In this interview series, we are talking to founders, CEOs, and ecommerce business leaders about how to use social media to grow your ecommerce business. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lana and Carrie Lipe.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Lana: I made the leap to start my own private practice in November 2020. We were in and out of shutdowns from COVID-19, and I didn’t really have anyone I could just walk up to and ask how they started their practice in the middle of a global pandemic because we were all trying to figure it out at the same time.
I didn’t know the first thing about running a private practice, but I’m a social worker, and we’re known for being resourceful. So, I hopped online and started looking for resources for things like policy paperwork, worksheets for clients, etc. It was really piecemeal, and I ended up making a lot of my own stuff from scratch. As I was going through it, I realized that other therapists were constantly asking the same questions I was asking, but we didn’t have a centralized location to share our resources together.
So, I called Carrie, who has the creative business and marketing brain, to see what she thought about coming up with a hub. That’s where Therapy Homeroom was born.
Can you share the most exciting story that has happened to you since you began at your company?
The most exciting part of this is just how much people’s eyes light up when we talk about what we’re doing with Therapy Homeroom. We’ve gotten so much validation from people in the mental health industry, as well as in the finance, management, technology, legal, and marketing realms.
There are some big names in the mental health field who are taking notice of us and are interested in what we’re doing. We’ve got some great collaborations coming up, and we’re so excited to dive in. It’s awesome to know that other people out there believe in what Therapy Homeroom stands for as much as we do.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson did you learn from that?
We have made so many mistakes along the way it’s hard to keep count! One of the most amusing mistakes we ran into when we first started was thinking that the ecommerce marketplace we wanted to create was something that we could build on our own in a short period of time.
As we started really delving into how big this project was actually going to be built, we realized two things. First, we discovered that we were definitely going to need an IT professional with expertise in custom-building ecommerce businesses to help us get the features we were really looking for. We also quickly realized that this project was going to take us much, much longer to complete than we had thought.
We really learned a lot from this experience. First and foremost, we learned that it’s important to be realistic with timelines and expectations when building an ecommerce platform. This project was much bigger than we anticipated and required more time and effort than we initially anticipated. We also discovered the value of having an IT professional with the appropriate expertise on board to guide us through the process.
Additionally, we realized that we needed to take our time when building an ecommerce marketplace platform. It is essential to thoroughly research all features and possible integrations before starting the development process, as well as any potential pitfalls or areas where customization may be necessary in order to create a product that truly meets the needs of its users. This experience taught us to pay attention to detail and not rush into certain decisions without considering all aspects of the project first.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Carrie: Even though therapists go through a lot of schooling, have advanced degrees, and training to know how to help people, they don’t always know how to market themselves to get the right people to notice. They may struggle with creating the right messaging, setting up an online presence, or determining which marketing activities are worth the investment of their time and energy. In addition, they may feel overwhelmed with all the different options available to them and not have a clear plan for how to move forward.
We realized early on that this is a huge pain point for people who want to use our marketplace but don’t know how to get started.
Lana: So right now, we’re wrapping up putting together a user-friendly guide for therapists who are interested in creating digital goods and scaling their businesses. Our mission with this is to take out the guesswork and feelings of frustration many people have when starting out by providing step-by-step instructions that are easy to understand. In there, we also point out the most important considerations and teach key concepts related to creating digital goods and scaling their business.
We plan to give this out for free to our community so they can feel more confident that they have what it takes to really help people with their unique skills and perspectives in a way that feels natural.
What are three traits about yourselves that you feel helped fuel your success?
That’s a great question! Here are the three traits that have helped us feel the most confidence in ourselves as we push forward.
1. We are team and community-oriented
As successful business leaders, being a team and community-oriented business makes us better prepared to take on whatever challenges come our way. We understand that we can’t always do things alone, so by creating an environment in which collaboration is not only accepted but encouraged, we allow ourselves to access a vast pool of knowledge and skills that would be harder to acquire if we worked individually.
By working together, we’re able to leverage the strengths of everyone involved and identify areas of improvement or opportunities for growth. By recognizing what each person is best suited for and putting them in a position where they can thrive, we create an atmosphere where creativity is given space to flourish, and success is more likely.
