We have a lot of rules in the therapy world. They are all important for various reasons so we diligently pay attention to each and every one. However, there is one rule that is often overlooked.
The Rule of Seven is age old in marketing circles. It goes something like this: Relationships are built on at least seven interactions between you and the client or in this case, the referral source.
It used to be that outreach would be achieved by referral, both by clients and other providers, office location, advertising and marketing that involved a visible presence–maybe a free talk, health fair exhibit or for the ambitious, a book.
These days, the Rule of Seven is transformed by technology. We can reach our clients and our referrals, seven times a day if we so choose. (I don’t recommend it!)
So, how best to implement the Rule of Seven? Here are yes, seven ways to engage to keep your name and business relevant and out there in the community.
Your website should be appealing to all that land on it. Avoid therapy speak, over familiar language, cute graphics and long explanations. Embrace the idea that your website is your business card–make the first page the facts–name with a picture, location, phone number and contact info. As you grow your practice, add a monthly blog (but only if you keep it up to date!) and free resources. It should be appealing but not overwhelming.
Try this: Google the five busiest therapists you know. I bet they come up on the first page, even if they have a common name–and there is a map of their office. In fact, google “How to Make Sure you are Found on Google’ and look at the thousands of advice sites. In short, define your niche, use key words, add an image and submit.
A blog on your website tells your story and evokes a connection with your client. Explain a dilemma and solve it in one blog post. “A chronically anxious person needs lots of support and tactics to overcome monkey mind. A few that have been really successful in my practice are…”. Your blog is the cherry on the top of your practice and it’s a gift to your clients. Refer to it in your sessions and send it out liberally to your colleagues to share with their clients.
An article in a non-professional journal
…or guest blog on a non-therapy site. Write about the stressful holidays, divorced parenting, strategies for work life balance. The list is endless. Look at church bulletins, small town newspapers, neighborhood websites. Free content is a welcome addition for any editor–they would love to hear from you!
Alliance with a community organization, church or group
There are hundreds of nonprofits looking for your expertise. Offer to give a quick talk on stress at a lunch and learn, meet with managers and teach a few CBT techniques around anxiety and active listening. Run a psychoeducational meeting at a local church about rising high school sophomores and the stress of senior year. Here’s more: New Parenting, Helping a Teen make Wise Choices…It truly is limitless!
An e-book or worksheet for download
As you develop your blog, recognize you are writing a book by collecting each post in an e-book. If that feels too daunting, develop a checklist a month that helps out your niche client. “10 Tips for New Parents”, “15 Ideas to Engage your Teen”, “4 Strategies to Communicate Conflict with Your Partner”. You get the idea. I bet at the end of many sessions, you have developed a worksheet verbally!
Prominent referral source
Sometimes, all you need is one busy medical practice to help out. And this is where the seven interactions are so important. If they can find your website, a friendly blog, a reference to a community action and can download an article from another source? You are a trusted member of their referral pool. Do great work, be accommodating and follow up quickly and you will be called often.