What do prospective clients say when they first contact you about your counseling and psychotherapy services?
I’m not talking about questions related to how much you charge, how long sessions last, or your availability… Rather, what do prospective clients say they’re looking for and why? How are they feeling? What’s driven them to contact you for help?
Likewise, what do your clients say when they successfully terminate therapy? And I don’t mean simply, “Thank you!”
What do they tell you about the results they’ve experienced – both expected and unexpected? What do they say about how they feel?
Are you keeping track of and using these comments… not for clinical reasons, but for your marketing? If not, you need to be!
The Need to Feel Understood
I’m sure you’re familiar with mirror neurons… Neurons that fire both when we take an action and when we observe that same action being performed by someone else.
If it’s true that mirror neurons are the neural basis for attachment and emotions such as empathy, then they explain a lot about human behavior and our relationships. And, this knowledge can be put to use when it comes to marketing your practice.
Well, as we’ve discussed previously, marketing is all about creating win-win relationships based on understanding your clients’ wants and needs.
As a therapist, you’re already ahead of most business owners in terms of understanding both the importance of relationships and your clients needs and desires. So, understanding marketing in terms of creating win-win relationships that help your clients shouldn’t require much effort to integrate.
Now, let’s think about relationships in general…
Think about the most recent person you’ve met who’s become a friend. Out of all the people you meet over the course of a few weeks or months, what was it that made you become friends with this particular person? Ten to one it was because you felt a “connection” with this person. You share something in common – be it an activity, a philosophical point of view, an emotional reaction to something or someone, etc. – and that connection made you feel “understood.”
We all want to feel understood.
It’s a principle of human nature that runs back to the days before bows and arrows and flint and fire. Probably before humans first developed language. Possibly even before humans were, well, human…
Given this, if you’re trying to create an emotional connection with another human being… If you want to establish a relationship with another person… If you want to persuade someone of something – of anything – the best way to start is to create an emotional connection and make him or her feel understood.
And the best way to make someone feel understood is by mirroring that person’s thoughts and feelings… by speaking directly to what he or she is already thinking, both explicitly and implicitly.
The Conversation in Your Client’s Head
Consider the last time you needed to hire a professional…
Whether you were looking to hire a doctor, dentist, general contractor, financial planner, attorney, or any other professional for that matter, you obviously had an issue that required a professional’s assistance and services.
As you shopped around, you were likely thinking about how quickly a professional could help, how much they charged, whether or not you could find someone reliable, and so on. These are all examples of the explicit conversation that occurs inside our heads when we hire someone for professional help.
But, upon reflection, I’ll bet you had a few other questions and concerns about hiring a specific professional and the outcome of using their services. Will their services really help? How much inconvenience will I experience? What happens if I don’t hire someone to help with this problem? And so on…
For example, when looking to hire a financial planner, we typically look for someone who’s reliable, trustworthy, has a proven track record, and can get us the best consistent return with the least possible risk.
Again, all part of the explicit conversation going on in our heads during a search for a financial planner…
But, when we’re thinking about hiring a financial planner, it’s also not uncommon to be worried about how we’ll get our children through college, to wonder whether or not we’ll be able to enjoy the retirement lifestyle we envision, or to be preoccupied with the thought of a spouse’s or family member’s passing. These thoughts, and the emotions they bring up, are all examples of the implicit conversations that occur in many of our minds when shopping for a financial planner.
When a guy tells you he wants to lose 50 pounds, he’s probably not lying to you. But there’s something even he may not realize: He really wants to lose 50 pounds AND still be able to stop at Krispy Kreme every morning, eat McDonald’s every day for lunch, and sit on the couch watching TV every night with a beer and a bag of Doritos.
It’s the businesses and marketers that speak to BOTH wishes who sell the diet pills and weight loss shakes and appetite suppressants, over and over again, year in and year out.
Sound cynical? Maybe. But it’s reality. It’s human nature.
Now, I’m in no way suggesting you make unfounded promises of results in your marketing. Or any promises of results for that matter.
The key here is that you need to do your best to connect with your prospective clients on BOTH levels:
- The “explicit conversation” – The explicit conversation in your prospective clients’ minds typically revolve around the specific product or service you’re offering (e.g. couples counseling, depression treatment, help overcoming social anxiety disorder, etc.) and questions about its delivery.
- The “implicit conversation” – The implicit conversation is the second level and it’s what many therapists miss. It’s what your prospective clients REALLY want. It’s unique to every product and service – even every search phrase your prospective clients type into Google – and it’s a secret many business owners don’t discover until they talk with their customers and clients and do quite a bit of market research.
It’s when you emotionally connect with prospective clients on this second level that more of your website’s visitors become clients.
It’s at this second level that you become impervious to competitors who don’t understand and communicate with your prospective clients the way you do.
The financial planner with a successful practice highlights his professionalism, experience, track record, and trustworthiness, AND speaks to his clients’ concerns about their ability to put their kids through college and live out their golden years in style.
If you really want to get your phone ringing, you need to do the same… You need to identify what your clients REALLY want and show them how you can help them achieve it.
You need to enter both the explicit and implicit conversations going on in the minds of your prospective clients.
What Are Your Clients Telling You?
People looking for help overcoming social anxiety disorder don’t just want to overcome social anxiety disorder. They want to overcome social anxiety disorder for a reason.
