Avivit [00:00:03] From a client’s perspective, they are comparing you as a therapist to somebody else in your area or somebody else on Psychology Today. If you don’t stand out, then it might be a great fit for you that that client that’s looking for your services, but they might just not notice you. A brand gives you an opportunity to stand out.
Linzy [00:00:28] Welcome to the Money Skills For Therapists podcast, where we answer this question How can therapists and health practitioners go from money shame and confusion, to feeling calm and confident about their finances and get money really working for them in both their private practice and their lives? I’m your host Linzy Bonham therapist turned money coach and creator of the course Money Skills For Therapists. Hello and welcome back to the podcast. Today’s guest is Avivit Fisher. She is the owner of Redd Strategy, which is a marketing consultancy for therapy business owners. So she is a marketer by training, lots of corporate experience, and she has turned her skillset to therapists to help therapists in private practice attract their ideal clients through branding, digital marketing, and advertising. So today Avivit and I get into the importance and the value of having a clear brand for your practice. So if you’re listening right now and you’re thinking, I don’t know if I have that. Keep listening because we get into kind of what makes up a brand and also something that I really notice in my conversation with her is it made me feel like, right, it is easy to create a brand. I don’t want to give too much away. So keep listening if that’s something you feel like you really need. We also talk about the connections between branding and marketing and your ability to basically have control over your practice finances. Be able to set your fee, be able to protect yourself from burnout, the connection of that branding to that. And then finally, we talked about the value of thinking big, which is a bit of a passion topic of mine right now in terms of, you know, thinking big financially in your practice. And Avivit talks about the importance of thinking big in terms of marketing beyond your own private practice to really understand what’s happening in the therapist industry as a whole. Lots of great tidbits today in our conversation. Here is my conversation with Avivit Fisher. So Avivit, welcome to the podcast.
Avivit [00:02:41] Thank you so much for having me here. I’m very excited for our conversation.
Linzy [00:02:44] Yeah, me too. So the work that you do, we were just saying we basically share the same audience, we’re helping the same folks, but we’re helping them with different things. So your passion area is around branding and marketing.
Avivit [00:02:58] Right. Yes.
Linzy [00:02:59] So I’m curious just to get started, what do you see as the value of of creating a strong brand as a therapist? Why is it worth it to do that work?
Avivit [00:03:07] Creating a strong brand, really, I want to start with what is the brand really. Because I think for a lot of people, especially in therapy, it’s such a vague concept. A brand is really a perception of your services, is a perception of you as a professional and of your business with your private practice. So the value of creating a brand is that you know exactly what you represent. You know exactly who you’re speaking to and you know exactly what you’re saying to that, to that audience that you’re speaking to. Because, you know, if you don’t create this brand, if you’re not in control of that, if you’re not sort of set up the whole definition of the brand, then you leave it for interpretation. And when you leave it for interpretation, everybody can interpret it in a different way. Right. And it’s not always a positive interpretation. People come – especially into mental health industry – people come with their own preconceived notions, with their own sort of judgment. They they might judge you just on something that they randomly read about you or your picture or anything that that is unintentional. Right. So a brand just helps you become much more intentional about marketing.
Linzy [00:04:28] I think that’s such a good point because I’ve noticed for myself, even sometimes when I’m looking for a therapist, it’s like you really are, you’re kind of on alert, right? Like you’re really trying to filter and, like, grab all the information you can to figure out if this is the right person for you. And as you say, like if that person hasn’t really set like a strong narrative, if they haven’t really thought through all the pieces they’re putting out there, I think in that vulnerability sometimes clients or I think in my own experience of coming to somebody as a potential client, you know, we really notice the things that might seem a little bit off or we might misinterpret something that’s kind of like vague or unclear because we’re really trying to figure out, is this person the right fit for me?
Avivit [00:05:06] Right. And I think the fit is more important than anything. The right fit is more important than anything for a client when they’re choosing a therapist. Right. Sometimes the urgency is very high and they’re looking for somebody immediately. But a lot of times it’s like a longer decision making process, so they will compare different therapists, they will compare feedback, but more most importantly, they will compare if this person will understand them.
Linzy [00:05:35] Right. So they’re looking for those clues that you’re going to understand. Exactly right.