Additionally, by staying connected to the community around us, we are able to stay informed about the ever-changing needs of our customers and the marketplace, which allows us to adjust our strategies accordingly. Ultimately, being a team and community-oriented business helps us become more effective and ethical business leaders as it encourages us to think more holistically about how our actions affect the greater good.
2. We don’t compare ourselves with other peoples’ highlight reels
It’s really easy to get caught up in looking at the people who have what you want and believe that their success came overnight or that it came easily to them. The reality is that you’re only seeing their highlight reel, not all of the time and effort that went into it behind the scenes.
Comparisons are unhelpful because they set an unrealistic timeline for success, which leads to discouragement when things don't happen as quickly as expected. It's important to remember that everyone's journey is different, and nobody out there is going to do what we do in the way we do it.
Sure, there might be others selling products or services like ours, but ours is different! We’re not striving to live someone else’s vision of success—we’re striving to live in our own. We recognize that there are literally thousands of mental health service providers out there. We aren’t trying to appeal to all of them–we’re trying to appeal to those who align with what we can offer.
3. We ask questions
We don’t waste time trying to guess what people want or pretend that we know what is better for our customers than they do. What better way to find out what people are talking about than to hear it directly from them? We routinely ask people where they’re feeling stuck and what their hopes for the future are, and we use their answers to guide our business-making decisions. We keep it simple!
What was your original vision for your ecommerce business? What pain point(s) were you trying to solve for your customers?
Mental health professionals face a unique set of challenges, including the need to provide quality care for their clients while also managing their own business operations and trying to find time for lunch somewhere in between. Accessing reliable resources and information that can be used in both settings is often difficult, time-consuming, and unreliable.
This is especially true if they must search through a plethora of sources to find what is most relevant and accurate. Furthermore, many mental health professionals, especially those who are solo practitioners or small business owners, do not have the necessary time or resources available to conduct the necessary research to build an effective library of resources from scratch. This is a major pain point, as it can not only slow their ability to provide quality care but also slow down business operations. It creates additional stress for therapists who are already working in an emotionally taxing industry.
Finding quick and easy access to resources with verified accuracy quickly has become increasingly important for mental health professionals looking to improve their practice efficiency and client outcomes.
But as we’ve spent more time delving into what mental health professions really want, we’ve discovered that they’re not looking for another worksheet or training. They’re looking for freedom. By freedom, we noticed that they want: To have more personal time, have a steady income without being overloaded by 1:1 work, feel like they have more control over their work, and feel more confident in their skills when helping people. This has helped us evolve our work over time for sure!
How did social media help you grow your business? What were your strategic objectives, and how did you implement your social media plan?
Social media is a catalyst for many things, but we've used it to create and strengthen brand awareness. Being a start-up—and one that is truly unique—it was key that we share our story, vision, and product.
Implementing is always easier said than done—it takes time and true effort. It's more than just throwing a post out there. We first identified our target audience and then examined that type of person. What do they want more of? What do they go to bed thinking about? How old are they? Where do they live?
From there, we curated content using marketing research alongside the help of subject matter experts (SMEs) in the field.
Which social media platforms have you found most beneficial for ecommerce specifically?
This is such a great question because, depending on your product/audience, you may find yourself on a platform you never thought would be beneficial.
So far, for us, Facebook Groups and Instagram have been really engaging. While that’s what has worked for us, your buyers might be over on LinkedIn or another platform which is fine, too! Meet your audience where they're spending most of their time and focus your energy there.
What social commerce trends are you most closely paying attention to, and how are you preparing to leverage them for growth?
Right now, we're keen to keep an eye on video content, artificial intelligence, and automation.
Videos are taking over a lot of social media platforms, and honestly, we're here for it. But we're paying attention to how users are interacting with the videos and how we can increase conversions.
Next, we're pretty big on technology since we are a digital goods platform. We love artificial intelligence for content creation and using automation. Technology, AI, and automation really give us, and our audience, the tools for more freedom in our daily lives—which is what Therapy Homeroom is all about.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen when companies try to use social media to promote ecommerce? What can be done to avoid those mistakes?
