Warning, rambling ahead.
I don’t like marketing. I don’t like advertising, I feel weird trying to pitch a sale. I told myself that this first year as a doula I was going to buy some business cards, leave them in three spots (after timidly asking permission and expecting nothing to come of it), and see if I got any clients. I wasn’t going to invest any further time or effort or money into pushing my services on people because that’s what it felt like to me – pushing. And I don’t want people to think I’m pushy! Plus I’m pretty introverted and the idea of trying to sell my services gives me butterflies.
But then I had people approach me and say, “I heard you are a doula, can I ask you about that? We had some questions but I don’t want to bother you.”
Oh, NO!! Talk about backfiring, I actually gave people the impression that I wasn’t eager to share with them what I do? Massive marketing FAIL.
I realize I’m uncomfortable with marketing because I’ve been on the receiving end, having aggressive people push their opinions onto me and trying to pressure me into a sale. I would not ever want someone to feel that I was using high pressure tactics and trying to convince them that they should hire me. Especially for a birth, such a sacred and intimate time. It feels counter intuitive to me that I should be pushy about wanting to be present (quietly, supportively, unobtrusively!) at a birth. I would much rather let you know what a doula is and encourage you to interview a variety of doulas until you find the best fit for YOU. I am not offended if someone says I’m not the right doula or birth photographer for them!
HOWEVER… I know I’m the right doula-photographer for many people. Not only because they tell me this but because I know that what I do makes a difference. Each of us has those moments in life when it’s confirmed to us that we’re in the right place at the right time doing exactly what we’re here to do, right? I’ve felt that way countless times when I’m at a birth. I would not be in this line of work if I didn’t absolutely believe with all my heart that I am meant to be doing this work, that it is worth the sacrifice of being away from my family and the crazy hours and being on call, that what I do is making a difference in the lives of families I serve. I KNOW that I am a great doula – as someone lovingly teased me, it’s like I was born to do this work.
So as I share my conviction of doing this work, why would I hesitate about sharing that passion with others? I believe in what I do, I am passionate about it, and I simply need to get more comfortable articulating and sharing that passion with people who will benefit from my service. It’s not about selling anything, it’s about explaining how I can make their birth experience even better. (See, not just a clever business name – BETTER Birth Doula Services??)
That’s hurdle one – believe in what you do, believe in yourself.
Hurdle two – you need to decide how to convey who you are in a cohesive, clear fashion. That’s the business stuff that’s so beyond my scope but google away and get to work on your business plan, your vision for your work, your “brand” and the style all your own. I personally love when I see unity in a website, business cards, and product. Mae Burke (who did our nursing photos) does a beautiful job bringing her brand from website to FB to print and product. Gorgeous job!
Hurdle three – get comfortable sharing your style, your passion in an articulate manner. Whether that’s online through your website, Facebook page, or Pinterest Boards or in person through a ten second explanation of who you are and what you do – get your name and your services out there. Connect with people online and more importantly, in your community. You don’t have to be pushy, but you can be bold if you believe in what you do!
What does this mean for me? I’m working on it! I’ve decided to invest more time and effort into finding a brand of my own, and using it to express my crafty & creative side! There are so many little ways you can incorporate your style into your work – thank you notes, gifts for staff, prints, albums, birthday cards for your doula babies, referral treats, etc. I spent this morning doing some shopping and experimenting as I work on marketing my brand, and it’s been really fun! Something as simple as finding papers and ribbons in my color scheme helps weave my theme through my online and real world presence. It’s subtle, but it will make you more memorable.
If you are a birth professional I would love if you shared YOUR style with me! Shoot me a link and I’ll come check out your site.
Update: This week I read Worth Every Penny: Build a Business That Thrills Your Customers and Still Charge What You’re Worth. I thought it was fantastic, and very thought provoking. It includes homework exercises for each chapter and really changed my perspective. It’s applicable for a huge variety of businesses, including doulas, birth photographers, and childbirth educators. (Discloser, that’s an affiliate link – if you purchase through it I receive a small percentage. So thanks! )