Avivit [00:05:38] Exactly.
Linzy [00:05:39] When somebody does do the work to kind of create a- I want to say cohesive brand. I don’t know if that’s language that you would use, but, you know, a brand where they really thought through all of these pieces they put together, what is the benefit to to a therapist for having done that work?
Avivit [00:05:54] First of all, it’s a vision of where your practice is going to go. Second of all, you will really be able to see how you can stand out from other therapists. And I know the therapists a lot of times don’t like to think about other providers as their competition because there’s a lot of referrals between the therapists. But from a client’s perspective, they are comparing you as a therapist to somebody else in your area or somebody else on Psychology Today. And if you don’t stand out, then this might be a great fit for you that that client that’s looking for your services, but they might just not notice you, right? A brand gives you an opportunity to stand out and also it gives you an opportunity to create a strong marketing message, right? Because a lot of times people don’t really know how to market themselves, how to promote themselves, and they’re sort of saying, well, I’m a therapist, I work with anxiety, I work with depression, I work with, you know, But these are too general of messages for a therapist and private practice.
Linzy [00:06:59] Right. Right. And so, you know, if somebody is listening and they’re thinking, that’s what my website says. I say I work with depression, I work with anxiety. What is it that kind of moves it more into branding territory that, you know, the kind of work that you do that that makes the difference to help people identify if you’re really for them.
Avivit [00:07:18] So it’s interesting because you do work with anxiety and depression, but you really work with people in the branding part really identifies helps you identify your ideal clients. Let’s take anxiety as an example. Anxiety for a new mom is very, very different than anxiety for a teenage boy. Right? They’re both anxiety. But if you decide that you work with teenagers and let’s say with teenage boys as an example, and this is your ideal client and well, in the case of teenagers, you need to market to their parents. So you need to talk to the issues that caused the teenager anxiety. And you need to talk to, for example, towards the parents and talk about their pain points. So a brand that really helps you identify the audience that you want to talk to and also present the values that you embody as a therapist.
Linzy [00:08:19] Right. Right. And when somebody does do this work and they have attracted the right or they’re attracting more of the right people. Right. Like that, that potential therapist who is like looking through five or six profiles and websites ends up choosing them because they really, like, hone their voice and are interacting the right person. What are the impacts in their practice when they have that strong brand?
Avivit [00:08:40] Well, interestingly enough, there are like four main reasons why private practices fail, according to my research, and I’ve seen first is the lack of preparation, financial preparation, which you probably know a lot about, right?
Linzy [00:08:52] Yes.
Avivit [00:08:53] Second is the not being able to provide a good experience for a client, you know. Third is not knowing how to stand out. The fourth is burnout. So we can address burnout by just reducing the amount of work that we’re doing every week. But we can also address burnout by increasing work satisfaction, by working with the right type of client.
Linzy [00:09:16] Yes.
Avivit [00:09:17] So a lot of times people burn out because they dread their upcoming sessions, because they’re not enjoying that. Because the- and if you notice, like if there are some sessions that you look forward to that you enjoy that you, you know, and you could do them all day long like, right. If that feeling persists and you, when you’re excited about seeing a client, you can probably burn out much slower then even if you overloaded with the work than if you’re disgruntled and unhappy.
Linzy [00:09:51] Yeah. Because it’s not just the quantity of the work. It’s the quality of the work. Like if you’re enjoying the work and if it’s giving you spark, then you’re going to be in a much better headspace. An emotional place than-
Avivit [00:10:02] Exactly.
Linzy [00:10:02] Yeah dreading like. And it makes me think about times where I’ve had clients in my caseload who are like not a fit or they’re, you know, exhibiting certain behaviors that are just not really in my realm of what I’m good at managing or responding to, or there’s a lot of countertransference from them or countertransference for me, transference from them. Like, you know, where those are, just those more difficult clients. And I’ve noticed for myself that even one client like that in a day can really completely change the experience of the day, like just the impact that working with the wrong people can have can be pretty huge emotionally and energetically.
Avivit [00:10:34] Of course. Yeah. And it’s not only for therapists, obviously, it’s for all other service businesses as well. But the therapist persona is so important because of this emotional connection that you have with a client, it’s such an intimate space.
