In For your practice

Many natural therapists in Western society have been inspired by Eastern religions and philosophies – and/or by teachings relating to the cosmos. So a good number of practitioners like to share this inspiration through associated images in their marketing material. Seeing these images nurtures their spirit – so why not that of the prospective client?

WHAT KINDS OF IMAGES ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

Naturally, it varies from practitioner to practitioner. But let’s take these images as an example:

THESE AREN’T BAD IMAGES IN THEMSELVES…

But what do they say about how you help people? How would your prospective clients interpret these images for themselves? And what is it about their interpretation that will lead them to booking with you? By all means, promote images like these if you only want to attract clients who:

  • have gone through a similar journey to you where these images have the same meaning and feel inspirational
  • aren’t totally clear of the meaning but are looking for a spiritual path akin to yours and are attracted to this exotic and/or ethereal imagery

 

IMAGES ARE POWERFUL THINGS

It’s why religions (and totalitarian dictatorships and multinational corporations) embrace and promote them repeatedly. So when natural health practitioners use imagery that either link to a religion or look like they should, you are in danger of repelling prospective clients. Clients – whose life experience and things that inspire them are very different from you – may well interpret these images as:

  • “I’m not interested in fixing your back – I’m more interested in a religion that you don’t really know or understand”.

or

  • “I’m not interested in helping you through childhood trauma – I’m more interested outer space”

Well, these interpretations might happen subliminally. Most would just automatically switch off from the images and allow their focus to move elsewhere.

 

WHAT IS BECOMING MORE FAMILIAR…

The meaning behind the simple concrete Buddha statue image is becoming much more familiar in the general community as ‘calm time away from crazy Western society’. Here is an example of this:

Therefore, this image is much less likely to trigger uncertainty and fear in the prospective client. In fact, more likely to convey the opposite. The book Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander references the ‘Buddha in the Bathroom’ as a key trend in Western society. It was making fun of people in our community – but, seriously, there’s a reason why Buddha images and statues are appearing in bathrooms. Why? Because it is often the place where people take quiet time out for themselves – in the shower or bath, and on the loo. In short, calm time away from the noisy demands of Western society.

 

THERE’S ONE PROBLEM

From a marketing perspective, the problem with using an image of a Buddha statue in your marketing material is that everyone’s doing it. So you don’t look special. And the whole point of marketing is to help people make a decision as to why they should book with you. If the image is of a Buddha statue at your clinic, then there is more reason to incorporate it into your promotional material.

Note: Buddhism is a religion. Whether we should be using Buddhist imagery when we are not Buddhist ourselves is up for debate.

 

BUT AREN’T I HELPING TO ENHACE FAMILIARITY?

Yes, by using less familiar/less meaningful imagery in your marketing material is contributing to make it more familiar. But familiarity without an instantly helpful, attractive meaning is problematic. It creates blocks. It can repel people from booking with you.

Large shifts in community are required to ensure your prospective client receives the meaning that you intend when promoting more obscure images. Meaning can be built – where appropriate – in sessions. But again, your client’s health is the focus. Not your personal source of inspiration. It is much more powerful to start with imagery that is meaningful to them. Not what is meaningful to you.

Marketing is an exercise in active empathy. Allow images to be an attractive and reliable bridge. A bridge your prospective client feels good stepping on and walking over. In other words, leave your personal passions aside. Be helpful instead. Meet them where they are – and then see their eyes light up.

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