As a marketing consultant for alternative health, I find the one constant among energy workers is the need to explain what they do to their potential customers. Some get frustrated as they feel they shouldn’t have to tell beyond “there’s a connection to Source” or something similar.
Alternative health has undergone significant changes and evolutions over the past 50 years, and yet in many respects, it is still stuck in the dark ages of education. We tell the community they can discover ancient techniques and learn about new technologies, but the worst mistake is to assume they immediately know what we mean.
It can benefit a provider to take the time to educate consumers before spending mass amounts on pushing a product or service. Take, for instance, Reiki, a type of healing that taps into energy provided through the Universe. This modality has been around for almost a hundred years, and yet there is a lack of understanding of what it really entails and how it benefits mainstream clients.
~ I won’t divert onto that subject, for now, instead, I will leave it for another time and concentrate on how education can greatly increase revenue. Let’s just say there are tangible benefits that come from Reiki sessions. ~
I have seen many times where a new business has gone through training and certification in a modality, only to lack an in-depth understanding of how to explain the process to others. I think if you invest time in learning how to do a service, you should take as much time to learn about the history of the technique, and why your clients should trade their time and money for you to perform this service on them!
I don’t care how long you have been involved in something, or why you got into it in the first place, if you cannot explain to me what you do, you have lost an opportunity to gain me as a client. I may have a great need for your services, but I will never know that if your description doesn’t mean anything to me.
So how do you convey education to the market? First of all, the information must be in terms and language that is both understandable and relatable. After learning all you can about the new modality, take the time to test talking points on friends and family, or research what has worked well for others in the same field. Don’t expect the client to tackle the research to see if they need you, that’s just rude.
I once had a woman send me an 8-page industry paper that described what she did, before meeting me for to get to know each other. Then she was irritated that I hadn’t read the whole thing! If you need eight pages to tell me what you do, and you can’t vocalize it on your own, you have already lost the battle to gain me as a client.
Not only don’t I have the time to learn about your modality, but I also don’t want to research your specialty. I just want to know how it benefits me and why I should use it to better my life.
Otherwise, I have too many things that I need to tend to and will move on quickly, thank you very much!
On the flip side, if she had met with me prepared to educate me about her services, I may have become a client and could have found some health benefits from her services.
Education is a significant key to success in alternative health. It not only informs consumers about what a technique provides but why it works and how it impacts the mind/body. Most importantly though, it sets the stage for the provider to build confidence in what they do by projecting themselves as experts in their field.
If the previous woman had taken the time to read the papers herself and then relayed that information to me in laymen’s terms, I would have learned a lot about a new field and made an informed decision about whether I wanted those benefits.
As it was, I was just irritated and had already decided that this was no expert, but rather a novice who apparently did not understand the services she wanted to provide.
Granted, I may have been wrong in my assessment, yet the damage done to a potential client relationship meant she would have to either work five times harder to convince me she was an expert or walk away without either of us feeling right about the situation.
It took years for me to think of her as an expert in her field and I never said anything to her about it. And that is the kicker, 99% of customers won’t tell the provider if there is a trust problem! They just won’t become a client, and they will tell others about their experience.
The only way for alternative health providers to overcome this type of disaster is to be prepared to educate consumers right from the beginning.
Start with understanding your service, know the history, and be prepared to explain it from a variety of talking points. Then create marketing material you can distribute to potential customers, such as brochures, flyers, rack cards, etc. This way they have something to take with them after the initial conversation. It is nearly impossible to remember everything in a discussion filled with new information. That is why professors hand out reading material; it allows students to anchor and retain the new knowledge.
Next, create an online profile that provides even more information, so consumers can drill down further if they so desire. It also deepens the relationship you are trying to build as it allows for other aspects of your core competency and expertise. Bring in your credentials, bio, and why you do what you do.
How you put together your public presence will go a long way toward building consumer confidence. Make sure it is clean, concise, and easy to understand. If your target market is college professors, then talk to them that way. Use a language that is relatable to the people you want as clients.
Keep your educational talking points consistent throughout your marketing material. Branding your image comes from creating a public perception that is recognizable across advertising. Using the same words as your talking points brings familiarity when the consumer begins to recognize they have seen it before and is key to them recalling your company information.
Taking this approach increases your revenue for the long-term because consumers sense your willingness to take the time to inform them. It instills a sense of making them a priority, not just wanting to get paid. This also builds a client base that is strong and sustainable for the future because you are creating trust.
The most important thing to remember is that you provide your services to help others, so work toward helping them understand why and how. Now get out there and educate consumers about what all of the fantastic benefits you provide. Good luck!
Kathie Fingerson, Marketing Specialist for Alternative Health