Resources - Chapter 16 Supplement
Companies that Market for You
Almost every person I know in a service business-wellness providers, artists, restauranteurs and consultants-wish that someone could handle their marketing. This reluctance to market oneself can be a major block to success-but it doesn't have to be. Many companies offer products, workshops and services to teach wellness providers how to better market themselves and to assist them in achieving their goals.
In addition to assistance some companies provide marketing services for wellness providers. These services range from obtaining client referrals to job placements to coordinating cooperative marketing ventures to supplying clients.
Evaluating Marketing Services
Assessing the relative value of any given company involves researching the company, evaluating the cost for services provided and determining if the presentation and activities of the company complement your image.
The initial research is important to make companies accountable for what they claim. Request copies of the following materials: wellness provider recruitment brochures; marketing materials given to prospective clients; and a list of marketing ventures (including the actual dates) with samples of ads. If the company offers a published directory, get a copy of it. If they don't want to just give it to you, offer them a fee which can be deducted from the service contract if you decide to sign up. After you've collected the materials, contact at least three other members for their feedback about the organization.
Evaluate the fit. Ask questions to determine their experience, philosophy and knowledge of your industry. It's imperative that you trust them and are able to communicate well. Find out if their marketing efforts tend to target a specific type of client, type of wellness service or geographic area. Check to see if the promotions and advertising done by the company address your specific target markets. If not, determine if they are at least compatible.
While reviewing their marketing materials, ask yourself the following questions: Do you like the types of marketing the company does? Does it match your image? Does this fit in with your current marketing plan?
Consider the activities for which you might be responsible. For instance, will your contract require you to make presentations, volunteer at events or post fliers around town? Are you comfortable with the other members?
If you've decided that the marketing company is compatible with your values and goals, evaluate the cost. This is not necessarily a straightforward task particularly if the company is new and has not collected success statistics.
Questions to Consider
- Does the company's marketing endeavors adequately cover your geographical area? For instance, even if a company takes out advertisements in national publications, what are they doing on a local level?
- Can you afford to do this?
- Can you afford not do to this?
- How much would it cost to do similar marketing yourself?
- Can you more effectively organize local practitioners into cooperative ventures?
- Does this complement your marketing plan?
- Would it be a better use of your time and money investing in other marketing activities?
In deciding upon whether to invest in any particular marketing company, calculate the number of sessions or new clients it would take to pay for this service. Nothing is risk-free, so I suggest that if you feel the potential reward is worth the risk, do it. Successful marketing involves a myriad of activities; don't tie up a significant portion of your marketing budget in any one method.
These types of marketing companies can be of great support in supplementing your current marketing endeavors and in essence become part of your marketing team. Keep in mind that if you hire the services of marketing companies, they are only one venue. It's not wise to rely upon services like these to totally fill your practice.
Also realize that just because a company is young and might not have a substantial track record yet, it still can be a good choice. All companies have to be a "start-up" at some point.
The potential down side to utilizing the services of a marketing company is that they might not do what they claim and they usually aren't personal. People tend to choose wellness providers (particularly for long-term work) out of an experience of the practitioner either directly or through a personal recommendation. While these types of services can be extremely helpful in augmenting your practice, ultimately you are the best person to market yourself.