That reason may be that they’re afraid they won’t achieve the careers they desire. Or they may be afraid they’ll never meet someone to share their lives with and that they’ll always be alone.
These concerns are part of the implicit conversations going on in their heads.
If you’re providing social anxiety disorder treatment, you need to address these issues.
And it’s best to address each of these implicit conversations separately. On separate pages of your website.
There is a whole host of concerns and desires revolving around achieving professional success that are quite different from the concerns and desires about feeling alone in one’s personal life.
Have you ever tried having an intimate conversation with someone while taking part in a larger discussion with multiple people simultaneously? It doesn’t work.
Would you even consider doing therapy with two or more different clients at the same time? Of course not! Well, successful marketing is the same thing…
If you want to create an emotional connection with your prospective clients and make them feel understood by joining the implicit conversations they’re already having in their heads, you need to engage with each implicit conversation separately.
You need to address the people who are looking to overcome social anxiety disorder so they can meet Mr. or Miss Right separately from those who want to overcome social anxiety disorder to achieve professional success.
The same thing goes if you provide marriage counseling…
Those who seek marital counseling because of financial issues have an entirely different set of fears and desires from those who seek marriage counseling due to a partner’s recent affair. The explicit conversations in these prospective clients’ heads may be similar – they need professional help for their marriage and may be wondering whether or not it’s too late. But the implicit conversations are likely very different.
Even if you want to help clients with both issues, you need to address and join these implicit conversations separately if you want your prospective clients to feel you understand them.
This is true no matter what presenting problems you treat… In fact, even the name “presenting problem” suggests something explicit and on the surface.
Well, you’ll need to dive deeper than this – to the implicit conversations – if you want to create an emotional connection and a compelling marketing message that gets prospective clients stampeding for your door.
The good news is that, as a psychotherapist, your clients actually share their implicit conversations with you during the course of your work together. The implicit conversations in their heads when they first call for help, become explicit conversations they actually have with you. Make note of and use them… They’re pure gold when it comes to your marketing!
If a young man looking to overcome social anxiety disorder calls you and says, “I’ve tried everything when it comes to getting out of the house and meeting women and nothing works. Dating? Hah! Forget it. I can’t even meet a woman without breaking out in a cold sweat” use that.
You don’t have to quote this prospective client verbatim… But, you tell me which strategy will be more effective when it comes to getting prospective clients like this to call you and become actual, paying clients:
- Run a Google AdWords campaign targeting the phrase “overcoming dating shyness” and then take people who click on your ad to a page on your website that discusses how your counseling and psychotherapy services help people overcome social anxiety disorder, or
- Run a Google AdWords campaign targeting the phrase “overcoming dating shyness” and then take people who click on your ad to a page that tells them how your counseling and psychotherapy services can help them meet Mr. or Miss Right?
Better yet, if more than one prospective client has said something similar, you can use the following headline at the top of your web page:
Want to Meet Mr. or Miss Right? Learn How to Start Dating, Have Fun Doing It, and Never Break Out in a Cold Sweat Again!
Likewise, if you work a lot with couples who’ve experienced an affair and you want to keep drawing this population to your practice, don’t just rely on a “Marriage Counseling” page on your website… Use what these clients are telling you!
Perhaps more than a few clients, at the end of your work together, have told you something like, “I thought the affair would be the end of our marriage. But, thanks to you, our marriage is now better than it’s ever been!” If so, this is a great headline for the page of your website that you devote to your work with affairs couples, because it addresses these prospective clients’ implicit concern that, even if they manage to save it, their marriage will never be the same again. They’re right… it can be even better!
How do you use a comment like this as a headline?
You could start your “Affair Couples” web page with:
“I Thought the Affair Would Be the
End of Our Marriage. But, Now, Our Marriage Is Better Than Ever!”
And then start the first paragraph by saying something like:
If you’ve recently discovered your partner has had an affair, I know that headline may be difficult to swallow. But, believe it or not, I’ve had more than a few clients say precisely this after our work together. Why? Well, because affairs are almost never about the sex. Affairs are a sign of deeper relationship problems. And sometimes it takes an affair for a couple to acknowledge and do the work necessary to overcome the relationship issues that led to an affair…
The important thing to understand is that people very much want to believe that they are unique and that there is something designed, formulated, engineered, or customized just for them.
Nothing moves a prospective client towards becoming an actual, paying client as quickly and decisively as the “Hey, that’s for ME!” reaction to a marketing message.
This is why you need to keep track of and mirror what your clients are telling you.
Use what your clients are saying in your marketing… You’ll not only turn more prospects into paying clients when you do, but it will also make writing your marketing copy that much easier!
So, start today…
Each time a prospective client calls… Each time a client says something to you about how they feel because of the work you’ve done together, write it down.
Keep track of the number of times the same words and phrases come up over and over again and then use these recurring phrases about what your prospects and clients want, feel, and achieve in your marketing.
As with any relationship, you’ll be much more likely to capture your prospective client’s attention, develop an emotional connection, and make them feel understood when you enter the conversation already taking place inside their head by repeating to them – by mirroring – what they’re already thinking, both explicitly and implicitly.
Are you mirroring your clients in your marketing? If so, how? Please share your thoughts, questions, and experiences by leaving a comment below… We look forward to hearing from you!