Business Discovery: CBT Provider

A client engaged us for branding, and reinvented their business in the process.

Our client was a highly qualified and well-respected forensic psychologist and his business partner an experienced behavioural therapist.

His time spent working in clinical institutions had revealed a common problem. Service users exhibiting challenging and sometimes dangerous behaviour were often being supervised by carers with little or no training in managing that type of behaviour. 

In the worst cases they (or service users themselves) were physically at risk and, even in the best case scenario, the carers’ job was endlessly tough. Staff turnover rates were high, and the quality of care inevitably suffered.

The business case was relatively simple: to offer training for carers covering basic, practical techniques for managing challenging behaviour or – even better – understanding how to avoid and prevent situations where small conflicts were likely to escalate.

The benefits of this service were obvious: happier, safer staff would result in lower turnover means reduced costs, less chance of long-term sickness, less risk of compensation claims. Better interactions with service users would improve their quality of care, keep them safer – everyone wins.

The training program had been part-written, the client and partner were eminently qualified to deliver it, and it would include an innovative online component (this was at a time when online training was not well-established).

The client had come to us for help with branding including name generation, and to produce a suite of marketing materials.

Obviously, in order to create any sort of effective branding, you need first to fully understand the value proposition – and so we spent a few hours digging into the business model and the audience for the service. And that’s where hit the problem.

There was nobody that could actually fund the training.

The private trust running the facilities had allocated budgets for certain things – but none of them would have covered training for proactive, preventative measures, or those aimed at improving quality of life for staff. None of the other organisations involved in the overall care package were in a position to fund the training either.

Our client was stunned. The need for the service was so obvious, the benefits for everyone so clear… and yet the system was set up in such a way, that there was no single entity that could sign a cheque to enable the training to take place. 

In all the planning our client had done, in all the effort devising the program, and in the excitement and momentum of conceiving and launching a new business with such a clear social value  – nobody had asked that question – and the answer was fatal for the proposed business model.

Our client, to their huge credit, quickly regrouped – and we continued with our discovery process. Having understood the skills and experience the client could offer, we brainstormed with them a hundred other options and, from that, was born a *new* business – a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy provider for individuals, groups and organisations, with a highly innovative approach. That’s a story I’ll cover in a different post.

Following the discovery process, we developed a distinct personable but minimalist visual style for branded materials. This poster has since been adopted by mental health organisations far and wide.

Months later the new business was off the ground, and the clients thanked us for helping them avoid wasting time, money and energy marketing something which ultimately couldn’t be sold. Instead they pivoted, found a niche, and made a successful business out of it.