Whether you are new to entrepreneurship or even seasoned, you may wonder to yourself, “How can I gain clients?”
As a Dietitian in private practice, I often struggled with the best way to grow my clientele since my undergrad and graduate courses had little to no focus on marketing. You can do a simple Google search and find millions of results for the topic of marketing; however, I wanted to give a “tried and true” perspective. This is a combination of what not only worked well for me, but also, other dietitians in similar positions. While I am by no means an expert, I know that someone out there might benefit from my information. This blog is going to be broken down into a two-part series, so look out for the second round of tips next week!
#1 – Have an Internet/Social Media Presence
People want to know a bit about you before committing to your services. Some of my clients found me from a Google search and others have been passive followers of my Facebook page and suddenly had a need for my services. You can really run the full gambit with an Internet presence. I currently have a website, 2 blogs, Instagram, two Facebook pages, and Twitter profile. I also created a FREE listing with “Google My Business,” which helps me to stand out a bit in search results. You don’t necessarily need to use every social media platform nor do you need to do everything at once. The key is finding which is the best for you (and your clients) now. This means identifying where your clients frequent the most. I started blogging back in my undergrad, then created a website, and then added my FB pages. Take it one step at a time and build as you see fit.
#2 – Look for the Secondary Benefit
I feel that my blogs add to my credibility and provide some extra tips/resources to my current clients. My Instagram shows clients how healthy food can look (and taste) good. There have been times where I am out somewhere and a fellow RD or even an entrepreneur in an unrelated business will say that they read my latest blog and it was really helpful. I have also had food companies reach out to partner with me after seeing pictures I posted or blogs I have written. So, while you may not see single clients reaching out to you for counseling services, down the line, a new business opportunity may arise due to them reading your blog and seeing your work. So, do keep it professional, credible, and useful to your audience.
#3 – Build an Easy-to-Access Website
Ultimately, your website is one of the first things I would get up and running, especially if you are in practice already. Clients want to learn about you, the services you offer, and how to contact you when they are ready. When you create your website (or have a designer do so), make sure it is easy to navigate. I have had a few clients say they chose my practice because my website gave them the information they needed quickly (i.e. contact info, services, about me). You can certainly hire someone to build a website for you; however, I did it myself and I like that I can just pop in to update things whenever I want. I also chose not to include a pop-up ad on my website landing page because I find it annoying when I am looking for information and all these boxes keep showing up to get me to subscribe via email. This was just a personal preference for me; however, I would challenge you to think from your client’s perspective when designing your website layout.
#4 – Be Consistent in Social Media Postings
Whatever social media platform you use, try to be consistent in when/how you post. For my Facebook pages, I have a schedule of which days I post to which site (I have one for nutrition and one for RDs). I also typically post 3-4 times a month (Sundays) with my RD blog and 2 times per month (Thursdays) with my PorrazzaNutrition blog. I also have monthly themes (i.e. greens for March, holiday tips for Nov/Dec) and even daily themes (Motivation Monday), which can really help with content creation. When you recommend your blog or page to any client or fellow RD, you want to have content for them to see now and future content to keep them interested. Otherwise, why should they follow you if they won’t get anything out of it? I also limit the number of “selling myself” posts to 1-2 per month. People don’t want to follow you and hear a pitch every other day. Mix in your own work, general tips, blog/page shares, and your services to give a nice blend to your reader/audience.
#5 – Become an Insurance Provider
While you certainly don’t need to be an insurance provider to have a private practice, I will say, it helps a lot with gaining clients. About 95% of my current clients use their insurance. It is a huge selling point for potential clients when I tell them I take insurance and the cost for them is little to nothing. When creating partnerships, a lot of the contacts (doctors, trainers, etc) I spoke with had verified that I accepted insurance before agreeing to send clients my way. I am also listed on each insurance companies’ website, so when a new client searches for a Dietitian in my zip code, I show up. Now, there may be a few RDs listed in my zip code; however, as I mentioned earlier, having a good website with information about myself, links to my blogs with tasty recipes, and tips for the client could lean them towards choosing me from the list. It does take time to go through the insurance process and depending on your business model, you may not even want to go this route. If you are undecided on whether you should take insurance, I would suggest looking at what other RDs in your area are doing. If they all accept insurance and you do not, it can be tough to compete (I am only speaking in regards to one-on-one counseling, not other services). Also, if insurance is good in your area and no other RDs accept it then that could set you apart. I have seen practices thrive with and without taking insurance, so do some research and decide what you think will work the best for you.
What marketing tip has helped you the most? Share how this blog has helped you or share another tip you have for marketing yourself and gaining clients!
Stay tuned for next week’s blog Part Two of Gaining Clients in Private Practice with 5 more tips!