The BEST Way To Get New Patients Or Clients Over Time

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25 min read

If your website has only a phone number and a contact form, you are probably wondering why you aren’t getting as many clients from your website as you would like.

You need a simple lead generation tool.

Translation: A way to get your ideal patient or client on your email list so that you can turn cooler leads into warm and even HOT leads. This happens from the heart, and slowly, over time, so that you can earn trust.

 This is all about heartfelt notes or even letters.

I’m talking good old fashioned email marketing, because statistically, it WORKS. STILL.. in the 2020’s.

But there is still a lingering negative connotation among wellness professionals and even a handful of marketing “experts” that insist that social media is the ONLY way to communicate with our tribe. Just because something is more “old school” doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

I’m not the only one that knows that email is pretty dang solid. I’m in good company.. most marketing professionals worth their salt.. including the ones who specialize in SEO or social media, still recognize the value of building an asset that you actually own..  your email list.

With social media.. or even other forms of marketing, this is much more difficult (or expensive) to achieve.

The chances of someone opening your email are still much greater than the odds of having your content seen on social media.

Anyone who uses Facebook to market their business knows what I mean.. even when you do everything “right” it can sometimes be a little depressing when your post reach drops to almost nothing due to algorithm changes.

Of course, this isn’t about email vs. social media. They are both important, and they compliment each other. Social media is very, very important for the very beginning stages of the journey that you and your ideal patient or client experience together.

I’m also aware that Facebook is “morphing” even as I write this, and more people are using it not just to discover or “stumble upon” stuff, but actively use it to find people that can help them achieve their goals. Absolutely I’m on board.

Still, I don’t own my platform on Facebook, and I don’t want to put all my eggs in that basket.

Let me put it this way: If your account is suspended or your platform of choice disappears tomorrow, your network will disappear right along with it. Your email list is something you own and control.

Email may still be old school, but that’s no reason why you have to use it in an old school way, such as newsletters and in-your-face promotions.

The Automation factor

Building an email list for your holistic practice is just plain smart. And if you are at the stage in  your business where you don’t want to “trade time for dollars” anymore, email is a non-negotiable.

Why? It’s neither legal, possible, nor desireable to promote and deliver an on-demand product (like a course or program) manually by using your personal email or even via messaging. (In some ways messenger automation can be similar to email, but some say it really has not caught on)

If this is your goal, you are going to need a modern and elegant email marketing strategy.

Some of this will be automated. This means that a series of emails that you already wrote will automatically get sent to someone who is interested in what you have to offer (or has bought something from you)

In your email marketing service, it will look like a flowchart, and you set this up yourself, or have someone else do it for you. I’ll be showing you more of what this looks like in the next blog in this two part series.

This makes sense.. and is the “set and forget” part of your email marketing/delivery system. I’m not going to talk about that in this article, so that it doesn’t get crazy long, but I DO want you to know that I’ve got some resources for you.. whether you decide to do it yourself or outsource it.

Let’s focus on those “Letters to a Friend” and why it will help you get more clients and patients.

Some of your emails will need to be sent either manually or scheduled manually, not automatically triggered by an event like an opt-in or purchase. This is ideally done on a consistent basis, like letters from a friend. These are still called Newsletters by most of us.

The term “newsletter” is still used to describe those single emails sent to your tribe on a regular basis. (much like neon-colored gelatin desserts have become known in the U.S. as Jello)

However, those old newsletters.. the dry, boring “updates” about your business that are SO 2005, those clunky things that offer nothing educational, entertaining, or enlightening.. as in VALUE, are officially dead.

I’m not as interested in why a handful of marketing “experts” want to declare that email marketing is dead. This is just clickbait nonsense.

What I’m far more interested in is.. Why are health and wellness practitioners still so resistant to email marketing, including myself?  Because we think it’s THIS:

emails that end up in the trash

1. People tend to associate email marketing with either spam, or useless junk they don’t  have time to read. These are rejected, and they don’t want to be rejected either, or “bother” anyone. So they send a nice, once a month, bland, newsletter.

