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[00:00:00] Dr. Sharp: Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

Many of y’all know that I have been using TherapyNotes as our practice EHR for over 10 years now. I’ve looked at others and I keep coming back to TherapyNotes because they do it all. If you’re interested in an EHR for your practice, you can get two free months of TherapyNotes by going to thetestingpsychologist.com/therapynotes and enter the code “testing”.

This episode is brought to you in part by PAR.

The Personality Assessment Inventory Bariatric compiles the results of the PAI into a useful report for bariatric surgery candidates. Available on PARiConnect, PAR’s online assessment platform. You can visit parinc.com\paibr.

Hello folks. Welcome back to the podcast. I’m glad to be here with [00:01:00] you. Today is a business episode and we are talking about marketing.

Now, we have talked about marketing many times on the podcast. I get that. I think that my guest today comes at it from a little bit of a different perspective. It’s titled Uncomplicated Marketing for a reason.

Racheal Cook is an award-winning business strategist, Host of the Promote Yourself to CEO podcast, and Founder of The CEO Collective. She is on a mission to end entrepreneurial poverty for women, specifically. Over the last 15 years, she has helped thousands of women entrepreneurs design predictably profitable businesses without hustle and burnout. She is a sought-after speaker on entrepreneurship, marketing, and productivity, and she has been featured by the US Chamber of Commerce, Forbes, Inc., Fast Company, and the Female Entrepreneur Association. When she’s not helping women entrepreneurs, you’ll find Racheal hiking along the James River and playing board games with her three kids.

Racheal and I talk about [00:02:00] all the different aspects of marketing that we get wrapped up in, which ones are helpful, and how to choose your marketing. We cover things like networking for introverts, the role of social media, and even tackle the topic of growth without any marketing whatsoever. This is a pretty rich episode. We start with a discussion, not about marketing at all, but about burnout and Racheal’s personal journey. I think there’s a lot to take from it.

I won’t keep you any longer. Let’s get to my conversation with Racheal Cook.

Racheal. Hey, welcome to the podcast.

Racheal: Thanks so much for having [00:03:00] me. I’m looking forward to our conversation.

Dr. Sharp: I am too. It really caught my eye. We’re talking about marketing and growth without marketing. That’s a nice tagline, an interesting topic to catch people’s attention. So, we’re going to talk about that and lots of other things, but we’ll give people a little teaser that we’re going to talk about how to grow without necessarily marketing. 

Welcome. Thanks for being here. I’ll start with the question that I’ll start with every time, which is, why this is important to you and of all the things you could do with your life, why focus on this topic?

Racheal: This is such a great way to open this conversation because I think like a lot of people, I went to school and did all the things, checked all the boxes of being a high achiever in my life. I finished college early. Check. Got my master’s degree. Check. Got married. Check. Found the six-figure job. Check.

[00:04:00] I was in that six-figure job, I had finished my MBA in entrepreneurship and small business, and I went directly into the world of consulting. If anybody knows anything about the world of consulting, it’s pretty brutal. They work you very hard. You work 80 to 100 hours a week. You don’t get to choose the clients you’re working with. So I was doing small business consulting, but it was for industrial pump manufacturing or electrical engineering firms or her utility design companies, these bigger companies. I’m not too interested in paper processing plants.

So, I learned a lot and I am really lucky that I have between my master’s degree and my consulting career, I got a big education in the world of business and how business works, but I burned out very quickly, which is a huge topic right now in general, but I actually got to the point where I was sick. I took a [00:05:00] medical leave of absence to go focus on my health.

That was the experience that had me leaving my career and starting my own business because I found myself crying on a yoga mat, as you do when you have realized that everything you’ve worked so hard for and got all the accolades for is not what you actually want.

My yoga teacher said to me, Racheal, I know you don’t think you want to go back to consulting. You’re not sure what your next step is, but can you help me out with my yoga studio? And that was a light bulb moment for me. I realized most of the small businesses that I was engaging with because I love yoga, I love holistic health. There are a lot of things that I love doing to be a consumer of, I realized they’re all owner-operated and they don’t have a lot of resources to learn how to grow their business or run their business. But here I had all this incredible background that could help them.

That was in 2008. I left my corporate job. I started working [00:06:00] with, honestly, mostly yoga studios, and holistic healthcare centers, and that evolved very slowly into healing and helping entrepreneurs and businesses, functional medicine doctors, massage therapists, chiropractors, a whole ton of people who were really passionate about the work that they were doing. They were making a positive difference in the world but they didn’t go to school for business. They didn’t have a business background. They didn’t understand all of the different things that go into running a business.

So I’ve spent the last 15 years making it my mission to help them get the business stuff in place so that they can show up and do what they want to do with their passion.

Dr. Sharp: I love those stories. This is why I was drawn to talking with you because there are so many businesses you could work with, but you’ve got this personal connection to the healing professions, the holistic health, mental [00:07:00] health. That’s different, I think than just a “marketing person” or “business consultant”, right? There’s some meaning there and that counts for a lot.

Racheal: I think it makes me better at what I do because I use all the services of the types of people that I work with. It helps that I’ve been through trauma therapy. It helps that, believe it or not, I have a dad who’s a recovering alcoholic. So I’ve done a lot of recovery work.

I’ve done so much of the work that my clients want to do more of, and so it ends up being a great asset to them because, in a way, I’m their ideal client. I’m somebody who loves the ability to go and better yourself, to heal your past, to stop generational trauma in its tracks. I’m one of those people in my family who’s been active in doing that myself. And so when my clients come to me, I’m like, okay, I know [00:08:00] exactly what we need to do because you’re looking for more people like me. Now, let me tell you exactly how to find more people like me who are excited about it, who are on board, who will happily pay for your services, and who will come back to you again and again.

