All too often, when a new person takes charge of an organization’s marketing efforts, they feel the need to put their stamp on the place. Where do they start? With the company’s logo. Mark Wallenwine, the Director of Sales and Marketing for Lighthouse Therapy, explains why marketers should think twice before ditching a logo that that has benefited from years of investment.
Plus: How do you market therapy services to schools?
[00:00:00] Seth: Hello, and welcome to the Bad Marketing Advice podcast. This is the show where we invite marketing professionals to tell us the worst piece of marketing advice that they have ever heard. My name is Seth Resler. I am the founder of Community Marketing Revolution. And what we do is we produce branded podcasts and virtual events for companies.
[00:00:26] And organizations. So if your company has ever thought, Hey, you know, we should really launch a podcast. And you’ve probably been saying that to yourself for about two years. Now, it’s time to pull the trigger, go to communitymarketingrevolution.com. Send us an email. We’d love to talk to you about producing that podcast, getting it up and off the ground.
[00:00:44] Finally, our guest today is the director of sales and marketing for Lighthouse Therapy. I love what this organization does. Lighthouse Therapy provides online therapy services for schools, their tele therapists help students from early intervention through 12th grade. It has grown from helping just 49 students to over 2000 students in less than four years.
[00:01:06] Please welcome to the podcast, Mark Wallenwine. Hi mark.
[00:01:10] Mark: Hey Seth. Thanks for having me on the show today.
[00:01:12] Seth: Hey, I love what you do here with Lighthouse Therapy. Tell me a little bit more about the organization and how it got started.
[00:01:20] Mark: Yeah, so the organization was founded in 2018 by a speech and language pathologist, Janet Courtney. And she’s just a rock star. When it comes to this space, what really happened here is she just really felt. She’s a really strong Christian and believer. And she just felt like it was really her mission from God to start this and help students all around the country with their speech and language needs, not just speech and language to be cleared with all of their teletherapy needs.
[00:01:44] So she started the company in 2018 and that first year it had 49 students. And then the next year the company grew that’s about when I got involved. Not cuz of me. It’s just, we have a really solid team here at lighthouse, but I wanna make that clear. We grew to 500 students ish, and then it grew to 1200 students this year.
[00:02:04] We’re over 2000 students. And so again, we help students specifically, we work with school districts, helping students with speech and language, occupational therapy, behavioral, mental health, behavioral, mental health is just exploded with the pandemic. And so it’s just been awesome to really help these students get and allow ’em get the help they need because with online therapy services, there’s a lot of school districts that live in rural areas.
[00:02:26] They’re not as enticing for therapists to wanna move there for face to face. And that creates a problem for them to be able to get those students the services that they need us. Therapists are in really high demand right now. So we’re able to provide therapists to these students through teletherapy. And these are, unfortunately some of these students would’ve never gotten therapy otherwise because of the short supply of therapists. So it’s really fun to be part of a mission where we’re able to help these students get the care in a really unique way.
[00:02:53] Seth: Yeah, it sounds like the company was originally designed largely for situations like yours, where there are people in rural environments, but boy, I gotta imagine the pandemic just had a huge impact on the need a for therapy in general, cuz I think we’ve all felt the stress of the pandemic and the mental toll that it’s taken on all of us, but B the need to conduct that therapy online.
[00:03:15] Mark: Oh totally.
[00:03:16] Tell me about the changes and the impact the pandemic has had.
[00:03:19] Seth: You know, it’s crazy. Because it was meant to be nationwide help all school districts. But yeah, originally we saw the most growth with rural districts, right? And then once the pandemic hit, it really was something where even in larger school districts, too, they were seeing, wow, here’s a way we can help our students.
[00:03:36] And now we’ve had two years of the pandemic. We’ve now had an opportunity where some school districts are saying, Hey, this isn’t gonna go away. As far as the online portion of it. Cause there’s some students that just thrive in the online realm with their care. And so honestly there’s been a lot of school districts too.
[00:03:53] Even the larger districts. It’s funny, you say not just the rural ones. You’re right. Because the large school districts do have an issue with staffing as well. They have say 3000 or 5,000 students in their special education program. A lot of their therapists were finding a word, burned out, (inaudible ) so we’re able to come alongside them and make sure they keep those professional ratios in line. Meaning they don’t have too many students on that caseload of the therapist and burning ’em out, making ’em wanna leave. So it’s really a win-win whether you’re a school district or a small school district.
[00:04:21] And so it’s been again for us, we’re kind of different. We measure everything by students, not by revenue. We really care about fulfilling that mission of being a therapy company, where we’re ran by therapists for therapists, for the betterment of students, because it’s kinda like that Chick-fil-A model, right? If you take care of your staff and your staff is happy, you get that incredible customer service.
[00:04:41] Mark: Wow. Uh, your customers are school districts and correct. That’s a little bit different than just a regular business because they’re obviously institutions that are funded by the government. And there are regulations. What do you have to do when you are marketing services to school districts?
