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Struggling a bit with branding/messaging

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jb5150

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My website is www.lighthousecounselling.ca. I am an entrepreneurial minded clinical counsellor with a growing virtual clinic. I am recruiting/subcontracting other therapists and looking to expand across my province.

When I had created my website (I come from an IT background), I had the intention of promoting myself as a relationship therapist. However, in the time since I find myself wanting to do less therapy, and more focus to enhancing and expanding referral partnerships with local clinics, physicians, occupational therapists, physios, chiros etc..

A lot of the work my clinic focuses on is trauma/ptsd. This is because I am able to easily secure funding through the government for this type of therapy, so all my therapists are required to have some sort of specialized trauma training.

Now I am looking at my website and rethinking things as the landing page/main page is very relationship centric. I do want to leave the door open to clients who are seeking me for relationship counselling, and I figure it doesn't hurt SEO wise to have that aspect of the site intact.

A few of my therapists do relationship therapy as well, though I don't really make any money off of those as there really isn't much to maintain, admin wise with these clients. The trauma stuff however does require some back end work which either myself or my assistant takes care of, so we can justify taking a rate/cut of each session for these clients.

In short, I have two 'nozzles', or niches: Relationship, and Trauma. It is the later I'd like to exploit more as that's where the passive income is to be made.

Now to my website and online presence. I want my clinic to be the brand, less so me. Although in some sense I will be the face of the business as it will be canvassing within the community to build up partnerships. Already the Lighthouse name is known by a good number of businesses including doctors and some rehab oriented specialists. There is so much more I can do however.

In terms of having a cohesive message, would it be wise to promote both relationship therapy and trauma therapy on the same main page (even though I see no natural way of doing so?

Should I have a more generic main page stating basically what we do, and how we can help? And logistical details such as what we treat, locations and times open etc?


A few things: a lot of my trauma clients are word of mouth or from doctors and other professionals who know me in person. Most people with trauma aren't even aware they have it, so they're more keen to searching words like depression, anxiety, panic attacks etc (all of which I have pages on). The people who cold find me online are the people seeking relationship help. I do get a fair number of those finding me through my site.


I am hoping you guys can give me a bit of direction on this. Any input is appreciated.
 

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If you have a specialized (and profitable) service tailored to a specific target market, I would go all in on that to hone your message. Right now it kind of seems all over the place and I'm not sure why I'd pick you over any other relationship/trauma counsellor in the Toronto area.
 
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jb5150

jb5150

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If you have a specialized (and profitable) service tailored to a specific target market, I would go all in on that to hone your message. Right now it kind of seems all over the place and I'm not sure why I'd pick you over any other relationship/trauma counsellor in the Toronto area.
The issue I am facing is that I am marketing both myself and the brand on the same page. I m concerned it obfuscates things as you'd suggested.

I can easily resolve this by using more collective language rather than speaking specifically about myself on one page, and on another having a roster of clinicians who work for me. I do have other therapists who do relationship therapy so having both niches (trauma and relationship) is something I'd want to promote on the same site.
 

Jon L

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How much money are you making selling relationship counseling vs selling trauma counseling?

I know its hard to 'leave money on the table' by walking away from the relationship stuff, but, if you're making most of your money on trauma, imagine how much more you'd make if you focused on that alone?

here's what I mean. I'm going to make up some numbers

Relationship counseling income: $20k/year
Trauma: $80K/year

Percent of time per year required to support:
Relationship counseling: 40% (all in, including time spent copywriting, talking to clients, therapists, doing accounting, etc)
Trauma counseling: 60%

Now consider how much of a reduction in overall profit is occurring because your home page is too generic. (You're missing out on trauma patients by also advertising for relationship counseling on the same website. Relationship counseling is highly competitive)

If you dumped the 40% of the time you're spending on the relationship side of your business, you could realistically increase your revenue to 133K (80k/.6) just because of the time difference. Now, also add to that the increased efficiency of your site, and I'm betting that you could double your income in just the first year just by focusing only on trauma.
 

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Your main problem is the time it takes to load your website, I thought we had gone back to the days of dial up for a second; well 10 seconds, there.