Linzy [00:10:50] So intimate. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. So, you know, when when therapists have done this work, then what do you notice is the financial impact of creating a good brand, a strong brand?
Avivit [00:11:03] Well, first of all, they become much more confident and comfortable about their business goals, I would say, like my clients. So they become more confident about their fees. Because there’s all this work that is done that is confirming the value that you bring to that specific audience. Right. So a lot of discomfort and a lot of self-doubt comes because the value is not defined and people pay for value. People pay for the potential outcomes that they can receive.
Linzy [00:11:39] Right. Right. So when the value is clear to you, like if you’re seeing yourself doing amazing work with the people you love to work with and you’re like literally changing their lives, that’s going to give you more confidence in charging the fee that you determine you need to charge.
Avivit [00:11:51] Exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Linzy [00:11:53] Yeah. That makes so much sense to me. And you know, something I think about and I don’t know if it’s something you talk about your clients too, but just the value of therapy when you do have the right, when you’re working with the right people, you know, and you’re just changing their lives in these profound ways that ripples out into everybody around them. Like when you really connect with that work that you do with like your best people, it is immensely valuable, right? Like, you know, literally changing the way that somebody can, like have relationships or parent their children or experience themselves on a daily basis like that work is so, so valuable. And so it makes me think back to what we were just talking about, of like when you are working with those right people and you’re seeing those results, the value is so obvious.
Avivit [00:12:34] Yes, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And you know, you don’t. A lot of the work that I do with my clients is basically looking at their sessions, is basically recalling what people are saying to them and systematizing those responses. And really showing, okay, all that this means and there’s such overlaps with especially the clients that they enjoy working with. There is such overlap in reaction of those clients to therapy, that’s when you start sort of noticing that when you start seeing that the value comes through, right?
Linzy [00:13:08] So yeah, absolutely. So I mean marketing and, you know, finances, which is my little, my little corner of the work that there is to be done with therapists, I think has something big in common, and that is that we’re just not taught about it. And I was curious about your thoughts about that, like just the lack of education that we get on these things before we end up in private practice. And we’re like, Oh no, I need to learn everything. What have you noticed about that or what are your thoughts about that lack of education that we get?
Avivit [00:13:39] I think it’s unfortunate because a lot of therapists go into private practice. So, you know, it’s like I think statistically more than half of graduating psychologists work in private practice. Maybe not necessarily own it, but they work in it. And to expect a person who’s never had any formal education about business and marketing – even very, very basic – to thrive, to create a thriving practice, is not very realistic. You either have to have this natural sensibility towards business or what happens is you rely on the, you know, more seasoned therapists’ experience and they guide you. And it’s not always a positive experience and not always very uplifting or you kind of go through trial and error, right? So you try this, doesn’t work, you try this, doesn’t work, and then you get discouraged and say, fine, whatever. I’m going to go on the insurance panels and just screening, whatever, whoever comes in my door, Right? You probably know that from your.
Linzy [00:14:39] Oh, yes, definitely. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think that’s where the fear defaults us, right, of just like, okay, how can I get clients, and I don’t care who they are, and I don’t care what I get paid, I just need to get clients. And then you end up, and now you’ve like built a business that doesn’t serve you emotionally or financially, depending on, you know, just how desperate you’ve been. And now business is going to seem terrible and hard, like private practice is going to be now a negative experience because you didn’t have that guidance to actually set it up to serve you. And I think what you’re saying about mentorship from older therapists is so true, too, because just because somebody has been around a long time doesn’t mean that they’ve actually figured a certain thing out or it doesn’t mean you actually want their practice or their life. But naturally, we’re going to look to kind of our more established peers when we’re trying to figure out how to do things.
Avivit [00:15:21] Yeah, that’s right.