Dr. Sharp: That personal connection counts for a lot. You said something at the beginning telling your story that I’m going to go back to for a second. It sounds like you’re ahead of the curve, unfortunately, with this whole burnout, finding your purpose, and existential crisis kind of thing. I’m curious, I feel like I’m having that conversation with people a lot over the last six months in particular. I don’t know what it is, or maybe it’s just I’m more aware of it, but I’m curious for you working in this space, do you feel like there’s an increase in these conversations lately for some reason or am I just imagining that?

[00:09:00] Racheal: Absolutely. There’s a massive increase. It’s so interesting because when I first understood burnout, and I was going through it myself, they didn’t really have a diagnosis for this. I got a lot of diagnoses, like you have depression, you have anxiety, you are struggling with adrenal fatigue, all sorts of things all at the same time.

Now, it’s so interesting because I believe the World Health Organization has said burnout is going to be one of our biggest problems in this generation. And it makes sense because right now, I know everybody thinks we’re past the pandemic, but let’s face it, things have not been “normal” for a very extended time and people are not used to that.

We are not, as humans, meant to be in these long periods of uncertainty. We’re not meant to be on a 24/7 news cycle of all the horrible things happening in the world. Honestly, especially because I work with women entrepreneurs, [00:10:00] and I’m going to get on my soapbox for just a second, women have been holding up our society because of huge systemic issues that we have. It’s been the unpaid labor of women and caregivers that has been holding things up through this extended period. It’s so traumatic to so many people.

So, it doesn’t surprise me at all when people are running up against burnout, especially if you are a caregiver in your life, especially if you have systemic things that are not offering the level of support that you really need. If we start thinking about things like childcare and healthcare, all of these different things that would make it easier for so many of us to navigate uncertainty, we don’t have those to fall back on at all. And then when you look at people who are in the healthcare field, therapist burnout is massive right now. Physician burnout is massive right now. Anybody in the healthcare field is burning out [00:11:00] so fast. We are running into shortages of people everywhere.

So we’re in this cycle that is going to continue to get worse unless there are bigger systemic changes because we’ve been shoring it all up with duct tape and string and women’s unpaid labor, but at some point, there’s got to be changes where there’s more support given to people so that caregivers, therapists, healthcare workers, all these people that are supposedly essential to society are not being treated as if they’re essential to society. There’s my soapbox right there.

Dr. Sharp: Well, I know there are people out there who are listening or probably clapping maybe literally or figuratively because it’s so true. I’m on board with everything that you just said. These are all factors that are contributing. I feel like we’re maybe just getting to that point of, I don’t know if the word is letting [00:12:00] down after the pandemic and starting to relax a little bit, but that’s when we know that our immune system is flare back up and any number of other things, at some weird time.

Racheal: Absolutely. It’s ongoing right now. I think this is one of the biggest reasons I’m so passionate about talking about these types of things with business owners, especially, I talk a lot about how to build a life first business and how to protect the asset, which is you, the business owner, because if you’re not taking care of yourself, you can’t move this business forward.

Once you get to the point where you’re in burnout, this is a stat that really shocked me, they say it takes up to three years to fully recover from true burnout. So it’s not just you need a vacation. It’s you need to fundamentally look at the way your life is structured, your business is structured and make sure it’s structured in a way that allows you to prioritize taking care of yourself first, filling that cup first [00:13:00] before you’re taking care of all your patients, taking care of your whole team, and taking care of your family. It’s a lot of people who are needing our emotional labor. They’re needing our bandwidth. If we don’t prioritize ourselves and we don’t build our businesses in a way that allow us to do that, then it’s just a matter of if not, when you’re going to bump up against that burnout.

Dr. Sharp: 100%. I know we’re veering off. We didn’t set the intention of talking about burnout, but I think setting this frame is important because it flows nicely into our discussion. I titled the episode Uncomplicated Marketing and I think that that dovetails really well with how do we do this? How do we build our businesses, scale or maintain, or whatever you want to call it without it completely maxing us out and leaning to burn out, [00:14:00] and being another thing that is draining for us?

Racheal: I think it’s like anything. It’s being super intentional instead of letting things happen in your business and doing things because you feel like you should, or you see other people doing them; instead getting really intentional and asking, okay, what actually works for me and how do I make sure I’m prioritizing that and letting go of anything that’s a distraction because it’s really easy, especially in marketing your business, to feel like you have to do everything and you have to be everywhere. But I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to be everything to everybody, be on every platform, be an influencer. You don’t have to do any of those things to effectively grow your business.

Dr. Sharp: Well, that’s safe to say people are probably very interested at this point. So, where do we start here? I like this idea of designing it deliberately. Where do you start with folks and figuring out what actually works but is also sustainable?

Racheal: The first [00:15:00] thing I would recommend anybody do is start with your clients. Start with your clients and think about where are they coming from. There’s an exercise I’ll often give a lot of my clients, which is, look through the last 10 new clients you’ve taken on and then figure out where did they come from? This one exercise is going to be very illuminating because it’s going to tell you, did they come from a referral? Did they look you up and find you on Google? So they found you through Google My Business or SEO, something like that. Did they find you on social media? Did they find you on a directory like Psychology Online? It’s going to give you a lot of information.

If you don’t know this information, then the first thing you need to do in your intake process is have a thing that says, how did you find out about me? Get this information because it will very quickly tell you what is and isn’t working.

