I’ve recently added a lot of marketing tasks to my plate, including going all in on my online marketing strategy–working to amplify my visibility online so that I can connect with more therapists like you–who value depth and long to grow as humans, therapists, and marketers in precisely that order.
(Don’t follow me on Instagram yet? You can check me out at @athinkersguide).
I’m super excited about it, and yet also have found within myself this sense of wariness, not that it’ll be too much (though if I don’t shrink my caseload over the next few months, it definitely will be too much), but more of the old refrain, “I can do it all, no problem.”
That seductive whisper almost always precedes the slow demolition of burnout.
When I look back on my history–as a human, therapist, and marketer–I can clearly see how each period of burnout was preceded by this beloved lie.
Honestly, right now, I can feel the potential of burnout as I settle into this role of motherhood. My desire to be the all and everything is a grandiose delusion that I share with my infant.
I can’t do all the things, nevermind be all that others need. But goddamn, am I often seduced into the fantasy of being the ultimate good object.
That’s burnout’s most effective sales trick–it aims to convince you that you’ll feel good, if only you do just a little more, until finally you just can’t do anything anymore.
I really like Maslach and Leiter’s definition of burnout, they write:
“Burnout is a psychological syndrome emerging as a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job. The three key dimensions of this response are an overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.”
What I think this definition misses is what happens to those of us who shine in a crisis, who embody calm in the chaos.
We burn brighter. We move faster. And we bury our needs deeper than the Mariana trench.
Instead of slowing down, we embrace the fantasy that if we’re not doing all the things then we are failures.
It happens in life, and it most definitely happens in marketing.
Who among us hasn’t gone down the rabbit hole of the never-ending list of marketing tasks it seems like we have to do if we ever have any hope of succeeding?
We tell ourselves this story that we won’t be successful until we have three therapy directory profiles, one social media account (that posts an obscene amount each week), been quoted at least thirteen times in all the click-baity publications (I’m looking at you Bustle), and write a weekly blog from now until the end of time, which of course we’ll post on our picture-perfect website.
Oh. And networking. Probably we would also network regularly, but that doesn’t seem nearly as important as optimizing your LinkedIn profile.
(Let’s be real: no one ever wants to include networking as part of their marketing plan–you either love it and prefer to think of it as a social outlet, or you dream of wildly elaborate ways to avoid doing it…full disclosure, I am most definitely in the latter camp).
Underneath all the activity is this fear that in our marketing (nevermind our practice) if we are not all things to all people, we will be nothing and no one will want to work with us.
But here’s the truth:
Marketing is only truly effective when it is congruent with who you are and what you have to offer.
You do not have to do all the marketing things. Hell, you don’t even have to do most of the marketing things.
In fact, I would say that when it comes to marketing your practice, there’s only three core things you need:
- Clarity on who you are and what you want (including who you most long to work with)
- Solid communication skills (so you can connect with your right fit client)
- A visibility strategy you can commit to because you enjoy it (not because everyone and their mother says it's the best way to build a practice)
Marketing doesn’t have to be another life arena where you excel in the art of burning yourself out. In fact, when you discover how to market with depth, it can be something that feeds your soul as much as it feeds your business.
And that, my friend, is how I avoid burnout in my marketing. I treat it as another avenue to cultivate my depth (and pay attention to all the shit that gets in my way of showing up authentically and vulnerably).
Marketing my business isn’t just a necessary evil, rather it’s the business equivalent of a therapeutic sand tray–allowing my unconscious to reveal the many things I hide from myself.
The real challenge isn’t to detox or disengage from marketing, but to find ways to let it inform the inner work I do in therapy, the clinical exploration I do in consultation, and the connection I cultivate as a messy, kind of socially awkward person.
Rooting for you to embrace the genius in your imperfections and market by listening to your intuition, rather than your fear.
P.S. Dig the above and want to go deeper? Take the Marketing Attachment Styles quiz.