How holistic practitioners can increase income by integrating market research into their business
I see so many of my beloved colleagues struggle with marketing themselves. I so totally get it. There is good news!
More marketing is not what creates more income. Market research, on the other hand, is. It generates more effective marketing content and strategy. It helps you develop offers and services that meet your clients’ needs like a glove, and makes it easy for folx to refer clients your way.
But…that sounds so dry! For me, the most important part of market research is allowing yourself to completely enjoy the folks you work with. Serving them a well cooked dish is not enough, you need to enjoy the meal too!
This post will give you:
- A brief description of market research.
- An understanding of when to do it.
- 4 ways you can easily integrate market research into your business now.
Have you hit a frustrating income level in your practice? Market research is most likely what’s missing. It is essential if you want to achieve service/market fit – and when you have that, your offers really take off and sell themselves.
What is market research?
Formal market research is done using surveys, a series of structured interviews, or even focus groups, especially when preparing to launch a new product or service. You can also, however, integrate market research into your day-to-day client contact processes.
Many of the holistic practitioners I coach have emotional superpowers and skills that make them excellent at this! We are just shy to ask questions sometimes, not wanting to be too forward, and that’s a good thing. That’s respectful.
However, market research is not invasive, in my opinion. It’s a way of welcoming your clients into your space and witnessing them fully, right where they are.
Here are the 4 categories of information you need to gather:
- Where they feel stuck (what’s in the way of them getting what they want?)
- What other services have they tried to solve their problem? How much did it cost? What worked and why? What didn’t and why?
- What they want (outcomes, goals, passions)
I recommend creating a chart with these 4 categories of information and tracking it for every client you work with. Look at your chart periodically to see if patterns emerge. For instance, I wrote this post because I discovered how many of you experience new offers falling flat – just like I have.
4 ways to integrate market research into your service-based business
1) In your initial consult
A consultation is really a sales conversation, but the main goal of a sales conversation is not to sell. You don’t want to put pressure on, you want to take it off.
At first, I would ask new clients each of the above questions formally and chart the answers. My initial consult was longer because of the time that took. I’ve gotten less formal about this and better at it over time, but it was a learning process for me.
The most important thing is to make sure that I’ve understood what they are saying, and that they know I’ve understood them. I want them to know I heard their story and took it to heart.
Folks will trust you and be much more open learning from you if they feel heard first. They are more likely to trust that service you provide, and the way you provide it, can help them.
I find that demographic/psychographic information can take a little longer to gather in private practice. I don’t like to pressure people to divulge personal info and trust that it will emerge over time.
2) Tracking social media and newsletter engagement
Social media is a great place to playfully find out what engages your audience. For example, 54 comments on a recent post about “how does Simone Biles land a vault without bending her knees” proves that my community loves to geek out on solving high level movement problems!
Post honest content and/or questions you are dying to get answers to in social media channels that are relevant to your niche/core audience. Tell real stories. What gets people talking, other than cats?
I also track engagement on newsletters. Your email platform always provides ways to gather this data.
3) Pre – or post – workshop/retreat/webinar surveys
This is essential especially when you are launching a new service or curriculum, but it can just be a part of the way you teach as well. Most folks are willing to answer a 3-question survey before or after a workshop. It supports clarity of intention for their full participation. It supports retention of what was learned.
Perhaps you are integrating a new training, like somatic experiencing, into what you already do. You narrow your offering from “Vocal Workshop for Women” to “Trauma Informed Vocal Workshop for Women.” You might want to ask more questions in this case. Try letting attendees bring a friend for free in exchange for that extra ask.
Be honest about the fact that it’s new territory for you. People will be excited to be part of an important experiment!
Even better, offer this kind of workshop for free to an organization that serves your core audience and has a large email list or following. You’ll reach more people, build your contacts list, and gather more data.
4) In-depth interviews with inspiring people in your current niche or target market
This is a big topic for another post. What I’ll say here is that this method works best if you have a clear and compelling mission and vision for your business. You would be surprised how many people are willing to give you 20 – 30 minutes of their time to support a mission that is relevant to them. Alexandra Bellar, choreographer, teacher, and mentor, likes to use the Customer Discovery Process.
Remember, gathering data is not enough. You have to use it.
Integrate the language your ideal clients use in your marketing. Focus your offerings on their deepest wishes and biggest pain points. Make your copy and curriculum as simple and direct as possible.
Be clear about how what you do is different from, rather than superior to, the competition. The fancy term for that is USP, Unique Selling Proposition. What makes you different and special?
Allow yourself to enjoy just being with your clients. What a great feeling it is to understand their frustrations. You’ll naturally build confidence that your service will make their lives better. You’ll and know that the price you charge is within their reach and expresses your true value.
The joy factor serves your growth and development too. You deserve to work with people that make you smile.
Your sensitivity, honesty, and open minded curiosity about their struggles makes you a fantastic researcher. The truth is, being a business owner means you are always doing research.
Here’s to your success! I’m rooting for you.