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Deb Legge
Jun 04, 2012

Marketing or Building your Private Practice – Which Comes First?

I’ve always wanted to paint a room, but I’ve never painted a room in my life. I think about the painting the ceiling first and think, “what if I get it just right and then mess it up when I do the walls?” I think about painting the walls first and think, “what if I get these just right and then ruin it when I paint the ceiling?” As a result, I’ve painted the mantle. I’ve painted a deck. I’ve admired other people’s beautifully painted rooms. But I’ve still never painted a room in my life.

So many counselors who really want to go into private practice never do. One common reason is that they can’t get past the analysis-paralysis (similar to what I experience every time I think about painting a room). They just can’t seem to figure out how to build their practice when they don’t have any clients; yet, they don’t know how to market their practice until they are ready to roll.

I refer you to a post I wrote (to give you a little background on my perspective on this dilemma): . Now I’ll share some more thoughts about that perspective and hopefully it will help you break free from your own analysis-paralysis.

We now live in a time when we can get (almost) immediate and candid feedback from our audience. You’ve likely experienced this on Facebook or on LinkedIn. You put something out there, and people line up to give you their support, criticism, or input. Each interaction feeds those relationships. You get to know a lot about those who reach out to you. You learn more about who people are; what they like; what they don’t like.

If you take these phenomena into the business arena, you’ve got yourself a (virtually FREE) marketing department; focus group; laboratory. I strongly agree with Steve Jobs’ famous statement: “It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want”. However, I believe it is more efficient and effective to utilize those consumers (your market) to build your business model (products, services, etc). Why take a shot in the dark when people are dying to let you know what they think and need?

Now some of you probably just sat back and said “What the hell is she talking about… I’m not going to ask my clients what they want!” Whoa. Stay with me here for another minute.

Although you may think of your private practice in terms of “clients”, you need to think of your BUSINESS in terms of “customers”. Your customers are your referral sources, as are your perspective clients.

Think about all of this in terms of where/how you can get in front of people who can send clients to you. What can you do to get their attention? How do you earn their trust?

AND… do you (necessarily) have to have your practice “ready to roll” while you are cultivating your referral sources/potential clients?
I don’t think so… What do you think?

To be continued… 

Deborah Legge is a counselor and the founder of the Influential Therapist. She is in Private Practice and has spent almost 20 years helping Counselors build successful Private Practices by modeling her success.

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