The M Word

Therapists don’t market, right? Well yes and no. Consider the word marketing. In one sense it means to make the noun ‘market’ into a verb ‘marketing.’ Kinda like ‘disrespect’ into ‘you’re disrespecting me.’

So as you consider how you will build a private practice the best example to think of is your local dentist. He may put business cards out at the local physician’s office or brochures at the bank. You will walk past those ‘marketing’ materials ten times without even noticing they are there. The eleventh time, however, you have a toothache. In true Gestalt fashion, the background becomes the foreground and you can’t grab his business card fast enough. Before you reach the car you are calling his office wondering why he can’t cram directions to his office onto his brochure.

Did marketing work? Well, sort of. The theory is that something must come into view seven times before it is noticed. So as therapists you would need to make sure you visit the same people seven times before they decide to visit you. In reality, we are more of a pain-based business. People notice us when they can’t tolerate their pain anymore. Pain from relationships, children, and life just gets to be too much to cope with.

Individuals can have very high pain tolerances. In fact, they probably won’t seek a solution outside of their comfort zone until the pain has impacted their relationships, their health, their job/school performance, or their freedom. So how can you as a therapist make sure you are the one that comes to mind when an individual experiences a mental ‘toothache?’

Expand your circle of influence. Don’t get scared by the word influence, simply think of it like the shampoo commercial in the 80s – “they will tell two friends, then they will tell two friends, and so on, and so on.” The more people you meet and impact in a positive way, the more people will recommend you to friends.

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