Marketing is something that all business owners need to master, especially as a sole trader. I’ve tried lots of marketing techniques and approaches over my years as a naturopath, and here’s what I’ve learned so far:SEO (search engine optimisation)Search engine optimisation is all about improving your ranking in a Google search. This means that when someone searches for "naturopath Bondi Beach", your website comes up on the first page of Google. SEO can be as simple or as complex as you want, but usually, the do-it-yourself SEO won’t be enough to rank you consistently high on Google. Paid SEO on the other hand, can be quite expensive. You also need to make sure you’re not locked into any long-term contracts in case it doesn’t give you the results you need. Generally, though, SEO is a long-term game rather than a short-term fix. SEO works best for location-specific businesses (i.e. a clinic) rather than online/virtual practices. One easy thing you can do for your SEO is to create a Google Listing for your business – you can do this through Google itself.Paid adsThe other option to help you rank on Google is to run paid ads. You have probably seen ads on Google when you’re searching — often the top 2-3 results of any search are an ad of some kind. Like any kind of marketing, you can do it yourself or get an expert to help you set up your ads. If you’re on a budget, do some research on how to set up Google ads and do them yourself — you should get a few bookings if it’s done properly. If you’ve got a bigger marketing budget, working with someone who specialises in paid ads will definitely get you better and faster results.You can also run ads on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest ) and the same rule applies. You will get some results from a DIY approach, or you can fast-track your results and bookings by outsourcing the ads to a specialist. If you’re taking a DIY approach, make sure the research you’re doing is up to date — what worked for Facebook ads even 6 months ago may be completely different to what works now.Social mediaFacebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube and Twitter are the biggest and most popular social media networks, and you can market yourself and your business on any or all of them. The best advice I received as a new naturopath and business owner was to focus on one of the social media networks and master that, before moving on to the next one. It can be really overwhelming to try and show up on all of them consistently, so focus on one to start with. Depending on who your ideal client is, you might already have an idea of which network they are most likely to spend their time on.We are so lucky as business owners to have access to these social media sites, where we can share what we do and connect with prospective clients who need our support. If social media is a big part of your marketing strategy, then sharing photos of yourself, educational videos and quality content is really important. Remember, it's social media — people are there to connect with other humans, first and foremost. Start by just being yourself, and share about your business from there.Referral networks with other practitioners/therapistsWhen you set up your clinic, whether from home or in a commercial space, it’s a great idea to connect with other practitioners and businesses in your local area. This is not just about connecting with doctors (though that’s great too), it’s open to almost any local business. Consider the hairdresser up the road who listens to her clients complaining about fatigue while she washes their hair — if she knows about what you do, she can recommend you to her clients! Other more obvious examples include physiotherapists, personal trainers, counsellors, chiropractors, massage therapists and Reiki healers. Compile a list, and write them a letter explaining what you do and asking for more information on what they do. Make it more about how you can work together for the best interests of your clients, referring to each other, rather than just a letter asking for referrals. And if you can walk into their clinic and deliver the letter in person, that’s definitely going to solidify that referral partnership. Remember, it’s all about connecting on a personal level.Word of mouthBy far, the best marketing you will ever do is through word of mouth. You can encourage your clients to refer their friends and family and ask for reviews on your Google Listing and social media pages as well. But the number one way to get word of mouth referrals is by providing a great service to your clients and genuinely caring about their progress and outcomes. When a client feels supported by you and they get the results they wanted from working with you, they’re sure to tell their friends and family.At the end of the day, what works and what doesn’t work in marketing is constantly changing. As business owners, we need to be able to adapt and shift course when needed, and be willing to try new things in order to keep a consistent client base coming in. Marketing is about putting yourself ‘out there' so that the people who need your help can find you, and book in.Interested in Natural Health?Set the pace towards a happier, healthier you. Discover Endeavour's range of evidence-based and practical Natural Health Courses.