Building a Successful Hypnotherapy Practice
As a hypnotherapist, you are selling a valuable service to those who need it. In order to be successful in this highly competitive world it is important to have some idea in your mind as to how you can go about getting yourself known to the public.
Marketing yourself is a vital way of doing this and our aim is to provide you with inside knowledge of building a successful practice, getting to the top and staying there. First, we need to know a little about what marketing actually is. It means matching the services that you offer to your potential clients’ needs and identifying ways of doing this. Several processes are involved.
These could be: Deciding the type of clients that you wish to attract. For example, are you looking only for clients who wish to stop smoking or lose weight? Will your clients be from middle class backgrounds or will you cater for anyone?
How many potential clients are there in the area where you will be working? Will you be working in a small town or a large city? Where are your potential clients? You could begin by asking colleagues or other healthcare professionals where their clients come from.
What are their needs?
By researching the market you can identify which group of clients’ needs are not currently being met, you can then consider how you can fulfil their needs. How much can they afford to pay? This will depend largely upon the area in which you will be working. Where are your potential clients and how can you persuade them to come to you? By researching the market, you can discover what influences them, where they are and how you can reach them. Will they come to you, or you visit them? If you are just starting out as a hypnotherapist and have no premises to work from you may decide to do home visits only. If you plan on setting up a room somewhere, you need to know that your premises are accessible in terms of parking and public transport.
You may have some really good ideas about what you would like to do, in which case you could ask your friends or colleagues what they think of it and if they would buy your services, or you may decide to send out a questionnaire and collate the response you receive.
Take a look in the local telephone directories under Hypnotherapists, Alternative or Complementary Therapists, or on the Internet and find out how many hypnotherapists are covering the area that you plan to work from. You could also visit places where they are likely to advertise, such as new age shops, vegetarian restaurants, etc. to get an idea of the competition you are facing. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be the only one, unless you live in a very small village but even if there are quite a lot in your area, you can phone around and find out how much they are charging, or introduce yourself to them.
Producing an effective leaflet is often your first opportunity to make an impression on your prospective client. When they read your leaflet, what they see, read and feel about it is often the only thing they have to help them to decide whether or not to make that first appointment.
Clients will often pass your leaflet on to other prospective clients to give them more information about what you do.
The main aims of your leaflet should be to:
• Make people want to pick it up;
• Make them read it;
• Transform them in to clients.
Leaflets should therefore be carefully thought out beforehand. The colour of your paper, the font, design, illustrations and the general impression that you wish to convey, will express who you are and how you work. Leaflets can be three fold or two, with information on either both sides or just one.
The most important thing your leaflet should demonstrate is your complete faith in yourself and the service or product that you are offering. If you don’t believe what you are writing then your readers won’t believe it either. Any uncertainties will come across in your writing, so be positive, direct and personal.
Your leaflet should hold information about how the client can contact you, where you are working, special features of the venue, or directions, waiting times, payment requirements and details about the therapy you offer. Avoid anything gimmicky.
One of the golden rules to follow is known as AIDA, which stands for;
Attention may be grabbed by putting the heading in bold or in a larger type. This is not the place for the company name as that is more important to you than to your client.
Interest; tell them more about what you are offering;
Desire; Arouse desire by aiming to hook the part of them that says ‘I want this’;
Action: can be stirred by saying places are limited or by offering a discount.
Stress the benefits of your therapy rather than going into great detail about describing the therapy itself. Most clients will want to know…what can it do for me?
If you are promoting something, give this information first and never repeat information in a brochure. Talk about the uniqueness of what or how you do what you do.
You may like to include a photograph of yourself and/or a logo of any associations to which you belong,
With an informal brochure, use the word ‘you’ rather than ‘the client’ as this makes the leaflet more personal.
Always check your spellings and grammar. There is nothing worse than a badly produced leaflet.