Often, when I’m working with, especially healing and helping entrepreneurs, their number one source [00:16:00] of clients is usually referrals, but they often have zero plan for how they’re going to generate more referrals, and instead they think they need to post more on Instagram. We don’t need to do that if none of the clients in that 10 most recent list did not actually come from Instagram. We need to focus on where they actually came from. So that’s my first step here.

Dr. Sharp: I love that. To provide as much context for people, why is that important? This may be a dumb question, but why is it important to know where your referrals are coming from?

Racheal: Because if you don’t know where they’re coming from, you’re going to waste a lot of time and energy guessing. And this is the biggest thing when it comes to marketing. You want to track how people are going through the process of finding out about you.

The very first step is attract. It’s where you’re getting in front of those people for the very first time. They’ve never heard about you before. But now they’re actively hearing about you. So it could be from a referral. It could be that they went to Google. [00:17:00] It could be that they’ve happened to stumble across your video on TikTok. However they happen to find you as that very first step, but we want to know where they came from and ask people.

The next thing is, we want them to engage with us. We want that person to go from hearing about you to taking the next step and actually getting in contact with you. For a lot of people in healing spaces, the next step is going to be getting on your calendar for that initial consult. That is the action we want people to take. If a referral is being sent to us, we want them to book that initial consult. If they’re on Google My Business, we want them to book that initial consult.

Once we have them book that initial consult, then we can take them through the next steps of deciding if they are on a fit for your services and then enrolling them in becoming a client. But the first part of it is just getting in front of them. And that’s the hardest part to be honest, because usually it means [00:18:00] you have to make yourself visible and you have to proactively ask for those referrals.

Dr. Sharp: Yes. I think that’s the tough part. Maybe we take a little detour and talk about that for a bit, how you get in front of people, how you ask, how you make yourself visible. You’ve heard this a million times, I’ve heard this a million times. I’m an introvert. I don’t want to network. I hate these events. I don’t know what to say. Is there anything I can do or I can just sit in my office and get clients, all those kinds of questions? I’d love to dig into that.

Racheal: Well, I’m actually hugely introverted and I do sit in my office and get clients because of the things I put in place. The mistake a lot of people make is they think they have to change their personality, and suddenly become this extroverted person who can go into any room and find a client. That’s not how it works. We need to know that business is built at the speed of relationships. So it’s all about building [00:19:00] relationships. Part of that is being able to identify the types of relationships you already have.

When it comes to referrals, there are two types. They’re not all one size fits all. They’re all a little bit different and you’re going to approach them differently. The first is yes, client referrals. How many times have you had a client come in and they’re saying, Hey, my friend, so and so told me I should talk with you? That’s a great referral source because that client probably had a good experience with you if they’re telling somebody they should come see you. So they’re already giving you that transfer of trust. They’re already giving you some credibility there when that referral comes in.

The hard part is getting clients to proactively tell people about you and not everybody will do that because it is a field and this is with any healing and helping field, it can be a little vulnerable to share that you’re seeing a therapist, you’re going through testing for something, you’re getting support in this area that maybe you want to [00:20:00] keep private. So you won’t have all of your clients be referral sources. That’s just not going to happen because of the nature of the work, but you might find a few who are, and these are always the super connectors.

If you have a book of clients, let’s say you have 100 people who are actively seeing you in some way, if you look through, you probably know 2 to 5 who are the people who are because of your relationship with them. These people are pretty engaged in their community. They’re probably leaders in different ways in their community, whether it’s at work or in a non-profit they’re a part of or an organization they’re a part of. 

These are the people who are the natural connectors. They’ve probably already talked to you a lot about all the relationships they have and the different ways they’re involved in different organizations and communities. They might’ve even sent you referrals. You only need two of those people in order to start generating more [00:21:00] referrals because these are the people who love. They’re the ones who their friends know if I need to find a new doctor, if I need to find a new therapist, if I need to find a physical therapist for my broken toe, they are the people in their networks that everybody calls cause they’re like, so and so knows everyone. So identify those people. That’s one big tip. Just identify those people. You don’t need everyone. You just need a few of them.

And then I want you to think about those individuals because they’re individuals, and there are going to be different ways you can connect with them. For some of them, it could be directly saying, hey, I know you’re super well-connected in this community. Do you know of any of the groups you’re a part of who are looking for someone to come in and talk about X, Y, or Z?

If you’re very clear about what you’re looking for, let’s say they’re super involved in the school community, maybe they’re very involved in their PTA or they’re on the school board or something, you could say, hey, I am looking to get [00:22:00] connected to people who are looking for testing for their kids. I know that’s something you and I talked about in our pre-call that people are looking for testing for ADD or whatever it might be for their children. I’m looking to get connected to school counselors. I’m looking to get connected to the school’s mental health services. Do you happen to know anyone who you could do an introduction?

So it could be that simple. It could be asking for that introduction. It could be, I’m looking to come in and speak, teach a workshop, or teach a mini-training, that can often be a great way to get in front of people.

It’s often honestly easier if you’re looking for people who are involved in organizations compared to people who maybe only have their friends and family. It’s awkward to ask for referrals or friends and family, but asking for an introduction in a professional sense of like, I’m looking to get connected to this organization. I’m looking to get connected to this school district. I’m looking to get connected in this [00:23:00] community group. They always have opportunities to network. They always have opportunities for speaking or for coming in and being a guest teacher or guest workshop. All you have to do is say, I’m interested in this type of opportunity and start asking those people who you think might have those connections.

