By Linda C. Puig and Ofer Zur, Ph.D.
To attract clients who pay in full and out of pocket for your services, it’s imperative to position yourself as a helpful expert. This is true whether you are a beautician, a gardener, a car mechanic or a therapist.
It’s a simple fact of human behavior: People are more likely to believe that you can help them if they perceive you as an expert, which, in turn, increases the likelihood that they will hire you. For example, you wouldn’t choose a car enthusiast to overhaul your engine; you’d choose an experienced mechanic.
Newsletters are one of the simplest and most effective ways to establish this expertise. Whereas advertisements, fancy “me-oriented” websites and glossy “ego” brochures are all about selling – tooting your own horn – newsletters are about educating, guiding and advising, which is what experts do. Put more simply, newsletters are about helping. They become an extension of your services, a place where people get a taste of what you offer. And all the while, they keep your name before your public. They are a regular reminder that you are able and available to help with life’s difficulties.
Establishing an expertise through newsletters requires consistent and intentional efforts. Below are some guidelines to follow when using a newsletter to market your private practice.
- Fill your newsletter with helpful information that readers can use in their lives. Give suggestions, new ideas, “how to’s,” warnings, resources, tools or advice. You may include brief information about your services, but avoid self-promotion; keep it focused on the benefits of your services.
- Make the newsletter relevant. Whether it is about school bullying, healthy ways to age or reduce weight, Internet addiction, or dealing with chronic illness, make the newsletter current, relevant and helpful to your audience.
- Send out your newsletter consistently and regularly. This builds trust and confidence that people can rely on you. It also keeps you in front of your public enough that they grow to associate you with newsletter and with the services you offer.
- Make sure your newsletter looks professional and includes well-written articles. A badly designed or written newsletter can actually do more harm than good, reflecting poorly on you. If writing isn’t your cup of tea, or you don’t have the skills to design and layout a newsletter and don’t want to take the time to learn them, outsource. You don’t have to do everything yourself.
- Send your newsletter to past clients, referral sources and anyone who inquires about your services. Also leave free copies of your hardcopy newsletter in the offices of your referral sources and other locations, such as your local library, community center or coffee shop – or wherever the people who can use your particular services gather.
- Use your hardcopy newsletter in lieu of a business card. Your newsletter will have everything on it that a business card does: name, contact info, logo, etc. But it gives the recipient far more of a feel for you and your services than a tiny card. Plus, when you hand out your newsletter in person, recipients feel your presence, your confidence, your sincere desire to help. They connect the expert material in your newsletter to you, the person, not just a name.
- Add a newsletter to your press kit or the bio packet material you provide when giving speeches or participating on panels. To further establish your status as an expert, send regular newsletters to relevant press contacts. When reporters need some analysis or a quote for an article, they will call on someone whose name and face cross their desk regularly. Being quoted in the newspaper establishes your expertise and, therefore, is a very effective (and free) advertisement.
- Post your newsletter online. Your website will be richer and more effective if it provides helpful information other than simply your bio, your photo and directions to your office. Plus, posting your newsletter online can help you attract potential clients who find you through an Internet search.
On a personal level, newsletters can help with concerns about appearing too self-promotional. Rather than have the effect of “Here’s some information about me, hire me,” a newsletter says: “Here’s some helpful information that I’d like to share with you.” And that is exactly what you’ll be doing.
Linda Puig is a newsletter marketing expert and president of Claire Communications, a full-service newsletter company for busy mental health professionals and coaches. This hands-free newsletter service gives you a professionally written and designed newsletter that goes out consistently with fresh, relevant, well-written articles, all with your name, photo, contact info and other information. Extra customization is available.