Today I had an account executive come to my home to help me with advertising for my parent coaching practice. It is a local moms website that I thought would be a great place to advertise on. I am advertising on a south of the river e-newsletter for moms and also going to be writing three feature articles on parenting topics for the newsletter. The ads start tomorrow. And frankly, I couldn't wait. I check my voice mail daily to find out if any parents have called for my services. No calls.
I checked my e-mail set up for my business. No e-mails.
And I began to think a couple of things.
1. Do people not want parenting help?
2. Do people want parenting help, but don't want to pay for it/have other resources?
3. Do people want parenting help, just not mine? Is my website not conveying the "right" message?
2. How are all the other parent coaches getting business on the east and west coasts?
3. How in the world is a girl supposed to do this thing called "marketing"? I mean, I really feel like a fish out of water.
Luckily on those days where I would be feeling badly about how hard it is to start an actual practice, I would get an e-mail out of the blue from someone in my life who just wanted to offer encouragement and excitement. I ATE it up. Especially when it was a blog reader. Dave would laugh and say "That is something to think they have read your blog and STILL think you'd be a good parent coach." He was teasing, but I had the same thought, glad I haven't looked completely incompetent.
Last night, I was feeling a bit low about not having any clients despite posting my card around town and asking friends to pass the word around via facebook, etc. So I went back to reading "Birthing the Elephant." It's a book for women offering information and encouragement for starting their own business. It normalizes all the feelings I have had. It also gives practical advice and one thing stood out for me last night.
"Do NOT overspend on advertising." In fact, the book labels overspending on advertising as one of the 10 major pitfalls of starting your own business.
Well, if I'm not supposed to advertise, how do I get my name out there? This marketing thing is so complicated. (BTW, if any readers work in marketing and have ideas, throw them out!) I do have a few ideas boiling in the pot such as offering a class through community ed, sending out a letter to daycares and ECFE's introducing myself, as well as some other plans. I also continue to leave my cards with anyone who will take them or on any board I can pin them to.
But still. No clients. (I know, I know, be patient, I just started)
Or so I thought.
Today I logged on -- again -- to check my website's email and there were 11 requests. They were all sent in the last week and why they all showed up suddenly today, I don't know.
Holy buckets! I'm not sure how these people found out about me, but suddenly I felt energized and like "hey, maybe I can get this off the ground." My mantra has been "Failure is not an option," but I wasn't sure how to achieve success. I have felt like a bird flapping broken wings. (Ok. Yes, I am impatient. My first ads haven't even gone out and the website has only been alive a week or two, but...)
So I replied to the parents, offered my apologies for seemingly neglecting their requests...and now I wait...to get back to working with other parents who just want the best for their kids and themselves.
I can't wait. I remember the times I sat working with clients at my old EAP counseling job and feeling/thinking "I'm lucky. I get to sit and talk through people's lives with them all day, it doesn't even feel like work. I'd die if I had to do a "real" job."
Writing the responses out to each parent, and thinking of ways to help them I'm starting to get that feeling again.