You need to optimise your pics, they must be what is slowing it down, remember that's a well known Google metric, you'll be ranked lower purely on speed.

As a side note, the first thing I'd do is make the words "help is a click away" into a clickable button.


As far as brand and message are concerned, the site looks nice and clean, and it's clear what it's about and how to contact you, so that's great, so many people get that bit wrong.

Secondly, if you want to focus on trauma stuff as well, then I'd just create a new homepage with very similar styling, possibly using that same transparent blue box, with two buttons saying 'relationships', and 'trauma', or something to that effect, maybe using the word 'counselling' or 'therapy' in both instances.

Having an about you is fine, if you're expanding, you need to have bios on the other therapists that will be practising under you.
 

rpeck90

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I think your problem is positioning ("personal" vs "medical").

The difference (on a core level) is that I see relationship counselling as a personal choice; trauma counselling [can be] a medical necessity.

From a business perspective, and because you're looking to upgrade your online presence, what you need to do is decide which side of the fence you sit. Presently, you have the aura of a life coach, which is in keeping with the "personal" relationship focus -- what you're REALLY selling is a shoulder to lean on --> "want to live your best life [with a partner who cares]?".

This is echoed in your branding:
29786
  1. Ambiguity ("navigate your way to a better self") -- what constitutes a better self? What if I have tourettes? If I've been in a car accident, where my partner died, what does that mean? Do I have depression (rhetorical question)? What's your "one advantage"?

  2. Social proof - social proof is basically how many/who recommends your service. Gary Halbert put it more succinctly -> social proof is a crowd of people around a burger van (the implication being the crowd have already made the "right" choice of which van's burgers are the best). You already have some sp with your doctor referrals - you just need a more transparent focus on what your practice has done.

  3. Human factor - I believe one of the biggest traits of a successful "business" in the modern world is a team of highly qualified & passionate people. Nothing is more off-putting than a group of idiots half-assing something, obviously not caring about what they're doing. Obviously, this doesn't apply -- but you may also wish to look at expounding upon the "human capital" you have within the business.
-

I would probably adopt a more a medicinal/professional focus.

This does NOT mean white lab coats, but does focus around the type of treatment ("we use XYZ techniques in our custom counselling rooms"). You'd show certifications, and have a focus on your qualified team of counselors (you being one).

Having looked around your site, you already do this very well - ICBC MVA Trauma Therapy – Lighthouse Counselling

This page is brilliant because it does several things:

1. Addresses the core problem (people with trauma [who may not know about it]).
2. Explains that problem in a manner which is both professional and simple to understand.
3. Showcases how your experts can help resolve the problem (with specific explanations of techniques etc).
4. Needs "social proof" (testimonials/case studies).
5. Needs to be more open (this is our practice, here is our receptionist and treatment rooms).

What you need to also remember is your business is NOT an Internet business. The mistake many people make is they think the "Internet" is going to solve all their problems... and, by virtue, that a website is going to transform their success.

This is not true. The Internet is a communications channel, just like mail, TV and radio. It needs to be treated accordingly, particularly in regards to where it fits in the marketing mix.

The reason I say this (and I am postulating) is your site's job is NOT to sell (as it would be if you were doing a forex program or something). Your site's job is to reassure & direct. Just like all the dentists, doctors and other medical professionals -- buyers have likely already made the choice to use the service; they're now making a more informed decision as to which expert to choose (trying to get behind-the-scenes information about the services they provide).

Thus, you don't need to be wary of being "too" pushy with the sales messages. Showcase what you've done before, the lives you've transformed, and how various challenges were overcome. I'd try and highlight the specific techniques you use, and perhaps focus the brand around the core "reason" why you're even in that game anyway.

Could detail more, but that should hopefully give some direction.
 
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jb5150

jb5150

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Jun 18, 2016
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How much money are you making selling relationship counseling vs selling trauma counseling?

