As a practice building specialist, I come across struggling small businesses every day. Coaches and Therapists who think that all they need to do once they qualify is get a business card, a shiny website and a glossy brochure. And then they wonder why they have no clients...
Here are the 10 deadly sins of running your own practice. How many are you guilty of?
1. Institutional advertising. The typical type of marketing approach is the bland image awareness style with the practice name at the top of the ad, a grocery list of services in the middle and contact information at the bottom. It's not trackable, it doesn't look for a response, it looks like every other practitioner's marketing and it's BORING!
Direct response advertising has a catchy headline, discusses a typical headache the target client has, offers a solution and asks for some type of action - call, email, click a website. It's all about the client, nothing about the practitioner other than their speciality.
2. Failing to inform or educate. Are you expecting your prospects to magically know what you do, how it works and why they should come to you? If you are, they won't.
Educate them - give them free reports, video, tutorials, articles. Inform them and tell them why they need to act now. If they knew what you know they'd queue outside your door. So tell them!
3. Failing to communicate regularly. When was the last time you contacted your client database and gave them valuable information or news?
Most one man/woman enterprises neglect their past customers. Create a newsletter, client appreciation day, exclusive club membership, useful tips, content and support.
4. Not testing. In direct response marketing you need to know what promotions are creating what results, so you know what's getting a return on your investment.
Every Â£1 invested should net you Â£20 back. Track results. Code your adverts and leaflets. Keep stats on the website. Never spend more than you can afford to lose. Crunch the numbers. How many calls convert to paying clients? How many come back? How many give referrals? Know the numbers then work the numbers.
5. No unique selling point. If I was looking at a line-up of 5 people who all offer the same service/product/treatment that you do, why should I buy from you?
If you can't tell me, you can't tell your customers. You MUST differentiate what you offer, and you must differentiate you as well. Create a punchy, benefit-laden statement or slogan that grabs people by the eyeballs. Tell me why you are the professional to go to.
6. No reason why. People don't act until they have reasons and relevance [to them]. If there's no motivation, there's no clients!
Why do you offer what you do? Why in that location? Why do it that way? Why should I come to you? What benefits can you offer me? Fill your website, brochures, newsletters, emails and promotions with lots of reason why.
7. No idea about Lifetime Value. When a woman walks into a hairdressing salon, what is she worth to them? How much is the average lady's hair appointment cost these days?
Now, how many times a year will she go there to get her hair done? Multiply the haircut cost x the number of appointments in a year x the number of years she'll go there. That's the lifetime value of one client to that salon. Now run the numbers on your practice. You'll never look at your clients the same way again...
8. Back end missing - failing to have any other products or services to offer clients after the initial purchase. If you miss this then you doom yourself to continually being a one hit wonder, always striving to bring in the next new customer.
Why not offer upgrades, have a funnel system in place, bring in joint ventures or allied products from another provider? Share the client with other businesses and split the profit.
9. Failing to reach customers who are ready to buy now.
Create a headline that targets the ideal client. "If you are ____ then read this!"
10. Making it harder to buy than necessary. Many sole traders actually make it tricky to do business with them, missing out phone numbers or websites from brochures, forgetting to make the postal address explicit.
Lower the barrier by always offering phone, email, website, fax and address. Keep it simple. Short steps. Easy application form.
Confess your sins, and start crossing each of these off one at a time over the next 10 days, and watch what happens!