Dealing with the Dips

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Over the past few months I’ve heard from a large group of people all asking a similar question, “How do I cope with a slow down in my practice?”

When a dip occurs, most of us simply try harder.  We decide to do more of what we’ve done in the past.  More phone calls, more networking, more advertisements.

I struggle with this problem on a daily basis.   My company, like everyone else, experiences peaks and valleys along the way.  And what do I do when the treatment center I work for hits a valley?  I find myself going back to bread and butter tactics.  I look for ways to sell more to the people I already know.

Over the years I’ve come to the realization that this approach is not the best way to produce positive change.  In the past I would struggle to find ways in which our existing networks could help grow the business.  Fortunately for me, this approach is only part of the solution.

Great marketing efforts rarely focus solely on the “bread and butter” or the “tried and true”.  Marketing experts don’t spend inordinate amounts of time figuring out ways to make their existing business structure produce slightly better results.  They aren’t out there trying to squeeze out a few additional patients by going to the well more often than in the past.

Transformative marketing campaigns focus time and effort on crafting new services, products and stories that aren’t reliant on the same old target markets. They also look for ways to dramatically improve what is already being offered, and they do this by being open to new ideas and new ways of thinking about the problem.

Maybe it’s time to think about a new target audience altogether.  Or perhaps it’s important for you to stop and take a moment to do an honest review of what you are offering and how you go to market.  Is it the right service?  How can it be improved? What would make it different – better?

When you open yourself up to these kinds of possibilities you’ll know when you hit it right because your service offerings will speak to people in different ways.  It’s at that point that you will no longer be defined and restricted by the old way of doing business.

When my business goes in the tank I pay attention to my existing markets to see what may be missing and what trends may be occurring.  But then I quickly go beyond that line of thinking.

Instead of racking my brains trying to squeeze out small improvements within my existing environment I try to spend more time and effort finding new and transformative opportunities.



  1. Brian Sullivan, PsyD  October 13, 2009

    I agree with this perspective whole-heartedly. However, too often I’ve witnessed the “Yeah, well, ok, um, that’s fine for you, but I can’t do that” phenomenon.

    That is to say, often when people have asked me “what can I do?” and hear my reply “do something a bit different,” their reaction is often “that’s sounds cool, but I can’t do that.”

    The reluctance to simply try something different is seems to reflect a generally low confidence or willingness within the mental health field to try something different.

    What they seem to want to hear is, “tell me how to be more successful without asking me to think or work too hard. Just tell me the right place to place the ad I’ve already made for the services I already provide.”

    Understandable, but ineffective. Your post, David, should help to awaken some to the reality that there might not be a “best” place to place an ad for a service offered by a provider who isn’t easily distinguished from several other dozen, or hundred, other functionally interchangable providers out there.

  2. David Diana  October 13, 2009

    Great thoughts Brian! I know it’s tough sometimes to look at possible new approaches or changes. I have trouble with it whenever faced with a new challenge. And sometimes the best approach is to stay the course. But there are lots of other times when it is not!

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