The Thoughtful Counselor Podcast Interview

The Thoughtful Counselor Podcast invited Samara for a conversation about Entrepreneurship in Diverse Communities.

We talked about that, pro-insurance practice building and the role of branding for mental health entrepreneur.  Check it out HERE

A Note to the Nicheless

Hello there Nicheless,

I have been thinking about you.  

I know how scary it is to refine yourself down to what seems like a super small niche, but everyday I am more and more convinced that this is exactly what you will have to do if you are going to create a full and thriving business for yourself.  

A business where you love the clients you are working with and can clearly and consistently show up with confidence no matter where you are or who asks you about your business.

Listen, I know this is not easy.  

Niching can feel contrary to what we have learned in some of our graduate programs.  I know for me in social work, we were taught to keep our skills diverse and sharp so we are able to serve any client that comes our way.  Now that you are in business, the game is changing.

Here’s what I need you to know. 

Your clients (and even your colleagues) will trust you MORE if you establish and own a niche for your work.

In order for potential clients (and referral sources) to feel compelled to connect with you, they need to feel like you understand EXACTLY what they are going through.  Especially when people are struggling with something specific. Its the difference between saying “I help women” and “I help women with weight challenges get to the heart of what’s eating them so they can move beyond the habits that keep them stuck”.  

Can you feel the difference in that?

OK…I can already hear the other concern you have…

The worry that by niching, you are going to be turning clients away, leaving people out or making it harder to get clients coming through the door.  Yup!  I have heard that one a few times!

First off, let’s look at this “losing clients” concept by the numbers. How many clients can you actually see?  

Even if you are full time in practice and seeing 25 clients a week, it would be impossible for you to work with everyone in town.  So why not narrow it down to the tribe of folks you are uniquely suited to work with?  

The funny thing about the “turning clients away” theory is…the more I have supported therapists in owning their niches and creating meaningful brands, I have found the opposite to be true.  

People respect expertise.  They instinctively understand that skills are transferrable.   If your message is compelling enough it will resonate with potential clients and they will make the intellectual jump to seeing how to you can help them.  Those clients that are on the fringes of your niche will still be drawn in and reach out to you if your messaging is solid.

Speaking of messaging, for you to really nail your marketing message, you need to establish who you are trying to connect with. Niching allows you to develop messaging that is consistent and compelling to the people it is designed to attract.  

Instead of trying to develop messaging for everyone and struggling with being seen, give yourself the advantage of talking to one type of person when you are putting yourself out there to market your business.  

Even if it feels like a lot of pressure to choose a niche and own being an expert.  It gets easier when you don’t have to feel like an expert in everything.  You can focus on just one area that you are really interested in and really rock it out there. 

You might be like some of the other clients I have worked with over the last few months. You know you need a niche, but have no idea how to start with selecting one.  That is a fair and genuine concern.  

That’s why you aren’t alone on this one. 

If you are ready to get crystal clear on your unique niche and have the confidence to build a brand that helps folks really get to know who you are and what you do…start with Becoming Brand Confident.  Let’s get clear on your values, your vision and how all of this filters in to your unique niche.  

I’d love to know what you think about what I am sharing with you.  Feel free to connect with me on The Entrepreneur’s Tribe if you have any questions. 

How Competition Can Stunt Your Private Practice’s Growth.

Every day, I see mental health entrepreneurs who are struggling to find their place in the world of private practice.  Folks that are not really sure what to do, to attract ideal clients in an endless sea of Psychology Today profiles.

I have been looking closely at the huge difference Branding can make when it comes to building your practice.  When done properly it IS the one thing that can help you grow a practice that you love in a way that feels natural to who you are.

Oddly enough, most mental health entrepreneurs don’t ever even think about Branding.  As a matter of fact, we are often not crystal clear on what branding is. Even if we have a vague idea of what branding might be, we tend to overlook the importance of branding, by putting it off or avoiding it altogether.

But I have witnessed first hand the transformative and powerful impact branding can have on our businesses and private practices when we approach it the right way.

Usually, when it comes to branding, we begin to look OUTSIDE of ourselves through competition and comparison trying to find what works…instead of looking INSIDE to define our brands for ourselves.

COMPETITION

Focusing on the “competition”, surveying the landscape in our field to see who is out there doing something similar to what we are doing.  Where does that really get us? When we find someone that shares our niche, is nearby in location or has a similar personality, we look even closer to see what they are doing…so we can try to compete. This approach can lead us to an unhealthy and unproductive rut.  

Being overly focused on what other people are doing and trying to find a way to outwork them doesn’t give you any time and creativity to work on building what is unique to you.  When you are running the Competition Program, thoughts of what others are doing continue to linger in the back of your mind.  Instead of creating something that works for you, you keep referring to what others are doing.  

COMPARISON

Competing is the first step on a slippery slope to what I know for sure to be the most dangerous way to approach your business.  Once you develop a tendency to look at others who are doing what you’re doing in your industry/niche…the next natural thought is to compare.

Comparison is the thief of joy, confidence and creativity.  It really never helps us grow. We waste precious time and energy comparing ourselves to someone else and try to find ways to compete with them to feel successful.

