Where the Client Is

Building a better private practice

Interview: Deah Curry, PhD, the “No Hype Mentor”

deahcurryDeah Curry, PhD, is the “No Hype Marketing Mentor,” helping clinicians build and promote their practices.  She talked to WTCI via email about what she does and how she came to be doing it.

What’s your background?

I’ve always had an unusual braid of writing, psych, and entrepreneurial spirit flowing through my life.  My first career was in journalism and public relations, putting my BA in Communication Arts to work in the post-Vietnam era by writing human interest stories about members of the US Air Force and teaching squadron commanders how to use language effectively to communicate better with their troops.

While I worked for the Air Force in Germany, I took on the secondary civil service job of Federal Women’s Program manager — which amounted to career and affirmative actions counseling — and I also started a masters in psychology at that time. Eventually I ended up in the Whole Systems Design degree program at Antioch University Seattle where I wove together an individualized curriculum in counseling psych, adult education, and organizational transformation for my masters.

I opened my private therapy practice in 1990, and taught various courses at a business college early that decade.  For a while I also managed a private healing arts community center and what we called a business incubation service, advising and teaching other solopreneurs how to set up and market their practices.

After I started teaching psych courses to naturopathic medicine students it was impressed on me that I needed a PhD.  In that period of 1997 to 2003 while I was learning to use the Internet for psych research and developing knowledge and interest in e-learning,  I began to see therapists venturing into online marketing.  I realized that my background in journalism, teaching, and entrepreneurialism  was converging  into a unique combination that I could use to coach colleagues on promoting themselves more dynamically on the web.

What do you do now?

The No Hype Mentor was born from my discovery that tele-coaching other solopreneurs in the healing arts on web-presence marketing and using my counseling skills to help them overcome the feelings of insecurity and low self-confidence in business networking is much more fun for me than having a limited, local, routine psychotherapy practice.  In fact, I’ve been intentionally shifting my client base over the last few years so that now about 90% of my clients are therapists, life coaches, or NDs [Naturopathic Doctors] who are struggling to attract and retain clients.

Recently I completed training as a business-life coach, and have become a licensed facilitator of CJ Hayden’s Get Clients Now! program — a system that increased my client load by 75% in the first month, so I’m a big fan of the program. I mentor-coach individuals and groups on constructing a compelling marketing message, and using it in powerful ways that are comfortable for introverts.

Who is a typical therapist client for you; how do you go about helping?

I typically work with clinicians who have either been in practice a number of years and have relied on insurance panels for clients, or those who are relatively new to private practice or have always had a cash-based business model.  They are highly motivated and focused on attracting more self-pay clients, aren’t fully comfortable with promoting themselves, and want mentoring in how to craft an action plan for marketing that uses the internet effectively, easily, and inexpensively.

Using the nine-week No Hype Mentor Method that I developed based on what really works for solopreneur healers, I coach them through a process of honing their ideal client definition and specifying a very clear marketing message.  By the time that’s done, usually they have an excellent homepage for a client-attracting website.  From there, I mentor on using their personality and communication style along with a few new skills to build an effective and sustainable marketing action plan.  The Method includes the 10 Essential Step by Step Keys that walk my clients through all the basics, a detailed self-assessment tool, a counselor-specific online resource guide, along with coaching on designing a sustainable Get Clients Now action plan.

What have you seen working best–and worst–for therapists trying to build a practice?

Marketing is either a new world for my therapist-clients, or one in which they feel uncomfortable, overwhelmed, and impatient.  Most are introverts who feel intimidated and discouraged by the idea of networking, and referral-system building.  They try to market the way they practice:  as generalists who hold the space, reveal little about themselves, speak gently, provide informative options, and let the client come to their own conclusions.  This doesn’t work as a marketing approach — the lack of niche market definition is the biggest mistake I see — and consequently they feel stuck and scared.

The three other big mistakes I see are:

(1) not using genuine personality and natural communication style for connecting with prospective clients

(2) not following a consistent action plan, and

(3) not giving efforts enough time to work before moving on to some other idea.

The top four best marketing tactics for therapists I’ve worked with have been, in this order:

(1) precisely defining their ideal client

(2) crafting an emotionally compelling marketing message

(3) having a sticky, rich content website

(4) using several means of providing free information of value to prospective clients on a frequently refreshed basis

Any final words of wisdom…?

Beyond needing to learn new skills, marketing a private practice is challenging for many of us because it invariably brings up our own issues.  For some, promoting our own business feels like standing in the center ring and turning the spotlight on ourselves, then worrying that everyone will see we’re not good enough.  I’m grateful that my background as a therapist myself can help clients overcome those obstacles while helping their business thrive.

Find Deah Curry online at thenohypementor.com and on the No Hype Marketing Mentor Blog.

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