“How do I get new clients?”
This is, by far, the number one marketing question we get asked. It’s often accompanied by its sister question, “How do I market myself – how do I get myself out there?”
There are countless different marketing strategies and no single blog post is going to answer these questions entirely for you. But there are a handful of action steps we always take when we feel like our client flow is a little slower than we’d like.
1) Get into a good headspace about your work.
I know – this sounds like it doesn’t have anything to do with marketing – and while it’s not a specific strategy or tactic, per se, it is a vitally important first step. If you do any marketing activity and your energy is panicky, less-than, or in any way needy, your marketing efforts will at best perform poorly and at worst, repel potential clients. The first step is to align your energy with the clients you want to attract.
Don’t believe me? Well, why is it that the practitioners with active practices seem to get more clients than they can manage? Yes, much of it has to do with their skills as clinicians, but there is also a definite energetic aspect to it: they don’t need the clients, they just love the work they’re doing, and so they attract more clients.
If you find yourself needing to attract more clients, before you embark on any marketing activity, make sure you clean up your energy first. A great way to do this is to pull out your journal and do a big brainstorm of all the ways you love working with clients. Write about your favorite clients, your dream clients, the clients you wish you could clone and have more of, the clients who appreciate you, who follow your recommendations, who pay you well, and who get great results. Riff on all the positive aspects of working with clients. This is called a “rampage of appreciation”. Remember to write it down! When you are writing, you are literally creating something and there is an energy to that. Bonus points for then speaking it out loud!
[Side note: this is a great exercise to do any time you’re feeling stuck – with marketing or anything else you’re struggling with in life!]
2) Once you’ve completed Step 1 (please don’t skip it), it’s now time to do a big brainstorm of all your big ideas for reaching more people with your work. Think of all the things you have ever dreamed of doing to support your clients and to share this work with your various communities (be that a physical community, an online community, or even a community of interest). Write every single idea down – even the ones you think are unrealistic, “bad”, or outrageous. Some will be ideas you can’t execute right now. Some might be ideas that are so exciting, they literally jump off the page and you can barely contain yourself. These are the juiciest – pick one, and do that.
If no ideas leap off the page, that’s okay. Look through your list with curiosity. What could you do right now? To get things started, pick 1-3 things from the list that feel doable. They may be really simple! I did this recently and my one action item was to reach out to a client about doing an interview we’d talked about months ago where I could profile her successes.
Keep this list as an active repository for ideas as they come to you. Sometimes you will be able to act on the ideas immediately and sometimes they will take some time to manifest. But, like with step 1, there is an energetic to this that attracts opportunities. Remember, the “muse” loves people who take action when she inspires them. And when they don’t, she takes that idea to someone who will!
3) Write a “3 spots available” communication that you send out to your mailing list or promote on social media (or both). The number of spots is yours to select, but make it an odd number and have it be less than 10. Between 3 and 7 is ideal.
What does this kind of email do? It allows you to share that you’ve got some space for new clients and that the number of spots is limited, so it has an element of urgency built into it. In this email, be sure to describe your ideal client and the ideal type of person you work with.
If writing this email makes you feel icky, go back to step 1 and remind yourself of why you do this work. As a very wise marketing mentor once said to me when I was holding back from sharing my offering, “If you firmly believe that what you are doing changes lives, why would you hold back and NOT tell me about it? That is the most selfish thing I’ve ever heard.” We have tools that change peoples lives – it’s not an exaggeration. As a result, it’s our responsibility to share what we offer with our communities. It is selfish to hold back.
4) Think of your most successful clients – are there any influencers amongst them? When I say “influencer”, it doesn’t have to be a thought leader with a 100k Instagram following – I’m talking about someone who is well-respected in their community.Once you’ve identified this person (or several people), reach out to them and ask how you can support them and their communities? I just did this recently – I have a former client who always supports her audience with natural health alternatives. We know that one of the keys to success in the realm of functional nutrition is behavior change and this particular client was one of the most compliant and disciplined clients I’ve ever had. I asked her if we could do an IG live to talk about mindset when it comes to health where I could showcase how she set up her life in order to be so successful. This adds value to her audience, it showcases and highlights her success, and it highlights the fact that she had excellent results when we worked together, which ultimately leads to new client inquiries for me.
The key here is to make the action of value to them – it’s not about building your business. It’s about showcasing your client as the hero of their own health journey.
5) Teach. One of our most important roles as functional nutrition professionals is to educate prospective and current clients about our tools, about their anatomy and physiology, about nutrients, digestion, about… the list is endless! If you want to position yourself as an expert, then start sharing what you know.There are many different ways you can do this. Social media, for example; a well-written post can be incredibly informative. Or you can write an informative blog. You may consider an educational YouTube video. Give a talk at your local library, school, to your running group, or to a parents group, etc. One of the beautiful things about today’s online world is that we all have a platform and access to tools for creating educational material in a mind-boggling number of formats. Really, the only thing limiting you is your creativity.
When you teach, you’re doing several things at once. For one, you’re showcasing your expertise. For another, you’re providing useful, constructive content that can help people. And lastly, you’re honing your skills. You know that saying “you don’t know what you know until you can do what you know”? Well, if you truly want to master what you know, then teach it to someone else. (Ask any of the RWS instructors … once they began teaching, their clinical skills went through the roof and their practices soared.) You can do this in small ways all the time!
Now you may be thinking “but teaching won’t get me new clients!” Well, teaching isn’t pitching yourself to people, but it does showcase your knowledge, your style, and your niche, and it’s a very generous way to promote yourself. More than ever, clients want to feel like they know you before they’re ready to dive in and commit to working with you. This is one really powerful way to help them become familiar with you.
This is just a starter list for when you’re feeling stuck and want to generate interest and attract new clients. What else have you tried that has worked for you?