Our clients shape our business; they are the reason why we do exactly what we do. We’ve talked in the past about defining your business and what sets you apart, but one component that is just as vital, is figuring out who specifically you want buying your product or engaging in your services. Creating an avatar for your ideal client and having a business filled with the right clients can help inform your large decisions, find appropriate marketing strategies, and articulate what you want to see in future development.
The first step we recommend is identifying where you are providing services or products to for your clients so you can then determine who you are looking for and where to find them. Is your business online or in-person? Do you have a physical product, a service, or an online product? Knowing what YOU do will help you determine what else you need to know about your client. Our free online course will help walk you through a series of questions to help you determine your business identity if this is something you are still struggling with.
The next step we recommend is identifying your red flags and ideal traits. What kind of clients do you know, for a fact, you DO and DO NOT want. We listed a couple of our red flags in this episode along with some of the questions we ask ourselves and things we keep in mind when looking for our ideal customer:
- Red Flags
- Lack of response or respect of time
- Missing appointments or trying to reschedule at the last minute
- An unwillingness to be flexible
- Pushback on policies we have carefully crafted.
- Refusal to communicate via email or file forms online
- Issues with payment
- Things to keep in mind & Questions to ask
- You do not have to say YES to everyone willing to pay for your services
- You may not be the right fit for that person
- What does the client need? Are they looking for a service that isn’t your speciality. If so, it’s ok to refer!
- Is this a client you want talking about your business? If not, they may not be the customer you want.
- Do they understand your product or services?
- How do you feel about your initial contact with your client?
- Trust your gut. You know what’s best for you and for your product, service, and team. Create your ideal vision for your client and stick with it.
- You can always revise your vision as you go.
Determine what you want to be doing and with whom so that you can continue to do your best work every day without risking serious burn out. Take care of yourself in your business every day by making the decisions that work for you.
Until next time,
Katey & Rachel
“How do you find your ideal client?” and “What marketing tools work best?” are two of the questions we get asked most often! In today’s episode, we share a little behind-the-scenes take on what’s worked for us and what hasn’t!
Marketing looks different for everyone! We approach our online and in-person businesses very differently because of the uniquely different qualities of each of those audiences. No matter what tools we are using, we always start with the same question, “Who is our ideal client?”. We create an avatar for the client we are looking for so we know where to find them and what they want to hear. We then target our marketing approach to the specific group we are looking to reach.
Here are some of our favorite marketing strategies we’ve used with our online business and physical clinic:
- Word of Mouth – Be your best in all you do! Word travels fast. Be sure it’s good commentary
- A Website, Business Cards, & Brochures are the bare basics of marketing. You NEED to have your materials so people can take them, share them, and spread the word!!
- Social Media – Positing consistently and with content that is eye-catching, interesting, informative, and fun but best represents your business is ideal! Know that a small amount of money with the right content can go a LONG way! Find which social media platform your audience is on and stick with it.
- A Sign – Having our business name on a huge sign in front of our office has drawn in more people than we ever thought possible! It was a one time investment that has paid for itself many times over.
- Advertising at Local Businesses & Form Relationships- Where do your clients go? Does that place have a community board where you can post a flier, business card, or brochure? Build relationships with people so you can partner with them in the future and work together to grow both of your companies in tandem.
- An Eye Catching Logo – Create something you love and use it consistently across ALL of your platforms in order to build your brand recognition.
- Print Media & Radio – Magazines, Newspapers, and Radio ads can be great for brick & mortar business but finding the right placement at the right price point can be tricky. Keep it small at first and explore all your options in order to test the waters and see what works
- Community Events – When done with the right intentions and in the right settings, community events can be a great way to build relationships and your business at the same time. Not every event is right for every business nor is it alway a good use of time. Do your research before committing to any event.
- Encourage Others to Spread the Word – In your emails and conversations invite others talk to others and forward your message!
No matter what media or marketing method you choose, there are a couple things to keep in mind.
- Be sure to keep it simple and make it specific. Know what you are selling and to whom so you can create the right content for the right people.
- Finding ways to track your marketing methods can be tricky but not impossible if you ask for feedback.
- When participating in events or working with marketing groups, find the people and causes that align with what you stand for in your business so you can always feel good about what you are doing and you are on the same page from day one.
- Learn from your experience along the way. You learn so much from doing! Try things out and see what works for you!
