When clients ask us what separates a successful therapy practice from a mediocre one, a few very specific things come to mind: training, location, technology, ease of access, pricing… to name a few. But the one that stands out at the top, is branding.
In your world, branding matters… a whole lot.
Branding is a discussion that has gotten lots of fuss over the years. It’s talked about it in different ways: your niche or your “kind of therapy” are just a few. But branding really is much bigger than that.
If you think about the brands you KNOW, businesses like Starbucks, Tide, L’Oréal, Sprint, and Time, each one has a certain essence to them. You know things about the businesses before someone ever speaks their name.
Starbucks delivers the $5 Gucci cup of coffee that many people can’t live without (and it’s made to perfection every time), Time Magazine does the “Person of the Year” and reports holistically on meaningful stories that affect modern culture, Tide is one of the BEST detergents on the market (I know this from a high school science fair project), and on and on.
Brands are whole statements about a company that are riddled with assumptions that don’t need to be explained in discussions because we trust the brand.
Rarely does someone ask the barista at Starbucks where their coffee came from because we trust that Starbucks has acquired that coffee from a reputable place. Because, if they didn’t, it wouldn’t just be us who was upset, there would be a whole nation of Starbuck’s drinkers who were mad.
The price of that kind of retribution is enough to keep most people ethically in line. And that’s a very good thing.
When it comes to your business, branding is made up of the emotional, intellectual, and factual parts of the business that tell consumers what your practice is about.
In a therapeutic community (coaching and consulting too) your brand is made up of a few specific elements:
- The clients you serve (demographic info)
- The issues you help resolve (specific challenges your client’s face)
- The way you resolve these issues (your training and expertise)
- The promises you make to your clients (services offered, length of time for sessions, costs – can be simply a notation that they need to inquire about costs, free consultation options, etc.)
- The community you live and work in (where your clients come from)
Branding matters to customers for two reasons:
It helps build trust and it eases the buying process. Bottom line, you buy from brands you trust.
Trust for brands, just as in relationships, is a vital ingredient. The more someone trusts you, the more likely they are to take your advice, try your technique, heed your warning, or grow from the experience of being in a relationship with you.
Trust is a critical element in all relationships, it’s no different for your practice. In the world of growing a business, growing trust with people who are NOT YET your clients is an important step to easing the burden of finding clients.
Think about this: everyone likes to get referrals…
Why? Because a referral often has some budding trust in your services already built in. That trust comes from witnessing the success of the person who referred them.
If we’re talking about therapy, a referral from a client usually includes an experience of seeing their friend or colleague grow. He or she lessened their burden by working with you. Perhaps you helped ease their depression or you helped strategize how to make a difficult decision or maybe you helped them get unstuck.
Witnessing this gives hope that the same outcome can be achieved by the new client by working with you. That priceless motivation is often what helps a client turn the corner from thinking about therapy to becoming an actual client.
The truth is, you can’t push people into decisions. Everyone reaches the decision to hire a therapist or coach in their own time.
The idea that people have to reach their own bottom resonates with truth.
BUT, you can help people ease into a decision to work with you faster and with less anxiety.
How can you do this?
By branding your website and any client resources so they reflect back to the client their situation. In simple terms, your client has the challenges and you are the solution (and yes, the client does the work, but you are the vehicle/education/skill building the client needs to facilitate change).
Branding is a big discussion, and clarifying your own brand is a critical exercise to help direct the growth of your practice. If you’re ready to explore branding in a client-focused way, consider the following insights and make adjustments to your website as needed.
Branding matters to your clients in the following ways:
- Take a broad look at your website. Is the main emphasis on you as the provider or the client as the person in need?
- Is it clear on your site who you serve? In other words, can your clients see themselves in your words?
- Is the language on your website conversational, emotional, and aligned with how your clients actually speak about their problems?
- How much therapy jargon is on your site? As an example, it’s more common for people to think about their anxiety as “stress”, “frustration”, “worry” vs. generalized anxiety disorder. Ideally, you want to remove jargon as it creates a barrier between you and your clients.
- Do you have special training that can laser in on certain issues? Do you clearly explain that to people?
- Do you cater to a certain community or have community ties? Showing that you’re part of their world is helpful too.
- On your about page, do you share anything personal? I’m not talking about outing yourself for being a closet Star Trek lover, but is there anything in there that humanizes you? Think about adding a few things that anyone could either find out on the Internet or that you typically share with clients, those are safe to add.
In deeper discussions about branding, we look at things like your language style (witty, resourceful, etc.) and that sheds deeper light into the personality of your brand.
But as a start, developing consistency between the brand promises you make to clients (and how you show up on your website/other marketing sources) will go a LONG way in building trust with prospective clients. That experience is what’s required so that new referrals feel that the person they meet online is the same one they encounter in your office.
When it comes to easing the burden of finding new clients, branding is a crucial step. If human experience is similar, and you too buy more frequently from businesses you trust, why wouldn’t the same be true for your business?
If you need help with your branding, please reach out. We have a wonderful exercise to help you deepen your awareness of your brand and learn how to leverage it for your content marketing and client attraction strategy. Share your business needs with our team here and we’ll schedule a call to get acquainted.