B2B Ethics

Did your client read that Tweet?

Over on Facebook, the Business & Marketing Skills for Therapist Group (here) are helpfully discussing how they can get their message about their practices (etc) out into a wider world.  Some members of the group are professional marketeers, some members are professional therapists.  Something happened to me today that made me notice something that’s essential to therapists as we learn to market our services using public social networks. 

Let me share with you a story…

Tweeting? Twittering? Tweeping?

Over the past month or so I’ve been posting information about counselling on Twitter. I have only 90-or-so followers (compare this with Stephen Fry who has nearly 4 million followers). It’s good fun, it strengthens my reflective practice, it gets me known a little more and brings some new folk to my website.

One might think that 90 people – some of whom are porn stars, one of whom I’m sure is not really a hedgehog, and some of whom seem to hope I’ll be buying their obscure products any moment now – are all who are reading my posts. Maybe not even 10% of the 90 are really reading what I haven’t say.  So little feedback, you see.  So, what might it matter if I might casually slip in a small case example to demonstrate a point in a Tweet?  What harm could 140 characters cause?  It’s only 9-ish people that’ll ever read what I tweeted.

The issue, though, isn’t how few people are reading me (or you, dear fellow therapist, once you hit that Tipping Point).  The issue is that once my post goes into the world, anyone can get at it. 



Do you know who reads your tweets?

Today, I was surprised (though delighted) to find that some of my Tweets have begun appearing in online newspapers recently. Surprised because these are online resources that I do not follow, they don’t follow me, and I haven’t sent them any of my tweets.  But they’ve still gotten hold of them (“public”, remember!). 

By some mathem-agical power of the InterWeb, my little tweets have somehow spread out into the big, scary world and, by chance more than design, have gotten included in publications that I’ve never heard of.  My words are circulating around (at least for 24 hours until the next publications go out tomorrow, at least).

How thrilling!!

But, can we return back to that little case example I might have Tweeted about?

I put to you – dear ethical reader – the query…

…what if one of the readers of these online papers happened to be the client that I referred to in my Tweet?

What if he recognised himself?

What damage would I have done by, perhaps imagining that non of my followers had anything to do with my client; that they were the only ones who would have read my misplaced comment* ?

Ethics & Marketing.

In the Facebook group earlier discussed, therapists and skilled marketers are passing around valuable information on how a therapist might get their message out there into the world.  I would suggest to you that sometimes it happens – and when it happens BOY does it get far and wide out there.

Marketing experts will teach us therapists these things… but the ethics in what we, as therapists, put out there are entirely our responsibility … and ours alone. 

Anonymising a case is not the same as protecting its confidentiality.

And anything you write on the Internet is not private :p

I’ll leave you with that thought.

Comments are welcome, below, but preferably back on the Facebook group if this is where you found this post.

Just to clarify – I don’t discuss online/in public forums any current case work at all.  When demonstrating a point, I tend to make references to generalised examples or to casework that is already in public circulation (eg a case discussed by Patrick Casement in one of his books) .


First VistaPrint Order

A few days ago, I promised the “Business and Marketing Skills For Therapists” group on Facebook a report on my first order from VistaPrint.

A description follows, and photographs are below.


I’ve been designing my own marketing material for some years, now, but whilst some of the paper one can obtain from Staples, PC World etc is of very good quality, some of the features of the media is lacking.

For example, glossy paper can only be printed on one side (print on the other side and the ink literally slides slowly off the paper as the print comes out of the ink jet printer!), heavyweight paper (280gsm) is reasonable for Rack Cards, but the equivalent in business cards feels a little flimsy and wrong.

The Project!

Use VistaPrint to upload my own designs, following their guidelines to the letter, take advantage of their many special offers, and see what things are like when I open the box upon arrival.


I’m 90% happy.

Costs ended up as feeling reasonable – I was advised by a colleague to order the items but not pay for them – and wait for at least three offers of discounts by email.  In doing so I paid around £60 and saved around £150 – however, I’m not entirely convinced that these marketing items would have been worth £210 – suggesting to me that VistaPrint may artificially inflate their prices in order to give discounts.  Just my opinion.


All the items “feel” right & (mostly) look right.

Colours look wonderful on most things and the “feel” of the items are what I’d expect when I pick them up (one gets a sense of something as being “cheap” or “quality” by their feel, and I get a “90%” feel of quality with all the items).



Foil: I choose to have “foil” business cards (which adds a layer of shiny metallic to areas of your card).  VistaPrint says: “When any colour ink is applied over the foil it creates a brilliant highlighting effect that seems to change colour. Your cards are distinctive and your designs really stand out.”  However, whilst the foil does make the card look “oooh shiny” it has also dulled the colour of my logo to the point of being drab.  I use highlights and gradients in my logo and the foil layer washes these subtleties away.

Packaging: VistaPrint wrapped most “multiple” item (eg 250 business cards) with a plastic band, and put every “banded” collection in an oblong box along with the mug wrapped in cardboard and the business cards in a separate box.  They added a couple of “air bags” to supposedly protect the items.  No way did this protect any of the items and the box bounced and rattled its way to my home.  Most of the items (eg postcards) have a slightly “damaged” feel to the edges – which may have been caused by the packaging, or may have been caused by a not-very-sharp cutting tool when it came off the printing press.

What would have made me 100% happy?

  • Sharply cut, neat edges on postcards and rack cards.
  • My business card’s “foiled” logo being as brilliantly coloured as on all the other items.
  • Professional packaging to protect all the items.


(Click the image to show larger version)

 All the items ordered from VistaPrint

 Business Cards
Front: Colour, matt (silky feel), foil around logo.
Back: Colour, matt (rougher feel)

 Business Cards
Demonstrating the foil around the logo

 Business Card Holder
Metal holder – holds about 25 cards.

 Rack Cards
Front: Colour, glossy.
Back: Colour, matt.

Glossy front (grey scale on the back – not shown)

 Car Magnet
Small sized magnet to go on card door.

I couldn’t resist just buying the one 😀

VistaPrint can be found at