Updated: May 10, 2021
There always seems to be a few things that we run into when starting our practices, things that cause frustration and the feeling like we're stuck. One of the things that's been coming up a lot recently is: where do I find patients? How do I get the word out about what I'm doing so that people start coming to me? I want to get my name out there, but I don't know how to.
If you are somebody who is struggling to find your first few patients, or you have a few people that you've been seeing and you can't get past that, this is what I highly suggest you do so that you can finally make the sales you've been dreaming of.
Even though it might sound too simple or too good to be true, one of the best things that you can do is talk to as many people as you possibly can when you're first getting started. When your caseload is somewhere between zero to 10 patients, this is when a lot of hustle needs to happen because once you start getting people on caseload, more and more people start to show interest in what you're doing.
So, I'm going to walk you through my first three steps that you need to take in order to get yourself on this track where you're just moving and cruising along, you’re meeting lots of people, telling lots of people about you, and the patients start to come.
Here are my top three tips for finding your ideal clients, both online and in the community.
#1: Figure out who your ideal client actually is.
It is so imperative that you figure this out, because it will fast track your marketing and your efforts in building your caseload. Everybody says it: find your niche, figure out who your ideal client is, who your ideal audience is. But I feel like sometimes, we don't really take it to heart until we've just tried and tried and tried to market to everyone under the sun. Then we finally realize, Oh, maybe there's something to this.
It might sound kind of preachy, but you need to figure out who your ideal client is, who your target market is, and in as much detail as you can because that will inform where you start marketing and where you put your efforts into finding your clients.
So, let’s try defining our ideal client. Think about the following:
What age range or gender do you want to work with?
Does this person have a job?
Does this person have kids?
Is this person married or in a relationship?
Is this person active or not? (I think a lot of us here want to work with people who are either athletes or like getting into exercise. A lot of us want to protect people and help with physical health.)
Does your ideal client know what they're doing in the gym or not? (This is going to be really helpful because if your ideal client is somebody who has never exercised before, you probably shouldn't go market in a CrossFit gym for example.)
These are just a few things to think about when it comes to figuring out who this person that you want to work with is going to be. I feel like I’m talking to more and more therapists who, of course, want to help with everything that they possibly can because we're therapists, we’re all really caring individuals. But if our target audience is people from the age of zero to 99 who have neck, shoulder, back, knee, hip, ankle, foot pain, who are beginners in exercise or are professional athletes, are parents or non parents, are grandparents, are kids, are college students, and so forth... it is going to be really difficult to create a specific marketing message so that people know what it is that you do.
One of the big things that people are struggling with is having the confidence to niche down. The biggest thing that I suggest to people who are struggling with this is: Who would you like to work with? For me, I like to help 30 and 40 year old's with barbell lifting techniques. That's something I really enjoy doing. And so if I were to start advertising my services as a therapist and a movement professional, that's where I would start.
The reason that I tell people to start their niche with what they like to do is because you're building a business that you're hoping to serve yourself with and it should be something that you enjoy. You're not leaving traditional healthcare to go into another job that you also don't like doing. So think about what you really like to do and just go from there.
#2: Where are your ideal clients?
Depending on who your ideal client is, that will inform where you start looking for them and then the efforts you put into reaching out. Think about the following:
Are your ideal clients online?
Are they people that use social media?
Are they people who don't use social media?
Are they people who are active in their community in person or are they active in their community online?
These are really important questions to ask yourself because if your ideal audience only really likes to engage with people in person at a community center, you could put tons of effort into social media but they're never going to see your stuff. So then you just end up getting frustrated that your efforts are not bringing in any patients. So this is something that's really important to consider.
#3: Network and do outreach.
This step involves networking with other professionals who have access to your ideal audience, and reaching out to people who are in your ideal audience, letting them know that you're there and that you're willing to help fix the problems that they're having.
So I wanted to go through some different areas to reach out to people because I think this is sometimes what we struggle with too: I know that I'm supposed to network. I know I'm supposed to reach out to people but where do I do it?