Think about it.. are you compelled to open a an email with the subject line: September Newsletter? Neither am I. On the other hand, I DO open emails from business owners who have something of value to offer, and I’m not talking about Black Friday deals.

2. Lack of exposure to a more “open” economy. Younger people are used to doing business this way: Think freemium apps, access to tons of free info, being able to make phone calls anywhere in the world for free.. you get the idea.

They/we? (GenXer’s and before) are used to interacting with, and being part of the development of a brand. Think Netflix, or Starbucks. There is more interaction. Trust is built over time. It’s no longer about a company talking “at” you till you give in.

Before that, people were used to either being bombarded by ads, or paying for everything, including information. Today, it makes sense to offer some information for free, without worrying that you’ll be giving away the farm. What comes to mind for me today (in 2020) is a financial advisor who provides free and VERY timely information on the status of stimulus checks.. a VERY hot button issue.  He did this in a very classy way, via YouTube, without resorting to clickbait. He is positioning himself wisely, with an ideal client in mind.

This is ONE way you can accomplish almost the same thing.. via a YouTube subscription.

But let’s just say that you don’t have the time or inclination to have to show up this way on a daily basis. Too much work! 

Health and wellness professionals can do very well by leveraging email. But sadly, I’m surprised that many still don’t. 

Even if times HAVE changed.. there is still some old mindset blocks that may be affecting us that have DEEP roots:

3. Fear, skepticism, and apathy due to old-school ideas about business, and getting burned by it.

If what you were exposed to since childhood was:

• Everything having a price tag. Every tiny little thing. Pay to read this blog, pay to start an email list, pay dearly to make an international call. Pay for the cup your coffee came in.

• Anything given away for free must have a “catch” or strings attached. 

• In- your -face, talking -at- you advertising.

• Trading a service for a flat fee, placing an ad in the Yellow Pages, and hoping for the best.

• If things get desperate, resorting to deception and ripping off the customer. (as in the dishonest auto mechanic)

• Cutthroat competition instead of finding a specific niche to serve

• Email lists that are sold to companies that engage in high volume, untargeted (spam) campaigns.

• Junk Mail and telemarketers

• Price markups followed by 50% sales. Every day. (this last one is still a biggie in retail)

In other words, transactional, one way communication. Buyer vs. Seller. Sales closing tactics. Advertising trickery. I’m not a fan of those things either.

Fortunately, this is just not the way it’s done anymore, at least for service industries. Business transactions shouldn’t SUCK, after all.

I believe that our integrity as business owners is an asset too valuable to (yes) fuck with, and I think we respect our audience and customers too much to engage in some of those old school ways. It’s just plain smarter.

But If this is what you are exposed to all your life, not to mention being targeted for scams if you are a senior (scamming seniors is about as low as you can go as a human being) no wonder many people are not exactly excited about jumping into this whole “email marketing thing.”

It’s so ingrained that many who grew up before the advent of relationship marketing find that the “safest” way to dip our toes into email marketing is by the half-assed monthly newsletter.

And it’s a waste of time. Better to spend it scrolling mindlessly on Facebook. Yep, I’m serious. Here’s some stats for the left side of your brain:

Email is pretty old school. So why is it such a big deal?

Email marketing has an impressive ROI, compared to other methods of marketing. Social media can be random. Paid advertising.. can be a money pit unless you know what you are doing and can invest the right amount. Print advertising and direct mail campaigns can be expensive and since they are often not well targeted, the ROI can be low.

But email? Studies show that for every dollar spent, the return is about $38-42. If you do it right.

Despite these numbers, many small business owners still hold on to negative feelings about email marketing. I get it.  But it’s preventing us from taking advantage of one of the cheapest and most effective ways to not only market our businesses, but give people what they need and desire.

Just because we may not like getting certain types of emails doesn’t make email marketing any less effective. There could be a lot of baggage to dump about how we feel about email marketing, if you grew up in the era I described above.

Email, in fact, is  a selective process on BOTH ends. Done right, it’s a respectful and interactive process, and is becoming even more so.

