Several months ago, I asked several hundred alternative health practitioners to tell me their most important questions about internet marketing. Two major questions emerged:
1. What exactly is internet marketing and how can it help me?
2. What’s the best way to target people on the internet so that they attend my classes, come in for sessions, and buy my products?
Alternative health practitioners such as Rolfers, Massage Therapists, Hypnotherapists, Accupuncturists, Feldenkrais Practitioners and the like, have business needs that are similar to the needs of other business. They need more clients and steady income. Most are passionate about their work, interested in growing their practices and creating a sustainable business.
However, unlike many traditional businesses, alternative health practitioners are often practicing a modality that people have not heard of, or do not fully understand. Alternaitve health practitioners need to introduce people not only to a new method but to a new way of thinking, being and acting in the world.
Internet Marketing, in many ways, can be like the various alternative modalities themselves: What internet marketing "is" depends on what you want, what you need and what you are willing to do to get it. The first step is to get an idea of what the possibilities are.
Filling your workshops and building a practice
For one of my business partners the internet provides a way to keep his classes and workshops full. He has a large "permission based" email list to which he mails every 4-6 weeks. In every email he gives away a no-cost bonus, such as worksheet or handout that can be put to immediate use by the people on his list. He will often write about useful research findings related to his field. The end-result? People look forward to reading his emails and his seminars and workshops fill-up months in advance. Can you imagine using the same process to fill your practice?
The key here is relationship. Be helpful and aware of your potential clients’ needs and help them whenever you can. They will reward you by trusting you and giving you their business.
Some alternative health practitioners reach a point in their careers where they realize that they want to work less but keep their current income and lifestyle. Is this you? Perhaps you need some time to write a book or want to take a sabbatical and travel the world?
The problem is that you are in the business of trading your time and skill for money. If you do not work, you do not get paid. It would be useful to ask yourself a new question: "How can I keep making income and sustain my business, without having to work everyday?" This is where the idea of "passive income" comes in.
What is passive income? Passive income is money that comes to you automatically every month, regardless of where you are or what you are doing. Downloadable audio, video and ebooks are a few examples of passive income opportunities. You could sell training and educational materials to your clients and have the system set-up so that the sales, delivery and support is done automatically in the background. In other words, when someone buys a product from you, you don’t have to burn a CD, address an envelope, go to the post office or even process a credit card number. The whole process is automated on the internet.
Does Internet marketing sounds complicated or expensive to you?
It can be complicated and it can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Several years ago you would have needed a web programmer, graphic designer, recording studio and more. Now, all that you need is the right strategy and the ability to use a web browser and email.
For instance, blogs and basic websites can be created for no-cost and don’t require any programming skills. There are ecommerce systems that can be set-up in less than 5 minutes and allow you to upload and sell products online for $5.00 per month. You can collect credit card payments without needing a merchant account. Email collection forms are pre-programmed in many web-based customer contact services (called auto-responders). And if you still feel that you want a website designer or some other help, you can hire one in India for $5 - $10 per hour. Several independent companies will let you post your projects and have people bid on them.
Take a deep breath, relax, and begin exploring. Use google to find the web-based businesses of people in your field. See what they are doing. When you are ready, consider joining marketing email lists or forums that interest you. Some marketing email lists will send you a useful message every month and give you no-cost resources for learning how to make money online. And if you don’t like the information, you can always cancel and join another. Remember: You are in control.