Linzy [00:15:23] And I think another piece of that that we were talking about a little bit off mic before we started recording is when we think about building our prior practices and the financial part of it and like setting a fee and how many people are going to see. We all have very different financial needs, right? So if I think about some of like the older therapists that I looked up to when I was first in private practice and like just felt so green and like I needed to learn everything for everybody. I remember I saw one supervisor who her fee was $100 an hour and I was charging 110 an hour, and I had been in practice for like not even a year, and she’d been in practice for 20 years and was like kind of an expert in my area and like working with kids, EMDR with kids. Like she had written books, she had made products, and I remember feeling so uncomfortable with my fee being higher than hers that I asked her if I could pay her my fee instead. And like that, that was maybe a bit of a boundary overstep on my part, but I was just like it was so uncomfortable to me that I was paying this person for her expertise less than I was getting paid myself. But now that I’m looking at it with a little bit more perspective too, I realize probably she was in a very different financial situation than I was. Maybe, hopefully she wasn’t just stuck at 100, but, you know, she was older. She was like more getting towards retirement. I’m sure she had a a partner who had like an established professional career. So her financial needs were different than mine. But it can be hard sometimes to make those decisions for yourself when the people around you are, you know, setting their own fees for their own reasons, or they’re even modeling to you ideas of like when you deserve to charge a certain fee or what your business should look like.
Avivit [00:16:51] Sure. And this is, I think, a prevalent, prevalent problem for a lot of therapists. First of all, they’re afraid to raise their fees out of fear. Right. So raising fees is is difficult. But also, when you initially start a private practice, it’s really helpful to go through exercises. You probably teach in your courses how to set up the right fees. So I’ll give you an example. I recently worked with a therapist. She’s in Florida, and she had this very specific niche ans she decided to charge a certain fee. She’s a psychologist and she felt very comfortable about her fee. And then she launched her practice. And after we worked together, she emailed me and she said, Well, I would like to charge this for you, but I noticed that there is a competitor. Sort of, you know, another another psychologist within my area that charges a little bit less. And she has like ten years overall of experience and everything. And this psychologist and we started talking about like, how will clients perceive that? And when we started talking about it, you know, I realized that, you know, it’s not a matter of experience because experience you- it takes time to build experience. So you can’t wait ten years to start charging more. Right. It’s not realistic. It’s more of the matter of awareness about her practice. Brand awareness. Right. So not enough people know. So it’s a it’s it’s a very easy thing to fix. It’s easier to invest in advertising, promoting your practice to the people that you’re trying to reach and charge you a fee than lower your fee and wait until you gain sort of more experience. I mean, in terms of expertise, they were probably pretty compatible, I would say, but more experience and more build a name for yourself more organically. Right? So. Yeah. I would say marketing can help you in reaching that goal to charge the fee that you actually want, that supports your lifestyle, that sustains your business. Right. And therapists, they have huge student loans.
Linzy [00:19:00] Yeah, we do. Yes.
Avivit [00:19:01] You know, and it’s not unreasonable. You go through all this, all these years of education that other people haven’t gone through. There’s no shame in charging what you deserve. Right. So it’s really a matter of exposing yourself.
Linzy [00:19:16] Yeah, Well, and something I was just thinking about as you were talking about, you know, that that therapist you worked with and like, identifying the value of a brand is something that I think that a good brand can also do is you are educating and helping people before they even see you. Right. Like you’re writing your website in such a way or you’re creating content on social media – if that’s part of your branding strategy – that helps them to understand like, oh, all these disparate things that I’m experiencing that seem so awful and random are all like kind of the same problem. Right? And like, it connects to these things. Like I think about how even that you’re giving your potential clients value and your clients value before they even start working with you, because it’s almost like you’re setting the frame in advance before they even sit down with you that first time and just how valuable that is. Because some of those people without that like clarity or that in a way it’s almost like education, depending on, you know, the content you’re producing upfront will actually never get to therapy because they’re never going to think that somebody understands them or they’re never going to realize that all these issues are actually kind of the same issue or that they’re normal or common. I’m just thinking about the value to people of that branding content upfront before they even meet you.
Avivit [00:20:25] Yeah, it’s very important. It’s funny that you should say that. You should mention people that might never go to therapy because they would feel that they would be understood. There is a book that I read recently about this very successful entrepreneur, I think it’s called How to Get Rich and Die Trying. And so basically it’s his journey. He was very young and he became a successful entrepreneur and CEO and how it really screwed up his mental health. And at the end of the book, he says, the problem- I never reached out to a therapist because I was in such a unique position that I never thought that I would be understood. There is nobody would ever understand my situation. Obviously, he’s not the only person that has ever become a successful entrepreneur, probably there are therapists that could specialize or do specialize, absolutely, in working with a successful, successful entrepreneur CEOs and more successful people in general, financially, that are experiencing the type of pressures and have anxiety and depression because of those pressures that other people do not. Right. So yeah, if you position yourself as your brand, as an expert in those issues, yes, you can attract those people because you will speak to them directly to their pain.
