3 Ways to Attract LGBT Clients

A great blog post about how Doulas, Lactation Professionals, and Birth and Baby Workers can attract more LGBT clients to their practice and be more inclusive at the same time!

I get asked by so many birth and baby business professionals, "How do I get attract expectant or new parent LGBT clients?" Usually I'm asked this for 1 of 3 reasons, or maybe a combination of all of them:

1.) We have a lot of LGBT clients and students, whether in our prenatal or parenting classes or our babywearing or lactation clients at our parenting center in St. Louis, Missouri.

2.) I'm a lesbian, married, with a kiddo.

(The main pic is me and my fabulous family a few years back.)

3.) They simply have not ever had an LGBT client or haven't had very many and they don't know where to start.

Now, if LGBT clients aren't specifically your target market, that's ok. It can't hurt to appear to be more inclusive. And you'll probably find that a lot of LGBT parents may actually be in your target market. Because, for LGBT parents, our sexuality or gender identity is not what defines us-  it's just a part of who we are.

So let's get straight (ha) to the point....

1. Use inclusive language

"Ok, so what does this even mean?!?" you ask? Well, it's pretty simple. 

Inclusive language simply means that no one is excluded. Your language is open and general enough that it includes everyone that may walk through your doors or read your content or visit your website.  

Here are some example that might help give an idea of exclusive vs inclusive:

>Your intake form might ask for Mom's Name and Dad's Name
>Your inclusive intake form might ask for Parent/Guardian and an additional Parent/Guardian

>Prenatal history and physical form may ask about "Father's Medical History"
>An inclusive prenatal history and physical form may ask about a "Father or Donor's Medical History"

>Your blog post might talk about a "Mom and Dad"
>Your inclusive blog post might talk about "Caregivers" or just more generically, "Parents"

>Your website's contact form might ask if the person is Male or Female
>Your website's inclusive contact form might leave a fill in option for Gender, so that they can self identify. 

So where do you even start??

There are a few main areas that I advise people to examine first, when making an effort to make the switch to more inclusive language. Obviously this will be specific to your business or practice type, but this should be a good jumping off point:

  1. Website
    1. Main page
    2. About me/us page
    3. Blog posts
    4. Scheduling system
  2. Documentation
    1. Initial Contact or Customer Information Form
    2. Intake Forms
    3. Clinical Documentation
  3. Education
    1. Presentations and lectures
    2. Handouts and Guides
    3. Resource Lists
  4. Marketing Materials 
    1. Brochures
    2. Welcome packet
    3. Outreach items such as banners, signs, etc.
  5. People
    1. Staff and Subcontractors
    2. Instructors
    3. Business Partners
    4. Referral Partners

As an aside, I had to add "People" to the mix because this is a big one. You can make every effort to be inclusive, but if someone who works for you or with you isn't as inclusive, your efforts will be a moot point. I highly recommend that if you have staff or a team of subcontractors, that you have them take a cultural competency course of some kind (we offer them online. Which is why you should join our Professional Network News so you know when they are coming up!. You business is only as strong as the people who are working for it. 

I recommend going through each and every step of your client on-boarding process, pretending you are a client yourself. What would a potential LGBT client see when they come to your site or pick up a brochure? What would they see if they tried to book an appointment online? What questions would they be asked if they called to scheduled a new appointment with a staff member? What forms would they fill out when they arrived? What would they fill out on their client portal or history form? What materials would they receive upon arriving to your office or receiving a welcome packet? What would they be asked by other staff in your office during their appointment? What language will you, yourself, use during an appointment, birth, or shift? 

If you examine each small step that the potential client will take to become an actual client, it can help to make sure that it's a welcoming experience from start to finish.

Have an LGBT friend or family member who you're close to? Would they be willing to be a "secret shopper" and test this process out for you and provide feedback? Even better!

One of the additional advantages of considering inclusivity in attracting more LGBT clients is that you are also being more inclusive of all sorts of families- single parents, co-parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, and non-traditional families. I've also found that potential clients, who may fall more in the "traditional family type" also notice and appreciate the effort to be inclusive. 

 


~Free gift for you!~

 

We want you to have a useful tool to help you get started in attracting more LGBT clients to your business.

So here's your free printable checklist!

 

2. Bring in LGBT friendly imagery 

So many people in our field feel like they need to put a giant pride flag on their website or materials to say "HEY! OVER HERE!! I'M GAY FRIENDLY!!!!!"

But, I'm here to tell you that while that is a lovely sentiment, you really don't have to do all of that. 

High quality images of LGBT parents on a few places throughout your website goes such a long way in sending the message that you are an ally and that you are welcoming of people in our community. Trust me, we notice. And there doesn't have to be a million of them. Just a couple throughout your website or one in your printed materials will do the trick. 

In our parenting center's family room space, we feature families of all kinds, including some same sex parents and their kiddos. New clients comment all of the time how wonderful of a message this wall sends. We also have images in our website and on our print materials.

