Identifying your target market
How do you get clients for your therapy business? Do you have a website, a Linkedin page, or do you advertise?
Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re looking to review your marketing activities, here’s the one thing you absolutely must do before wasting your time and money:
Get to know your prospective clients
Understanding your target market is essential. When you know who your potential clients are, you will know so much more about who to contact, the best way to get in contact with them, and what to say to persuade them to choose you or provide referrals to you. Plus, you will be able to tailor your services to meet their needs.
No matter how confident you are that you know your target market, it’s still worth carrying out the following exercise.
Step one: what is your service?
Write down the service that your private practice offers. For example, psychotherapy or chiropractic treatment. Then, break this down into specifics, for example you may specialise in treating clients’ phobias, or medico-legal reports, or providing chiropractic treatment for sports injuries.
Step two: who are your end users?
Think about the types of customer that may need this service, starting with the end user - the person who will benefit directly from your service. Find out and write down more about them. Are they male or female (or both)? How old are they? What is their occupation: are they management level, skilled, unskilled, or unemployed? Will they pay for their own treatment, or will someone else (such as an insurance company or their employer) pay for them? Might they be keen to seek treatment, or reluctant? Your clients will no doubt fall into many categories, but it is helpful to identify each one.
Step three: who are your referrers?
Who else, other than the end user, could be your customer? Who might give you referrals? This could be a friend, family member or colleague of the client, their local GP, a rehabilitation company, another private practice, a company, a health club, an insurance company, a solicitor, or a private clinic. Depending on your service, these are all people who you could get in touch with.
Step four: how might I change my service to meet their needs?
So - you’ve just defined your service and then used that to identify your target market: both end users and referrers. Once you feel you understand your target market, think about how you might be able to modify your service in order to meet their needs more effectively, or modify your approach when seeking clients. Some examples:
- If your target market tends to be time poor, you may need to offer sessions outside of normal working hours, or more intensive, yet fewer sessions
- If their problems tend to be work related (for example stress or a bad back from heavy lifting), you may wish to offer in work services and approach employers directly
- If you’re planning to offer counselling for the unemployed, but live in an area of particularly high employment, you won’t have much of a target market, so may wish to offer something else
Step five: how will your clients find you...or you find them?
Once you know more about your clients, you’ll have a much better way of the best places to advertise, and the best ways to approach them.
For example, how will your clients find you? Do they tend to use social media a lot, or websites, or might they prefer asking their friends or colleagues for referrals? Perhaps they would look at local noticeboards or read their community magazine? Might they approach their GP, or might they not even think about treatment unless their employer offers it? Ask similar questions about potential referrers or business clients.
You will now have a good idea of your target market, or, even better, several target markets. Ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers - this is all useful market research that shouldn’t be wasted.
1. Which part of my target market will be most profitable to my private practice?
2. Will individuals be more profitable, or businesses / organisations? Which of my services will generate the most income? Capture it now. When you are reviewing things next year you will have a record.
3. What will my target market want from my service? For example, will they want someone who can offer them the cheapest price? Are they looking for the greatest expertise, or the most experience?
Answering these questions will again help you to understand how to market your services better and, if necessary, adapt your services to better suit their needs. It will also act as a good record that you can look back on when you carry out an annual review of your services.