I know its hard to 'leave money on the table' by walking away from the relationship stuff, but, if you're making most of your money on trauma, imagine how much more you'd make if you focused on that alone?

here's what I mean. I'm going to make up some numbers

Relationship counseling income: $20k/year
Trauma: $80K/year

Percent of time per year required to support:
Relationship counseling: 40% (all in, including time spent copywriting, talking to clients, therapists, doing accounting, etc)
Trauma counseling: 60%

Now consider how much of a reduction in overall profit is occurring because your home page is too generic. (You're missing out on trauma patients by also advertising for relationship counseling on the same website. Relationship counseling is highly competitive)

If you dumped the 40% of the time you're spending on the relationship side of your business, you could realistically increase your revenue to 133K (80k/.6) just because of the time difference. Now, also add to that the increased efficiency of your site, and I'm betting that you could double your income in just the first year just by focusing only on trauma.
I'd say about 75% of my clients are trauma related. I'd spent considerable time cold contacting/going out to medical and rehabilitation clinics. It's far easier to secure funding for therapy as in my province the government is the only auto insurer around. When somebody is in a car accident they are entitled to counselling coverage, so I naturally went where the funding is at. Not too many therapists are doing what I do, and I plan to expand province wide in the near future, so in some sense I have scale.

Relationship clients generally find me online, there isn't a whole lot of competition here I suppose, or other therapists' sites aren't as attractive perhaps.

I do appreciate what you're saying on where to expend my efforts. The clinic, if you will, is solely for car accident clients. This is because I can justify charging a rate for each client session to each of my subcontracted therapists. Basically each client session I make $30. 1 client will generally come once a week for the first few months, which translates to $120 per unit. Obviously I am looking for volume here. If I have a therapist with 50 clients, that's $6000 of almost passive income, in addition to the $10-12 k I make from my own clients.

I just contracted 2 more therapists this week.

I will create an About Me for each therapist, including what approaches/modalities they use, in addition to the types of populations they serve.

I will also pass private clients onto them, out of good faith. While I won't make a rate from these ones (as there is no real work funding wise for these clients as they pay out of pocket), it will still help with branding exposure as they're coming through Lighthouse Counselling.
 
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jb5150

jb5150

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Jun 18, 2016
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Your main problem is the time it takes to load your website, I thought we had gone back to the days of dial up for a second; well 10 seconds, there.

You need to optimise your pics, they must be what is slowing it down, remember that's a well known Google metric, you'll be ranked lower purely on speed.

As a side note, the first thing I'd do is make the words "help is a click away" into a clickable button.


As far as brand and message are concerned, the site looks nice and clean, and it's clear what it's about and how to contact you, so that's great, so many people get that bit wrong.

Secondly, if you want to focus on trauma stuff as well, then I'd just create a new homepage with very similar styling, possibly using that same transparent blue box, with two buttons saying 'relationships', and 'trauma', or something to that effect, maybe using the word 'counselling' or 'therapy' in both instances.

Having an about you is fine, if you're expanding, you need to have bios on the other therapists that will be practising under you.
The site does need streamlining both on the back end and SEO wise. This is where my IT training will come in handy. I threw the site together a year or so ago and have been so busy I haven't had the time to really manage it properly.

I do have another page on trauma here:


So what you're saying is to create two 'buttons' on my current homepage. One for relationships, the other for car accident related trauma?
 

Roli

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The site does need streamlining both on the back end and SEO wise. This is where my IT training will come in handy. I threw the site together a year or so ago and have been so busy I haven't had the time to really manage it properly.
Yes, your IT training is definitely very handy, and you should fly over hurdles that people usually stall at when starting out.

However if I were you, I would whizz through the course I've linked below on Udemy, I'm in the UK so the link may not work for you, if so then just search; Build Responsive Real World Websites with HTML5 and CSS3

The coding bit you'll know already, however it will give you loads of great style tips, and perhaps some optimisation ones that you weren't aware of. The site looks nice, but there are just a few little design tweaks that are needed. The course should cost you around $10.99 or so.



I do have another page on trauma here:
Cool this is good, again (still too long to load though), nice design, just needs some tweaks, like white writing on a black background actually fatigues the eyes, so should be avoided. Like I say, check out the course and it will steer you right as to colours, text weight and size, and also the proper way to place text over images.