If you have an office or store and have images of babies, parents, etc., you can include a same sex family in the mix. Or maybe you have a brochure rack- you could include some brochures from a local LGBT center or LGBT parenting group.

There are lots of stock image places online. The best source is if you know anyone in your personal life, or regular clients, who would be willing to share a professionally produced image of them and their family. Real life people within the community, rather than super corny stock images, go a long way in increasing legitimacy.

3. Get knowledgable

So you've put all of this work into making your marketing materials, website, forms, and office being more inclusive and welcoming. Yes! Awesome work!

But if a potential client comes in and you don't know the first thing about how to serve them, or you speak in ways that make it clear you've had little to no experience working with someone like them, then you've gone to all of that work for nothing. Not only will you probably not retain that client, but they will probably tell their friends about their negative experience.

The LGBT parenting community. in most places, is small and close-knit. Many of us go to a lot of the same healthcare providers, stores, and even restaurants, based on experiences we've heard from fellow parents in the community. 

I don't mean for that to scare you. It's ok to make a mistake, so long as you acknowledge that you made it directly to them, apologize, and move on. It happens. But wouldn't it be nice to avoid awkward mistakes to begin with?

Some areas that you might want to research further, to become a more competent provider include:

  1. The many wonderful ways that LGBT folks form their families so the minute a client says "we conceived through an IUI through a known donor,"- you know what that means and don't look or act dumbfounded.
  2. Legal challenges LGBT parents face- because marriage equality brought us a long way, but we still have many legal hurdles when it comes to protecting our families
  3. Local providers that are known to be "friendly" and those who are not- a bad referral can reflect badly on you!
  4. Using correct pronouns or asking for a person's preferred pronouns
  5. Learn about subjects of interest to LGBT parenting: the adoption process, co-nursing, inducing lactation, SNS use, finding welcoming schools, finding safe communities to raise children, etc
  6. Resources in your community for future or current LGBT parents

I would also encourage you not to use your potential clients or current clients to find out about all of the above. This is a common mistake that people make. They have great intentions and are very interested in learning more about all of these things, so they ask prying questions that may make the person/s feel uncomfortable. I cannot even count how many people, professionals and providers included, asked me personal details about how my wife and I conceived. Now, I am an open book and love talking about these subjects, so I wasn't offended. But for many folks, these are extremely intimate topics- just as when, where, and how an opposite-sex couple conceived is likely very intimate. 

So that's some solid advice to get you started. But we want to hear from you! If you've read this and have some other tips for folks, comment and share what's worked and not worked for you! And don't forget to download your free checklist!

If you want to continue rocking your birth or baby business, you definitely want to join our professional network.

You get free valuable content, first dibs on our trainings and free webinars, and other awesomeness!


Author:

Kate Schnetzer, MHA, CPD, CBE, CLC, CPST
Co-Owner- Parenting Resources
Co-Owner- Parenting Resources Professional Network

A Secret Peek Into a Parenting Resources Doula Training

A secret peek inside of a Parenting Resources doula training

It's been a couple of weeks since the most recent Comprehensive Postpartum Doula Training ended and I have to say that I'm really missing the wonderful students that we were privileged to spend 5- 5 1/2 days with! I might be going through a bit of withdrawal.

So what better time to reminisce about the wonderful time we had with 12 exemplary doulas, while giving students interest in training with us a glimpse into how we do it here at Parenting Resources.

Day .5

The day before our training officially started, we hosted BLS for Healthcare Providers. We do require our Postpartum Doula students to have this certification in order to certify with us.

They all did a great job and are now all fully equipped to respond quickly and effectively in an emergency. 

 

 

Day 1

You could feel the excitement and nervousness as students entered. No one was quite sure what to expect and many students expressed a bit of anxiety about passing the course. The day started with introductions and ice breakers as well an orientation into the program and our center. We then dove right in to what Postpartum Doula work entailed, scope, and what graduates would be doing during both day and night shifts. 

Daisha Smith, our resident RN and Doula expert gave an in depth presentation about maternal health, postpartum physical healing and recovery, the psychological adaptation to new parenthood, and taught students how birth impacts the postpartum period.

Angie Merriken, our Holistic Health Coach/Doula/Lactation Counselor/Childbirth Educator/Yoga Instructor (Yes she wears many hats!) spent the afternoon teaching students about postpartum and breastfeeding nutrition requirements, how nutrition impact the postpartum body, and provided meal planning strategies and guides. She even taught students how to make an easy-peasy nutritious smoothie. It was quite tasty!