Linzy [00:21:47] Yeah, precisely. And I have seen actually a bit of a rise in that in more recent years. And and maybe it’s not new. Maybe I’m just noticing it. But people who do more like executive coaching, like they kind of like frame it around those kinds of folks. And I remember once thinking for myself, Oh, do I need an executive coach? And then I looked and it was like $400 an hour. And I thought, No, that’s not for me. We’re talking like, that’s for surgeons, pilots, you know, successful politicians. But yeah, that is a niche too, right. Like there’s so many niches that I’m thinking, you know, if the man who had bought that book, if he had happened upon somebody who actually was naming his pain points and talking about how you think nobody understands you, you’ve had these massive successes and yet da da da da da. How much more likely he would be to actually try therapy and not suffer immensely because somebody could actually identify that they do understand what he’s going through and they could help him.
Avivit [00:22:32] Yeah, exactly. And, you know, the demand right now for therapy is so high. You know, we all know that. And there’s no reason for a therapist to fail in private practice. From my perspective, if they’re really like a set to succeed and have all the skills and the knowledge that they need, right, there is no reason for that to happen. And there is no reason to not try to attract only your ideal clients, only the kind that you enjoy working with because there is enough of them you just need to know where they are.
Linzy [00:23:07] All right. Yes. So something that we were chatting about a little bit too, before we started recording, that is a- I think a shared passion point of ours from different angles- is the importance of thinking big. And I was wondering if you could speak a bit to that. In all we’re talking about here, the value of therapists thinking big about what they’re doing.
Avivit [00:23:26] Right. And I think that’s what’s a little bit lacking. And I’m trying to sort of address this issue, but I created a weekly newsletter that talks about mental health industry, business trends, and ties it all into marketing to just show therapists the opportunities, business opportunities out there, possible threats. And these all saying all of this, you know, skill of thinking big is being taught in business school. I would go through an exercise that’s called a SWOT analysis and strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities, and that opens your mind to what is possible for you. Besides, you know, I have to get this amount of clients to my practice. You know, it also shows the, you know, possibilities. When the pandemic just hit, I remember I thought, oh, my God, therapists are going to be so overworked, long before that’s happened right away. Like within months, right, when people started seeing, you know, and it’s just a matter of recognizing those people understand that people who saw that were able to prepare themselves better. If it was working, preparing their telehealth services better, having certain fees and stuff like that, people who did not prepare themselves well were overwhelmed, overworked, and, you know.
Linzy [00:24:49] Yeah, and I love that. Zoom out to think about the work we’re doing in terms of an industry, because I think something about private practice is that it can be so isolating. You know, it’s like your own- you’re in your own little room or like you’re on your own little zoom screen, depending on how you work. And it can feel so insular, right? Like we’re just having these little intimate conversations, like they’re a little I don’t mean to belittle them, but like these, like bite-size, like an hour at a time, we’re having these, like, dephthful conversations with people. And then at the end of the day, we kind of like close down the computer. And if you kind of feel like you’re the only one in the world doing this work. Of course that’s not true. But there is something very isolating and insular, especially when you’re in solo practice, about the work that we do. And and even what you’re saying. I think it’s just a great reminder that, like we are part of an industry, we don’t think about our industry the same way that like, I don’t know, the aviation industry thinks about what they do, but we are part of like larger trends and you can actually be looking at and thinking about those larger trends and larger things that are happening in the world and how those impact like therapy, not just your own relationship with your 30 clients on your caseload.
Avivit [00:25:49] Yeah, absolutely. And there are trends that are happening in the tech industry that are related to mental health with a lot of, you know, suspicion about that in the mental health community, obviously. But those trends are not going anywhere. So we can figure out how to live with them and how to operate our businesses within them. Right. And so it’s important to see that. It’s important to realize where how you fit into the bigger to the bigger picture.