So what you're saying is to create two 'buttons' on my current homepage. One for relationships, the other for car accident related trauma?
Yes, if this is how you're positioning yourself, it may be worth just redesigning your homepage, making it very clean and uncluttered, with a simple strap line or two, and the two buttons. Even if the 'trauma' button takes you to your current site, that's okay.

Again, I'll urge you to take that course because it will really help you get your message across clearly and stylishly.
 
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jb5150

jb5150

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Jun 18, 2016
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I think your problem is positioning ("personal" vs "medical").

My concern around this to avoid having my brand sound antiseptic or clinical. Counselling is such a personal thing, and one of the things that people look for is relatability and will I feel safe and comfortable working on my issues with this person. I want to imbue a feeling of 'with love' when promoting my brand, taking a medical approach at least to my mind may convey the opposite.

The difference (on a core level) is that I see relationship counselling as a personal choice; trauma counselling [can be] a medical necessity.

Generally speaking people searching for my services are largely unaware they have trauma. They'll do searches for help with depression, anxiety, relationship etc..

So when you think about it Relationship and Trauma clients are quite different. People CHOOSE to seek relationship counselling, for the most part. While Trauma clients are actually doctors and other professionals who identify patients as experiencing trauma/PTSD-like symptoms. More often than not people call me because their doctor informed them of my service. So in this sense the doctors, occupational therapists, physiotherapists etc are my 'clients'. They typically inform patients about me, and sometimes those patients will look me up online (the web addy is my brochures and cards).

I could theoretically do some Adwords Ad offering 'free counselling for those in car accidents". People can actually self refer to me if their accident was within the last 3 months.


From a business perspective, and because you're looking to upgrade your online presence, what you need to do is decide which side of the fence you sit. Presently, you have the aura of a life coach, which is in keeping with the "personal" relationship focus -- what you're REALLY selling is a shoulder to lean on --> "want to live your best life [with a partner who cares]?".

Life coach? I'll try not to take that as an insult lol. I use the term "guide" as that's what I do. I help them find solutions to life problems. That said, with trauma therapy the approach is more directive as I take a specific approach which is more structure.

This is echoed in your branding:
View attachment 29786
  1. Ambiguity ("navigate your way to a better self") -- what constitutes a better self? What if I have tourettes? If I've been in a car accident, where my partner died, what does that mean? Do I have depression (rhetorical question)? What's your "one advantage"?

  2. Social proof - social proof is basically how many/who recommends your service. Gary Halbert put it more succinctly -> social proof is a crowd of people around a burger van (the implication being the crowd have already made the "right" choice of which van's burgers are the best). You already have some sp with your doctor referrals - you just need a more transparent focus on what your practice has done.

  3. Human factor - I believe one of the biggest traits of a successful "business" in the modern world is a team of highly qualified & passionate people. Nothing is more off-putting than a group of idiots half-assing something, obviously not caring about what they're doing. Obviously, this doesn't apply -- but you may also wish to look at expounding upon the "human capital" you have within the business How might this look using an example?
-

I would probably adopt a more a medicinal/professional focus.

This does NOT mean white lab coats, but does focus around the type of treatment ("we use XYZ techniques in our custom counselling rooms"). You'd show certifications, and have a focus on your qualified team of counselors (you being one).

Having looked around your site, you already do this very well - ICBC MVA Trauma Therapy – Lighthouse Counselling

This page is brilliant because it does several things:

1. Addresses the core problem (people with trauma [who may not know about it]).
2. Explains that problem in a manner which is both professional and simple to understand.
3. Showcases how your experts can help resolve the problem (with specific explanations of techniques etc).
4. Needs "social proof" (testimonials/case studies).
5. Needs to be more open (this is our practice, here is our receptionist and treatment rooms).

What you need to also remember is your business is NOT an Internet business. The mistake many people make is they think the "Internet" is going to solve all their problems... and, by virtue, that a website is going to transform their success.

This is not true. The Internet is a communications channel, just like mail, TV and radio. It needs to be treated accordingly, particularly in regards to where it fits in the marketing mix.

The reason I say this (and I am postulating) is your site's job is NOT to sell (as it would be if you were doing a forex program or something). Your site's job is to reassure & direct. Just like all the dentists, doctors and other medical professionals -- buyers have likely already made the choice to use the service; they're now making a more informed decision as to which expert to choose (trying to get behind-the-scenes information about the services they provide).

