Marketing is part of any doula business. Unlike yoga students or massage clients, our families use our services and then move on. Therefore, publicity, like laundry is never done. Do something every day to promote your business.
Remember that every experienced doula was once an enthusiastic new doula, wondering where their clients would come from. They built their business and you can too. Consider what problems your doula care will solve for families. Create an elevator speech that briefly describes what you do, so you can explain to people quickly the nature of your business. Practice saying it out loud until it flows easily. Be positive about yourself and what you have to offer.
For your business to succeed, you must believe you are offering useful services. Identify any specific concerns you have about marketing or delivering your services. Develop a positive affirmation or two that focuses you in the direction you want to go. Write it down and place it in a prominent place (computer screen, refrigerator door, bathroom mirror) and read it out loud frequently.
As you get started, you’ll need a website that clearly presents what you offer and where you are located. Include testimonials from past clients and an introduction to you and the work that you do and includes your photograph. Ask friends and family to proofread your site and give you feedback. While many families hear about a doula through word of mouth, they often will go to their website to learn more. List yourself on CAPPA’s page and include a photo and your website url. Start a Facebook page for your business and frequently post relevant, positive, information. Go online and look for services as if you are pregnant in your area. List yourself on whatever free sites come up.
Connect with other new doulas in your community and from your training to support each other, refer to each other, and back each other up. Introduce yourself in local Facebook groups. If you have a niche you want to develop (VBAC, LGBTQ, Spanish speaking, homebirth, twins, teen parents, etc.) mention your credentials to work with that specific population. Do you have other related services to offer, such as belly casting, caring for siblings at a birth, or photography?
Brainstorm where your potential customers are. Get permission to post fliers in maternity stores, toy stores, baby stores, libraries, coffee shops, chiropractor, ob, midwifery, massage, and acupuncture offices, birth centers, etc. Consider being a guest lecturer at a childbirth class, centering pregnancy appointment, or breastfeeding support group. Table at baby fairs; if this is cost prohibitive, share a table with others offering related services. With other doulas in your area, offer local meet the doulas nights or birth professional support teas. Participate in ongoing continuing education so you stay current, meet other professionals in your area, maintain your certification(s) and have an increasing skills base to offer your families.
Your satisfied past clients will be one of your best sources of referrals. Consider staying in touch with them by sending a birthday card annually to their children. Always ask new families how they heard about you. Follow up with thank you notes to those who refer to you. If you are just building your doula business, but have a related skill (massage therapist, yoga instructor, childbirth educator, etc.) contact your clients to let them know that you’re now offering doula services. Build a network of providers of related services including lactation consultants, prenatal exercise instructors, prenatal massage therapists, chiropractors, midwives, and childbirth educators whose services you know you can recommend, and who will be likely to refer to you as well. Never bad mouth other professionals.
Follow up with every potential client promptly. Families often hire the doula they speak with or fall in love with the first one they interview. Several days after an initial interview, phone call, or email, reconnect to see if you can answer additional questions.
Marketing and business skills require different strengths than doula work. Most doulas didn’t choose this career because they wanted to excel at self promotion. Yet these steps are necessary to be able to get to where you want to be: a doula with a sustainable business who is able to reach the families with whom they want to work.
Adapted with permission from the doula anthology Round the Circle: Doulas Share Their Experiences by Julie Brill, IBCLC, CCCE, CLD.
About the Author
Julie Brill, CCCE, CLD, IBCLC, CHLC is a childbirth educator, doula, lactation consultant, mentor for childbirth educators and doulas, writer, and speaker. She owns and manages WellPregnancy in Bedford, Massachusetts. She has been teaching childbirth and breastfeeding classes and attending births since 1992 and mentoring new birth professionals throughout New England as a member of the CAPPA Faculty since 2003. Additionally, she is a Certified Holistic Lactation Consultant and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in private practice, offering in-home breastfeeding consultations.
Julie is the author of the doula anthology Round the Circle: Doulas Share Their Experiences. She is also the mother of two young adult daughters who she homeschooled until they entered college. She is certified to present Peggy Huddleston’s Prepare for Cesarean Birth, Heal Faster workshops. She graduated from Tufts University with a degree in Sociology and Women’s Studies and completed the Massachusetts Midwifery Alliance Apprenticeship Course. Julie is a member of the CAPPA, La Leche League International, and the United States Lactation Consultants Association.