A strong marketing strategy is one of the most important things you can have for your online business. But as a mental health professional, it’s unlikely that you’re also a marketing expert. And that’s why we invited Melissa Packham into the LIT Community to walk us through how to create a marketing strategy.
Melissa Packham is an experienced marketer and brand strategist with more than 20 years under her belt. Moving from working in corporate for household name brands like Campbell’s and Arnott’s, Melissa founded Brand-Led Business to support solopreneurs to find clarity in strategy and create stand-out brands.
So, who better to join us inside our community to walk us through how to create a marketing strategy for our businesses?
Many of our members find marketing to be a stumbling block in setting up their online practices, but it’s also a crucial puzzle piece for any successful business. Melissa’s practical tips and guidance made the topic seem much less overwhelming and more approachable!
We wanted to share some of the key takeaways with you here – so read on to learn how to create a marketing strategy for your business in simple and actionable steps.
But first of all: What is marketing?
Before diving into how to create a marketing strategy, let’s take a step back and think about what marketing is, exactly.
Marketing often gets a bad rep, so reframing it can be helpful. The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”.
Another positive take on marketing is Max Kalehoff’s definition: “Marketing is the art and science of creating, delighting, and keeping customers while making a profit and building enterprise value. Marketing should embrace the highest ethical standards, respect the environment, and strive to make the world a better place”.
But Melissa’s favourite definition of marketing is from Seth Godin:
As you can see, marketing isn’t something that you need to be afraid of or feel bad about. It’s not about sleazy tactics to make people part with money they don’t want or can’t afford to spend.
Instead, in Melissa’s opinion, marketing is helping people by showing them a solution that is available to them so that they can become who they want to become.
Doing Marketing Your Way
You’re not alone if you find marketing your business challenging, confusing, or just plain boring.
Here are just a few of the challenges that people (and especially mental health professionals) experience when it comes to marketing themselves and their businesses:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Lacking a clear voice or message
- Imposter syndrome
- Not being able to keep up with marketing their business
- Not wanting to do video marketing
- Lack of time or resources
- Not knowing which channels to use
- Not understanding the jargon
- Being scared of the algorithm
But here’s an important thing to remember:
You make the rules when it comes to your marketing! The different channels are tools that you can use (or choose not to use), but you can make them work for you.
There are so many platforms, channels, and different types of content you could make. So, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you’re not doing enough. But you don’t have to (and most likely can’t) do it all.
Instead, you get to choose how and where you market your business. You can pick the channels that work for you – and you don’t have to commit yourself to a certain platform forever. Our own co-founder Sonia recently decided to stop using Instagram for her business – and it’s been such a relief to have one less thing to focus on and fit in.
So, here’s the good news – and it may come as a relief to you. You don’t have to dance and point on Instagram Reels and TikTok to have a successful online practice. Your marketing should help you get your message out – and you don’t need to become a TikTok expert to do that.
Having a marketing strategy will help guide you and move you forward in your business while keeping your goals and values in mind.
With that in mind, let’s look at what should make up your marketing strategy.
The Key Elements of a Marketing Strategy
A lot goes into good, ethical, strategic marketing. But, as solopreneurs, you don’t need to know everything.
When you’re ready, you can choose to outsource some of the work to experts in different marketing areas – such as social media management, ads, video marketing, and more.
But before you even think about outsourcing, you can work out a lot of it for yourself and create a simple yet effective marketing strategy for your business.
And even more importantly, it’s crucial to know that there isn’t one solution to your marketing (as so many gurus and “experts” may try to tell you.
Melissa shared 7 key elements that are the foundation of any successful marketing strategy:
- Who are my people?
- What can I uniquely help them with?
- What are they doing now that needs to be made visible?
- What promise can I make them?
- Where can I reach them?
- What do I need in order to reach them?
- How will I measure success?
We’ll cover the elements below in more detail, so you can feel empowered to create your own marketing strategy.
But the intention behind this blog post isn’t to share a magic formula or template you have to follow. Instead, it’s an invitation to get inspired and think about how you can market your business and connect with your ideal client effectively and in a way that works for you!
How To Create a Marketing Strategy for Your Business in 7 Simple Steps:
In this section, we’ll walk you through each of the 7 crucial elements or steps you need to take to create your own marketing strategy, as devised by Melissa Packham of Brand-Led Business.
#1. Who Are My People? (Aka, Your Target Audience)
The first question you should think about is – who are the people you actually want to be working with?