Thus, you don't need to be wary of being "too" pushy with the sales messages. Showcase what you've done before, the lives you've transformed, and how various challenges were overcome. I'd try and highlight the specific techniques you use, and perhaps focus the brand around the core "reason" why you're even in that game anyway.

Could detail more, but that should hopefully give some direction.
 

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jb5150

jb5150

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Website loadtime should be improved now since I jumped back on Cloudflare.
 

Jon L

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Website loadtime should be improved now since I jumped back on Cloudflare.
how big is that image at the top of the home page? It loads like its 25 MB or so.

I like the site, by the way.
 
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jb5150

jb5150

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Jun 18, 2016
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how big is that image at the top of the home page? It loads like its 25 MB or so.

I like the site, by the way.
Thanks Jon! It's a local photo and its 10mb. I am using a dynamic layerslider so the whole thing (overlay images) is probably a bit bigger than that.
 
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jb5150

jb5150

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Jun 18, 2016
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Side question:

I have a few friends and colleagues that don't do trauma work per se, but handle other populations in need.

I am thinking it's a good idea to have them under my brand because it creates scope/breadth of practice, and also i do get some private clients (those paying out of pocket, or using insurance coverage).

I wouldn't be getting a rate for these clients but I m thinking it's good to have these therapists on my site as it'll improve my SEO in addition to make my clinic look multidisciplinary. I would create a seperate page on my site beyond the trauma stuff. For example, if I have a few therapists that work with adolescent populations they can be on a page for Youth Counselling. Another page may be solely for relationship counselling etc..

It'd be nice, Im thinking to have 'in house' therapists under LIghthouse Counselling I can send to, rather than outsourcing/referring out to other therapists in private practice.
 

Jon L

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Thanks Jon! It's a local photo and its 10mb. I am using a dynamic layerslider so the whole thing (overlay images) is probably a bit bigger than that.
try making it 1MB. It will look the same and will load a ton faster.
 

Jon L

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Ok. Just use an image optimization site?
I usually use photoshop, but there are a ton of tools out there for this. See if you can get it down even to 512 MB. You should be able to adjust the JPG quality and keep the same resolution.

Edit: Here's a better idea. Google has a page speed optimization analyzer that will show you what you need to do. Here's a link:

 
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jb5150

jb5150

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Jun 18, 2016
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You guys have helped informed me on a few realizations:

1. Trauma/PTSD should be the focus. Other areas of practice (relationship, anger, addiction etc) can still be listed, but on separate pages taking more of a backseat to trauma/ptsd.

2. My web presence should be less about selling anything, but rather see it more as a "communications channels" (tnx RPeck90).

3. ICBC MVA Trauma Therapy – Lighthouse Counselling should become the main page. Whittling it down and using similar colours and format to the front page will help provide for a more therapeutic and welcoming look.

4. Shrink down images and provide a "Book Consultation" button (I don't want clients being able to schedule appointments themselves).

With respect to the website. I not 100% sure of whether to start from 0 and do a rebuild, or to restructure/'renovate' the current one.

A few competitor pages:

I like the clean asthetic, but I think the site itself runs into the issue of looking too generalist.

These other 2 look to me at least, a bit too much on the sales side:
Vancouver Counselling Services | Jericho Counselling (one of the largest local clinics)


What will set me apart, is the very narrow focus on niche. But also my contractors will be practicing from their own spaces/rentals. I just don't see much to be gained having a physical clinic because the overhead is quite high, and while making 40% of each client session seems promising, the cost for rent in this city is so astronomical, beyond other operating costs.

Also with a 'virtual' clinic, I can expand much more rapidly across the entire province even to more rural areas to the North and East. I can also get more into online (aka tele counselling) as well.

The more I talk about my niche the more I see how off the mark my website is.

Lastly, I need to think of a tactful to ask clients provide google reviews for me. It's a bit tricky with counselling due to confidentiality and people not wanting others to know they sought out counselling services.

I appreciate any input you guys can provide.
 
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