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I've learned not to give up so easily when trying a new marketing idea, however. So we dug deeper. We researched keyword-ranking data to find out the best keywords for his specialty. We learned, for example, that the keyword phrase "adolescent counseling" is searched about 475 times a month in the United States, but the phrase "adolescent depression" gets searched almost 1,200 times a month—more than twice as often. Yet the average keyword price on "adolescent depression," to get to the top of the search results page, is just $0.90 a click, whereas "adolescent counseling is $1.30 a click! At 44 percent of the cost, Sam could get more than twice as many clicks.
After two months of applying this type of analysis, Sam's website and pay-per-click ads started generating steady referrals. To date, his return on investment with Google AdWords has been a remarkable 734 percent. This, combined with his ongoing networking to schools and pediatricians, proved to be the perfect formula for his practice to take off. Just eight months into his practice, Sam is now averaging 30 patients a week, his website is generating 40 percent of his referrals, and he's gotten several free TV interviews from Internet searches. Sam is a quiet, introverted man, but he called me up in January 2007, bursting with excitement and said, "I just have to tell you: I'm having more fun and making more money than I've ever made in my career, and my wife and I are talking about a second child. Thanks for everything!"
Being Too Risk Averse
Not everyone is ready to apply business concepts to their practices. Karen had had a part-time practice in Atlanta for five years and was ready to go full-time. But she didn't know what to do to generate more referrals and, like many risk-averse therapists, she was afraid to spend money on things that might not work. I offered her a free phone consultation. Because she was so fearful of making a mistake and spending money foolishly, I wanted her to understand the Jay Abraham concept of the Lifetime Value of a Referral. Karen protested with a common fear. "But with my luck, all the clients I get will be the ones who come one time!" I told her to try to think long term, because over time, each referral will generate an average of $1,000 of income. She then mentioned a business coach in Atlanta who wanted to charge her $200 for a one-hour consultation, saying she thought he might help her, but also felt he was too expensive. Compared to what, I asked? Now that she understood the value of every new referral, she had a useful metric to use to evaluate his offer.