The reason to ask yourself this question is that if you try to target everybody, you actually target nobody at all. (Find more on this in our blog post on identifying your ideal client and download our free worksheet while you’re there!).
Knowing and understanding your target audience will help guide all your other marketing decisions.
So, how can you work out who your target audience is? You can start by thinking about your current or past clients:
- Who are they?
- What are their similarities?
- What are their pain points or struggles?
- Why did they come to you for help?
- What kind of help are they looking for?
- And other characteristics – e.g., age, career choice, location, interests, stage in life, etc.
Other useful tools you can use to identify your target audience include conducting market research and looking into your competitors and who they work with. That can help you to who they are targeting and how they are marketing to this audience.
You can also dive into your social media and website analytics to help you understand your audience. These numbers allow you to see where people are coming across you online, how they behave on your website, and what they interact with and are interested in.
#2. Your Offer: What Can You (Uniquely) Help Them With?
Once you know who your target audience is, you need to work out what you’re bringing to the table and what you uniquely offer.
One way to do that is to find your niche. What do you do that very few other people are doing? What makes you stand out from all the other online therapists out there?
Adopting a growth mindset is helpful when you’re defining your offer. There is opportunity out there for all of us, so it’s about how you differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Alternatively, think about what your clients really need. What are they seeking to fulfill in their lives, and how can you help them to do that?
What is your ‘only’ statement?
Melissa shared another powerful tool to help you define your offer and unique selling proposition – the “only” statement.
You can create an “only” statement to get clarity on what it is you’re offering to the world that only you can do. Crafting this statement will motivate you to show up, be proud of yourself, and keep going – even on the hard days.
Your ‘only’ statement isn’t something you’ll publish on your website or share – it’s designed to guide you behind the scenes and keep you focused in your business.
Here is Melissa’s example to show how the “only” statement works:
In a world where everyone is a self-proclaimed brand expert hyping short-term tactics, only Melissa Packham at Brand-Led Business delivers sustainable marketing advice with a practical, commercial, and ethical lens.
Here’s the prompt you can use to create your “only” statement:
#3: Your Ideal Client’s Current Behaviour
The next step is to think about where your clients are right now. What are they doing or feeling right now that needs to be made visible?
That might be something that even the client themselves may not know or be able to articulate. But if you show it to them through your messaging and marketing, they will feel seen and heard and will want to engage even more with you!
So, how can you work out what your client’s behaviour is and what’s driving it?
There are a few tips and tools you can use to uncover what’s going on right now for your ideal client. For example, you can start by asking yourself the 5 Whys. Consider why they have a certain struggle or problem, and then keep asking, “Why is that?” for each answer you get. That will help you to dig down, understand your audience better and get to the core truth that is driving their behaviour.
As this concept can be a little hard to grasp, it’s useful to have an example. So, let’s imagine that you sell a brand of premium dog food. In this case, you’ll want to dig down and work out why your customers might buy your premium dog food for their pets. If you keep asking why they buy the more expensive premium food, you’ll come to understand that it’s not for the specific nutrients in the food, but it’s because they love their pet and want them to be healthy and live a long life.
Moving Your Client From Current Behaviour to the Desired Outcome
Once you’ve worked out why your ideal client is behaving a certain way, you may need to invite them to change that behaviour. For example, you could have a client that is resistant to the idea of therapy because they’re worried about what it might say about them. E.g., they think that going to therapy means that they’re weak or not capable.
You might know that this kind of client will really benefit from your therapy sessions. But you can’t just change someone’s behaviour. First of all, you’ll need to invite them to think differently so that they can act differently. You might need to challenge their beliefs and educate the client (in a supportive way), so they feel more confident to access therapy. And then, you can invite them to book their first therapy session with you!
By understanding your client’s behaviour and the reasons behind it, you can build a deeper connection and help them overcome anything that is holding them back from working with you.
#4: What is Your Promise to Your Client?
The next crucial step is to identify your promise to your client. It’s useful to go back to your “only” statement here and your value proposition. What do you commit to and how can you consistently deliver that customer experience?
You should think about every interaction and touchpoint you have with your audience and clients, from automated scheduling emails to social media posts and more.
For this, it’s also helpful to draw on your brand foundations. What is your purpose and how does your brand show up in the world? And what are the messages you want to put out into the world? Another way to think about that is your content pillars – what will you talk about again and again?
