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Session 1: Creating Your Brand

Branding and marketing is perhaps the least straightforward and probably the most challenging parts about your business. We will first get started in discussing the different factors that go into how you develop your business brand, which sets the core foundation for your business before you can actually market it.

 
 

A brand is an intuitive ‘feeling or perception that is invoked in another individual’. We all instinctively know what a brand is, because there are certain products or companies that make you gravitate towards it.  And that is what brand is: you sometimes can’t explain it, because it has invoked some emotional component inside of you that draws you to it.

How important is a brand for your private practice?

To some degree, every private practice will need a brand because it is how you are presenting your business to your customer, but here are some scenarios to consider: 

SCENARIO 1: If you want to focus around the counseling component in your business and can become an in-network provider through health insurance, then brand may not be a main priority. However, keep in mind that having a brand can help set you apart and give you an edge over other providers that the prospective client may be considering.

SCENARIO 2: If your business will focus on private-pay counseling sessions and/or you want to extend your business towards books and media opportunities, your brand is incredibly important and will be the main driver of your business.

Building a loyal client base is highly dependent on creating a memorable brand in your ideal customer’s minds and relaying that your brand and business is clearly aligned with your potential customer.  80% of consumers indicate authenticity as the most influential factor in their decision to be a converted client of your business, so your brand identity really forms the foundation of your business. 

 

Building your brand identity

An authentic brand is an extension and reflection of your personality to your ideal client, which we first touched upon back in Module 1. The goal is to create a consistent brand identity that will reflect the value you offer without sounding salesy or disingenuous, and without disparaging the competition.  Use positivity to highlight why you are their best choice! Tell your story in an authentic way, articulate why you do what you do, and how you are the best one to help them.

Here are the 5 major areas to focus on when you start developing your brand identity:

1. Mission - the goal and agenda of your business, and why it exists. This is something that may change as your business progresses or evolves, and everything that you do should relate to this mission and why you are doing it. 

2. Vision - the end-goal destination of what you want your business to become. Think of this as a more long-term perspective of what you want to achieve in the future, and serves as a foundation for your broader goals. 

3. Values - Your core principles that guide that way you will do your business. It gets more into how you will achieve your mission and vision, and the way you way you want to deliver your services or business offerings.


Activity

Write down statements for each of the following on what brought you in starting or wanting to start your own business. 

1. Mission

Click here for more details on how to develop your mission statement.

2. Vision

Click here to learn more on developing a vision statement and how it is different from a mission.

3. Values

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you currently value in yourself and other people?
  • What do you think you should or would like to value?
  • Are these values aspirational or achievable?
  • What are actions and behaviors that support that you embody these values (i.e. the 'how')?

4. Ideal client profile - someone who you love working with, and vice versa, will love working with you. While good health is something that everyone wants to achieve, each person has different motivating factors that play strongly into how you convert them into a paying client. Defining your ideal client profile will help you target a marketing message that brings the right audience to you, and where your best work with a client will happen! Identifying your ideal client profile will also give you a targeted way to determine your most viable marketing channels based on where your ideal clients typically obtain their information and resources.


ACTIVITY

Ask yourself the following questions to formulate your detailed ideal client profile:

  • Is your ideal client male or female?
  • What age group?
  • What is their income level?
  • What are their motivations in life to be better?
  • What are the external motivators, triggers, or environment that may be provoking them to think about their health?
  • Where and how do they find the information they consume? 
  • How do they make their purchase decisions?

 

5. Visual - A major component of your brand identity is aesthetic appeal. This is very much about ‘looking’ the part that you are and how well you can convey your personality in a visual manner, and comes down to your choices in:

  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • Logo
  • Graphics and Images
  • Style and Theme

Using Pinterest is a great way to start putting together a vision board of your brand, compiling all of the things that you love visually. You will start to see a pattern emerge based on what you are pinning, so you get a better understanding of the colors, images, typography, style and mood of your website.


