“Feeling a sense of loss?
Don’t know how to overcome it?
Worried you won’t be able to regain your sense of joy?
Call 1-800-555-5555 and get all of your troubles ameliorated, instantly! Call now and it’s only 4 payments of $99.95!”
That doesn’t feel very good. Yet this type of question-asking and solution-giving is happening on many therapy websites. Perhaps not the toll free number nor magical amelioration nor the low price split into installments, but certainly the list of questions.
Here’s another way that we often see question-asking in marketing:
“Tired of all that chopping?
Spending hour after hour in the kitchen?
Just want to be sitting down and eating with your family already?
Now there’s a better way! The Dicer 2000 will slice, chop, and dice your veggies in record time. Even potatoes! Call within the next 15 minutes to get the special price!”
Asking questions like this is not a great technique; especially for psychotherapy services. The way you approach potential clients should not resemble the way a potato dicer is sold on late night television. But wait, there’s more.
Why is this question-asking even happening?
Where did so many therapists pick up this sales technique? Question-asking is commonly seen in sales and is typically used in two ways:
1. Get someone to feel awful about themselves and then sell them a solution. If you ask questions that target someone’s vulnerability: their inability to overcome loss or their inability to be quick in the kitchen so that their family can eat, they will be more eager to hear about solutions. Asking questions leaves the customer feeling like they would be worse off for not purchasing the solution. You’ve made them believe they have a wound and you’re following it up with an offer for a band aid.
Think of the questions asked in infomercials for diet shakes and exercise equipment. They aren’t usually asking questions to make potential customers feel good about themselves! More like fat shaming people into consumerism. Making someone feel bad about themselves so that you can sell them stuff is also known as being an asshole. Luckily, most psychotherapists don’t seem to be taking this approach with their questions. Wish I could say the same for the next one:
2. Get someone to believe and trust you and then sell them a solution. Joining a conversation that they have in their head can make someone feel like they are understood. In fact, many that do answer questions in the affirmative may feel as if you are reading their mind. This helps the potential customer to start “trusting” you. Problem is, is that these questions have no basis in reality. This isn’t the way that anyone talks! At best it’s bad acting and at worst it’s deceit in the name of profit.
In either case the salesperson is being highly manipulative or inauthentic.
Even if the techniques somehow were morally sound, they are still ineffective! People are increasingly skeptical of marketing and increasingly seeking real, authentic connection. Nothing reeks of bad marketing more than this particular breed of question-asking.
Stop asking questions and be true to yourself! Be authentic. Your website is an opportunity to build real trust. Seize the opportunity to try to connect in a way that reflects how you might connect with someone in real life.
When have you met with a client for the first time and said, “Life got you down? Feeling sad? Do you have low moods? Well, I can help!” If you can honestly say that this is the way that you talk to clients, then by all means continue to use it on your website.
Otherwise, a good alternative is to provide solutions upfront. Simply say, “there is a way that we can manage grief” or “processing difficult emotions is possible” or “dicing potatoes can be an easier task.” It just feels so much better. Because it’s real.
If you are writing or updating the content for you website, ask yourself how you might talk to your website visitor face to face. I imagine you’re not asking a list of questions and instead lending an ear, sharing your insight, and offering to help.
Don’t use question-asking marketing copy for the following three reasons:
- It’s reminiscent of bad late night tv infomercials (dice potatoes in milliseconds!)
- It’s reminiscent of sales techniques that guilt and shame people into buying
- It’s inauthentic
The funny thing is is that many people don’t fall for this technique anyway. Don’t use a broken tool that’s only proving that you’re not being true to who you are! And who you are is awesome. No need to hide behind sales techniques. Just be your generous, kind, and beautiful self. The clients will come.
Photo by TanteTati.