There are a lot of names for what we do in practice – alternative, holistic, complementary, integrative. But behind the labels, we all have one thing in common: we’re trying to help others. The catch, however, is that in order to find those people who need our help, most of us have to make some effort to market our services.

Sometimes, though, the very thing that makes many practitioners so good at what they do – their ability to connect with and be sensitive to others –  also makes them very, very uncomfortable with the idea of marketing. Behind many of the questions we get from practitioners is a common theme: I’m shy/introverted/timid/reserved. How can I  promote my practice?

To answer that, let’s start with a few key truths about practice marketing for introverts:

Introverts Have an Advantage

So you’re an introvert. You’re inward-looking. You prefer the company of yourself, or a close interaction with one other person. You’re insightful, a good listener. All these things, as it turns out, make you a kick-ass practitioner, too. What no one may have told you, though, is this:

The same things that make you a great practitioner can make you a great marketer, too.

Not only is being an introvert not a flaw, you also have a unique set of advantages, well-suited for health care and health care marketing.

  • You Listen Better – One of the greatest complaints about lousy salespeople and marketers is that they don’t listen. You’re telling them you want green, but they keep sticking red in your face over and over. As an introvert, odds are you’re a better listener than your extraverted counterparts. That means you stand a chance of actually hearing what it is your prospective clients want. What’s the biggest sales technique you’ll hear over and over in sales training? Listen to your prospect. It turns out that you’re a natural.
  • You Get Others Talking – It may be that you don’t like to be the center of attention, or it may be those great listening skills, but whatever the reason, introverts have a knack for keeping others talking. That gives you a much better chance of hearing about a health concern or a subtle detail that might never come up otherwise. It means you learn far more about prospective clients than anyone else.

Introversion Isn’t a Character Flaw

We live in a culture that tends to value extraversion. Don’t buy in.

If you tend to be energized by time alone, and a little introspective, you’re in good company. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Steven Spielberg? Yep – all introverts. Who says introverts can’t find a little success in business?

And remember, just about everyone feels the way you do at some point. You are neither broken nor alone.

Introversion and Extraversion Aren’t Permanent States

Introversion and extroversion are one continuum. We move around that continuum depending on our environment and experience. While there are genetic components to personality, they are, as with most things, not the whole picture:

Even a broad category such as introversion is like Silly Putty once life gets hold of it: a “genetically shy” child whose parents gently encourage her to get herself into the sandbox and mix it up with other kids is more likely to outgrow her shyness by age 12 than a shy child whose parents take her trait as a given. <source>

Instead of thinking yourself as flawed because you’re nervous about getting out there, think of yourself as inexperienced. We don’t blame kids for not being able to ride a bike, we just support them as they learn. You should cut yourself some of that same slack, and go easy on the labels.

Extraversion Isn’t Bad

For many, the idea of marketing a practice isn’t the fear of the actual act of say, networking, but a fear of becoming an icky extravert. That stems in large part from our stereotypical view of the marketer as the deceitful used-car salesman in the plaid jacket and snakeskin boots.

Just as introversion doesn’t mean “loser,” extraversion doesn’t mean “phony.” You can adopt aspects of extraversion without compromising your integrity or losing your personality.

You’re Already Marketing

Those great client skills of yours? Listening, reflecting, connecting, empathizing, assessing, diagnosing, prescribing and teaching? They’re the hallmarks of exceptional salespeople. The ability to truly connect with another person, understand their problem and provide the perfect solution? That’s all sales and marketing is. You learned it in school, and you’re doing it all the time, but no one ever told you. So I’m telling you right now: you’ve been marketing all along. You just need to get comfortable with the idea of expanding your audience a little.

But How?

Here are a few tips to ease your transition.

1. Start Gradually

You’re not going to change overnight. Commit to some small changes, or one big move per month or quarter. You can find a massive list of marketing ideas here. Pick just one to focus on that’s a small stretch for you. Get it done, and repeat.

2. Don’t Sell. Solve.

If the idea of “selling” is making you feel squishy, that’s good, because selling isn’t what you need to do. Your job in marketing your practice is to connect with others and solve their problems. Your job is not to sell, it’s to solve.

You can never sell anything to anyone. All you can you is create the circumstances for people to sell things to themselves. So think of yourself as connecting, sharing, educating and solving. Not selling.

3. Engage With the World

Clients don’t have to come from information sessions, speaking gigs, media interviews and article writing. They also come from being at the gym, or a mom’s group, or at the hairdresser. They come taking classes, hanging in coffee shops. From art galleries and movie theatres.

The hardest way to find new clients is to never leave your house or office. Just get out there and engage with the world.

4. Use The Buddy System

Despite all this, it can be, beyond a doubt, nerve-wracking for the less-outgoing to…well, go out. If you’re going to engage the world, there’s no rule that says you have to do it alone. Find a buddy, and get out there. Intoverted, extraverted – doesn’t matter. Moral support comes in many shapes and sizes.

5. Focus on One-On-One Interactions

Even though you might teach, or speak to groups, or show up a cocktail parties and open houses, all the good stuff happens one-on-one. Think of crowds as opportunities for a series of monogamous marketing efforts, not a pitch to a pack of rapt listeners. You don’t have to captivate a crowd. Just connect with one person.

6. Don’t Be Distracted By the Easy Stuff

There’s an enormous trend right now toward web-based marketing, especially social media. There’s a good reason for it: it’s a viable way to reach a lot of people.

The pitfall for introverts, however, is that the web is just too easy. It offers the (questionable) promise of riches and practice growth without getting out of your pyjamas, and for those of us who are a little shy, that’s too good to pass up.

So don’t pass it up. You’d be crazy not to use some of this technology to your advantage – just don’t fall into the trap of using it as your only advantage because you’re too scared to do anything else.

In a nutshell, let’s remember the words of Winnie the Pooh, who sums it all up far better than I ever could have:

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

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4 Responses to “Practice Marketing for Introverts”

  1. […] to read the rest of the post, hop on over here… […]

  2. Tara and Dan this is a wonderfully supportive article for introverts in marketing of any type. Listening as you mention, is just one of our strengths we can bring into marketing. We prefer those one to one close relationships as you mention: our prospective clients will know our sincerity even if due to our nature. We are also excellent with focus: we’re not likely to take our listening conversation down our own trail.

    Introverts can turn their successful practitioner skills into successful marketing skills. With our depth of thought we can leverage it toward creativity that will work for us.

    Patricia Weber
    Business Coach for Introverts

  3. […] you’re a shy or introverted practitioner, it’s a fair assumption that networking events and cocktail parties exhaust you. Right now, […]

  4. […] you’re really nervous. Or you think of yourself as a practice introvert, then you have a choice. You can decide that’s just how it is, and market your practice in […]

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