Using Brand Building Strategies to Grow Your Virtual Team Practice

March 07, 2023

There used to be a time when scaling your health and wellness business meant investing in a brick-and-mortar location and mentoring colleagues to help support more clients or patients. While this approach can be effective for diversifying income, it doesn’t save you much (if any) time. In fact, the administrative demands of running a thriving clinic will quickly eat up any hours freed by associates helping with client care.

The pandemic-fueled rise of virtual healthcare forever changed this dynamic. A 2021 analysis revealed Telehealth use increased 38x from a pre-COVID-19 baseline. Although usage has leveled out, public perception around virtual care remains positive, thanks in part to its convenience and accessibility.

This widespread acceptance of virtual care, coupled with secure, user-friendly technology to support it, means conditions have never been more favorable for expanding your practice virtually. In this article, we’ll dive into key considerations for scaling a thriving virtual health and wellness practice, with a particular focus on how brand building and mentoring team members can drive ultimate success.

How a Virtual Business Benefits Health and Wellness Practitioners

Eliminating expenses like rent, furniture, and utilities is an obvious benefit of building a virtual business. However, there are many additional perks associated with scaling a business virtually:

  • Increased accessibility. When clients don’t visit a physical location for their appointments, you can extend the net of your expertise to a much wider audience. Provided you aren’t a regulated professional with geographical limits on where you can offer treatment, you can think beyond the borders of where you live and explore how to find new clients in the vast virtual wilderness. 
  • Improved flexibility. A virtual practice not only lets more clients engage with your expertise, it gives you the freedom to work from anywhere and at the times that offer you optimal work-life balance. For example, a practitioner with a young family might have a boundary where he commits to being home every night for the dinner-bath-bedtime routine. Running his practice from a physical location would likely mean no client consultations after 4:30 or 5:00 p.m., especially if he doesn’t want to return to the clinic after bedtime.
    • Now imagine this same practitioner is running a virtual business. He can simply block off his calendar for a few hours over dinner and early evening, and then offer clients the flexibility of evening appointments starting at 7:30 p.m. if he’s so inclined.
  • Lighter admin load: Activities like scheduling, payments, and communicating can still run smoothly in a virtual business. In fact, with a robust practice management solution in place, like Practice Better, you can automate all of these activities and even run secure telehealth sessions – all from a single platform.
  • More passive income: A virtual business model gives you more opportunities to future proof your practice by expanding your offerings beyond 1:1 visits. You can explore delivering online courses, virtual events, group coaching sessions, and more.

Scaling a Business Virtually When Your Practice is Team-Based 

Business scaling when your virtual practice is just you is different from scaling with a team of practitioners in place. The more people who are involved in driving the success of the team-based practice, the more critical it becomes to define roles and responsibilities, establish reliable communications, define clear policies and processes to guide day-to-day operations, and use collaboration tools to keep everyone on the same page.

What is a Team-Based Virtual Practice? 

A virtual business where you have several practitioners working under the umbrella of one health and wellness brand is a team-based practice. You can bring together practitioners who have the same skills (e.g., holistic dieticians) to service more clients with similar needs. Or you can assemble a team of practitioners with complementary skills to diversify your offerings to clients (e.g., a mindful eating coach, a holistic dietician, a trauma-informed eating disorder therapist, and a hormone imbalance specialist).

Brand Building is Critical for Virtual Scaling Success

It is possible to make a remarkable impression on clients and keep them engaged even when you aren’t interacting with them up close and in person. However, you will need to put extra effort into brand building

You can think of your brand as what clients would say about you when you’re not in the room. A strong brand identity helps to establish your practice as delivering trusted expertise and professional service that leads to lasting results. Your brand can also help to differentiate your practice from competitors and increase recognizability, which is particularly helpful when you’re focused on expanding business

When you have a physical location, it’s easy to add touches that enhance the total brand experience, such as soft lighting, relaxing music, a comfortable waiting room, and well-trained staff to serve clients. When you’re meeting clients virtually, you can create that total experience by focusing on other touchpoints. Some are obvious, like being on time for appointments, presenting professionally with good lighting and sound, and ensuring your technology is functioning flawlessly. 

Here are some less-obvious ways to enhance your brand experience:

  • Personalize your communications. From the first email to the final appointment, every touchpoint you have with a client offers an opportunity to positively represent your brand. The messages you send and the language you use is a direct reflection of your brand. Be sure to invest some time thinking about copywriting – including your tone of voice, choosing clear language over clever, and using words that are familiar and comforting to your clients.   
  • Present a consistent look and feel. Your logo and brand colors are part of your identity. Using them consistently across all touchpoints helps create familiarity with your brand. Note that the Practice Better platform has lots of functionality built in to ensure your branding can be consistent across the client portal, emails, forms, and more.
  • Double down on empathy. Borrow strategies from the world of virtual therapy to make your clients feel seen and heard. Even online you can practice active listening and convey empathy through your body language, including smiling, nodding, and making eye contact. If you’re taking notes on a second screen, be sure to communicate that to clients up front so they understand why you may be looking away from time to time.

When focusing on the brand build for a team-based virtual health and wellness practice, it’s important to consider the unique selling points of the practice, the ideal client(s), and the values you and your fellow practitioners share. It’s also critical to present a unified face to the world. If your personal brand is dominant, it’s time to think about how you can make sure your team is mentored to align their branding with the overall identity of the practice.

Mentoring Associates to Align Their Branding With Yours 

Associates working together in a virtual team-based practice will likely be on a continuum when it comes to their individual brand builds. Some may simply have a name and logo, while others will have invested more into how to build a brand online

Regardless of individual brand maturity, it’s critical that all branding aligns with the overall identity of the practice. This extends beyond elements like logo, name, and color palette into areas like consistent messaging, imagery, and the tone of voice used in emails and on social media channels.