Think about your prospective clients and try to express the key quality that they are going to go for. For example;
Business Executives; well designed leaflet with expensive paper and well thought out combination of fonts. Include your qualifications, experience, what your therapy will do for them, how much time it will save them, how to make more effective what they do already. Include testimonials, colour ink.
Depressed women/men; Gentle brochure with soft pastel colours, friendly font written with empathy and a hopeful message. A clearly structured layout, your personal experience and qualifications.
New Age Seekers; recycled paper, US style layout, metaphysical symbols, quotes on spiritual matters, an impression of mystique; solutions to be found, the Cosmic connectedness to all things.
Other professionals: Prose more important than design; paper. Must offer learning, support, self knowledge, fun, techniques for unwinding, possible networking, and a photograph of you.
Newcomers: Simple layout, not too many words, easy to learn techniques, questions.
Intellectuals: Artistic, creative looking with small visuals. Challenges stimulate curiosity, high fees.
If you want to co-ordinate colours, check out Pantone colours or get a book on colour combinations.
If you can design the leaflet yourself it will save you a lot of money, however if you don’t feel confident about this you could ask an art student or ask at your local college if someone is prepared to design it for a small fee.
Remember though that the content of your leaflet is more important than the design.
If your leaflet is going to be displayed on a rack then consider the position of it. It really needs to stand out so you may need to make the title larger, and remember that only the top half of your leaflet will be displayed.
Some of the information you might include in your leaflet is:
• What your therapy is;
• Where you are based and how they clients can contact you;
• Your opening hours and days;
• Your name;
• How your therapy works;
• The benefits;
• What it will do for your client;
• The type of people who have gained from it;
• Cost: (Optional, remember your fees may change)
• How to book
When sending out leaflets you should expect a response rate of about 1% so don’t be disappointed if you don’t get more. If you need to get 20 new clients, send out 2,000 leaflets and code them so that when you do get a response you can find out the source. Plan to allocate about 25% of your income to marketing and consider this, when you are deciding your fees. Keep a record of where clients found out about you so that you can discover the best form of advertising and spent your promotional budget on what you know works.
Locate your practice where there are plenty of potential clients and make sure it is accessible in terms of parking and public transport. Visit the area a few times to get an idea of the type of people that live there. Locate potential sources of advertising locally such as New Age shops, vegetarian restaurants or cafes and check out the competition. You are unlikely to find a place where there is no competition at all but do not be put off if you find that you do have competition locally, it doesn’t mean to say that you can’t succeed.
Think of about 10 people that you know whom you can phone that may be able to supply you with clients. This is far more cost effective than advertising in magazines and newspapers. Some of these people might be GPs, therapists who are offering a different service to you, bookshop owners, etc.
If a potential client phones you and asks what sort of therapy you offer, turn the question around and find out what it is they need. Once you get the conversation flowing it is easier to introduce what you offer and provoke their interest.
Ask your clients to recommend you to a friend. Keep in touch with contacts that you make, sending birthday cards or phoning them now and again.
Think carefully about what you will call your service. Consider getting yourself known as a specialist in a particular field, for example Weight Control or Smoking Cessation Therapist; or your difference may be in your approach, such as Analytical Therapist or Holistic Health Care.
Do not wait for clients to come to you; go out there and make yourself known by offering free talks to various organizations or institutes.
Do not pretend you are busy if you are not when clients phone you. If possible, answer the phone personally rather than using an answering machine and think of every call as a potential sale.
Monitor Missed Calls
If your caller display shows that, you have missed calls, telephone them back as soon as you can and apologize, asking how you can help them. Some people still hate leaving messages on an answering machine.
If you are advertising in a directory, make sure you know when the next edition is coming out and don’t miss the deadline. Keep your advert short but precise. Advertise free initial consultations or a 24 hour helpline.
Don’t be disheartened when a client fails to keep an appointment. This is especially important in the early days when you are building your practice as many therapists blame themselves or think that they’ve failed in some way. People forget about appointments or something may crop up in their life that prevents them from attending.
