Changes are coming – they’re already here – if you are a counselor or coach. Disappearing are the days when potential clients hear about our services through brochures, business cards or even well-designed websites. This is the major message of an entire series of articles on “The Selling of Psychotherapy” in the September-October issue of Psychotherapy Networker magazine. Although written for therapists the articles apply equally to coaches and maybe to churches, colleges and leaders. Here are two key takeaways.
The client population and client expectations are changing. In the lead article, coach and therapist Lynn Grodzky shows that with increasing frequency clients no longer come expecting to be passive recipients of long-term “treatment” from non-expressive counselors who say little apart from asking questions. Potential clients today tend to shop for helpers like they shop for cars, churches and bargains at supermarkets. They shop like they make on-line purchases, comparing, contrasting, and learning as they go. Many have done their homework, often on the Internet. Grodzky calls them educated consumers (ECs). Before selecting a service provider they want to know what they can expect, what it costs and how long it will take.
Our services have to be changing. Of course there are times when the old long-term therapy is best. But “like it or not, if we want to stay in business we need to grasp the difference between the patients of yesterday and the educated mental health consumers of today.” To market successfully we must clarify our brand–who we are, what we do best, and what makes us unique. We must understand how potential clients think and how we best communicate with them. How can we connect with people who do much of their shopping and communication on their hand-help devices? (How does your website look on a small screen?)
Several years ago I attended a leadership conference with a pastor friend from Europe. He asked if it is possible to succeed today if we try to bypass American marketing tools. It is hard to imagine how Jesus would reach people today but he did understand and communicate with the unique characteristics of his audiences.
The current Networker articles are worth reading. They’re available on line at www.psychotherapynetworker.org. How does this apply to you? Please comment.