[00:04:57] Seth: Um, school districts are incredibly tribal and I don’t mean that at all in a negative way, but it’s not like you’re marketing a product where you’re gonna just try and talk about their pain point and think they’re gonna just immediately go, oh yeah, I have got that problem. Let’s buy from them. You have to be in it for the long haul. You have to be in it for the trust and the relationships. And so what’s unique about school districts specifically is one, the sense of earning their trust and earning their trust can easily take 12 to 18 months to get that trust for the school district.
[00:05:33] The second piece of it is they have a board that they have to go through, to vote in their budget. It’s you’re not gonna get a decision maker, come in and want this, and typically be interested in signing up for services right away. A lot of times you’ll either talk to the decision makers at the school and you’ll put a proposal together and you still have to get the school board sold on it, which is a totally different experience than anything else I’ve ever dealt with because usually you just have the decision maker, the decision maker sold and you’re done. And now we have a whole group of other people that weren’t really involved in that sales process that you still have to convince them of the value of this service.
[00:06:13] Mark: Yeah. Uh, you know, different school districts have different demographic makeups. You know, I live in the Detroit area and, you know, obviously Detroit schools are gonna look very different than the schools in the rural Michigan area where you are. Does that play a role in therapy? Are school districts looking for therapists that look like the students that they are providing services to and can relate to them?
[00:06:37] School districts that have a high minority percentage of students. They’re concerned that they’re gonna get a therapist that doesn’t understand their students, especially with behavioral mental health. When you’re talking about counseling and trying to relate to the student and the student’s problem, they are really concerned that it’s not gonna be a good fit.
[00:06:54] That’s one thing that is unique about us is we don’t lock school districts into a 12 month contract. A lot of our competitors do lock them into nine and 12 month contracts, not all, but a lot do we have a 30 day cancellation notice. Also we really work with the school districts to see what are their needs, what are their concerns.
[00:07:13] And so when we’re trying to find therapists or hire therapists to work there, they’re a really good fit. Whether that’s bilingual, whether that’s someone who really has a background that understands what those students are going through, we don’t just hire to put a warm body there. We really have a rigorous recruiting process to make sure that these therapists are gonna be the right fit for that district.
[00:07:39] Seth: Yeah. I imagine that’s so important.
[00:07:40] Mark: But I understand your concern.
[00:07:42] Seth: Yeah. I mean, especially with something like therapy, cuz it’s just so personal. I totally do. Uh, look, let’s get into the worst piece of marketing advice that you’ve ever heard. Tell me, what is it?
[00:07:52] Mark: It might seem a little 1 0 1 to your listeners, but I’ll elaborate. And it’s the mentality of, if you build it, they will come. Now the thought of, okay. And I’m gonna break this out into three pieces. First being, have a killer logo, have a sick logo. I used to work in nonprofit marketing first, and I can’t tell you how many nonprofits think if they just look more hip and trend.
[00:08:15] I used to work primarily in the religious nonprofit space. I can’t tell you Seth, how many legacy brands changed their logo to look more hip and cool. And they actually threw probably decades of brand recognition down the drink, cuz they thought they needed to look cool. And it did nothing for them. If anything, it hurt them because anyone who knew anything about them, like flushed it away.
[00:08:37] Seth: So I, I, I wanna second that because I, you know, I come out of radio and this is one of the things I noticed whenever a new program director comes into a radio station. The first thing they always wanna do is change the logo, just to put their mark on the place. And it’s exactly what you’re saying. It it’s decades of heritage.
[00:08:55] Sometimes that there’s just flushed out the window. Totally. Yeah. Yeah. Branding is not your logo. Branding is when someone has seen it for a year, two years, five years, 10 years, 20 years. And they know that is who you are. And that’s what it stands for. A brand is not the logo, the logo you could take anything that is the most silly icon and it can turn into something great because of the meaning associated with it.
[00:09:20] So that’s one, two, then people go. We gotta look more hip and trendy. Let’s build a website. I can’t tell you how many people they have no sales. No one knows about them. And so they build, so they work on a logo. Then they work on this awesome website and they look pretty cool, but no one knows who you are.
[00:09:39] No one knows anything about you. So that’s where I’d say you how to focus first on like, okay. Yeah. Make sure your messaging is clear. Make sure you’ve identified your target audience. Make sure you have crystal clear messaging where you are talking to their pain points and how you solve that pain point.
[00:09:55] But think about awareness. Think about how you get in front of your audience. And that’s Seth, where I really love what you do with the podcast. You have to create content content that gets in front of your target audience. So that way they know who you are and what you stand for and how you can help them.
[00:10:13] And don’t create like one piece of content. That’s where I think a lot of companies fail. They’re like, oh, I created. This lead generator and put it on my website. No, one’s downloading it. I’m like, well that’s cuz no one’s coming to your website. I mean, ask them, pull up their Google analytics and they got like 200 people to their website last month.
[00:10:27] That’s not gonna cut it. You have to consistently deliver content. And I don’t mean like post one thing. I don’t know you post two things. I mean, like until you’ve posted like 200 pieces of content. I don’t think you really have a right to say it’s not working. And that might seem like a lot, but that’s where, like, what you’re saying with podcasts, I think is super, super valuable because you have to deliver content and deliver value over and over and over and continue to show up.
