Over the years, I’ve learned how brand consistency in your marketing can actually increase your scope, and help you reach the people who need it most. For many practitioners, marketing feels like a bad word. It tends to evoke feelings of dishonesty, ego, unprofessionalism, and deception. And for many years, I also made those associations too, which made me hate marketing. But now I love it—and you can too.
Now I see marketing as a way to connect with my clients and provide meaningful content for those that may never show up in my virtual office. It’s become a way to enact my core mission in life—to spread greater compassion in the world—beyond just the clients I see.
When I got out of grad school and started a private practice internship in 1999, I thought all I had to do was have my supervisor send out a letter to our mutual connections, pass out a few business cards, and the clients would come pouring in. Like so many other practitioners, I took zero classes and had no conversations in grad school about the business side of private practice. After I graduated, it took many more years and much more struggle for my private practice to thrive enough for me to do it full-time.
Finding Your Soul in a Digital Jungle
Early on in my career, I had a professional website, maintained a Facebook business page, created educational videos on YouTube, and used Instagram to build and maintain my private practice. But historically, private practitioners have been slower than other professions to use the digital landscape as a way to share their expertise and knowledge.
Many of my colleagues wanted to maintain the appearance of being a blank slate to new clients, or wanted to be very selective about the information they shared with their clients. They considered it unethical to advertise themselves online. Now, a website for your practice is basically a requirement—just like social media—and the need for a digital footprint to thrive in our private practice is growing.
Our clients want to see us and get to know us online. It can take several interactions with our posts, blogs, videos, podcasts, and other content for them to build a relationship with us before they ever reach out for our services. A consistent and recognizable brand online helps our customers build trust and familiarity with us. If we truly want to “meet our clients where they’re at,” then we need to meet them online too.
Building Brand Consistency With Content
Deep knowledge of ourselves as people and practitioners is what helps us create brand consistency across all our online platforms. What’s unique about us? What characteristics and qualities express who we are? In the same vein, it’s important to think critically about who our clients are as well. What are our ideal clients interested in? Where do they show up online?
Brand consistency matters.It’s about coming back to the core of who we are and expressing ourselves from this place online. We can do this by being intentional with the colors, fonts, spacing, tone, and photos we use when we create content. When we make decisions about these aesthetic parts of our business based on knowledge of ourselves, it makes it easier for us to do the work we love—help our clients learn, heal, and grow.
Brand Consistency is Rooted in Authenticity
Building up your brand starts with authenticity, which is key for connecting with people online. With so many options and so much content out there, we need to show up with our full selves, so we can connect with the people who need us the most. I remember when I took my first pictures for my website. I thought I had to look professional and serious because I didn’t want my prospective clients to think I was smiling at their problems.
But what my clients wouldn’t be able to see by looking at that old photo is that I’m a friendly guy who smiles a lot, especially when I meet someone new. Slowly, I got more comfortable showing up more authentically, which is an ongoing, never-ending process. Now I can’t imagine starting any video or photo without a smile, because that’s who I really am.
Heart + Mission Alignment = Success
What clients are you inspired to work with? What life issues could you talk days about? What sparks your creative interests online? What are your favorite ways to teach and learn?
When we recognize what energizes us as practitioners and plan our digital strategies to align with that, we do our best work. There are so many mediums to connect with our clients, so regardless of what feels authentic to you, chances are there’s a way to use it strategically online. Some of us prefer visual content—, like graphic organizers, pictures, and videos—s that Instagram promotes well. Others of us prefer to listen and hear conversations, like podcasts and radio interviews. You don’t have to use all forms of media, but the more forms you can build up, the more reach you can have. Start with one you personally like the most, and build on that for your practice.
Finding the Right Balance
Brand consistency in marketing is also about maintaining a frequent and consistent schedule for when you post on social media, even when business is going well. Posting too often or not enough can be equally detrimental. Finding the right balance with what works best for our clients takes time to sort out.
A good way to understand what your clients are looking for from your online content is to seek out—and then study—the responses people have to your content. Are people leaving comments that they loved your post and found it helpful or encouraging? Or are you getting no feedback at all? Both cases can offer you valuable insights to how you should adjust your strategy.
And lastly, remember that social media is social. If we only post and then leave the app, we’re not going to be successful at it. It’s also important to interact with other people’s content. We need to like and share what other people in our communities are creating too, so we can build a network, expand our reach, and make the connections we’ve studied and trained to make.
Building brand consistency online is a gift we can use to reach more people than we would ever have the opportunity of reaching otherwise. It can help us connect with those that need our services so that we can be the best we can be—and inspire others to do the same.
Plus, consistency in your brand makes it easy for people to know what to seek you out for. It encourages them to continuously return to you because they know what to expect. Regardless of what platforms or content mediums you leverage, you can find your audience and your message when you maintain that consistency.
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Pollen Magazine examines the health and wellness industry through the lens of the professionals that are redefining private practice. Find inspiration, learn from others, and discover insights on how to build the best version of your practice.
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