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Recession-Proof Your Practice - Page 6


After much thought, Dina e-mailed me her basic message: I offer short-term counseling for couples with long-term results. Whether couples want help fixing their marriage or better parenting their children, we move forward on their goals quickly. I complimented her on the clarity of this message and the USP of brief, goal-oriented therapy, but I suggested she include a sentence highlighting the flexibility of her practice. She added: My practice offers a variety of services, pricing packages, and locations in which I can see you. I strive to stay flexible so we can work together successfully, even during these tough economic times.

Now she needed low-cost business materials to emphasize her message. She highlighted the phrase "short-term counseling for couples with long-term results" as the slogan beneath her name on her business cards and brochure, which she produced within a day on, an online do-it-yourself printer.

Next it was time to utilize one of Dina's untapped resources: the referral sources to which she'd sent thank-you notes but never contacted further. I asked her to list each source, when each had last sent her a client, and the results of her work with the client. Then she drafted a letter to each source, to be followed up with a phone call. I helped her write a script for each call to reconnect with the source, ending with a request for business: "I have some openings in my practice right now and prefer to fill them with clients who come from referral sources I trust, such as yours."

Dina set a goal of 10 letters and follow-up phone calls each week. She was nervous and hesitant, but I reminded her of her commitment and what she'd said—that her practice was "worth everything" to her. My job was to hold her accountable, and she reported to me each week by e-mail about how the calls were going. It was hard and awkward the first week and better the second week, and she got one "great" response the third week—a potential affiliation with a law office to train their staff about difficult marital dynamics during custody depositions. By the fifth week, she'd gotten two new clients from referrals.

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