Your job is to make it feel like every email is like Christmas or one of those events where you get a COOL goodie bag.

your emails are like a gift to your patients

It’s ALSO your job, as “Santa,” to deliver the RIGHT goodies to the right place.

Let’s say for example, your subscribers opt in because you gave them a cool lead magnet (incentive) about mountain bike training for female athletes or tools for starting an online business as a woman. She downloads her checklist, guide, mini training, or attends a webinar, and so far, is on board.

If you then deliver makeup tips and lipstick offers, or the usual un-targeted “female gender fluff,” your stuff is going right into the “irrelevant and annoying email dumpster” faster than you can say “unsubscribe.”

Obviously, this doesn’t mean that it is “Bad” to talk about makeup. There is a HUGE market for it, but women comprise 51% of the human population. That’s pretty big number. In todays’ marketing climate, making assumptions doesn’t work, and targeting is very important.

This is why so many women’s magazines seem to die off. Women are tired of the same old crap. Same goes for some of the dumb and patronizing info out there targeted to the “over 50” crowd.. which includes  GenXers, Boomers, and the “Silent” generation.. people well into their 80’s and 90’s!

Want to know a quick way to alienate people by being TOO general?  Lump a 52 year old in the “over 50”  trash bin category without giving it much thought, and make blind assumptions. It shows a lack of respect for both the 52 year old and the 92 year old when marketers do this. 

Some make almost NO effort: They “target” a large demographic, like “Anyone between the ages of 18 and 60 who like Amy Porterfield.” (a real life example of what I discovered when I clicked on a “why am I seeing this” for a Facebook ad that totally missed the mark for me)

This shotgun approach leads to annoying ads that people don’t want to see, and the advertiser ends up wasting money. Enough about ads.. getting back to email. There are still consequences for not taking the time to be intentional about your message and who it is for.

Let’s say you are a chiropractor or acupuncturist specializing in sports medicine and you like working with athletes.  You serve anyone who you can help because you are a great practitioner.   You are going to offer tips on cross country mountain bike racing for beginner female athletes over 50, because you heard that being this specific is a good thing.

But you aren’t done yet.

If you patronize, start making assumptions about cycling, women, and people over 50, and not make any effort to really “nail” the culture, you will miss the mark and irritate people.  Because you didn’t bother to ask THEM what THEY think, or show that you are interested in THEIR reality.

Remember, it doesn’t matter what every woman over 50 thinks. That’s a demographic, and it’s too broad. I leads to “filling in the blanks” with assumptions and outdated attitudes, or even outdated science.

I’ve seen a LOT of young male personal trainers make this mistake with women over 50.

What you WANT to do is have ONLY your ideal avatar thinking: “Wow, they REALLY get me. I feel like someone is reading my MIND (in a good way )” Because they will be so glad that FINALLY someone is listening.

The more  you can really nail that person you are speaking to each time you write an email, the less the message will be perceived as spam and the more effective it will be.

The best way to do this “market research? ASK them. Use this as a guide.

This image is a good example of the hundreds of ways that a human being can express themselves on a bicycle. It can be hardcore, carefree, precise, artistic, mellow, funky, competitive, practical, urban fashionable, family-oriented/kid-friendly, adventurous, nerdy, or even a part of everyday life.. hell, I’ve lived in the Netherlands for a few months, and miss the bike culture there, as well as the downhill scene in Colorado. The road cycling culture? I’ll pass. 

My point: 

This image obviously doesn’t represent everyone, of course. And that’s good. Unlike like every “Mature Couple Smiling At Each Other On Bicycles” stock photo I see on wellness and insurance sites ALL the time, there IS something happening her that is vibrant, not fake. I could have just as easily demonstrated with a photo of a woman in a dress meeting a friend for lunch at a cafe with her bicycle parked next to her, with genuine look of vibrancy and relaxation on her face, for a different avatar.

Instead, health and wellness professionals reach for stock photos and get stuck, either because they are trying to speak to EVERYONE, because they have a hard time finding the right images, or because they are well, kind of lazy to be honest.

