Are you a nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner, or a health coach? I’ve recently begun mentoring coaches to help them to better serve their own clients. An ongoing need, of course, is getting and retaining clients to serve!
When I was building my practice, I put the majority of my effort into continuing education, seminars, and networking. I found a beautiful office space and felt ready to go. Yet, no one was showing up because not many people knew I was in practice. I would later learn that the early days were about 80 percent marketing and business building and really only 20 percent consulting. Though I dreaded learning about business practices at the time–after all, I’m a nutritionist, not a marketing expert–I found it a critical part of my success and even began to enjoy it.
I’ve put together a list of the five most important ways that have been most helpful to me in building my practice over the years. So grab a cup of tea, settle in, and get to building.
5 Ways to Get New Clients
1.) Get your website up and running. This is your face to the world. Many people will find you via google searches and/or social media. Even if they’ve been referred to you, they’ll want to check out your business and offerings online. So you’ll need a website. The first step is to make a list of sites you like so you can formulate a design. Then do what I call a brain dump: Sit down for an hour or several and get everything that’s in your head about your business down on paper. Don’t worry about organizing as you’re writing, but you can later go back and create a mission statement, a bio, and a tagline from the material. Organize your site into pages: about me/bio, coaching option, contact page, your blog, recipes, whatever works for your model. You can have a static site with a landing page or a blog that you update regularly. Be clear about what you are offering. It’s tempting to jump the gun and get it all up and live, but really focus on streamlining your programs so you know what you’re offering and your programs aren’t too numerous, confusing, or overwhelming. Find a good designer to help you get it up and running.
Side note: create a mailing list with Constant Contact, Mailchimp, or whatever and begin building your list. Send a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter about your news, classes, new blog posts, recipes, offerings, etc.
2.) Give free talks or webinars. Our industry is trending toward more online work. My practice is all virtual at this point, for example. But networking in real life and building community is important. Give live talks in your area. Choose venues like your local Whole Foods market (they often have in-store talks and cooking demos) or natural food store, farmers’ markets (also great for cooking demos), library, community center, integrative pharmacy, spas, wellness centers, etc. They’ll help you promote, so you have their built-in list of interested folks already. It’s a great way to connect with community and build your mailing list: ALWAYS bring business cards, brochures, and a sign-up sheet to capture email addresses you can add them to your e-newsletter list. Some of your participants may be your first clients. You can also do this online by hosting a webinar (with Zoom, for example), but you’d need a good way to promote it (like a large facebook or newsletter following).
3.) Build a referral network. When I was just starting out, I scouted out acupuncturists, wellness centers, chiropractors, and naturopaths, and I reached out to practitioners that also specialized in women’s health. You’ll discover that if often takes a village of different practitioners to help people, so cross referring is a wonderful thing. Partner up with other practitioners and make strategic alliances. I even taught workshops in doctors’ offices, and we offered packages with both our services to participants. The possibilities are really endless here.
BONUS: create accounts with supplement companies like Designs for Health, Apex Energetics, Standard Process, Metagenics, etc. They have account reps in your area who often know of offices who need nutritionists or who’d like someone to come in and give talks to their patients. They also offer seminars and webinars for continuing education.
4.) Write an ebook. Choose a topic close to your niche and write a book. You can do it. Use a platform like ejunkie to sell it online. You can also create a freebie downloadable PDF teaser that you offer when people land on your site, and you can capture their email address to add to your e-newsletter and build your mailing list when they download the PDF. You’ve built your mailing list and offered an incentive for them to buy the whole thing. I used Pages on my Mac to easily design my freebie ebook (visible here), and it was a breeze. I sought the help of a designer to lay out my for-purchase ebook.
5.) Build your social media following. Create a facebook page for your business (see mine here); make a business instagram account; do pinterest if you have a blog and especially if you’re posting recipes (pinterest is one of my top drivers for website traffic); make a youtube page (videos are all the rage right now). Connect with other groups on facebook. Whatever your focus, I promise there’s a facebook group for you, and many will share your posts. You can often find mastermind groups to help you build your business.
What strategies have you found useful to build your business and get clients?
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. In addition to her coaching practice, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and kick nagging digestive issues for good. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.