So often, we are trained as generalists. This is a huge benefit to agencies, hospitals, and non-profits that you might find yourself working at. Unfortunately, a generalist is not a good fit in private practice these days. When I work with wellness professionals starting their businesses they cling to their list of specialties as though its a life preserver. I get it. I know. I've been there. But here's why that list is sinking you...
1) People can't really "do it all."
When I printed my first business cards, I was a specialist in post-partum care, grief, play therapy, psychological assessment, trauma, and on and on. Was I trained in these as I entered private practice? Yes. Totally. Was I an expert? No. Did I really "specialize" in these areas? Eh... as much as anyone can specialize in ten things I guess...
The truth was I thought a wide net would catch more fish.
I was wrong. Partly because the truth is, you can't be great at everything. Trying to claim you are is a see-through attempt to get more clients.
I'll always remember reading day after day on a local Austin therapist listserv the same individual claiming to "specialize" in one area after another. Monday is was children who were abused. Tuesday it was grief. Wednesday it was adult attachment work. Later Wednesday it was couples work. A couple of us had noticed this trend. The same guy, responding to varying "Referral Request" posts by saying, "I'm a specialist in XYZ."
Now, I happen to have met this individual and had a couple interactions with him. I knew that he was actually a skilled therapist when it came to adolescent work. The problem was that in an attempt to get more clients, he looked... well... desperate...and called into question if he was really as good as he said he was.
2) Decision overload
We are a culture in decision overload.
What blog to read? What podcast to listen to? Facebook or Instagram? Email back a client or text them or call? Purple or Pink icing? (Okay, that last one was my daughter's.)
The easier you make it for people to know what you do the easier it will be for them to refer to you. When you establish yourself as the name in town for working with kids who are making their first abuse outcry, you will be THE person getting those calls.
Don't believe me?
I refer out between five and ten calls a week. I want to send callers to someone who will be a good fit -- it benefits me and it definitely helps my fellow professionals. To do that, I have to be able to remember what you do and why you are a good fit. That would be easy if we lived in a small town with a couple wellness professionals... but in Austin, where I know hundreds of wellness professionals, I have to be able to make that decision quickly and easily to get you the caller.
When I know what you do, it makes it easier for me to refer to you.
3) Marketing to a random sampling of people is really hard.
You would have to have a pretty large freaking net if your job is to be a generalist. With Austin at a current population just under 950,000, you'd have to somehow appeal to ALL OF THEM in order to effectively market as a generalist if you live here.
You are an awesome person, but you are not an awesome person for everyone.
The more honest we are about who we fit with, who we work well with, and who we want to work with, the better we can target the people we really want to target.
Would you rather market to a group of 20,000 and get one or two clients, or a group of 100 and get 10 of them?
By being specific, you facilitate your dream client finding you. It's a gift for them because it enables them to get the help they need.
Let me say that again... It's a gift for THEM because it enables them to get the help they need.
If you are closer to being sold on this whole niche idea, you might still be wondering how it is you create a niche...
It's something we spend a lot of time on in my Mastermind Group for Private Practice. If you're curious about how to narrow yourself down from a generalist, now is the time to take the next steps. Check out my Mastermind Group by clicking below.