Start With the Overarching Brand

Building a brand story with a strong point of view requires articulating your business’ unique perspective on the world and what role you think you play in it. Your point of view includes your core beliefs, values, and attitudes. It can act as a North Star guiding your actions and communications. 

Nike is a brand with a famously strong point of view. They have long championed that everyone can be an athlete in their own way. Their mission is to inspire people to stay true to themselves and pursue their goals. You can clearly see this point of view reflected in everything from their “Just Do It” tagline to their advertising campaigns. It’s interesting to note that Nike’s tagline was introduced in 1988 and has never wavered. Their consistent point of view plays a big role in their recognizability and success.

Serena Williams in a Nike ad

When it comes to building a brand story for your team-based practice, you’ll want to start at the highest level to determine the overarching point of view for your umbrella brand first. Here are some questions to consider if you don’t already have a well-documented brand story:

  • What’s your purpose? Why does your business exist? Rooting the answer in your history or values will make it the most authentic and meaningful. For example, imagine a group of practitioners who all have a connection to disordered eating. Perhaps some of them experienced it personally and others through someone close to them. In this case, a strong brand point of view could be that food is essential fuel and every person deserves to have a healthy and functional relationship with it. 
  • Who are you targeting? What do they care about most? How do you want them to feel when they think of your practice? Know your ideal clients and what they need and want. Your point of view needs to resonate with your prospects and clients. You’ll want to understand how their values align so that you can authentically speak to your audiences.

Help Each Associate Build a Complementary Point of View

Once you’re done building the brand story for your holistic virtual practice, you can work on mentoring your team members to articulate how their personal brand stories snap into that larger narrative. Ask each practitioner the same questions you asked of the larger brand, then identify commonalities and complementary threads. 

Take extra care to make sure each individual practitioner’s point of view and actions are complementary to the overarching brand story. The stories don’t need to be twins, but they should feel like siblings. To put this into perspective, imagine a virtual practice with an overarching brand story that the body should work synergistically, with a focus on striving to get the whole person thriving as a unit. This sets a certain expectation in the minds of clients. If one of the practitioners within the team is very vocal about nutrition being the only thing that matters when it comes to health and wellness, they are potentially creating a disconnect with the overarching brand story. 

Once you’ve mentored your associates through building their own resonant stories, why not add them to their profiles on your practice website along with photos? This puts a human face to the stories. It also allows website visitors to get a holistic view of who you are and what you stand for as a team delivering virtual care.

Become Active in the Online Community

The more visible you and your associates become in virtual communities, the stronger and further your brand reach can grow. Seek out opportunities to speak at virtual events, attend virtual summits for networking, and contribute helpful thought leadership to online communities. 

Don’t forget about your owned social media properties as well. When you’re busy scaling a business it can be easy to push creating helpful content to the bottom of the To Do list. But an active presence on targeted channels can be a highly effective way to find new virtual clients. Devise creative ways to split the workload amongst your team and hold each other accountable to doing this challenging (but critical) brand-building work. 

Volunteer As a Team

Running a virtual business doesn’t prevent you and your team from also doing some brand building in the physical communities where each of you live. Here are some thought starters:

  • Sponsor a local spring garbage cleanup at a local park and show up to help pick up the trash. Sponsors typically get logo recognition and acknowledgment. 
  • Donate flowers to a local school and offer to plant them too (along with a branded sign tastefully positioned in the flower beds). 
  • Host a meal at a local soup kitchen and help to prepare and serve it. 

The ideas for how to get involved in your communities are endless and it’s an opportunity to build grassroots awareness of your brand. This is especially important if you are a regulated professional who can only treat clients in your jurisdiction. 

Volunteering is also awesome for team bonding. Even if you’re all in different communities, you can still come together virtually and share your experiences. Set some time aside after you’ve all wrapped your volunteer commitments to connect and share how the experience unfolded for each of you. 

What did you learn?
What surprised you?
How did you feel afterwards?
What are your ideas for future volunteer opportunities? 

The answers to these questions can often spur new ideas for ways to get involved and promote your brand at the same time.

Meet Regularly to Brainstorm Brand Building

Your health and wellness brand is like a living, breathing entity. It needs regular attention in order to keep thriving. This is especially important when you’re running a team-based virtual practice where multiple associates act as brand stewards. You should also be actively working to build up each other’s personal brands, cross-sell services, and support clients in the most memorable way possible. 

Set aside a regular time to meet so you can keep brand building top of mind and share fresh ideas around things like attracting new clients and how to build a brand online. From influencer partnerships to email marketing to user-generated content, stay open to any and all ideas in your brainstorming sessions. You never know where your next big a-ha will come from.

It’s Time To Get (Brand) Building 

The concept of delivering virtual care isn’t new. In fact, NASA and the U.S. Department of Public Health experimented with telemedicine all the way back in the 1960s. Adoption was historically slow for a multitude of reasons, including technology barriers, privacy concerns, and public expectations around care. With those roadblocks out of the way, and public acceptance and comfort with this model of care delivery at an all-time high, scaling a business by expanding to a virtual larger practice has never been more attractive. 

You can’t be in the same building with your associates in a virtual business model. So, it’s even more important that you’re all on the same page when it comes to brand building. By following the tips outlined in this article you can effectively mentor your fellow practitioners, diversify your brand’s portfolio, solidify your great reputation, and ultimately create a thriving business for all.

Practice Better is the complete practice management platform for nutritionists, dietitians, and wellness professionals. Streamline your practice and begin your 14-day free trial today. 

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