Expanding Your Practice: Marketing

 In Practice Building

Cassandra Shepard

In last month’s article on practice building I discussed the frustrating dilemma many naturopathic physicians find themselves in of wanting to serve more people, yet disliking the thought of marketing. I listed 10 of the most common marketing mistakes being made and gave tips and insights on ways to make marketing both more palatable and effective.

Of the 10 mistakes shared, Mistake #10 (Not Marketing Your Talents Shamelessly) received the most feedback. That’s not surprising. In working with doctors, it is a crucial lynchpin that, if left stuck, thwarts your practice-building efforts.

What It Looks Like

Let’s break down what marketing your talents shamelessly means. It is not about regressing to the level of a slick salesperson. Ineffective self promotion comes across as boorish, pushy, arrogant and self-serving. That is vain and not what I’m sharing with you here.

Effectively marketing your talents comes from a different place. It is about introducing yourself to and making connections with others, planting seeds, informing (not selling), and adding value to serve others first and foremost. When done effectively, it sets up a magnetic system that begins drawing people to you; it creates opportunities to grow your practice.

As for the “shameless” aspect: Do you feel passionate about helping people get the best care possible? Do you feel that your services and techniques are better suited to your ideal patients than are other forms of care? Do you want to help others get what they want and deserve? If you answered yes to these questions, you should be shouting from the rooftops and allowing more people the opportunity to be served by you.

In my consulting dictionary, “shamelessly” means going ahead confidently in the direction of one’s passions and dreams. It does not mean placing yourself in legal, moral or ethical peril in how you market. It’s not shameless to have passion for what you do. You would be doing potential patients a disservice if you didn’t get your message out there and promote your practice.

The benefits of marketing your talents shamelessly are that you actually stop feeling like you’re “selling” and begin to magnetically attract more new patients who are thrilled to have found you. You also become more fearless not only in how you market your practice, but also in how you live your life, because your confidence is enhanced.

Why Doctors Are Challenged In Shameless Marketing

With benefits like these, what stops many doctors from marketing their talents shamelessly? I’m willing to bet that somewhere along the line you picked up one of the following beliefs:

  • It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • You shouldn’t toot your own horn.
  • Don’t get too big for your britches.
  • Don’t talk to strangers.
  • You don’t want to bother people.

Do any of these sound familiar? Whether it happened early or later in life, patterns of minimizing risk and not standing out were probably preached by well-intentioned authority figures who wanted us to grow up safely and become nice, helpful, sharing members of society. The truth of the matter is that what we learned in kindergarten may have served us then, but no longer is the best guide in aiding us as we build our practices today.

Many assume the cost of marketing shamelessly is too high. Let me say it as plainly and simply as possible: It is not better to be safe than to be sorry. And it certainly doesn’t help to not toot your own horn and avoid talking to strangers.

The cost of marketing any other way will impoverish you faster—and for longer—than anything else. If you’re going to have a satisfying, prosperous practice, you cannot go about trying to avoid risk and not standing out. The good news is you can let go of these limiting beliefs and move towards new ones that move your practice forward.

Creating New Beliefs

The best way to carve new beliefs is through action. Here are several suggestions to get you on the path to reaping all the benefits of marketing your talents shamelessly.

Market your talents, not yourself. At one time or another we’ve all thought, “I’ve got to market myself to build my practice.” So you try to market yourself and find it challenging, right? It’s difficult to do for a variety of reasons. First, there’s hesitancy because you have to speak very highly of yourself. That is naturally difficult for many to do. Secondly, when you market yourself it puts you in a vulnerable position in that if people don’t respond to your marketing, you feel personally rejected. Lastly, if you’re talking about yourself boldly and can’t back it up, you suddenly feel like a fraud. That’s a very painful thing to experience.

Marketing your talents instead of yourself takes your ego out of the mix. The burdens that come with talking boldly about yourself are mitigated when you focus on your talents and the specific value that those talents have to others. This way of marketing is a whole lot easier.

You do so by being able to succinctly describe how your talents are of value to your ideal patients, and do so in such a way that you are the doctor who comes to mind at the exact time they start to realize they need something you can provide.

Here’s a demanding but very rewarding exercise to help you with this step: Hone the essence of your talents into a four- to seven-word phrase. This will take some concentration and creativity. Your phrasing should be broad and universal so everyone understands it, yet clever enough to stand apart from your competition. As an example, “Book Your Practice Solid” is the essence of what I offer to my clients.

When you perfect the exact description of how your talents are of service to others, you’ll never hesitate to share it with anyone, at any time.

Feel incredibly proud of what you do and what you offer. If you don’t completely love what you do, are not proud of exactly how you do it, or don’t feel good enough to tell the world about it, it’s going to be difficult to grow your practice. Master your craft and keep a journal of success stories to build up a reservoir of pride, joy and honor in what you do.

Become a model of what you offer. This point is obvious, but it still bears stating: The more you’ve personally benefited from what it is that you offer, the better a “living brochure” you will become. People scrutinize complementary and alternative medicine doctors more than they do traditional doctors. If you don’t reflect vibrant health, balance and energy, it will be difficult for you to market your talents shamelessly (it’s that fraud factor I mentioned earlier), and will send an incongruent message to your potential new patients.

As you venture out to market your talents shamelessly, you may find that you feel unskilled and foolish, afraid and unsure. That’s quite normal. Continue on and keep learning how to enhance your efforts and ease your discomfort. Before you know it, you’ll find that marketing your talents shamelessly is the quickest way to getting known in the marketplace so that the people who need you can find you.

Cassandra Shepard, CPBA, CPVA is president of Prosperity Solutions LLC and an expert on marketing and practice building. She coaches naturopathic doctors in booking their practices solid with proven strategies not taught in medical school. She can be reached at 719-282-9355 or www.BookYourPracticeSolid.com.

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