Let's talk about different ways that we can network and reach out to people:
Facebook. If your ideal audience is on Facebook, Facebook groups are invaluable as far as reaching people who could be potential clients or just people who might point you in the direction of other people that you might be able to help. If your ideal client is a new mom who wants to get back to running, we're going to look for a Facebook group that targets new moms who want to get back to running and engage with that community. It's like joining a club.
Local clubs and teams. For example, say you are wanting to work with soccer players and you belong to a local soccer team or you're one of the parents on a local soccer team. We're going to reach out to the parents of the other kids on the soccer team, we're going to reach out to the coaches of the team, we’re going to reach out to other teams in neighboring towns. And some of them might even have Facebook groups online, so that's something that you could always look into.
Hashtags. I think that my friend Andrew Tran might have more information on this because he is the Instagram guy, but this involves looking for certain hashtags and all of the posts that come up are people who could potentially fit your audience. So we're going to reach out to people there.
Networking groups. For example, my friend Ali Marty belongs to a group called BNI, which is an international business networking group. And this is one of the main things that she has done to help grow her business. So every single week she is in front of a huge group of like 50 people where she can explain what it is that her business does and also ask for people to refer potential clients to her. You can also look for networking groups here on Facebook, or potentially LinkedIn.
Community centers. If your audience is older adults they might be people who go to your local YMCA or they might go to older adult fitness classes at a community center. So you can reach out to the community center and put up flyers. You can reach out to their events coordinator to see if you can put a workshop on for the people in the community center.
Chamber of Commerce. This is one that was suggested to me, and something I hadn’t known much about before. Essentially, the goal of any Chamber of Commerce is to help further the interests of small businesses in a local area, and its activities can range from hosting events, to lobbying local representatives, to charitable works for the betterment of the community. So this could be great if you're doing a mobile practice and not doing as much online and you need to reach out to people in your community. But state and city websites in general can be super helpful for a small business, so check out your city's website and see what they have available.
So these are just a few of the ways to reach out to audiences: either professional connections that have a connection with your ideal audience or reaching out to potential clients directly.
I hope this is helpful. I know we’re told, you need to get out there and network. You need to reach out to your audience. But if you don't know who your audience is, it’s hard to reach them. Like I said, you need to figure out where your ideal clients really hang out, so that when you show up and you start talking about what it is that you do, it doesn't fall on deaf years - it reaches people who are actually looking to find a solution to their problems. So you need to be really cognizant about where your audience actually is.
BONUS TIP: How do I reach out to people? What do I do? What do I say?
I think we overthink this a lot. But I would definitely have your really simple “I help” statement ready to go. So for example, I would say something like: “I help CrossFit athletes with shoulder pain get back to working out pain free.” It needs to be so simple that a five year old can understand what it is that you do. I think that sometimes we get really caught up in things like our titles, our degrees, our education, but when it comes down to it, it doesn't really matter as long as you can help somebody and get them the results that they’re looking for.
Another thing is to look for contact information. Phone number, email address, and your message is going to be something like: “Hey, I'm Morgan. I help therapists who have never had any experience in business before start cash-based practices. I help them get to a full caseload so that they can have the life of their dreams.” Something like that. So here’s an outline for networking purposes:
“Hi, I’m [name]. I am reaching out to other professionals [in the area, in a specific audience] to get to know them and see how we can support each other. If that's something you'd be interested in talking about, I love to set aside some time where we can [talk on the phone, talk on Zoom] and get to know each other.”
Leading with an attitude of positivity and abundance is only going to continue to serve you. I also like to look at it as you're just making friends with other people who share the same vision as you in terms of being self employed, running your own business, and serving a population that needs help. And some people are not going to respond, some people are going to say no, but a lot of people are going to say yes, I would love to talk to you.
So as long as you are reaching out to people who fit your ideal audience and people who have access to your ideal audience and you continue to do that consistently, you are going to get results. You are going to start to have people coming to you and your caseload is going to be full of your ideal clients before you know it.