Marketing is one of the most important aspects of building a business. It involves: 

1. Identifying the people who want your help and will pay for your services

2. Implementing a plan to reach your prospective clients

3. Evaluating the success of your marketing and refining it to increase effectiveness

Effective marketing helps your prospective clients know you and how your service can benefit them.

Identify Your Audience and Their Needs    

Who are your ideal customers? Perhaps your potential clients are women from all cultures aged 35 to 50 who live within a 50 mile radius of your office and earn at least $45,000 per year. This information will help you put together a brand—a look and feel in your marketing materials that will appeal to your target population, an environment that will be comfortable for them, and features and benefits that will draw them to your business.

Identify the Features of Your Business 

What are the features of your business? Features are the characteristics or elements of how your services are delivered.

For example, if you offer women’s health and wellness services, the features might include educational classes, office appointments, phone consultations, a sliding scale, a newsletter, etc.

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Identify the Benefits Your Audience Receives from Your Business

Many successful business owners have found that one of their most powerful keys to success is to clearly identify the Benefits their audience is looking for. Benefits are the results or outcomes your ideal customers wants to receive from coming to you. 

Perhaps your customers will learn about their health risk factors, recommended self-care techniques, or holistic, complementary or integrative approaches they can use... or they might receive state-of-the-art health care service. However, what are the results your prospective clients are seeking from your services?

Examples of benefits (results) could include: relief from pain; being able to wake up feeling rested and refreshed every morning; being able to lower blood glucose readings to normal range without prescription medication; giving competent, compassionate care to a dying loved one, etc.

Know what you are selling—this is key! You may be selling care or products, but what is really underneath that? Is your real product empowerment or peace of mind? Once you get clear about this, use it in your marketing materials. 

Often we nurses want to do everything for everyone, but this usually doesn’t work for business. It is better to find the area of your practice that feels the best, that makes you the happiest and most satisfied, and go for that niche. In fact, the more specific your marketing is, the more successful it will be. Why? Because when you narrow your focus, you will more easily recognizable to the people who are looking for you. As a bonus, you will also become known for that area of practice over time.

Business Name, Logo and Cards

You can use your own name for your business or you can create a new name for your business. If you use your name, you will want to say what service you offer, for example: "Linda Bark PhD RN: Holistic Life Coaching". 

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking they need a customized logo or banner for their business, right from the start. It is better to exercise patience in this area. If you give it time, a powerful image will emerge from listening to your intuition, dreams and conversations with your most satisfied customers.

Whenever possible, create your business care with a look and feel that tells people about the benefits/results they can get from working with you. It is usually helpful to look at many business cards before you create yours, then use the elements you like best to inspire your design. List your top one or two benefits and preserve a balance between text and space. Remember you can also use the back of the card, if necessary. On your card, list the following:

  • Your name and credentials
  • Your preferred method of contact (e.g., phone, email or website)
  • The top one or two benefits your clients are seeking
  • Something visual that is a WOW... it could be just a color if you don't have the right image yet

Tip: If you have a business card that you really like, you will hand it out more often. 

Your Satisfied Customers Are Your Best Source of Advertisement

Think about how you find out about practitioners. You usually ask someone who they go to or who they would recommend. Let people know you want new clients, and reward them in some way when they send one your way. 

Develop Referral Sources

The best advertisement is by referral. Who do you know who values your services or would if they knew about them? In the beginning, you may want to offer short free consultations to people who are in your ideal audience and/or to people who can refer your audience to you. 

Two or three really great referral sources can fill the bulk of your practice, so develop relationships with people and organizations who can refer people to you. Focus your attention on the people who are the "hubs" of the networks your ideal clients are in.

The second best form of advertisement is to meet people. Go to health fairs. Get in a speakers bureau. Give free talks about topics that are important to your audience. Talk at conferences where your referral sources go, and ask for clients. Have office open houses. 

Talk on the radio either for free or pay for a show if you can afford it. Develop an email mailing list to inform people of your upcoming events. Use a viral marketing approach and ask the people on your mailing list to forward your email to their friends and co-workers. Use a program like Microsoft Outlook or a page on your computer or index cards to keep track of your links.


The best e-newsletters are short, friendly, informative and slightly entertaining. If your mailing list grows to 500 or more addresses, you will probably benefit from using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program to help you target the different segments of your audience in your communications. There are many different companies that offer this software. Here are a few reliable suggestions for starting out with this service:


You can develop a simple website that people who you contact can go to for more information. If you want the website to draw in clients, that is a bigger endeavor requiring more investment for effective design, graphics, branding and search engine optimization.  A simple version cost less than $1000 but a more comprehensive version can run $15,000 or more.  


Ads in newspapers or journals are easy to place but they are expensive and are often not the best way to advertise unless you have a great deal of money. If you run an ad, be sure that it really speaks to your specific audience and includes the benefits of what you are selling. 

Think in Terms of Collaboration Rather than Competition 

If you think of the people in your field as kindred spirits and collaborators instead of competitors, you may uncover some interesting and resourceful colleagues. At the very least, study the businesses that are already serving your audience. Learn about what they have already tried and what has and has not worked for them. Identify areas where you can offer something different or better to your audience, then use your marketing to let your audience and referral sources know about your unique services and their benefits. 



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