In case you are still thinking “Yeah, but.. I don’t want to turn anyone away or offend anyone. You won’t.

You may think that you are playing it safe by “not offending anyone” and “including EVERYONE,” but generic doesn’t work.  Soulless stock photography and messaging turns everyone off.  Like I mentioned above, most people are going to be irritated by a generic message or being lumped into one category.

We all like to feel we are unique. Showing that you “See” your ideal client or patient could make the difference between that lead becoming a paying customer or going to that place that “just feels right for me.”

I’ve created an avatar exercise that will help you create that “vibe” for your ideal client/patient avatar.

Now let’s talk about diving into that ideal client or patient’s headspace. What’s on their mind? What makes it light up? What can you offer (not just products or services, but solutions, tips, hacks, etc..) that will help HER? (or him?)

Let’s say your “avatar” is, well, me, and you really did  your ideal client/patient/customer avatar homework.

“I don’t want my “swag” to be the equivalent of an offer for pink water bottles and sweatbands and cheesy pop music or watered down advice for “girls” or “seniors.” 

I want edgy stuff. Real content. Bring it on. 

I want to feel encouraged if I’ve been out of the game for a while, (I used to race downhill mtn bikes) and I want realistic advice (I’m not in the market for a 4k bike)

You had better know the difference between mountain biking and cycling culture.  If I see a stock photo with an “older” person pretending to ride a bike, I won’t give your stuff the time of day. Show me REAL.

Anything with the word “Girl” in it is passed over, but I love being a woman.

It’s ok to talk to me about where to find shorts that fit right and how to deal with patronizing male riders and bike shop owners, but I also want to hear about all the geeky things.

I want to know where I can ride alone and not be watched by others if I need time to ride through a challenging section of the trail, because I’m kinda self conscious.

I love psychology.

In secret, am kind of scared on some days, and still want to look good. I had a few bad crashes that I was affected by, but nobody seems to talk about that, especially to women. I would love to hear more about that. 

If you have a dry and intelligent sense of humor and are not afraid of the occasional f-bomb and have a a thesaurus full of synonyms for badass,  you will win my heart.

If you love the band Tool let me know where I can sign up to be one of your biggest fans.. and if I’m looking for a coach, you will be the first person I’ll think of to hire.”

See how this can REALLY get “niched down? This is a GOOD thing!

You want to feel as if someone is speaking directly to you.. who just GETS you. If you just read that above paragraph, chances are you felt that way. If you skipped it, it wasn’t speaking to you, and there would be no reason to clutter your brain with more info designed to serve someone with goals and desires THIS specific.

If you wrote with someone like me in mind, would you potentially scare away many other women my age? Oh, my, YES. And I am repelled by certain things too. Things that many other women LOVE, as a matter of fact.

But isn’t the idea of scaring some people off bad for business? NO. No!

I repeat: “If you try to make everyone happy, NOBODY will be happy. Your stuff will be boring, irrelevant, and miss the mark.”

This is also the most natural and aligned way to communicate with your audience. If you niche down this far, chances are you know your shit and are turned off by the same things your audience is. How cool is that?

So if you are still writing monthly newsletters with generic articles, take the time to define who your ideal client, patient, guest, or customer is. Building an email list for your holistic practice can actually feel easy and natural when you do this.

Also, You CAN have several “avatars.”  I know every once in a while someone comes along that likes to claim that you don’t need to do define your ideal client or patient, and again, it’s usually mostly clickbait. After making their attention-grabbing statement, they circle back to why your message can’t be watered down.

The Starbucks Test

Even though email is generally more of a “one-way” channel than social media, it’s still considered to be a more intimate way of keeping in touch.

The reason: We need to be invited into someone’s inbox, or it’s spam. End of story. (If  you are wondering how that magical invitation takes place, I’ll show you in part 2 of this article.)

Because of these 2 factors, the concept of the “Starbucks test” came about (I can’t take credit for it, besides, I live in an area of Europe that has no Starbucks.. we do cafes, with ceramic cups.. but it’s the same general idea.)

