Our latest session from our Provider Education Series focuses on Finding & Attracting New Clients. These educational webinars are focused on helping allied healthcare providers optimize their practices, learn new tactics they can implement to attract clients and give them the best strategies to take their businesses to the next level.
We sat down with doula, Tara Bruley, to learn more about her work in the maternal and family care space, what she does to continually attract new clients, and how she has grown her business.
Meet Tara Bruley
Hi everybody. I'm Tara, a doula and the owner of modern birth co in Toronto. I have supported dozens of families over the last few years through pregnancy, birth and postpartum. To be honest, it took me quite a while to find my groove as a doula and to grow my business. When I took my training, everyone said, ‘Oh just join some Facebook groups and you'll have four to six clients a month in no time.’ And once I finished, I was like ‘Where are all these clients?’ If you're here, you might be in a similar boat as I was and I hope that you find this helpful. I really wanted to make sure that everything that I said was coming from a very real and honest place.
I feel like I didn't really have that honesty when I was starting out and you know, I joined webinars, I read blogs and they all just said the same thing, “find your niche, find your ideal clients.” Helpful right?...
Pregnant, that's my ideal client. Like, what do you mean by my ideal client? So I'm gonna keep it real here, I'm not gonna sugarcoat anything, just keep in mind that not everything is gonna work for everyone and that's okay. I'm gonna tell some personal stories, what worked for me and what didn't. It's not going to be like a one-size-fits-all, so take what you want from this and leave the rest, that's totally fine. But I hope that you leave here feeling a little more empowered and confident with some tools to grow your business.
1. Be Authentic
This seems really simple but I want to share a little story with you all. When I was first starting out as a doula, I found this other Toronto doula on Instagram who had like 8,000 followers, and she just had this perfect aesthetic. It was like, the whole page was just so pleasing to the eye and the pictures were beautiful and the way that she explained everything was so whimsical and gentle and eloquent. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is how I need to be. I need to take my content and present it in this way.’ And so, I did for a little bit and I didn't realize why it wasn't working for me. I was like, where are all the clients? Like this is working for her, why isn't this working for me? And I realized it's because I'm not like that in real life. I am not delicate. You know, I swear, I talk about uncomfortable things. I talk about pooping while you're pushing and hemorrhoids in the third trimester and uncomfortable things that not everybody wants to talk about. I had to really look at myself and ask, ‘Okay, who am I in my everyday life? Like, Who am I when I'm just hanging out with my friends or my sister or my husband, who am I really?’ Because that's the doula that I need to be.
I really encourage all of you whether you're a doula or not, I feel like this all can be applied to whatever kind of provider you are, but take a look in the mirror. I feel like Dr. Phil or something like ‘you all need to take a look in the mirror’, but take a look in the mirror and figure out who you are. Think about the way that you are in your everyday life because that is the way that you need to be as a provider. If you're not being authentic to yourself, it's not going to feel authentic to anyone else. You're gonna present yourself one way and then they're gonna meet you in real life, and it's going to be something totally different. It's just gonna feel weird, for me, I've always really liked to make people laugh ever since I was a kid and I'm a little bit weird sometimes and I say weird things and that's how I am as a doula, and my clients know that.
Just know that you are already perfect for someone the way that you are, you don't need to change. You don't need to feel like you need to be someone you're not. If your personality is a little sassy then be sassy on your website. You know, if you're angry about something, like if you are mad about the induction rate in Canada, which we should all be mad about the induction rate, then post something on Instagram that gets people riled up. Let your personality shine through. It's so important!
2. Utilize Your Community & Get Out There
So this next one, the introverts are going to be a little mad at me for this one. I'm sorry. But utilize your community and get out there and I know the introverts are like, I don't want to get out there. Like, please don't make me, get out there and I get it. I am also an introvert. I know it may not seem like it because I'm doing a webinar, but trust me. I'm gonna need to go like, lay down in a dark room after this. It's gonna take a lot out of me. So again, I'm going to tell you a little story. I already shared that I thought that all it took was going to be joining like 10 Mom Facebook groups in my neighbourhood to gain clients. So I joined like 10 or 12 of them, I was in every single mom's group that I could find and I got no clients from that. That did not work for me, to this day I had no interest that way, but something that did work and was totally unexpected.
One day I went into my neighbourhood baby store and I got to talking with the owner. I was there to just buy something randomly and it came up that I was a doula and she was like, ‘Why don't you bring in some business cards? I would love to put them at the front and I would be happy to refer people to you.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what I should be doing.’ And so, when I say get out there, I mean, literally get out there into the world and go talk to people. I have gained a ton of clients from her doing that and it was something that was totally unexpected.
If we're gonna talk a little bit about being online, you definitely have to get on social media. One or two platforms, you don't have to be on all of them. For the life of me cannot figure out how to be on TikTok, I just can't. If you can, all the power to you! TikTok is amazing, but I've found that Instagram works really well. I encourage you to get on Instagram; personally, I look everybody up on Instagram. If I’m gonna hire someone, I'm checking to see if they have an Instagram. People are gonna be looking you up if they're interested. Social media builds credibility and it allows people to get to know you before they even make that first connection. It also allows you to weed out people that aren't necessarily the right clients for you. Someone might look at my Instagram and be like, ‘Why does she talk about bloody show so much?’ Like, no, thanks next.’ And that's fine because I'm not the doula for everyone and neither are you. Definitely get on social media, that's a big one.