Dr. Sharp: I love that idea. I’m going to get super granular with this question think about, so for us in testing practices, most of the time we have, gosh, anywhere from people are going to yell at me, but I’ll say 8 to 20 “active clients,” evals that might be happening at the same time. The rest of our folks are maybe on an email list or they live in our Electronic Health Record or something. And so I wonder when you reach out to these super connectors, which was great, is this an email? Is it a phone call? How do you explain [00:24:00] the cold, out of the blue nature of it? These are the questions people always ask. I don’t know what to say exactly. Or do I need to give them a warning or they’re going to be bothered or stuff like that?

Racheal: A little secret is I tend to find most people are excited to help in some way. And so if you position it in a way that it is, hey, I’d like to ask your help for something and position it that way, people are usually pretty happy to help. That’s different than feeling like you’re pitching them. I’m looking for help finding an introduction like this and I was wondering if you might happen to know somebody, if not, no worries. I thought of you instantly because I know you’re such a super-connector in the XYZ community.

Usually, people are pretty flattered that you think of them, and so you want to think of it like, you’re not asking something that’s to go buy something or give a million [00:25:00] dollars to you. You’re asking for an introduction. Usually, that’ll go over okay. I would probably do email unless you have a personal connection with that particular person. And sometimes that happens. Every person is different. I know for my therapist, I text back and forth quite a lot. And we’ve built that relationship because we’ve known each other for so long. And it’s gotten to…

I think you have to use your own level of discernment about who you’re talking with. It’s easier to approach somebody who you’ve got a more established, more friendly relationship with than someone who you just met, right? So if it’s someone you just met, maybe you’re not pitching them or reaching out to them about something like this. But if it’s someone who you know, and you know what they’re up to in the community, I think it’s probably going to be just fine.

Dr. Sharp: I like this. I’m already thinking of folks, even for myself. That feels like a good fit. I could see several people.

Racheal: Another thing you can do if you send out emails on a regular [00:26:00] basis, whether it’s one one-on-one, like you’re sending a reminder email or you’re sending notes or resources or whatever, change the footer of your email to ask for what you’re looking for. The fastest way to manifest what you want is to ask for it. So put it in your footer, say P.S. I’m looking for opportunities to teach a workshop on fill-in-the-blank at schools, moms groups, or whatever you’re looking at, please let me know if you could connect me with someone to make it happen. You could put a little P.S. in your footer. That makes it easy because then it just, a little PS is a great way to tuck this stuff into.

Dr. Sharp: Sure. I think we forget about that. It’s very straightforward. It’s super easy. Everybody sees it.

Racheal: Exactly.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, this is good. We’re talking about… We went down the [00:27:00] path of the introverts approach, if you don’t want to be going to parties and networking events and so forth, it’s this one-on-one, and giving talks, which I think a lot of us enjoy because we get to be the expert and do some teaching and it’s familiar content. That all fits for me. So I wonder… 

Racheal: I was just going to say, I think this is another thing that is a hidden opportunity. A lot of people don’t realize there’s so many organizations that are looking for speakers. The thing is, you have to have an idea of the topic. You have to have a bullet point of what you’re going to give them. You might want to have like a 20-minute version, a 40-minute version, or a 60-minute version. It’s a lot harder to do a 20-minute thing than 60 minutes, right? So you have to be a lot more concise and clear.

If you have that all together and you can say, Hey, I’m interested in coming, doing these things, it could be training, it could [00:28:00] be a workshop. There are a lot of organizations right now, this is a really hot tip for anybody in the world of therapy right now, there are a lot of organizations that are specifically looking for stress management. They’re terrified of burnout. There are organizations and businesses and corporations everywhere that are so stressed out that they’re having so much turnover. They’re having a lot of difficulty getting people to stay a long time in those roles. Offering something directly that they’re looking for and tying it to stress and then bridge into what you do, right?

There are a lot of groups out there that are looking for speakers, but you have to have what we would call a one-sheet; a one-pager that has your name, a short bio, all your credentials, and stuff that talks about your area of expertise, and maybe two or three talk options with some bullet points about hey, I can do this talk. Here’s what it is. Here’s what you’ll get out of it. That will help you get in front of so many great people. [00:29:00] These can be paid opportunities. Some of them will be free, but if you go the corporate route, there’s a lot of opportunity to get paid as a corporate trainer to come in and talk about stress, to come in and talk about burnout. Those topics are in demand right now.

Dr. Sharp: That’s such a good point. I probably 2 or 3 years ago started getting a lot more podcast pitches for guests, you know how this goes, that was my intro to one-sheets and they are super helpful. I will look at those and be like, oh yeah, I do want to talk about this. These are great bullet points. It might feel like a leap or a stretch, I think, for the “normal” clinician out there. Like, who am I to have a one-sheet? But I think it’s huge. If you can send that to people, if they show some interest, then it’s like, yes, I can solve this problem. I can talk about this. It’s an easy [00:30:00] shortcut to make the decision quick for them.

Racheal: It’s a great asset to have. I think about this all the time. Whenever I’m doing any sort of marketing in my business, I want to create something once and be able to use it again and again. The beautiful thing about creating one sheet and making yourself available as a workshop teacher or speaker is you can send that out to one of these referrals, super connectors, and say, Hey, I’m looking to book a couple of talks. This is what I’m talking about. Who do you know that you could forward this to, or do an introduction with this?

When you make it easy for people to share your work, they’re more likely to share your work. If you’re asking them to come up from scratch with how to make an introduction, that’s harder than saying, Hey, so and so I thought of you, I’m putting this together. Please forward this to anyone who you think might be looking for a talk like this. That’s so easy. You made it easy to get that referral.