- Take into consideration what marketing techniques work on you!!
Most importantly, do what works for you. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, it simply has to be the right fit for your business.
Until next time,
Katey & Rachel
We just got back from our national music therapy conference in Sandusky, Ohio. It was a whirlwind of a trip but such a wonderful experience for all of us! Rachel and I attended the conference this year with our current intern (Sammy) and our fabulous employee, Alisabeth. Between the four of us, we covered a lot of ground at the conference and manned a booth in the exhibit hall for 3 full days.
During the conference we attended educational sessions, went to meetings, spent hours in the exhibit hall, and meet with so many people! We take so much away from these conferences and want to encourage you to engage in professional development in whatever way makes sense to you. Here are the top reasons we attended conferences:
- Spending Time with Like-Minded Individuals – Nearly everyone at our conference was associated with music therapy in some way, shape, or form and had a general understanding of what we were doing on a daily basis. Meeting with people who were already on the same page allowed us to go deeper and gain new perspectives on what we are already doing.
- NEW IDEAS!!! – Though we were meeting with people who are all in the same field, we all do things a little differently and have different resources we find to be valuable. We all have our area of expertise and things that make us unique. In talking to other people or attending seminars, we gained so many new ideas and tips that we can implement right away or in the future.
- Self-Reflection – Getting new insight or talking to others allows me to feel validated or reflect on things that I want to change within myself. Every day of conference I felt like I needed to reflect on all of the amazing conversations we had throughout the day.
- Making New Contacts & Fostering Relationships – We met so many new people and made incredibly valuable contacts who we can look to in the future for ideas, new perspectives, and feedback. We also had the opportunity to spend time with people we have met previously, either in person or online, and build on those relationships.
I hope you can find ways to foster your own professionals development and learn something new every day!
Until next time,
Katey & Rachel
How is it already November?!?! This year has been flying by! This week Rachel and I are headed to our National Music Therapy Conference in Sandusky, Ohio, where we will have a booth in the exhibit hall for the first time together! I LOVE going to conferences! It is a time to be around like-minded, incredibly talented people who inspire me to do be better every day. I always come home from a conference feeling excited, mentally refreshed, and usually physically exhausted from all of the awesome sessions, conversations, and time spent with friends.
With travel plans and events, this is not only a busy time of year for our business but we are also moving into a holiday season and have had a lot going on personally. That all adds up very quickly and can start to feel like a huge burden. In this week’s episode we shared a few of the ways we stay grounded, focused, and on the right path throughout this crazy time. Here are a couple of the things we mentioned during our Tuesday chat:
- Find a friend and vent. Letting the craziness that surrounds you build up is never a good thing. Often, just letting it go, venting, journaling, phoning a friend, or having a good cry can be the most beneficial thing for everyone. I know that I always feel better if I can simply talk it out.
- SLEEP!! I know it’s tempting to stay up until all hours of the night working on whatever amazing project you have started or simply trying to play catch up, but I can promise that a good night of sleep will help be more productive, pleasant, and peaceful the next day.
- Most things can wait. Making mile long to-do lists is a bad habit that I am trying to break. Prioritize what you need to do instead of what you would like to see yourself accomplish. Pick the one, singular thing that absolutely HAS to get done and let the rest wait or delegate it to someone else if at all possible.
- Be Thankful! It’s so easy to get caught up in the business and forget why you are doing what you are doing and with whom. Stop and take a minute to realize how wonderful things really are and be grateful for the incredible things you have been able to accomplish.
Until next time, enjoy the beautiful season and make time to spend with the people you love most.
-Katey & Rachel
In this week’s episode of the Creative Business Breakdown, Rachel and I talk about the importance of educating your community in whatever way makes the most sense for you. We share some of our favorite tips for reaching your target audience and leaving an impact on whoever you are talking to.
Educating doesn’t have to be a formal event or scripted process. Spreading the word about your business or product can be as simple as starting a conversation with your cashier. Most of our influential conversations take place outside of the board room or classroom setting. Very rarely will you find us making a structured sales pitch or formal presentation about our services. Most of our marketing and education happens within everyday conversation with all of the people we meet along the way. We never know who could be a potential client, so being prepared to talk to anyone and everyone is on the top of our list of tips for educating our community.