Also, get on as many directories as you can, directories are a really easy no-brainer way to put yourself out there on the Internet. The Treehouse directory is great! I'm there. I'm also on the Association of Ontario, Doulas Directory. I'm in a neighbourhood small business one, and I'm on one for Moms. So check them out, see what's available to you and get on as many as you can. It's so easy. You just throw up a bio and a cute pick and you're good to go.
Just remember that paying to be posted somewhere doesn't necessarily mean that the clients are going to flood in. I paid to be on the Association of Ontario Doula site and I think I've maybe had like one or two clients from there, but I've had way more by just going in and talking to that small business owner in my neighbourhood. So just remember that you don't have to pay big bucks to get the clients but really, what this all comes down to, is, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. That is where the growth happens, that is where the change happens, and once I started doing this I noticed a big difference!
3. Don’t push sales, instead be relatable
We all know what it's like when someone's trying to sell you something. You're kind of like ‘eeee’, and they're kind of like ‘eeee’, and it's just weird for everybody. I was sliding into people's DMs all the time, more times than I would like to admit, and it didn't work and it felt gross. It felt gross to me and it felt gross to them and if you go to my Instagram now, I'm not posting content or reals about what a doula can do for you or the benefits of having a doula.
I'm posting relatable stuff, stuff that people look at and they're like, ‘Oh my God, that's me. She totally understands me.’ I'm posting things that are relatable, but also educational. I want someone to learn something from what they're watching and I also want to evoke an emotion out of someone. So for me, I stick to funny stuff but for you, maybe you want to make someone cry and not in a bad way. You like to post something that's a tearjerker, you want to get them with their emotions or maybe you want to post something that gets them fired up. Hooking people with emotions is so helpful. You really want people to feel something and feel that connection with you. Once I stopped trying to sell so much and posted relatable stuff, my Instagram grew like crazy and more people were reaching out to me.
4. It might be your website.
For sure. So it might be your website… It might be, don't come for me, it might not be but it might be. For me, it was definitely my website. In the beginning, I was determined to do it all myself. I was like ‘I am a strong smart independent woman. I don't need anyone to build my site. I don't need to pay anybody to build my site.’ I'm doing this and it was fine. It was really basic and it didn't really set me apart from the other doulas. It came to a point where I was like, ‘I think something's going on here, I'm not really getting a lot of traffic, people aren't filling out my contact form, and I feel like it might be my site.’
So, I did a bunch of research and I changed my website host. I paid for a template that I really, really liked and the template was really cool because it already had things included in it that I wouldn't have even thought to include in my site before. For example, if you go on my site (www.modernbirthco.com) I have a this or that section, so there's like coffee or tea and then one of them is circled and hiking or running and neither of them is circled because I don't do either of those things. But it just allows people to get to know you a little bit before they even reach out to you. It's like ‘Oh, she likes Stranger Things. I like Stranger Things too.’ As I said, it allows you to just kind of build that connection early on and it should totally represent you so it should have some kind of philosophy – something that you live by with your business and it should be polished and professional of course. I always say double-check the mobile version and the desktop version because there's nothing worse than looking at a site on your phone and they didn't update the mobile version so it's all jumbled and weird. If you just feel like you're not getting a lot of traffic or people aren't getting to your contact form or they're not submitting a request to get in touch. Maybe it’s time to consider upgrading or investing in your website.
I waited a long time. I waited like two years. I guess I just didn't want to admit that it was the site. I really wanted to admit that I could do it myself and that people were just having a hard time finding me or whatever but people were coming and it just wasn't hooking them. That's when I realized ‘Yeah, I think it's time to change something.’
5. Accept What’s Out Of Your Control & Stop Explaining Your Value
So like I said in the beginning, I slid into everyone's DMs all the time. I was feeling really desperate to get clients. I was over-explaining what a doula does and offering discounts. Like, ‘Oh, you want a discount? Get 20% off!’... It’s so gross now that I think about it, but I feel like a lot of us have been there and we know that feeling – we just want the client so badly. I was trying to sell to everybody and like, ‘Oh, you don't know what a doula is? Let me tell you what a doula is.’ I would send people paragraphs about the emotional support that a doula provides.
It was really hard for me to accept that there are just some people who will never hire a doula or just some people who will never understand the value of investing in their birth experience. It's not up to you to explain your worth or convince someone of your worth or convince someone that what you're offering is worth the investment. Like I can get on a consultation with someone and nine times out of 10 I can tell during the console if they're gonna hire me or not. If I find myself trying to convince them of what it is or what a doula is, at that point I already know that they're not gonna hire me. So if you find yourself going down that rabbit hole of over-explaining and trying to sell yourself, get the hell out of that hole! Climb out of that hole, you are better than being in that hole. As I said, at the end of the day, there are people who just aren't going to understand and there are people who need to hear from a friend that they had a great doula experience in order for them to reach out to a doula. Otherwise, they may never.
Just know that you don't have to convince someone of your worth. You don't need to convince someone that you're worth the investment. You are worth the investment and it's not your job to tell someone that.