by Corporate Relations and Business Strategy and Communications
Marketing offers a powerful tool to help practitioners communicate the value of their services and build relationships with potential clients and referral sources. However, there are a number of misconceptions about marketing.
This article addresses some common misunderstandings about marketing in order to help practitioners better appreciate and implement this important business activity.
Potential clients and the general public already understand what I do and the benefits of my services.
In marketing your practice, be careful not to assume that your target audience knows a lot about you or the services you provide. Focus on communicating a basic message that highlights the benefits of your services. Rather than presenting a detailed description of what you do, your marketing materials should succinctly address how your services can help prospective clients.
I don’t need to differentiate myself or my services.
It is important to clearly define how you want others to perceive you and your practice, and to make sure that your marketing materials reflect that image. Having a strong professional image can set you apart from your competitors and affect the way others perceive your practice, the value of the services you provide and the type of client who comes to see you.
In your marketing materials, identify your unique professional strengths and use them as selling points. Don’t try to communicate that you can be everything to everybody; instead, emphasize what you can be the best at and deliver it consistently.
I know everything there is to know about my target market.
In order to effectively focus your marketing efforts, it is essential that you identify the characteristics of your target clientele. Don’t base your efforts on untested assumptions. To ensure that you reach clients who could benefit from your services — and to ensure that your marketing resources are well spent — use market research and strategic planning to better understand the characteristics of your client base and target audience.
My target audience is attuned to my marketing materials.
Just because a practitioner has promotional materials does not mean his or her prospective clients will pay attention to them. Most people are bombarded with marketing messages and advertisements every day.
In order to cut through the clutter of messages in the marketplace, practitioners increasingly need to work to get the right message to the right audience using the most effective channel of communication. This may require greater creativity in finding alternate approaches for reaching potential clients and referral sources.
I don’t need to network
In today’s competitive health care marketplace, networking presents an important opportunity for practitioners to build relationships and connect with individuals and groups who might generate business for their practice. The benefits of networking are not always immediate or readily apparent, but expanding your network can foster mutually beneficial relationships that can help grow your practice. It is especially important to build relationships with other professionals who interact with or serve your client base, such as teachers, physicians, attorneys and industry leaders.
As part of a comprehensive marketing plan, psychologists should regularly work to develop and maintain effective networking relationships.
Marketing is prohibitively expensive.
Reaching out effectively to clients who could benefit from your services doesn’t have to cost a fortune. While some activities related to marketing can be expensive, there are many inexpensive ways to drive business to your door.
Keep in mind, however, that although a big budget isn’t a requirement for success in marketing, it is wise to budget adequately for your marketing efforts. Marketing is an investment in your practice that, when done effectively, will generate referrals, enhance your client base and increase your revenues. Don’t shortchange your marketing efforts by neglecting to invest in them sufficiently.
I marketed my practice when it first opened, so I don’t need to market it anymore.
While you may be able to reduce the amount of marketing you did after launching your practice, you should not stop marketing altogether. Marketing is a process of building visibility and awareness that yields better results when sustained over time. For example, running an ad regularly in a small community newspaper may be more effective than running a single ad in a large metropolitan paper. In marketing, repetition breeds familiarity, which can increase awareness of and interest in your services.
Having an advertising plan that is consistent with a well-conceptualized business plan is the key to developing organized, rather than haphazard, marketing efforts that will help to strengthen your practice in the long run.
I already have a successful practice and established referral sources, so I don’t need to market my practice.
In addition to maintaining the success that you worked so hard to build, marketing can help you to grow and diversify your practice. Marketing offers a way to connect with potential clients and referral sources about niche areas you may be developing, new client populations you are reaching out to or new services you may be offering.
It’s impossible to measure the effectiveness of my marketing efforts.
Evaluating your marketing efforts is the key to ensuring that the time and money you invest in marketing is well spent. There are several ways to monitor the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and gauge which tactics are working and which are not. These tactics, from soliciting informal feedback from referral sources to asking clients on an intake form how they heard about you to collecting and analyzing market data, can help you to increase your effectiveness and get results.
I already know everything there is to know about marketing my practice.
Practitioners who stay abreast of market trends and opportunities and adapt their marketing strategies accordingly have an advantage in the marketplace. It is important to learn as much as you can about marketing your services effectively, and to recognize when you need help from a marketing consultant.