Linzy [00:26:19] Yes, I love that. I love that. And I’m thinking, too, about how that bigger picture connects to the bigger picture that I love, which is zooming out on your practice finances and actually understanding what’s happening in your business from like a one-month, three months, six-month, 12-month perspective. Because I think we can also get really in the weeds of like what happened this week or what happened today is telling me what’s happening in my practice. And really, the real information is bigger than that. But I’m thinking about how also this marketing piece that you’re talking about, this branding, hooks into that because if you zoom out on your practice and you realize like, Oh, I’m not where I want to be, these aren’t the numbers I want to be seeing, I’m not getting paid enough. Then your marketing and branding is often going to be like a key component of being able to change that.
Avivit [00:27:00] Yes, exactly. And really, it’s an investment in your business. I look at it as a similar investment as you have invested in your education, I mean, unfortunately, the education that is built like that in such a way that it doesn’t offer those skills throughout, as we talked about it, Right. But it doesn’t mean that you don’t need them. You do need them. You know, it’s like a continuing education kind of piece to it.
Linzy [00:27:27] Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and talking about this today. I’m wondering if folks want to find you and follow you. Where is the best place for them to do that?
Avivit [00:27:37] Sure. So I used two social media platforms. I’m on Instagram. You can find me there. I post a lot of bite-size marketing education posts. So you can learn about marketing a lot just by following me. And I’m also on LinkedIn when I have more kind of in-depth conversations about the industry and about business in general. And you can find me on my website. It’s reddstrategy.com. Red with two D’s, and you can also subscribe to my newsletter. It’s free and it comes out weekly and it gives you a lot of information about the mental health industry, the business trends, and also a lot of marketing advice.
Linzy [00:28:21] So it sounds like a great big picture snapshot that you’re sending out every week of what’s happening kind of beyond us looking at the industry.
Avivit [00:28:29] Yeah, and it’s also fun to read.
Linzy [00:28:31] Yeah. Nice. Great. Well, thank you. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Avivit [00:28:35] Thank you so much. It was a pleasure.
Linzy [00:28:51] In my conversation with Avivit, something that occurred to me, which, you know, when you have an aha, it’s like something, you know, but it clicks in at a deeper level is, you know, in marketing or what we’re doing is we’re just putting across the work that we’re already doing with people. So she talked about that example of going through your client’s notes, thinking of the things that what are the things that your client say to you again and again and you are already doing this work with your clients, or if you’re just starting a private practice, you already know the clients that you love to work with. You know, in your previous setting or your passion topic. And part of branding is just pulling those things together and putting them out there front and center for those other ideal clients to find you and read your website and think, Oh my gosh, they’re inside my head. I need to work with this person. So really it’s just putting together the amazing work that you’re already doing and putting it out there in a way that potential clients can understand. And I loved Avivit’s point as well about how attracting the right people is going to be a protector against burnout because you’re working with the people you love. I think we all know what it feels like to work with somebody who’s not a fit, where you don’t feel effective, where they’re just not somebody that you’re vibing with. You don’t really seem to get each other. It doesn’t feel good. And that can really undermine our confidence. And if you’re struggling with your fear, that can also make you question, you know, the value of the work that you’re doing. Whereas stacking your caseload with people who are your ideal client, who you love to serve, who sessions feel like magic is really, really, really going to create a different experience of yourself. And it is so valuable to do that. I believe it has shared a promotion. So if you were enjoying what you were learning from her today she has a marketing foundation workshop and listeners of this podcast episode can get 50% off that workshop by using code Linzy50. So if you’re curious about what Avivit has to teach, if you want to get a taste of what it’s like to work with her, check out that workshop on her website Marketing Foundation Workshop and you can use the code. Linzy50 to save 50%. If you’re enjoying the podcast, you can also check us out on Instagram. We share free money, mindset, emotional, practical content on there all the time. You can follow us at @moneynutsandbolts and if you’re enjoying the podcast, please leave a review on Apple Podcasts. It really helps people to find us and help those other therapists who want to be part of these conversations to be able to find the podcast and benefit from all the things we’re talking about here. Thanks for listening today.