Something I see all the time is a lack of content marketing or too direct sales.
Content marketing is providing value to your audience so that when they are ready to buy, you're top of mind.
But so many folks starting their business on social media hop on there and scream, "BUY MY STUFF, and here's why it's so awesome," without explaining to the user how it's going to help them. That's huge for social media promotion.
In order to avoid making this mistake, I'd say hop on YouTube or take a course in content marketing. You won't regret it!
Based on your experience and success, what are your top 5 ways to use social media to grow your ecommerce business?
1. Use social media to create authentic relationships
As a therapist, I understand how impactful a strong connection can be. It’s important to understand that creating a successful relationship through social media is all about connecting on a deeper level. This means actively engaging with people and getting to know them and what’s important to them.
It’s also important to remember that regardless of what platform you choose to use, make sure that you’re giving more than you’re taking in that space.
What we mean by this is if you choose to join a Facebook group to create hype around your ecommerce business, be a helpful human! Don't just interact in your communities with shameless plugs for your products and services. People will notice, and they will remember. Actively network and create authentic relationships that will speak for themselves.
2. Focus on getting good at one social media platform at a time
People often believe that to market their ecommerce business successfully, they must post on all of the social media platforms out there to get noticed. However, each of these platforms has different strategies for engagement, algorithms, and asset styling. By honing in on one platform, businesses can better understand the algorithms that are being used to categorize and prioritize posts, which leads to more successful engagement and higher results. They'll also be able to develop a thorough understanding of what types of visuals, video content, or copy will grab the attention of their desired audience.
Additionally, having only one platform to focus on will make it easier for businesses to create thoughtful strategies and campaigns that drive tangible sales goals or brand recognition rather than simply posting for the sake of posting. This allows them to carefully craft content from start to finish instead of feeling overwhelmed by trying to post across multiple platforms and potentially not seeing any results for their efforts.
Overall, taking the time to focus your energy and resources on mastering one platform at a time is essential if you want your ecommerce business's social media marketing efforts to be successful.
3. Don’t be afraid to use AI or machine learning
This can help make your interactions more customized and efficient. However, always remember that no amount of technology can replace the need for genuine human interaction. We love finding a unique balance between bots and humans—it's the future!
4. Understand your metrics
Whether your clients find you from your website or paid advertising on your social media channels, your various digital marketing tools are making the first impressions of yourself and your business on your behalf.
However, some of these tools can often lead to dead ends.
Say hello to vanity metrics. Vanity metrics refer to the statistics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that look amazing on the outside but do not translate to any tangible business results.
You can have thousands of followers and no website clicks. You can have thousands of website clicks and no bookings.
Although your digital marketing strategy may be superb, it can become exhausting to waste your time and energy on nourishing your digital presence without any real results.
We look at KPIs like cost per lead, website clicks, lead conversion rates, new client conversion rates, and cost per new client. In order to avoid the natural learning curves that digital marketing strategies consist of, we consider leaning on actionable metrics rather than vanity metrics.
5. Interact and be yourself
When interacting with people online, don't be afraid to show your true personality! People are searching for authentic connections. Be open, honest, and friendly while maintaining an inclusive tone at all times—don't forget that there are people from all walks of life using these networks, and we should feel welcome regardless of our backgrounds or beliefs!
Remember to keep your conversations real by asking questions about things that truly interest you. That’s what creates that authentic connection and keeps it fun.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, what would that be?
We want quality mental health to be accessible to everyone. We mean everyone!
How do we do that in an ever-evolving and highly demanding field? As mental health professionals, we are always looking for the best strategies and solutions to help our clients. With digital tools that allow professionals in the industry to connect with one another for support and guidance, we can continuously improve our clinical skill sets without reinventing the wheel.
By collaborating through shared knowledge—from helping someone discover a successful treatment modality or finding ways to save time on paperwork—together, we can make quality mental health care accessible everywhere!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can get to know us and Therapy Homeroom more by going to therapyhomeroom.com or sending us a DM on Instagram! We'd love to chat.
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