What People Want
Some clients expect a ‘miracle cure’ and think you’re going to resolve all their problems straight away? Perhaps their friends have stopped smoking after one session and they view hypnosis as having some sort of magical quality. They may want to know about your past performance or success rate and most of all, what hypnosis will do for them.
Does it Work?
If they know of others that you have successfully treated this, will reinforce their faith in you and enhance the possibility of a successful outcome. They may want statistical evidence.
Clients often seek the ‘personal touch’. They appreciate you spending time and discussing their problem in detail, they usually prefer warmth and comfort or a homely atmosphere, rather than a cold, clinical approach. The way your sessions are conducted can be important to some people. This includes taking into account the needs of the client, for example any disabilities that they may have or anything that would result in the appreciation of your service.
Some clients like to engage in discussion and seek explanations as to why and how hypnosis works. Be creative in your approach and always keep in touch with your ‘higher self’. Don’t just accept what is being superficially presented to you. A client may want to lose weight because he or she feels unworthy, unloved or unacceptable the way he or she is. Helping them to appreciate their good points and not feel ‘put down’ by the attitude of others, can help to build up the necessary self esteem required to implement changes in lifestyle.
Be truthful always, clients can sense in you’re not being open and honest with them. Don’t make claims that you can’t fulfil.
The Needs of the Client
1. To feel secure
2. Communication. To ask and receive information.
3. To feel valued, acknowledged and accepted.
4. To feel free to make choices, give and receive care and love.
5. To be self-expressing and self directing.
6. To have a sense of purpose and fulfilment.
7. To find meaning in life.
Using your own, Promotional Skills
Define your own basic personality skill and use it to promote yourself.
If you are a naturally talkative and communicative sort of person, this could involve giving talks about what to do to small or large gatherings. If you have nice eyes or a smile use a photo of yourself on your leaflets or promotional material. If you’re a good writer, you could make yourself better known through writing promotional literature, or writing for newspapers, magazines or journals about what it is you do. Perhaps your voice is what attracts people, if so, make yourself heard.
Specific Promotional Ideas
There are numerous ways in which you can promote yourself. Below are a few ideas for you to think about.
1. Press releases. Write to newspapers about particular success you have had. If you are naming individual clients, be sure to obtain their permission first though, or you could land yourself in trouble.
2. Hold workshops to get yourself known.
3. Circulate your business cards, leaflets, flyers.
4. Be in the right place at the right time. Make use of special events such as Stopping Smoking Week or New Year when resolutions are on everyone’s agenda, or promote Slimming for the Summer a few months before the holiday season.
5. Be present at Holistic health fairs.
6. Sell a related product, such as books or CDs and get yourself known by it.
7. Get yourself interviewed on radio or local TV.
8. Do other related part time work, e.g. teach self hypnosis at a local college, or relaxation classes.
9. Join or create a network referral service.
10. Get listed in the ‘What’s On’ section of your local newspaper or in a library publication.
11. Tell everyone you know of what you do or what you offer.
12. Offer discounts for group bookings.
13. Contact complementary group practices and let them know you are available for appointments, or rent a room with them.
14. Give your full credentials to Health Centres, GPs, Sports Centres, nursing homes, natural health clinics, self-help groups, women’s institutes, adult education centres, etc.
15. Write brochures aimed at specific areas of your specialty and send to organizations that deal with such problems, e.g. write a brochure on stress management techniques or bedwetting with your contact details.
