What Is Marketing?

Marketing is a loaded word. Some would even say a ‘dirty’ word! According to a recent study, we in the 21st century are bombarded with over 3000 commercial messages a day. We try to avoid it, mute it or delete it. Some say consumerism and the commercialization of life is the greatest scourge of our time.

Yet becoming skillful at marketing has become essential to success in many areas of life. Businesses, religions, politicians, artists, healers – everyone must get the word out about what they do.

Among health care providers, there are many fears and concerns about marketing. Here are a few I’ve heard in my consulting work:

  • marketing a private practice means making false, hype-filled claims about one’s abilities or results
  • successful marketing usually means violating ethical standards of one’s profession
  • people who market are bad, greedy, selfish people
  • marketing is all about manipulating people into doing something they don’t really need or want to do

So Then…….What is Marketing?

None of the above fears or concerns are necessarily accurate (though they may characterize some people’s use of marketing methods). Marketing is not a dirty word. It won’t rot your teeth if you do it poorly, and it won’t improve your sex life if you do it well.

When done ethically, marketing is simply the process of identifying the needs and concerns of your clients or patients, and matching those needs and concerns with what you can offer as a psychotherapist.

So rather than viewing it as manipulative, it is more accurate to view marketing as collaborative: by focusing on understanding and meeting client needs, marketing becomes a synergistic win-win partnership where you’re exchanging value for value.

They need something, you are offering something: is it a good fit? That’s what good marketing allows both sides to figure out.

When viewed this way, marketing is not something to be feared, but rather is an integrated system of theories, procedures and practices to be embraced as a necessary skillset for creating a successful business. And for most of us, creating a successful business is an essential aspect of having the opportunity to do the work we love and enrich the lives of those we serve.

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