ACTIVITY

Start the following two Pinterest boards:

  1. A vision board with food and healthy lifestyles that invoke a mood that you want your clients to feel.
  2. Search for 'Brand Board' in Pinterest, and pin the type of graphical assets that best match your style (or what you'd like your style to become!)

If you are planning on developing your own brand, it's always a good idea to look at other successful brands and try to understand what has worked for them.  Use other successful brands as a jumping point in understanding where YOU are at, while putting your own special touches to make the brand your own.

Another option is to working with branding professionals to help you develop and solidify your brand identity and brand design. For those who are ready to grow your brand’s potential, WellSeek and LR Creative can work together with you and help create a brand that you are proud of.



Session 2: Marketing Channels

Here comes the most exciting and scary part about business: testing the market!  Before we start discussing some of the different marketing channels, one tip about marketing is to maintain the mindset that you are not trying to ‘convince’ people that they need you. This may seem counterintuitive, but marketing in business is a mental game and knowing that you have something valuable to offer others will help you keep going!

 
 

Understanding the customer journey

Marketing is about understanding the steps that it takes a potential customer to commit to working with you. The tricky part: there are many complexities in helping people get to the point where they will take action and work with you.

Remember these 3 general steps that it takes to get there, and consider how all of your marketing goals fit into these steps:

STEP 1: AWARENESS

Awareness is a simple ping that allows a someone to know you exist. It’s about creating opportunities for consumers to hear and know your name. Each of the marketing channels we will discuss is about creating these touch points for potential customers to know about you.

STEP 2: TRUST

Trust is far more complicated because you have to create and sustain a relationship, which will come with time, experience, word of mouth, and your actions noted by others. Trust comes from awareness and social proof that others are aware of you. Social proof is a debatable way to claim trust, but when people are more aware of what you do, it often seeps into some sort of trust. Some ways to start creating trust with your audience is through generating and providing valuable content (e.g. blogging, webinars, podcast), social media engagement, and referral networks from other professionals and businesses. 

STEP 3: ACTION

Action is what happens when someone actually goes and buys something from you when you have an offer. It can also be in the form of someone showing up to your event, or actively talks and shares about what you're doing. Action is just as complex as trust because it must take into account the previous 2 steps to make it happen!

Each time you are coming up with a new marketing strategy, remember to ask yourself the primary goal you are trying to achieve. Are you trying to get potential customers to:

  1. Be aware of you?
  2. Trust you?
  3. Take action?

Keeping these goals in mind will help make your marketing strategy more targeted and purposeful.

 

Marketing Channels

When you first begin to think about your marketing strategy, make sure that it’s about showcasing who you are and why you want to help others. Tell your story in an authentic way, articulate what you do, and how you can help them. 

One thing to remember is that you won’t likely get your marketing message and strategy right the first time, but that’s OK!  Every new process requires you to iteratively learn from it. As long as you are putting yourself out there, you will learn from both your successful and not-so-successful moments. Just keep trying!

Let’s start going through some of the ways that you can get the word out about your business:

1. Website - You cannot start a business without having a website. No matter where they see your name, people will likely Google you, and establishing some form of web presence gives them the confidence that you are a legitimate and ‘real’ business. While we previously touched on getting a website up in Module 2, here are some tips on how you can use your website as your marketing tool:

  • Clean and simple - Your website should be user-friendly and inviting. It should have a clean appearance that isn’t too detailed or cluttered. Potential clients should be able to learn about you and what you have to offer without having to read huge paragraphs of text. 
  • Creating content - Once you have a website established, this will be your home base for any articles and content that you write. Content serves as a great way to promote your business to potential customers without directly saying ‘buy’!
  • Email newsletter sign ups - Create incentives to get emails for newsletter sign-ups. This is a great way to engage with your audience and give potential clients an opportunity to trust you. For example, offer a free pdf e-book of 10 of your healthiest recipes when they subscribe to your newsletter.
  • Track your traffic - Be sure to use Google Analytics to continuously track where your traffic is coming from. Knowing which referral sources are helping you convert web traffic and paying clients can help you adapt and fine-tune your marketing approach in the future.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Identify keywords and ways to optimize your website content for SEO. Having other sites, especially high-traffic ones, link back to your site can help increase your ranking as well.
    • Consider collaborating on or writing quality content for other higher traffic sites so that there will be an opportunity to link back to your site (see #7: Content Creation).
    • Click here for a more comprehensive breakdown of SEO.

