Marketing your practice – Creating a good first impression

Attracting new clients and business

This month I thought I would write an article looking at the importance of presentation. The saying ‘you don’t get a second chance at a first impression’ is very true. The cornerstone of any successful practice or indeed any business is ensuring a wide range of elements fire correctly and combine to achieve one common cause – attracting new clients/business.

So if you are going to take the considerable time and cost required to become a fully qualified and accredited practitioner then it makes sense you devote time, effort, energy and money making sure the public can see the value and benefit of your services.

So when you market your practice and invest money to attract potential new clients via:

· The search engines
· Your website
· Leaflets
· Directories
· Forums etc.

You need to ensure they find the ‘information’ they need and are impressed by the professional presentation and delivery. By doing this correctly you clear the first hurdle and create the best first impression possible.

(For an in depth look read this article: ‘How to market your practice‘)

It goes without saying that the better your first impression the more chance you have of encouraging the reader to make contact and hopefully become a paying client of yours rather than someone else.

It also goes without saying that a poor first impression only encourages the reader to take a step back, continue their search and fall into the arms of your local competitor, who has taken the time to present themselves in the right way.

Understanding Your Audience

In this digital age, information online can be accessed so quickly now that a potential client looking around for your services will more than likely go into 3, 4, 5 or even 6 different practitioner listings and websites before they decide which practice or practices to contact. This means you will be compared to your local competition and conclusions drawn which will decide whether you or they get a call/ email.

You may have heard of something known as the ‘halo effect’. Basically this is a cognitive bias whereby we generate a good (or bad) impression of a person or business in one area (either correctly or incorrectly) then apply this belief to other areas. So for example an interviewer may decide the suitably of an applicant based on a single feature such as how they talk or dress. Whether we like it or not we subconsciously do this all the time making your first impression crucial if you are to be a success.

Common Problem Areas

Attracting an audience is one thing (I have looked at this in previous articles) – converting them to new clients is totally another. So let’s look at a few of the elements that can help you create a good impression and call to action. If you think any of these apply to you then you may have fallen at the first hurdle.

Your Content/ And Information:

Why spend all that time effort and money getting people to your web page only to find:

– You don’t explain if you specialise, how you can help and what your approach is?
– You don’t explain what happens during a session or consultation
– You don’t provide information about you or your background
– You don’t provide qualifications or accreditations
– You don’t present a professional logo or photo
– You bamboozle the reader with technical jargon. They want to know in laymen’s terms how you can help not your thoughts on the Jungian theory of dreams.

Taking the high street as an analogy, it is like having people walking into a shop with bare shelves and no information about who you are, what you do and how you can help. The customers will simply go back the way they came and keep browsing. Moreover they probably won’t return to browse in future.

Presentation

Getting back to first impressions:

– Is all this information clearly, cleanly and concisely laid out?
– Is it pleasing to the eye?
– Are there typos?

If your attention to detail and presentation is poor what does that say about your level of service and capability? Again the two may not directly correlate but sub consciously we all draw similar negative conclusions.

Don’t overload the reader

A recent survey found that people read slower from a screen than they do from paper. With this in mind all of your content should be no-more than four sentences long. People don’t have the time to speed read big chunks of text and it is a big turn off..

If you have a website:

– Does it look dated and unprofessional?
– Is your website a nightmare to navigate?
– Do you have clean sharp professional images?
– Remember the 3 click rule – A well designed website should be able to find information within 3 mouse clicks.

Don’t think that by just having a website that is job done. That is really only the beginning are there is a never ending list of balls to be juggled. Again I have written about this previously. Read the article ‘How to make a website successful’

Email Presentation

Research shows that enquiry conversion rates are higher when you speak to the individual rather than email. So if you have a telephone number always always call.

If you communicate via email make sure you give a good impression. Create a signature and drop in your logo (if you have one). Make sure the theme and fonts are replicated across your website and leaflets. From a customer point of view what looks better signing off your email as ‘Regards Bob’ or:

Robert Jones NRHP
Tel: 020 020 02020
Mob: 0798 07968
Web: www.robertjones.co.uk
Email: enquiries@robertjones.co.uk

Note: Having a website or web profile is really important these days. If you join GoToSee and you don’t have a website then you can use your profile page as a mini website. You can add unlimited text and images etc. A good example of one of these profile pages can be seen here

To learn more, read ‘how to create an email signature

Your Logo

Similarly take the time to get a professional email address. What gives a better impression?

hippychick@hotmail.com

OR

enquiries@quitsmoking.co.uk

Rather than using your ‘social’ email take the time to set a separate business email account branded with your practice name. It is another small element but all of these combine together to show your attention to detail and professionalism.

Answer phone/ Voice Mail

I am amazed how many practitioners and therapists overlook this and it is so cheap and easy to get right.

No Voice Mail
With no voice mail you are throwing money away marketing yourself. More often than not people look for an excuse not to do something.

They may have considered calling a psychotherapist for relationship help or a nutritionist for obesity advice numerous times but have not taken the plunge and made the call. When they do if you don’t answer the phone and don’t have a voice mail facility then the chance of them calling you back are small.

Generic Voice Mail
Having a voice mail facility but leaving the message as the generic BT type one e.g. ‘leave your name and number’ will probably achieve the same results as having nothing. Supposing the client needs help with a personal issue and hears a generic message the first thing they will think is – Have I phoned the right number? They probably won’t leave a message and will go elsewhere.

Create Your Own Voice Mail

– Take the time to create a short and professional voice mail.
– Write your message down then record it.
– Don’t record it with the kids screaming in the back ground or the TV on.
– Explain why you aren’t around e.g. busy with clients etc. Creating the impression of a busy practice.
– Make it a branded message e.g. ’Welcome to Synergy Life Coaching’ is far better than I’m not around leave a message.’

On one hand it sounds silly to have to point out small basic elements such as setting a good voice mail or profile page but you would be amazed how many people just overlook all of this. Furthermore I think you would be amazed the impact that these small jobs can all combine together to make.

To summarise I would leave you with the thought that if you look after the small things the big things will take care of themselves. This is true in all aspects of life and none more so in business.

If you want to find out more about then give our marketing team a call on 0208 446 2224.

Internet marketing expertsAbout The Author

GoToSee have a wealth of knowledge in the fields of alternative medicine/complementary therapy and internet marketing.

With years of experience driving targeted traffic to websites using a mix of search engine skills, public relations and online and offline marketing, our internet experts are on hand to help your practice.


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