[00:31:00] Dr. Sharp: Yes. This is great. I was talking to a colleague the other day about this very similar stuff. This is interesting timing. We’re talking about this idea of even, I’m trying to make this as easy as possible for people, if you don’t have a topic or an area of expertise, so to speak, or like something prepared, we’re brainstorming the idea of, can you go to a business and say, I’ll sit in your conference room for 3 hours on a Friday morning and do an open Q&A on parenting. If anybody is struggling with parenting, tell them to pop by and talk to me. It even takes another layer off of you to prepare something amazing and people come to you with questions. What do you think about that?

Racheal: I think that’s a great idea. If you give a theme for the Q&A like you just said, like parenting or whatever it might be, I think that’s great. You’re absolutely right. People have a [00:32:00] ton of questions and those questions will become great for you to turn into a workshop down the road, but it also lets you gauge interest. You’ll often see a lot of questions are very similar, or there’s like a theme developing from a lot of questions. I think that can be that can be great.

Another thing that can be helpful for maybe somebody who doesn’t feel as much like they’re a trainer teacher is to collaborate with somebody, and you can do this as almost like a panel style where maybe you could have a couple of people who you have complimentary skill sets, or you work with similar audiences, you could say, Hey, we’re going to get three of us together to offer a panel where we can do Q&A from an audience about this topic. All of those are a great way to just get in front of people.

Dr. Sharp: This is great. Like I said earlier, we’re going down this introverted path. I’m curious for those of us who are getting the [00:33:00] majority of our clients from SEO or maybe it is social media or some other digital medium, then what does that look like for those folks then? Is it just sort of like staying the course or is there more to do with that?

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[00:35:00] Let’s get back to the podcast.

Racheal: Some of them might already be seeing the result of a lot of changes Google is making right now. There’s a major shakeup in the world of SEO happening right now, which means if you have been getting free organic traffic from Google or any other search platform, but let’s face it, we all talk about Google. AI has come in and dumped a bunch of garbage on the internet, and now Google is changing its Algorithms and strategies to fight that because what started happening as soon as all these AI things came out, it was churning out garbage content. They were searching and ranking for keywords just to push things down the list.

One thing you can still do is Google My Business or your Google business profile. I do not see that going away. It is incredibly powerful for anybody who is trying to draw from a local area. I know therapists have to be licensed in [00:36:00] certain states, so you probably are only looking for people in a certain area.

Google My Business is great for that because you can target locally and it boosts your ranking. So if you don’t have a Google My Business profile or you haven’t been posting to it, that’s the other part of it. You want to post to it regularly, at least once or twice a week. It doesn’t have to be like Twitter where you feel like you have to post all the time, but you do want to make sure that you’re posting things that are letting the algorithm know you’re open and still doing business, you’re feeding it important content that is related to what you want to be found for.

So let’s say you’re looking, you do ADHD testing, then you want to be posting content about ADHD testing. You want to be posting things so those keywords come up and Google My Business would be probably the biggest play I see right now on SEO that’s not getting hit as hard as trying to rank for General blog posts. So that would be [00:37:00] probably my first real thing to look at.

The other thing is paying attention to hyper-localized sites. We’re seeing this a lot right now. It’s kind of like, the world went from being you only know who’s in your community to the internet exploded us everywhere. And now people want to get back to the community. So there’s these smaller sites that are popping up that you might want to get involved in. And every city, every town is a little bit different, but they all have, depending on the site, they’ll often have opportunities to contribute content, to write for them, to create small posts for them.

In Richmond, there’s a blog, richmondmom.com. If I was a therapist, I would be wanting to talk about parenting and raising kids and all the challenges kids have on richmondmom.com. Hyperlocal, focuses only on things related to people who are raising children here, but it’s the perfect opportunity if I’m wanting to:

1. Be known in that [00:38:00] town, and

2. Get backlinks to my own website, which is another big part of Google. It’s not just search. It’s how many significant sites are linking back to you.

So that can help quite a lot is if you start focusing on writing or creating content for other websites that are hyper-local to you.

Dr. Sharp: I like that. A lot of us always talk about the magic of moms groups. If we can get in with moms groups somehow, it’s often great referrals for us.

Racheal: I’m a twin mom, and I can tell you, if you can get in with your local mom of multiples group, I’ve never seen women refer stuff more than moms of multiples. We have to be resourceful because we started this journey with being outnumbered and they love sharing resources and it’s not hard. The thing is, you don’t go in there and just start pitching yourself. Nobody likes that.

[00:39:00] You can’t pay for this kind of market research. Here’s the thing, guys, the more you understand your people, the more you hear the words that they’re using, you’re going to see the things you could create a talk about, that you could write content about. You’re going to hear from their mouths exactly what they’re struggling with. And that is priceless. It is absolutely priceless.

So, if you join these groups, just listen first, and maybe be helpful as necessary. You’re a professional. You don’t have to be in there giving free advice or whatever, but if there’s a discussion going on and you’re a local therapist who happens to specialize in what they’re talking about, Hey, I’m loving this conversation. I’m local here in the community. Here’s a resource I created specifically about this. Here’s how you can go get it. Not necessarily pitching come see me, but I have a resource on my website. I have [00:40:00] a free thing you can download. I’m an expert, so it’s valuable for you. That can be incredibly helpful.

Dr. Sharp: Absolutely. That’s a good reminder. Those mob scripts are out there, especially the moms and multiples. It’s literally 2 for 1 or 3 for 1 if you end up landing on these clients.

Racheal: You will keep them for a very long time because we have a lot to work on.

