I really enjoy mentoring practitioners in business – it’s a real privilege to be able to hear about each practitioners’ aspirations and challenges. A few weeks back I had the good fortune to speak with a fresh one! A practitioner who has only been in business for a short period of time. As always before our session, I looked over all aspects of her online presence from her website, to her practice newsletters, Facebook presence etc. Goodness how things have changed from when I graduated and you literally just hung out your shingle!! As much as the online world has created incredible opportunities for people working in integrative health and the public who use our services, I think it has also of course brought the ‘competition closer’.
Patients no longer need to restrict their practitioner picking to the few naturopaths they know locally, they can jump online and peruse the whole selection, they can and do get a lot of health & naturopathic information for free, as practitioners increasingly throw out freebies on Facebook etc. in an attempt to bring in more business and they are regularly making the online acquaintance of yet another self-appointed Gorgeous Good health Guru (GGG, pronounced GiGis ;)).
Getting back to my lovely fresh one (the new practitioner who wanted business mentoring), well you could not fault the slickness of her website (great looking with gorgeous professional pictures of her in the garden and the kitchen, great formatting etc. full of good content) or the smoothness of her social media presence with super regular postings of a very high quality. What stood out, however, was that there were very few people ‘listening’, low levels of traffic and engagement. So how could a seemingly perfect online presence not work?
I think the answer is in the worrisome term ‘perfect’. Beware of the self-appointed GiGis!
Ask yourself, if you wanted to see someone because you need help with your suboptimal health, you’re struggling with making the best food choices even though you do know what they are, your crazy stress levels, would you want to see someone who is ‘perfect’? There will always be people who answer yes (with zeal!) and they often are what I call the ‘crash and burn clients’ – they want to be wowed briefly rather than make the much larger commitment to sustainable change. These clients buy the self appointed Gorgeous Good health Guru (GGG) books and their accompanying recipe books and the app and the associated branded food line and whatever else comes with it. This of course is great in terms of earnings for afore mentioned GGG, but let me ask you, how many Gorgeous Good health Gurus do we actually have room for in the market and is this you?
A long-standing tenet in good business and marketing is that we must always find our point of difference. So if the online world is full of airbrushed GiGis and we use the same MO, we’ve ignored the first rule of business and remember Imperfection is actually the new black in marketing.
It’s at last been recognised that imperfection is more eye-catching, attention grabbing, when something is slightly ‘odd’, ‘different’, ‘unusual’….dare I say a bit more ‘real’. I’m sure you’ve been aware if this increasingly in advertising. And particularly if with our online activities we’re trying to attract actual face to face long term clients who themselves don’t walk around airbrushed, then perhaps our ‘realness’ is a selling point to boot.
Back to my lovely fresh one (again)…this practitioner is fabulous, compassionate, walks the talk with her own health and lifestyle, seriously witty, full of self deprecation and she can turn what could have been a ‘perfect’ GiGi lecture on making your own ferments into a ROFL experience…but her marketing and online presence tells you none of this. It fails to to make her real and to encourage potential clients that she would be good to chat to about boring mundane mere mortal problems like constipation, how to cut down your alcohol intake (god forbid you should partake in any evils such as this!) and whether you vegetables are over-rated! It fails to demonstrate and embody her point of difference.
I’m so glad we’re not still just reliant on a shingle in front of our door to advertise our services however I do think practitioners need to be clever about when and how they market to and engage with potential and existing clients and always start by stepping back and asking yourself, ‘What makes me different?’
And if this has been a long ramble, you have no idea who the GGGs are and you’re in need of a good laugh check this out: http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/katering-show/ZW0608A003S00
Are you a practitioner having to simultaneously find your feet as a business, marketing and accounting expert? We know, that’s a lot of plates to spin. Rachel is now offering Business Mentoring Breakthrough sessions. In this 1hr initial intensive session Rachel helps you breakdown your business objective while giving you coaching, strategy and ACCOUNTABILITY. If you’re interested in how this can support your business, read more about it here.