Update: It seems like more small, creative business owners are aware of the importance of having an “online presence.”
There are also some deeply-rooted mindsets that can keep many healers, coaches, and small business owners feeling stuck and maybe a little left behind, and probably more than a little overwhelmed.
This is probably the main reason why so many are now scrambling to set up virtual practices so that they can still have some cash flow even when events out of their control happen.
Here’s 5 common misconceptions about online/digital marketing that it’s time to toss, once and for all:
It’s a weird, tech-y thing that only elite geeks or “younger people” can understand, and I’m “not good at tech.”
The truth is..
Unless you are running a historically successful bar in a remote or rural area with a solid customer base of seniors and “regulars” who either have no computers or dial-up modems at best, (and without a pandemic) this mindset isn’t going to be good for your business.
Here’s why I’m calling BS on this persistent myth:
• Many of us “middle aged” or “older” folks were the first to use the internet. As in GenX. Many of us also got our first experience with “tech” by playing with building websites.. because it was a new and novel thing. We witnessed the evolution of the internet. Hell, we actually DID invent it.. much of the infrastructure and tools that the Y and Z generations use today were created by Generation X when they were still toddling.
That’s over 20 years of experience for some of us. The first obstacle is the idea that anyone over 40 is going to suck at anything having to do with using technology.
So you don’t need to be this guy to run a virtual practice or business these days.
• The perception of how work is actually getting done is shifting. (as of this update we are in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic)
As little as a few years ago, the perception that being “on the internet” meant that you were wasting your time.
Today, this is where systems are built, marketing and networking is done, and more and more often the place where the actual work is performed and delivered to a client or even a patient.
I know that many are starting to understand on an intellectual level, how work is done in this “new era,” but there are still some lingering subconscious beliefs that simply being online = wasted time.
• There is nothing inherently mystical or weird about being online, no “blueprint formula” that you need to pay some guru $10,000 for, and no codes to crack.
The concept of digital marketing and modern relationship-based marketing has come of age. It’s not a fad or gimmick or spam, or a bandwagon to get on. It’s just the way it is, and the direction it’s been heading in since the early 2000’s.
• Even though it may feel as if we were “forced” into this new era, this all has a positive twist as well. Consider that many of the wonderful human encounters across the country or even the world may have been made possible via technology. And that goes for building your business as well.
In today’s business climate, the borders between friends, acquaintances, contacts, business associates, and clients or customers are more fluid than they used to be. This is a new concept for those used to the “old school” ways of marketing and doing business. However, it’s still important to honor boundaries between work and private life, of course.
“It’s irrelevant to my business. I’ve been going to networking meetings, listing in local tourism directories, and relying on my patients for word-of-mouth referrals for years and I don’t need to go online.”
Reality check: It’s the “2020’s” now.. and this mindset needs to be shelved permanently. It’s amazing that I still run into this mindset, but I do.
Sure, if you are lucky enough to have a healing practice that you started 20 years ago in an area that isn’t saturated with more and more new acupuncturists or chiropractors.. and you are ready to retire, this makes sense. But nowadays, in order to stand out from the crowd, you need to have MUCH more than a generic practice that serves “everyone.”
Relying solely on referrals is going to be a long, difficult road. To be perfectly honest, relying even on online reviews such as Yelp, like many small service-based businesses did even 5 to 10 years ago, isn’t going to cut it. I cringed when I heard established practitioners back in acupuncture school advise new graduates that any kind of online marketing is unnecessary.
Likewise, if you are in the tourism industry, it’s also a not a great idea to put ALL your eggs in the “b”.com or “TA“basket.” You want to have some control over your own property that you poured your heart and soul into, especially if you don’t want to rely on the “high season revolving door” which can get exhausting and lead to major burnout.
If you have an online business, obviously you need to be noticed online!
The 4 s’s: Slimy, Shady, and Sketchy and Spammy. This is one mindset that seems damn persistent.
Despite how times have changed, to some, it still sounds like a shady scheme about “working from home” or some kind of MLM pyramid thing that people get “duped into.”
At best, it’s about “shameless self-promotion,” being “salesy” or wasting hours on social media.
HOW you do that us up to you.. you can make it super valuable or as shady and spammy as you want. If you are creating high-quality, useful, and relevant content that actually makes people’s lives better, you are engaging in the classic form of digital/content marketing. Which is about as UN-slimy as you can get.
You can also engage online in such a way that it doesn’t take over your life.
It’s really hard. Like rocket-science hard.
The “barrier to entry” is a lot lower than it was when I first started, which was around 2012. Some of the systems I’ve used WERE expensive and clunky. Email marketing and shopping carts could cost you well over $100 per month. Integrations were a nightmare. WordPress got its reputation for being difficult to learn in this era.
We’ve come a long way since then. It’s possible to create a website, a social media account, an email marketing account, and a landing page that lets someone click a button and buy from you without you wanting to tear your hair out.
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean that “anyone can do this.” In a way, it’s true, but I’m not telling anyone now.. or likely ever, that it’s easy. Running your own business is hard. Period.
It’s overwhelming. There’s just too much to do. So why even start? There is some truth to this. Digital marketing can be overwhelming, if you let it.
But it’s also necessary, whether you do it yourself or hire someone or plan in “stages” or “modules” like you would undertake any large project, like building a house.
When you first start out, it doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. In fact, it may be better to keep things simple at first. Learn something new every day, but make sure that you don’t get distracted with too much “noise.”
Seriously. It’s like learning a language. You want to have some good resources to rely on, but in the end, it’s a thing you gotta DO and PRACTICE.. and be willing to adapt, change, evolve, and even screw up.
Want to start learning the “Lingo?” Check out the Glossary Page for general terms.. and some that may be specific to your industry!
I’m not going to leave you hanging!
If you are not even sure where to begin, I HIGHLY recommend enrolling in the Future Proof Your Practice Toolkit. which will guide you step-by-step to creating your first online offering, even if you are starting from square ONE.
You can also join the Rebel Wellness Entrepreneur Membership. For a low cost, you’ll have access to my “vault” of content, PLUS a place to network, be a part of a community, and maybe even promote YOUR expertise.
Since every business is different and every brain works differently, it may make sense for you to get some help with your overall strategy and with the “tech pieces.”
I’ve been through all of this.. both as an acupuncturist, my own “digital marketer,” and now as a consultant to other service-based entrepreneurs looking to scale their businesses.
I would love to help you create a time and location independent business.