Dr. Sharp: Right. What about the role of social media? You mentioned social media in the beginning. I hear it talked about a lot as a shiny object for us because people want to create, it feels like you’re doing something, but the question is whether it’s helpful and is there any ROI on social media investment? I’d love to get your perspective on that.

Racheal: The first thing I would say is, it’s always an it depends question. I have a lot of people who do not need to really worry about [00:41:00] social media at all. And the best way for me to know that is going through those last 10 clients you acquired. Are they following you? Do they know that you’re on social media? Did they find you from social media?

If you’re going to do social media, you have to do it well in order for it to generate any results. So if you’re not interested, then it’s not worth it to stress yourself. I would instead focus on Google My Business. I would focus on networking. I would focus on referrals and maybe some SEO type of things, creating content for your website that boosts your Google rankings and things.

But if you’re interested in social media and you like it and you have fun with it, I find it’s an amazing way to share your expertise, but here’s the thing, you got to be willing to put a stake in the ground and say, here’s who I am and here’s what I specialize in. If you try to be everything for everyone and cover every possible topic under the sun, it [00:42:00] blends into the woodwork. It fades away because it’s not clear very quickly what you are an expert on. So that’s my first thing. If you are going to do it, pick something and go narrow into that topic.

Dr. Sharp: I like that. And maybe related to that, I think what we’re running into now it’s a bit of a minefield in terms of what to say on social media. There are a lot of people on social media, especially TikTok, reels, and so forth that are not mental health practitioners, but they certainly are willing to share mental health information and advice, whether it’s correct or not. And so I don’t know, this is again, a very nuanced question, but I wonder if you’ve run into this or have any thoughts around how to separate ourselves from the vast amount of information on social media that [00:43:00] may or may not be correct.

Racheal: Well, here’s the thing. We can’t make it our job to try to fact-check everything on the internet because it’s not possible. It will just make you absolutely insane. But you have things working for you that maybe a lot of people who are posting that information, that content, they don’t have working for them, right?

You can put in your bio that you are a credentialed therapist. You can put in your specific area of expertise. You can make sure that’s in your bio that you’re a clinical expert. That’s first of all, how I would prioritize, making sure that you stand out. It’s just that level of education that you can point to.

The other thing is, you do want to make sure you’re very clear and have limits to what you’re going to talk about and share; this is my scope of practice. Here’s where I am the expert. I think this is something, again, people who are just talking about everything and anything, they don’t have a scope of practice. [00:44:00] They’re just like, I’ll cover it all. Experts know we have a scope of practice. Here’s what I know. And we’re honest about it, right? I don’t have expertise in that area. Let me pass you off to my colleague. I think that can be helpful as well when you’re able to talk about that.

When it comes to creating content, though, and standing out, if you can simplify some of these things for people, that is a game changer. There’s a lot of concepts flying around out there and there’s a lot of therapy speak flying around out there that has no definition. No one’s talking about what does this mean? What does this look like in practice? Give me some actual examples. And then suddenly there’s all this therapy speak out there and we’re like, okay, there’s a gazillion different definitions for boundaries. What are we talking about? What does this mean? How do we define it? How do we implement this? What does it look like as you implement it? What are the problems people have? That’s all [00:45:00] amazing content. And if you can come at it from a very easy-to-understand approach, I find that a lot of people are receptive to that.

Dr. Sharp: That makes sense. Simple is always better. There’s a lot out there.

Racheal: Simple is always better.

There’s a therapist I follow on TikTok right now. One of the things that I love that she does is she breaks out a little whiteboard and charts out some of these concepts. I just watched a whole series she had on different attachment styles. And it was great because if you’ve heard these things before, it can be hard for anybody who’s not in this field or hasn’t had any education in this to understand and wrap your head around these things. But suddenly somebody sitting there with a whiteboard and being like, Hey, let me explain to you these things and how they might be showing up in your family. It was so sticky. You want to watch it because you’re like, oh, yeah, that’s [00:46:00] probably my sister. I understand.

Dr. Sharp: It’s always your sister.

Racheal: I’ve only got sisters, so they get the blame for everything.

Dr. Sharp: That’s fair. That sounds good. Are there other ways to get in front of people or build this referral network that we haven’t talked about that you want to highlight for us?

Racheal: Coming back to referrals, the other thing that I think is valuable is building cross-industry, cross-specialty referrals. Find people who serve similar audiences because you’ll be amazed at how many people they’re working with in some capacity who could also use what you do. It’s not just across therapists or counselors, it could be across so many different things.

For example, with my therapist, I found her because of a yoga teacher that I go to see [00:47:00] and it ended up being great because I already knew that we were going to energetically be very comfortable with each other because she connects with my yoga teacher and I love my yoga teacher. So I think that’s something that’s a huge opportunity.

I see this in my business all the time and people are always really surprised. I get clients from my chiropractor, which you wouldn’t think would be a thing, but I get clients from my chiropractor because I’ve worked with her for three years and then I see her personally as well. I’m involved in her community. So anytime she’s talking to a small business owner, she’s like, you need to go talk to Racheal. Her retreat is coming up. You should attend with me. And it makes it fun to get people who, if they’re in a community together, you probably like them. You’ll probably enjoy working with them. You probably have a similar energy, a similar vibe, and it’ll be a fun experience.

Dr. Sharp: Yes. That totally makes sense to me. [00:48:00] Find your group. I feel like that’s very common in non-mental health industries. I hear about that a lot, it seems like it’s always like an attorney, a mortgage guy, or woman or non-binary individual

Racheal: and a realtor and an insurance agent

Dr. Sharp: and a realtor and an insurance and a financial advisor.