2. Social media - Social media is used to provide inspiration, quick bites of knowledge, and establish yourself as an authority and thought leader by engaging with prospective or current clients. The most popular ones used are Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. Here are a few tips if you are new to social media:

  • @YourName - Create a single handle that can be used across all social media platforms so they are uniform. This will also help more followers easily find you.
  • Plan ahead - You can plan ahead on through content calendar on what you will post to stay organized and to stay present. You can simply use a spreadsheet to get organized, or find and use any freely available editorial calendar template.
  • Be consistent - There is a learning curve in social media if you are new to it, and you may not be getting many followers or engagement initially. The main goal is to keep trying different tactics to see what works, and be consistent in the message and content you are putting out so that people will come to rely on you for your particular inspiration. Your content consistency is also directly tied to your brand identity and the message you are trying to convey, so you will need to establish your brand first before jumping into social media.

3. Insurance companies - Becoming an in-network insurance provider can help directly market your business because clients will find you through the provider network search directory. 

  • Note: Having a great brand and website will help differentiate you from the other providers that may be on the search directory.

4. Health Profs - This is a web search directory for health professionals where you pay a monthly fee to be listed. Because it is search engine optimized, linking your website through Health Profs can improve your search ranking as well.

5. Physicians - Establish a relationship with physician for referrals is one of the best ways to begin seeing a steady influx of patients.  You only need 1 or 2 private practice physicians who will consistently send patients your way. Here are a few things to consider when approaching to partner with physicians:

  • Most physicians who have patients in chronic care management may likely only refer out to you only if you are covered under insurance for their patients. 
  • The exception to that rule is if the physician specializes in certain areas where insurance is not traditionally covered (i.e. food allergies, GI disorders, eating disorders), and patients would likely need to pay out-of-pocket anyway.
  • If you do not accept health insurance, consider contacting concierge medicine practices as their patients are paying out-of-pocket already.

One marketing strategy for physician referral is to provide a promotional rate that is exclusive to the referring physician.  Provide well-designed flyers or business cards to the physician to hand out to their patients.

Don’t forget - Fax initial consult report to referring physicians after you see a new client, and thank them for their referral in the fax.

6. Other local small businesses and RDs - Contact other local businesses that may have access to your ideal clientele, including:

  • Local gyms
  • Boutique fitness studios
  • Wellness centers
  • Community centers
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Local small business networking groups

Create a referral network of other types of health and wellness specialists, such as chiropractors, massage therapists, and behavioral therapists. Network with other RDs in your area so you may have a potential referral system between a broader spectrum of expertise. This way, you can ensure that you are only seeing your ideal client, and in turn create a stable network for referrals back into your practice. A professional referral network is beneficial for everyone.  It’s all about collaboration over competition! 

If you decide to leave physical collateral such as business cards, brochures, flyers, be sure they are:

  • Easy to read and visually unique
  • Theme should tie into and be consistent across your brand, as it already should be across your website and social media.

7. Content creation

Creating content is a way to gain exposure and demonstrate your authority and voice to prospective customers (not to mention a great opportunity in link-building for SEO!). Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Begin by writing on your own blog through your website.
  • Become a guest writer on another blogger’s site.
  • Contribute to online publications, which will help you get your name out there as a thought leader and an expert.  Try your local newspaper or community newsletters, Huffington Post, and any other media outlets that your potential clients may read.
  • Contribute to the WellSeek Collective, our publication platform that promotes our Expert dietitian community to consumers as the celebrated voice in nutrition. We work with Experts in curating and developing content; for those who need more guidance, we can be very hands on in helping you come up with potential topics and create the content structure for your articles.  Find out how you can collaborate with us.