Day 2

This day was ALLLLLL about babies, our favorite subject! Primarily taught by our Co-Owner and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner/IBCLC, Kathy Loughren, the content covered everything you could ever want to know about baby care. Swaddling, disposable diapering, cloth diapering, cloth diapering laundry, soothing, Happiest Baby on the Block, cues, crying, common ailments, common concerns, newborn assessment, colic, gas, what to expect in the first weeks and months, holding, cord care, intact care, circumcision care, bathing, cleaning, infant massage, and more were covered. It was a full day of in depth baby fun! Students who brought their babies even had the opportunity to learn these skills on their own kiddo. Unlike other training programs, students were tested on their skills each day. 

Day 3

This was my hands down favorite day because I had the opportunity to teach babywearing to the students. In my practice, I find that while many people have used a carrier to some extent in their child rearing, they are often not aware of the many benefits of infant carrying, the vast selection of carrier available to them, that they can nurse in a carrier, but most importantly most don't know the safety guidelines to keeping a newborn safe. The students were naturals and mastered ring slings, stretchy wraps, woven wraps, ring slings, and soft structured carriers.

In the afternoon, we were fortunate enough to have 4 guest speakers. First, Dr. DiAntonio, Director of the Women's Reproductive Mental Health and Wellness Program at St. Louis Behavioral Institute provided a glimpse into what she sees in her practice and how Postpartum Doulas can identify, refer, and support clients who are struggling with Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. It was an eye opening presentation, as many students realized that they knew someone close to them who may have exhibited certain warning signs, specifically of Postpartum Depression or Anxiety. 

We then had the pleasure of listening to Michael Adrian and Donn Herring of Lathrop & Gage LLP speak about business entity formation, what legal concerns students should look into when starting a business, insurance considerations, and how to protect themselves and their business legally.

To finish off the day, we had a highly educational presentation by Dr. Gray- Swain of West End OBGYN who presented on the 4th trimester and all of the physiologic concerns that doulas should be aware of for their clients. She provided an in-depth look into topics such as what happens in birth, cesarians, episiotomies, hair loss, skin changes, fluid and swelling, pelvic floor rehabilitation, vaginal healing, limits on exercise and intimacy in the postpartum period, and showed many ways that doulas can support the physical needs of a parent postpartum. 

 

 

Day 4

One of the most important things we do for babies is to feed them. So we spend almost an entire day teaching every feeding option. We specifically focus on breastfeeding. It's important that Postpartum Doulas are versed in current feeding recommendations, the benefits of breastmilk, supply and demand, the physiology of milk production, the nature of breastmilk and how it changes over time, positioning and ergonomics, hand expression, breast massage, identifying improper latch, troubleshooting problems, understanding the common challenges that nursing parents face, when to contact a Lactation Consultant, as well as being familiar with other nursing options including SNS use, co-nursing, induced lactation, and chestfeeding. The most important aspect of breastfeeding for a doula is to understand how to support the parent live and in person, so we brought in a nursing Mom who shared her journey, experiences, and allowed Kathy to demonstrate how to assist her in positioning and making her as comfortable as possible while she fed.

Setting up a breastpump was demonstrated and students learned about proper breastmilk storage, collection, use, and plans for going back to work.  Students also shared their tips in pumping. Proper formula preparation and use was also covered, as well as a demonstration and skills check on the upright paced feeding method.

Students also learned about safety from Kathy and myself. I am a Child Passenger Safety Technician and have found, over the years, that few doulas know even the basics about car seat safety, making it impossible for them to convey information about keeping a baby secured while driving, which is the most dangerous thing we do with our children. Students also learned how to set up a safe sleep environment, risk reduction methods for bed sharing families, and took an in depth look at car seat safety including recommendations and how to secure a child correctly, so that that they could educate parents accordingly. Students even got to practice how to correctly secure a child.

Day 5

The last day is all about cultural competency and business. These topics were two of the biggest areas that we found was missing in all other doula training programs that we reviewed. So doulas leave 1.) feeling less than equipped to work with families of color, other religions, of LGBT families. 2.) not having even the bare basics of how to start, build, and grow their business. 

The fabulous Daisha presented a dynamic lecture on cultural competency and working with families of color. She even brought in another Postpartum Doula of color who is also muslim to share her experiences and her advice for working with diverse cultures and religions. I then presented about working with LGBT families and how to provide respectful, inclusive care as well as how to effectively market to LGBT parents.

We finished the day with a business workshop covering everything from business formation, business planning, marketing theory, startup and operating costs, contracts, welcome packets, print marketing materials, online presence, social media, search engine optimization, outreach, networking, pitching to providers, creating an elevator pitch, and nailing the interview. We're confident that our students now have some fundamentals that they need to consider when getting their new business up and running.  

We closed out the class with the final exam, which we are happy to report that everyone passed with flying colors!

 

Congratulations to the Class of March 2016! We can't wait to see what you do with your business, your practice, and the impact that you will surely have on new families!


Ready to jump into your new Doula Career?

Or maybe you want to hear more about why you should?


Author:

Kate Schnetzer, MHA, CPD, CBE, CLC, CPST
Co-Owner- Parenting Resources
Co-Owner- Parenting Resources Professional Network