When you encounter situations where you can share your story and provide a little insight, keep in mind these few things we shared in the podcast this week:
- Stay off your soap box – Nobody wants a lecture. Unless you are a professor or making a formal presentation, keep it conversational. Instead of professing your message to your audience, get to know them and make the education piece specific by asking questions and finding your in. Ask the questions that can make it personal.
- Keep it simple and limit your talking points. What are the few basic things that someone needs to know about you or your business? What information is going to keep them interested or grab their attention. Limit yourself to the bare basics so you can get the important things across when you are pressed for time but know where you can go next and what details you want to share in longer conversations.
- Practice your elevator speech – Ask everyone you know to ask you questions about your venture so that you can work out exactly what you want to say, how you want to say it, and without using too much jargon. Challenge yourself, can you limit your main talking points to 20 seconds?? What if you only had an elevator ride to share as much as possible?
- Leave them wanting more – You don’t have to share all your business details in one visit. Encourage whoever you are speaking with to follow up the conversation or seek out more information. Leave them wanting to learn more about you and your business.
- Have your resources ready – When encouraging that continued dialogue, be sure to have your resources at the ready so you can direct people where to find you and ask their questions. Keep your business cards stocked, your website up and running, and your mental list of additional resources ready to go.
- Make the effort to make connections – Put yourself out there and be approachable. A warm smile and a listening ear can go a long way.
If you are ever met with resistance or hostility, just keep doing your best work. Not everyone may be ready to hear what you have to say in that moment. Remember that someone may simply be having a bad day or may need a rain check and that’s ok!
Until next time, smile and keep being your awesome self!
-Katey & Rachel
Episode 3 of the Creative Business Breakdown is all about working to find those things that make your business special and finding what works for you. No two companies are identical and for creative business owners there aren’t any exact blueprints or manuals out there to tell you how to make it all work or how the pieces fit together.
Rachel and I have no formal business training to speak of and have spent a great deal of time over the past few years talking about what sets our business apart and makes us unique so that we can best create the business that works for us.
Our company feels so different from most traditional businesses. Not only do we have an online store that we are constantly creating new products for, we also provide services for individuals in our studio, as well as providing contract services to individuals in the community. There is an additional online educational component for other music therapists and entrepreneurs that we are working also continuing to grow through our blogging, podcasting, and upcoming continuing education opportunities. On top of ALL of that, we are part of the relatively young field of music therapy.
We’ve had to get creative in both the business and service side of things considering that music therapy is an innately creative field and we are creating our own business rule book as we go. We’ve learned a few things along the way that we hope will help you in finding your creative business identity.
- Find what feels good! What story do you want to tell about your business? What makes you happiest? How do you want to present yourself?
- Be true to yourself. You cannot run any business but your own. Make sure that what ever you are doing aligns with your vision for your company and isn’t trying to simply re-create what your see on your instagram feed.
- Talk to every one! Get advice from others but put your own spin on it! Getting an outside perspective can be so helpful in determining what you want or identifying the questions you need to ask yourself.
- Understand that there is a lot of trial and error. We are always open to trying things we like and that we see work for other business owners BUT with the general understanding that if it isn’t the right fit, we can quickly move on to another solution that may work better
- Take what you learn from others and from research, try it out, learn from your mistakes or successes, revise, and move on.
- You have a different product and service than anyone else, even if they are in the same field or selling something very similar. Determine what sets you apart.
Creative entrepreneurs tend to be idea people. Rachel and I get so many wonderful ideas every day that we get so excited about but all while trying not to get carried away. For us, it’s about loving what we do and finding what fits for us. When things fail, we try not to take it to heart and instead either revisit our flops another time or revise what we are working on to make it fit with what we want.
Moving on can sometimes be difficult because we pour so much energy and heart into everything that we do, but understand that self worth is not defined by the success of business. Find what works for you, having the ability to take a step back, and determining your business identity helps to inform everything you do.
Until next time,
-Katey & Rachel
We all deal with self-doubt, anxiety, and fear but those feelings manifest in very different ways from person to person. While I show my anxieties in an energetic and talkative way, Rachel tends to be more reserved and introverted. That also means that we have very different way of dealing with self-doubt, which we discuss candidly in the episode below.
Here are a couple of the methods we highlight in Episode 2 of the Creative Business Breakdown for dealing with doubt related to making big decisions.
- Ask all of the the questions but also trust that you have the knowledge and experience to move through each situation or know where to find the answers/solutions.