Racheal: Exactly.

Dr. Sharp: They’d all refer, but for us, it’s like, other psychologists, other therapists.

Racheal: You have to create your own version of it. If you think about coming back to your ideal clients, who are your favorite people to work with? What else are they doing? Because they’re spending money. Everybody is spending money everywhere. So if I have my therapist, what other service providers am I going to that might have some overlap? You will be so surprised by the overlap between mental health and financial health. Thinking of financial advisors. Oh, my gosh. Do you know that money is one of the biggest stressors of everybody [00:49:00] right now?

So maybe there’s something you could collaborate on. Maybe they’re teaching webinars and seminars and workshops and they want somebody to come in and talk about how to get out of the shame you’re feeling about your money or something like that. You could come up with a topic. Mental health and physical health. That’s a huge connection. We all know there’s a huge mind-body connection. There might be an overlap there around something there that you can do. I think that’s where you have to be willing to get creative. And just because you haven’t seen it before, doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It doesn’t mean there’s not an opportunity to collaborate in some way.

Dr. Sharp: That’s a great point. Gosh, we’ve already covered a ton. It’s been great. I’m thinking so much about our conversation. I do want to touch on this idea, back when I started in 2009, blogging was huge and blogging continues. [00:50:00] I hear it here and there. Is there any place for something like that, like regularly blogging or other kinds of content that’s not social media or maybe overlaps with social media? Where does that fit in?

Racheal: We’re seeing this right now a lot because we are seeing a shift away from short-form content to longer-form content, which is great. Blogging is getting a huge comeback right now. What I love about it the most is this is your opportunity to create a body of work where people can come and understand your philosophy, your approach, and your thoughts on the types of things that you see. It’s a great way to boost your search engine optimization and get known for your specific topic.

It also is content that you can repurpose in a million other ways. But something as we’re thinking about blogging that I think is coming up right now is looking at things like Substack. These platforms are [00:51:00] growing right now. I have several different clients who are experimenting with platforms like Substack and what’s interesting about it is people want to go back to reading great content. They want to go back to reading great newsletters.

What’s cool about Substack is it has a built-in referral engine in it. So if I go to sign up for a new Substack, it’ll often say, Hey, you signed up for this. Are you interested in this newsletter, this newsletter, this newsletter? And that is fascinating. There’s a lot of organic growth happening right there that hasn’t happened in a long time, so I think if that’s something you’re interested in, the big thing is to have a point of view, make it stand out, and build content around a specific topic. So you become known for that topic.

If you try to write generic stuff that there’s a million articles about already, it’s going to be hard to break through, but if you write about something that is going to stand out and [00:52:00] shake things up a little bit for people, having a little bit of a divisive opinion is always a great way to get more eyes on something. It will last a lot longer than a single social media post.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. This is another dumb question. I read Substacks. I like Substack. I heard a lot about it and know it’s out there. I’ve never tried to integrate it with our website, for example. So again, very detailed question. Is that something that can link into your website and display for folks?

Racheal: Yeah, you can definitely link to your Substack. I think it’s something that you might want to go play with it, explore it, and see if you like how it works. If you like it on your end of the experience, then it’s worth checking out. If you go through it and you’re like, I don’t really like reading stuff like this, then don’t. You have to like it in order to follow through with it. That would be a big thing. But you can always link to that as well.

And you can also, if you [00:53:00] write something on a Substack, the other cool thing is you can have private versions versus public versions. You can build paid lists, which is interesting. I have two different people who are building subscription newsletters where people are paying for that content. I think it’s so many different opportunities if you like to write.

Dr. Sharp: Yes. I want to pivot to our last topic which is growth without marketing. That’s super interesting. But before we do that, distilling all this down, what I’m taking from our discussion is essentially figure out the intersection of where your clients are coming from, what you enjoy doing, what you’re drawn to, and don’t force yourself into creating this TikTok account if you hate being on social media or writing these blogs if you hate to write. There are many paths to the top of the mountain. It’s just figuring out what fits for you.

Racheal: Absolutely. I tell my clients this all the time. [00:54:00] If you like to write, find a way to write. If you like talking, I do, I have a podcast, and I’m on a podcast because I like to talk. Video, some people love it. Some people hate it. Some people just learn to live with it like I have. So I do TikTok even though I’m not someone who’s videoing myself all the time.

But I think if you lean into what you naturally are more aligned with, it’s just going to be easier. And if it’s easier, you’re more likely to follow through with it. And if you follow through with it consistently, you’re more likely to get the result you want, but you’ve got to be willing to pick one thing and put some effort behind it.

Dr. Sharp: Yes. That’s a nice note to pivot on. I do want to talk about growth without marketing. So let’s dig into that for a bit before we wrap up. What does that even mean? How do you grow without marketing? That’s the seams […]. 

Racheal: There are a lot of ways to grow without marketing because marketing is all about getting that client in the door. Growth is about increasing your revenue. [00:55:00] Here’s the biggest thing about growth that a lot of people need to know. There are a couple of different routes to growth. One is getting more clients and that’s where marketing comes in. So you’re doing all of the getting more referrals, getting more people to come to your website, book that first consult. Growth comes once that consult has been completed. Now you’ve enrolled them as a client. You’ve signed them as a client. It’s increasing that lifetime customer value is one of the biggest things you can do.

There are two ways you can do that. One is to have people stay with you longer. We have to be clear as therapists. You just don’t want to do that for no reason. You have to have a real reason for them to stay with you. I’m assuming that’s a rule somewhere, but you want to have an idea of how long your average client stays with you. If you don’t know how long your average client stays with you, then, it’s really hard to plan your business because you never really know your capacity. So think about how long your average client stays with you.