How it works: Pretend that you are about to meet a friend for coffee in the place pictured above. You are just shooting the shit, talking about life in general, maybe telling a story, supporting each other, maybe asking for or giving advice. The tone will be conversational, not formal.

This is the best tone to have in email communications. These are NOT corporate emails. (Who would want to read those?)

It’s also important to be consistent about your message. Once a week is a good starting point.  It’s like a first date: It’s not about trying SO hard to impress that people won’t recognize you without a ton of makeup and nice clothes and being “on” all the time.

It’s about showing them some of your best stuff, but in an approachable, conversational manner, like a letter to a friend, or a meeting over coffee.  More great things will flow if they hang out with you, trust that.

And don’t promise to be there, and then not show up! This is almost as inconsiderate as spam.

Eventually, after building a relationship, yes, then of COURSE you want to present your offer. This is also where the Starbucks Test comes in handy. Likely, if we wanted to offer something to a friend or group of friends over coffee, we would confidently say: “I’ve got this thing that I think would be perfect for you and solve _________ that you mentioned earlier. It seems like the next logical step. I can tell you more, if you like.” This IS a good time to ask for an action: Click on a button to learn more, or to book a discovery call so that you can get something on the calendar.  That sort of thing.

One would likely not walk up to the table of strangers,  throw a card on the table that screams “50% off my thing” and then walk away, or start speaking like a stiff or spammy, yucky email message.

How to make it even EASIER on yourself

Still stuck? There’s nothing wrong with getting a little bit of help when it comes to our email messages, using what has already been created as a guide.

• Get inspired. Do you have a favorite podcast you like to listen to? A TV show? Books from your favorite author? A blog? Do you go on Pinterest to find new recipes and craft ideas?

Take notes!

Your own life experiences are also PERFECT material for your emails. Pay attention to those moments and thoughts.

• Start with a subject line that draws people in, based on the research you just did. In the above example, maybe that could be “I FINALLY found a sports bra I like!” or for wellness professionals: “How often should you train for an XC race in your 50’s?” or “How this one postural tweak helped me improve my cycling performance without ANY extra training.”  More about this in part 2.

Write a list of “conversation openers” or just start typing at the conversation plays in your head.  Once again, you can imagine yourself sitting with a friend over coffee. You might say, in real life, “I never thought I would say this, but…” or “I had this interesting thought today about_______.  or maybe a question, like “Do you ever feel that __________?

For me, what works is imagining myself in this scenario, and just let the “conversational” words flow.

I DO include some content which is definitely copywriting, which is a great skill to develop. I won’t get into that here.. I’ll be writing a blog about writing very shortly!

Tip: You CAN borrow ideas from other emails you receive. Of course you don’t want to copy word for word.. but a lot of opening phrases aren’t copyrighted any more than a conversational sentence would be. 

• Your emails don’t have to be long. Some even type a short and sweet note, with a link to a blog or podcast or video that does the talking.

In other words, It’s not always the email itself that is usually offering entertainment, education, or enlightenment, but what is IN the email itself. A link to something nice and juicy. .

Think of it as the intersection where your great content.. and what your ideal client or patient wants to hear about.. meet.

The Take-Home

When you subscribe to something, you make a conscious decision to hear more. When you think of it this way, you are delivering gifts to the door of your ideal client or patient. This shift alone will raise your vibe when it comes to email. 


So there you have it.. Boring Newsletters may be dead, but email marketing is thriving and will continue to for years to come, even with all the fancy schmantzy new trends that marketing gurus like to mention to showcase their knowledge.

Next Steps

Want to know more about email marketing, with visual aids?

Level 1: Go to the next blog to learn more

Level 2: Join the Rebel Wellness Entrepreneur Membership. Not only will you find an entire “vault” of info and trainings specifically about lead generation and email makreting…

Level 3: Ready to dive in and build your first online offering? Enroll in the Future Proof Your Practice Toolkit.  This course will take you from start to finish, from mindset to “tech” setup, so that you can get your first online offering out to the world QUICKY, even if you are starting from scratch.


You can click here to learn more about how I can help you get your email marketing set up.