16. Offer your services to companies or blue chip industries.
17. Offer services to hospitals that ‘buy in’ services.
18. Run a training course.
19. Contact people who have trained with you and ask them to refer clients to you.
20. Make sure you are included in all the directories and related web sites.
21. Run a course for specialized people such as doctors or nurses who will then refer clients to you.
22. Write a book on the subject you specialize in.
23. Set up a magazine or newsletter to local residents.
24. Swap mailing lists with other therapists.
25. Put notices up on notice boards in staff rooms at schools, clinics and other workplaces.
26. Advertise cheaply in shop windows.
27. Advertise on local radio.
28. Offer your services to the local radio as their ‘resident hypnotherapist’.
More about Brochures
Spend time thinking about the format your brochure will take. Look at colour, design, typeface, illustrations and what message you want your brochure to convey.
Don’t cram your brochure with information, a little to get them interested and make them want to learn more about what you have to offer can be much more effective than lots of jargon.
Your text should be well spaced out and easy to follow with relevant headings in bold. If headings need to go onto two lines or more, end each line at a specific point, which makes the reader need to read on, rather than just read to the end of the line or sentence. For example, consider the following two notices.
Can dramatically improve your health
can dramatically Improve your health
The second example would compel the reader to follow to the end to find out what stopping smoking could dramatically do.
Certain fonts are easier to read than others. Times New Roman is easier to follow than Lucida Sans, Verdana or Arial, which is why it is more often used in publications. Experiment with using a combination of fonts…not too many though…two is enough as you don’t want your writing to be distracting. Include logos, illustrations or photographs to ‘break up’ the text.
If you don’t feel confident about designing your leaflets ask someone to help you or get them to read your draft leaflet and ask for their opinion. You could perhaps ask a student on a design course to help.
What sort of paper will you use? Many large stationers sell paper especially for brochures with a choice of designs. Will you use a threefold brochure or landscape paper folded over to A5 size? Where are your leaflets going to be displayed? Some racks are only suitable for particular sized literature.
Avoid the use of initials that could be misleading, they may mean nothing at all to the person reading it; symbols can be more effective as they go straight to the subconscious
Some pointers to bear in mind include:
1. Describe your therapy in an easy to understand way and pay more attention to the benefits of your therapy. What will it do for your client?
2. Explain where you are based, opening times, dates, how often, etc.
3. Stress the uniqueness of your therapy and the way that you work.
4. Include just a short biography about yourself.
5. Make payment methods easy, cheque, credit cards, switch, postal orders, etc.
6. Your name – large if you’re famous or small if otherwise.
7. What your therapy does and how it works.
8. What sort of people benefit from it.
9. Your training, qualifications and experience.
10. Punch line.
11. What is different about the way that you do it?
You may find that you need to break through resistance based on fear or misunderstanding of what you do. The way to approach this is through a history of previous objections. For example, many people may be put off because they have heard about stage hypnosis or think that their mind will be ‘taken over’ by the hypnotist. So you could aim to dispel any fears by explaining how the client remains ‘in control’ throughout and will not do or say anything that they morally object to.
Leaflets can be sent out by post or stacked in racks with everyone else’s. The most effective method of promotion is through using carefully targeted lists as described previously. Be prepared to experiment with your leaflets; if one method/design doesn’t work well, try something different.
A few ways of distributing your leaflets could include:
• GPs surgeries
• Holistic fairs
• Inserted into journals, newspapers, magazines, directed at target groups
• Co-operate with another practitioner to go out in your shared mailing at a reduced cost
• Whole food shops, etc. (With the owner’s permission, of course)
• Door to door distribution
• Clubs and sport centres.
If you only need a few leaflets at a time it could be more economical to print your own providing you have a decent printer and publishing program on your computer; otherwise, you may need to think about having them done at printers. Independent local printers usually charge less than High Street shops. Shop around and find the best value and get printers to compete with each other. Exchange and Mart magazine carry information about printing rates.
If you want a special colour or texture paper you will have to pay for a full ream (500 sheets), but for smaller batches with just black ink you could consider having your leaflets photocopied. You will usually find that the more copies you order (from printers) the cheaper it costs.
Many printers should be able to show you sample papers – make sure you ask to see ones, which have been printed on; otherwise, you could find the print shows through on the other side.