Once you know what your promise is to your clients, that will help to guide your marketing strategy and any decisions you need to take.
#5: Which marketing channels should you use?
Often, people skip the previous steps and jump straight in here, wondering where they should focus their marketing and which channels they should use.
And while it’s a key decision to make, it should be based on all the other elements we’ve covered so far. Until you know who your ideal client is, what they’re struggling with, and what you can help them with, you won’t be able to make informed choices on where to market your business.
When it comes to choosing your marketing channels, think about where your target audience spends their time online. Is it on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or Pinterest? Do they prefer to consume written content like blog posts or listen to podcasts?
And then, once you have a better idea of your ideal client behaviour, you need to balance that with what is manageable for you. There’s no point in committing yourself to creating a new Instagram Reel every day if you hate being in front of the camera and don’t want to learn to edit videos!
Melissa’s top tip is to keep it simple! Think about how you can reach your ideal client in a way that feels good to you. While marketing is important, it shouldn’t feel scary or take up all your time. Check out our blog post on choosing the best marketing channel for your therapy business for more of our tips!
#6: What do you need to reach your ideal clients?
Now, it’s time to start planning your next steps in marketing. But before you dive in, here is the bare minimum you need to reach your ideal clients.
The first essential is a website – this is your welcome mat on the internet! A website will help you to build trust and credibility, and even better, you own and control it – unlike with social media.
Next, you need a booking function so that your client can start working with you. The client experience should be smooth, streamlined, and customised. Check out our blog posts on the client journey here and here for more tips on getting this set up for your business!
Ideally, you should also have a CRM so that you can manage your current, past, and potential clients. That will make sure you stay on top of everything and support and nurture your clients. This can be a simple, free tool like Trello or Asana or something more complicated – it just needs to work for you so that you use it consistently.
You should think about content creation tool(s). What that looks like for you may vary – it could be a simple Google Doc or a spreadsheet where you keep all your content. You might also need a tool like Canva or Photoshop for creating visuals for your brand. For LIT, we use a combination of Canva, Later (for scheduling), Google Docs, and Notion for our content creation.
Finally, an email tool is helpful as it allows you to send out branded emails to your mailing list. You could get started with a free plan on Mailerlite, our favourite tool for small to medium businesses and what we use for LIT.
As you can see, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. With these things in place and keeping in mind the other crucial marketing elements, you can put your marketing strategy into action in a simple, meaningful, and sustainable way.
#7: How will you measure your marketing efforts?
Now, you hopefully have a clearer idea of how to create your marketing strategy. But once you put your strategy into action, how will you measure success? How will you tell what’s working, and what’s not?
Melissa believes that what gets measured, gets managed. For example, you could track:
- Social media followers
- Email subscribers
- Engagement rates
- Website traffic
You should consider two different types of metrics when measuring your marketing success. First of all, there are lead metrics – a performance indicator that leads to future success, such as conversations, networking, emails sent, social posts, press articles, and more.
And then there are lag metrics, a performance indicator of past success. Some examples include number of sessions booked, revenue, and client satisfaction.
By tracking and comparing your metrics and numbers, you can get a better idea of what’s happening in your business. These metrics can help you to make better decisions in your business, decide what needs to happen, and celebrate when you reach your goals!
How to Create a Marketing Strategy – A Summary
Taking the time to create a marketing strategy for your business is essential to your success. A carefully considered marketing strategy can help direct your decisions, allow you to connect with your ideal clients, and create a thriving business.
By thinking about the essentials – who your people are, what they need, and how you’ll help them – you’re setting all the foundations for creating trust, connection, and credibility with your audience.
As you can see, a marketing strategy doesn’t need to be overly complicated or require a lot of investment, time, complicated tools, or years of expertise. So, you can create your own marketing strategy for your therapy business to move you towards where you want to be in your business.
We were so happy to host Melissa Packham within the LIT Community. You can find out more about Melissa at Brand-Led Business and connect with her on LinkedIn here! Our members can access the full event replay any time in our replay library alongside all our other replays – just one of the perks of being a LIT Community member.
If you’re looking to start or grow your online therapy business, the LIT Community could be exactly what you need. When you join, you get access to our full event calendar, resources, discussion board, and a network of like-minded colleagues, providing inspiration, guidance, and support on this journey.
Sign up for our waitlist here to be the first to hear when the LIT Community doors will open next.