If your focus is “comparison,” then instead of focusing on who you are and what you bring to the table, you’re only viewing yourself through the lens of what others are doing. You’re looking to them for ideas of what works, and often walk away feeling “less than” because in your mind, you haven’t measured up.

I say that it’s finally time to shift our focus!

Stop looking at the competition because there is no one like you, no one who can do the work like you! These mindsets don’t build confidence, help you become stronger, or grow in the ways you need to grow as an entrepreneur.

But you know what does?

CONTRAST.

That’s right, contrast.
What makes you different?
How do you stand out?

This is how you will find the contrast you need to spotlight as you develop your brand.

As you’re trying to figure out this whole branding thing, ask yourself the following questions:
  •    What makes me different from people doing similar work in the same industry/niche?
  •    What makes me stand out from the people around me?
  •    How do I serve my clients differently than others?

Find your unique voice and what makes you different, and that makes competition a non-issue. Give yourself the gift of confidence that comes when you stop comparing yourself and really embrace your own journey and your own progress.

With contrast…clarity and confidence follows.

Building your brand to stand out from everyone else is crucial, but it’s hard to achieve this by yourself. To learn more about how contrast can make a huge difference in your business, and get rolling on creating your business’s unique brand, then check out today!

The Bland Brand

Have you ever seen a Psychology Today profile that felt like this?

Or maybe read an About Page that left you not really knowing anything “about” the person?

Too many private practices suffer from a lack of clarity and confidence when it comes to connecting with their ideal client. I have seen this happen for so many different reasons.

They feel the need to lead with credentials…not realizing that what really draws clients in to working with us just feeling that that they can trust us to help them solve their problems.

They feel the need to be “professional”…when what people want is some that has expertise and credibility, but is also human and relatable.

They feel the need to cast a super wide net so they don’t limit any potential clients from coming their way…but when you have 50 areas of expertise you really don’t have any. When you are trying to connect with everybody, you end up not really connecting with anyone.

All of the situations above lead to what I call “The Bland Brand” a distant, disengaged professional persona that prioritizes credentials over connection. The Bland Brand is one where we have diluted our unique niche, by flooding it with every possible area of focus out there.

If this resonates with you, I want you to know it’s not your fault.

We have not been taught much of anything in the area of business…and we certainly have not learned anything about marketing or branding.

Most of us aren’t really even clear on the difference between the two.

If that’s you, check out the resources at www.bebrandconfident.com that can help you get clear on your Unique Niche and build a brand that truly suits you and your practice.

Branding Before Marketing…Here’s Why.

Ahhh… a full practice! 

Imagine that… the phone is pleasantly ringing with ideal clients wanting to work with you. You are in demand and your colleagues refer to you often.You are even being invited to consult on other projects outside your private practice. This is what most private practice owners want.

But the path to getting there is where a lot of mental health professionals struggle.

When your practice isn’t thriving, what should you do?? Seems like the next logical step is to turn your attention to marketing..working with Psychology Today, local referral sources and of course doctors offices to create a steady stream in incoming clients.

Sounds logical, right?

Over the years in mentoring people that are building private practices…I have found there is a huge missing piece that can make or break even the best of marketing efforts.

That missing piece is Branding!

Oddly enough, most folks never think about branding and if they do…it’s smooshed together with marketing as if the two are exactly the same thing. Others think of branding as the logo, colors and business cards that a designer creates in a vacuum. Yes, logos and websites are a part of branding, but these things are more the end result than the sum total of the work.
This gap in our thinking is why many mental health professionals struggle to create effective marketing strategies for their businesses.

WHAT IS BRANDING ANYWAY
Branding is actually the thought process that goes into how you are going to represent yourself in your business. It’s where you get crystal clear on what makes you unique and the reason why you want to do this work, so you can communicate with clarity and confidence when you are out there marketing your practice.

Branding is where you do the inner work of being intentional about what you want people to know and understand about you and the work you do.

YOU ALREADY HAVE A BRAND
Before you start feeling overwhelmed and stressed…thinking you have to find this elusive brand. I want you to relax and know…YOU already have a brand.

Your brand is how you show up in the world right now. It’s who you already are…who your clients and colleagues already know you to be. The work of branding is just the intentional process of turning up the volume of who you are and the work you do so that it allows you to connect with your ideal clients. It’s guiding you in selecting colors, fonts and images that truly express who you are so people can identify easily what you do.

BRANDING SETS YOU UP FOR MARKETING SUCCESS
Once you have done the work of getting clear about your brand and making key choices on how you want to show up professionally, it gets so much easier to get better results from your marketing efforts. When done properly, branding allows you to clearly and confidently communicate to your ideal clients and referral sources in layers. Everything from what they see, what you say and how they experience you is consistent and builds the trust that is so central to drawing in the clients you need to fill your practice.

Visibility doesn’t help you if your message isn’t clear. The first step to a practice full of your ideal clients is the behind the scenes work of branding.

If this resonates with you and you are ready to get the clarity and confidence you need to connect with your ideal clients, check out Becoming Brand Confident, it’s the perfect place to start on your journey.