[00:10:55] And then it’s not just the content that you still have to let people know it exists. I mean, through social media, Hey, if you’re spending money to make the content run some ads for that content, let people know what’s out there, but content, I believe is one of the cheapest ways to develop an audience. I mean, cuz as soon as you stop paying for ads, it’s, you’re done.
[00:11:16] I mean, you can truly build an audience with content. And that’s one of the things we’ve done at Lighthouse Therapy is we’ve started continually building content and it’s paid dividends for us. It is one of our key strategies and we love it.
[00:11:29] Mark: You’re right. Content is a great strategy and it can be cheap. You can produce content cheaply, but it takes time. Yes. And so you’ve gotta produce a lot of content over a long period. I always tell people, look, you can do this fast, or you can do this cheap, but you can’t do it fast and cheap. you’ve gotta no, you’ve gotta either. Uh, if you wanna go fast, you gotta spend money.
[00:11:49] Seth: Uh, otherwise you gotta invest time.
[00:11:51] Mark: Seth. You’re absolutely right. We wanted a lot of content and we wanted it fast. And so actually we spent thousands of dollars on a video shoot, so we could crank out 25 videos in two days. Yeah. But that’s how it works. I mean, okay. So I wanna make sure we’re clear to your listeners.
[00:12:06] Yeah, you can do it. If you’re a small business, you can do it yourself with your phone. You can do certain things so you can prove it works. So we tried to prove the model that it works with just videos that we were recording them on Zoom. And we were doing basic editing and we saw it was working. And so we could test it.
[00:12:23] And then we brought in the video crew, right. And then we started amping up what we’re doing for content. And so if you wanna test it, test small, that’s fine. But I think Seth, what you’re doing with podcasts and getting regular content, building a listener base, it’s one of those things where, to me it’s worth more than almost any other form of marketing is having consistent content for your listeners.
[00:12:47] But again, you gotta make sure they’re aware of it and one of the ways, but to build awareness, you have to have a reason to reach out to your customers. A reason to tell them there’s something new, something that’s interesting to them. And the best way to tell them there’s something new. Again is through that content.
[00:13:00] So I’m just trying to make sure that we’re being clear there.
[00:13:02] Seth: Well, yeah, no, I absolutely agree. And you’re right. You can’t just come in and do one piece of content and go look, I’m done. Yeah. I can’t drop one podcast episode and go, yeah, there it is. Oh, you want more? Go listen to it again.
[00:13:13] Mark: Well, how many podcasts you like? I was saw this one guy. I wish I re I’m friends with all these other marketers on LinkedIn and it was funny. I wish I had his name ready for this podcast, but he was showing the trend of his podcast. And it was like for like two years, it was like he had listeners not a lot, but then he also took, but he had a library.
[00:13:32] There’s one thing he didn’t talk about in his post is he already had a library of content. Then he was continuing to post and he got strategic with his website. He got strategic with his advertising. He said he started running ads about his podcast. He started being strategic about to certain groups. He was in his follow up on the podcast and he saw a spike in his listener base in one year.
[00:13:55] Now part of that is though he was consistent over time and he’d been showing up and most new podcasts. I mean, you can maybe get that right away with some ads, but the main thing is, I think you gotta take away from this is, is this isn’t a short game. I think for most people, they want it right away. And you need to think about this at least, at least no less than a six to 12 month commitment.
[00:14:14] I dare say it should probably be more like a 24 month commitment in people’s minds. And at that point, by the time you get to 24 months, for most people, you’d be looking back going, oh my gosh, look at what we’ve accomplished in 24 months, but it’s something that you don’t climb Everest in one step, right?
[00:14:29] It’s one step at a time, one step at a time, one step at a time. And then when you finally get to the top of the mountain, you look down, you’re like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe how far we’ve.
[00:14:37] Seth: Now I think that’s right. Content marketing is not a short game. Friend of mine likes to say we overestimate what we can do in the short term. And we underestimate what we can do in the long term. And I think over time. Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Well, mark Wallen wine director of sales and marketing for Lighthouse Therapy. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your marketing wisdom with us. And honestly, I love what you guys are doing.
[00:15:00] So I’m so glad you’re with this organization and I hope it just continues to grow.
[00:15:04] Mark: Thank you.
[00:15:04] Seth: Because I think that this is really important. The given all the collective trauma that we’ve lived through in the last couple of years with the pandemic, that being able to offer therapy to people who might not otherwise be able to get it is just so important.
[00:15:18] If people wanna know more about the organization, where do they go?
[00:15:20] Mark: They go to lighthouse-therapy.com.
[00:15:24] Seth: Cool. Well, thank you very much, Mark. I really appreciate you being here.
[00:15:27] Mark: Thanks Seth. Appreciate you too.
[00:15:29] Seth: I am Seth Resler of Community Marketing Revolution. Again, we produce branded podcasts and virtual events for companies and organizations. If you think that that’s something that you need either is part of your marketing effort, but also it can be part of your internal communication effort. If you have a large company, please go to communitymarketingrevolution.com. We’d love to help you out with it till next time. Thanks for listening.
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