- Build yourself up and let experience be your guide. You’ve handled big decisions and tasks in the past and are still moving forward. Celebrate your positive experiences and all of your successes. Talk to yourself kindly!
- Having a partner, trusted friends, mentor, colleague, or family member you can talk to is key! Find someone you can talk to, get advice from, and can be accountable with.
- Surround yourself with the people who will build you up, question you when it’s needed, challenge you, and keep you on track by supporting the goals and deadlines you set.
- Be honest with yourself and those around you. Talk to them about what you are dealing with and ask for what you need. Whether that is tough love or just a hug, know what will help you move forward and ask for the help!
- Just do it!! Rip off the bandaid and move forward with whatever decision you need to make or whatever task you need to do!
Looking for some other tips for dealing with day-to-day self-doubt or anxiety? Here are some additional ways we cope:
- Say something genuinely nice about yourself. Say it out loud and mean it!
- Put yourself in check by asking the logical questions (ex. what is the worst thing that could happen? Who are you really going to upset or let down?)
- Talk it out! That can be out loud with a friend or on paper by journaling
- Sleep on it. A good night’s rest is the solution to so many problems.
- Engage in self-care of some sort or exercise to work out any nervous energy and clear your mind.
- Put a deadline on whatever you might be putting off and make that deadline know by either posting on social media or telling an accountability partner.
- Ask yourself, “Am I experiencing fear or excitement”?
How do you deal with any self-doubt or fear you may experience? We’d love to hear from you and share your ideas on a future episode of the Creative Business Breakdown.
Until next time: find your people, go for that big goal, set a deadline, and just do it! We’ve got your back!
Dreams really do come true!! It may seem silly, but by starting a podcast are achieving a huge goal. This podcast is something we have been talking about for the past two years and we finally have the opportunity to get started.
Over the course of the last 4.5 years working together, we’ve made some huge decisions, handled several challenges, learned more than we could have ever imagined, and built something beyond both of our wildest dreams. But the success and journey hasn’t been free of mistakes or serious life lessons, of that you can be sure! We’ve been down in the trenches and are here now to tell you the 100% truth on how we’ve dealt with everything.
First, Our Story & Background – I like to think Rachel & I have an interesting and untraditional history. While Rachel began her career with a regular 9-5 job, her life quickly evolved into accidentally owning a thriving private practice. At the same time Rachel’s practice was growing to the point of becoming overwhelming, I happened to move to the Springfield, IL area to be with my now husband. With some encouragement I reached out to Rachel (the only other Music Therapist in the area) to let her know I would be looking for contracts in the area and didn’t want to step on her toes.
Rachel responded with the most thrilling email, she had a large waiting list of clients and wanted to meet in person to talk about working together. It was clear from our first meeting at Starbucks that it was a great fit. After spending two years working as a contractor and talking only online with Rachel, we met once again in person.
The meeting was meant as a social visit to just connect and touch base but turned into so much more! During that second Starbucks meeting, we set a HUGE series of dreams. We dreamt what we thought was impossible at the time. We talked about joining forces, opening a studio, creating a team, and growing our services. We talked about everything we wanted in the next 10 years.
Within six months of that meeting we found our first location, had created a new business plan, sat down with lawyers, created an LLC, formed a partnership, bought furniture, and so much MORE. We went into GO mode.
During our first year of business together we met most of our 5 year goals, had maxed out our individual client loads, and needed to reassess. Our second year meant a second much larger space, an intern, an expanded team, and even more diversity in our services. All of which has lead to where we are now.
Why are we podcasting – There are so many things we have learned over the past few years. It has been the most incredible experience but it hasn’t all been rainbows and sunshine. When I talk to other business owners, they often share only the best parts of their story, the photo-worthy, award-winning moments, all while leaving out the how and why of those successes. We want to share the unfiltered version. We want you to know you are not alone. We want to build you up and help you move through those tough situations. We’ve made mistakes that we are willing to share with you as a fellow creative and business owner.
Upcoming Episodes – Want to know what’s coming next? We’re going to be covering all the basses as we release a new episode each week. We will talk about how we handle self-doubt in all it’s forms, we’ll delve into the financial side of things, and we will talk about finding the right fit both for clients and team members.
Until next time, remember: You can do anything in time with patience and perseverance.
-Katey & Rachel