who understand the needs of the client. The Entrepreneur also understands the resistance of potential clients to buying. They know how to speak to clients through their marketing, to overcome this resistance.

As therapists we need to be both The Entrepreneur and The Artist. The Entrepreneur gets clients in the door, the
Artist treats them.
Often therapists focus all of their energy on developing their Artist skills. They will often invest all of their personal development budget for the year on gaining further qualifications in their field of therapy.
How much have you spent this year on developing your therapy skills? And how much have you spent on developing your skills as an Entrepreneur?
As therapy business owners we must develop both skills.
We must attract new clients to be able to use and develop our therapy skills. As we attract more clients and treat more people, our therapy, or artist skills will  improve with practice.

So we can see that we need be both the Artist and Entrepreneur to have a thriving practice and truly live the dream. We also need the skills of the Manager but we can outsource a great deal of those tasks.

So, how can we do this? How can we build up our entrepreneur muscle? Michael Gerber's book, The E-Myth, covers this topic in great detail. It is a fantastic business book for any business owner.

Here at The Therapists' Business School, we can also help you to grow and develop your business skills. Our 4 week Business Success Course teaches you how to achieve a business mind set and how to market your business successfully.
As therapists, we are always encouraging our clients to invest in themselves. It is so important to also invest in yourself.