The second thing is how much your average client pays you. [00:56:00] Those two numbers will give you a lot of information. And that would be information I track every single month as anybody in the healing helping space because if people are not staying with me, on average, as long as most of my average, if they’re way below, I’m going to be wondering, why are they falling off? That’s an opportunity to get curious and think about how long should it be, how long on average, am I seeing people, and is there something I can do better on my end to make sure those people continue coming and I retain them for the appropriate amount of time. So that’s one thing to think about. Pay attention to how much time you’re spending with each individual client.

The next thing is to start thinking about layering in different price points. This is something that I know a lot of people in the healing and helping space can struggle with because they’re like, I’m used to getting paid my session rate. I haven’t built out anything different than that, but [00:57:00] I’m seeing several of my clients right now who are trauma therapists and they have been doing these intensives that are more of a high price point. And what’s incredible is they’re coming from their regular client base.

These people are coming in, working with them as a trauma therapist, one-on-one, and then they’re going, you know what would be great if I can do your intensive, come spend two days with you, and suddenly that’s a four-figure investment. That is a huge opportunity. You don’t need a lot of them, but if you can offer a higher price point service that can be valuable, especially when you can make it very specialized. So a trauma therapy intensive super specialized. So that’s perfect for that.

The final thing I think about when it comes to non-marketing ways to grow is thinking about, and this is a bigger picture idea for your business, but thinking about how you can [00:58:00] absorb other practices. This is something I’m seeing a lot. We talked about burnout. There’s a huge number of people who are leaving the field. There are a lot of people who are going to retire at some point.

We’re seeing this across the board for a lot of industries where there are people who are getting ready to shut down their private practices and they don’t have anyone to take over. And most of them are going to shut it down. They’re not going to look for a successor. They’re not going to look to sell their practice. But if they’ve been in practice for a while, then they probably already have really good referrals coming in. They have great connections coming in. They have enough clients.

So that’s another opportunity long-term for people. A lot of us don’t think about that but there’s an opportunity there to bring in somebody’s practice if they’re getting ready to close the doors, purchase it, create some sort of buy-sell agreement there. We can get into the weeds of that and another time but that’s something I [00:59:00] think is big and a lot of people just don’t think about that. It’s also cool that when you get ready to retire, you can be thinking about what would my practice be worth if I wanted to sell it to someone else. It’s a huge opportunity for you to get that equity out of your business.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I don’t think this is on many of our radars at this point. I’m hearing more conversations about selling practices. I still think it’s pretty rare, especially for smaller groups, but the acquiring other practices, I do not hear many people talking about it at all. It seems like a daunting process. It’s intimidating. Nobody knows how to do it on either side, honestly. But it’s nice to get this on our radars as a possibility where there are several…  I think we’re getting to that point: folks are retiring, ​[01:00:00] wanting to get out of their practices and there may be opportunities. Do you have any thoughts or tips, I suppose, on finding those folks? How does that conversation get started?

Racheal: Honestly, a lot of these are going to come organically. It’s going to come from… If you’re looking to absorb a practice, it’s local to you or just in your state, you’re going to probably hear about it organically through your network.

There are different business brokers who can go out there and help you find a business to acquire, but it’s going to be a little bit of a process. It is a process. I’m not going to about that at all. But I’ve had several people who’ve doubled or tripled their business through an acquisition. They also inherit the team of that acquisition. They also inherit the office spaces of that acquisition. So it can be a great way to grow your practice, especially if you want to grow group practice. That’s where I tend to see the opportunity for [01:01:00] this.

Dr. Sharp: That’s fair. These are all good things for people to be thinking about. I think that another theme of this interview is new ideas and new possibilities. We’re going to be processing through this. It’s finding what fits, right?

Racheal: Well, it is finding what fits. I know we threw a lot out at everybody. So digest it, let it settle, maybe there’s 1 or 2 things that you can take away, and if that’s all you take away, I feel like we have accomplished our objective today. But if you want to know more, I geek out about marketing, sales, operations systems, and scaling a business. You can come follow my podcast at Promote Yourself to CEO. I have a ton of content over there. Otherwise, come find me at theceocollective.com/hello. That’s where I have a lot of the downloadable resources that I’ve created on how to grow your [01:02:00] business. I’d love to share those with you.

Dr. Sharp: That’s super cool. We’ll make sure to link to all that stuff in the show notes as well. I’m guessing people will reach out. This is great. I might reach out, Racheal. I want to talk to you some more. These are fantastic ideas. So, thanks for coming on. This is a great conversation. I love your energy and all the knowledge that you’re willing to share with us.

Racheal: Well, thanks so much for having me. I cannot wait to connect with all of your listeners. So thanks for listening.

Dr. Sharp: All right, y’all. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. Always grateful to have you here. I hope that you take away some information that you can implement in your practice and your life. Any resources that we mentioned during the episode will be listed in the show notes, so make sure to check those out.

If you like what you hear on the podcast, I would be so grateful if you left a review on iTunes or Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

If you’re a practice owner or aspiring practice owner, I’d invite you to check out The [01:03:00] Testing Psychologist Mastermind groups. I have mastermind groups at every stage of practice development, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. We have homework, we have accountability, we have support, we have resources. These groups are amazing. We do a lot of work and a lot of connecting. If that sounds interesting to you, you can check out the details at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting. You can sign up for a pre-group phone call and we will chat and figure out if a group could be a good fit for you. Thanks so much.

The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. [01:04:00] Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here. Similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.

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