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Marketing Your Services — Success Tips

According to a recent survey, about 75 percent of massage therapists report they are attempting to build their practices by trial and error with no adequate background in business. The average career in massage therapy is only five years, with one of the main reasons for a such a short career being lack of business expertise. So, you can see that devoting proper attention to the promotion and marketing of your practice is vital to your ultimate success. This article is designed to give you some basic marketing tips to help you succeed in building your practice.

One of the traits most therapists have in their favor (and one we share with you) is a natural inclination to deliver a level of service above and beyond what is generally expected. In other words, it rewards you on a deeply personal level to help your clients as much as possible. In today’s world, this attention to detail is sorely lacking. So, when people find places that deliver an extraordinary level of service, they are much more likely to be happy, repeat clients — and to refer others to you!

The obvious emphasis for most therapists is on developing excellent massage techniques and skills. This is the basis of your practice. The next most important step is creating and developing your overall image. If you want the opportunity to build a strong, repeat practice, the image you present to your clients plays a major part in your success. Everyone has their likes and dislikes, and you have to create an atmosphere that somehow pleases most people. As an example, an excellent therapist will be attuned to the mood of her client at the beginning of each session and present an appropriate mood. If you and your client are both by nature happy people, but your client arrives in a somber mood, will you relate best by being lighthearted or by respecting your client’s mood and just quietly being there for her? In the same way you learn to feel the trouble spots that need your attention while delivering a massage, it pays to be aware of your clients’ emotional moods and react accordingly.

Every aspect of your image should be considered with the same care. In business, we learn to emulate success and to avoid mistakes we observe others making. It saves a lot of time, money, and personal distress. So, a good starting point is to find out what other successful therapists are doing and adopt similar strategies in your own operation.

When making your plans, you do have to take into account your particular circumstances. In order to succeed, you need to be in the vicinity of people who can afford your services and who are interested in receiving bodywork. If you have an office, finding an appropriate location (easy to get to, affluent part of town, quiet setting, etc.) is important. If you operate a mobile practice, you should be able to get to your clients’ locations in a timely manner. The best massage technique available in the most beautiful office will do nothing without an interested, paying public. Researching your area and creating a suitable practice for your surroundings is time well spent. Gathering input from positive-minded people can help you pick the direction for your practice that will be the most beneficial in your area.

Every choice you make defines the image you are creating that, in turn, communicates who you are to your prospects and clients. The right image will attract business. Part of that image is created by the atmosphere in your office (interior design, ambience, music, etc.). Another important part of your image is your marketing materials. Things such as business cards, stationery, advertisements, newsletters, brochures, web site, etc. are your representatives in the world. When properly chosen, they, too will attract business to you.

Small businesses have to decide when it makes the most sense to do something "in house" and when it’s better to hire outside help. Questions to ask yourself: Do I have the ability to do this myself? How much of my time will I need? If I do this myself, will I get the results I need? Does it make more sense to pay someone else to do this step, which frees me to deliver more massages?

When it comes to creating your image with your marketing materials, usually it’s best to hire professionals who specialize in marketing and promotion. To draw a parallel, have you ever known someone to say, "If I need it, I’ll just get my spouse to give me a back rub..."? You know how much you’ve learned about massage and how much time it takes to develop the skills that bring real results to your clients. Somehow, you need to educate these people, to get them to see the whole story. Effective marketing requires a similar level of dedication and skill. So you can expect better results from your promotional materials when they are professionally created.

Unless you have a background in marketing, you are in a similar position. There are a lot of details that go into creating effective materials that will generate business for you. When you consider the amount of money you’ll spend to get professional assistance in creating the right image versus the return in business you’ll receive, you should come out way ahead by working with a marketing specialist. You can spend a lot of money in the pursuit of attracting business. If you don’t send just the right message, you may not get the response you need. This approach has another benefit: it allows you to stay more focused on your true purpose — helping your clients with bodywork.

Another advantage of hiring a professional to create your image and marketing materials is the collective knowledge available to you. We’ve created newsletters, brochures, etc. for well over 1,000 practices throughout the U.S. and Canada. By working closely with so many practices over the years, we have gathered quite a collection of marketing ideas. As one of our clients, you can draw from this broad base of ideas to find specific methods that really fit your practice and your personality.

Another mistake many therapists make is to assume that once they’ve worked on a client, that client will just naturally call to reschedule in the future. People are busy. There are nearly unlimited choices where to spend time and money. You need to remind your public you are there and educate them as to why it’s important to see you regularly. Remember, virtually all successful businesses continually contact their specific publics to keep them coming back!

For the last several years, there have been about 50,000 new therapists graduating from massage schools in the U.S. each year. This means you will be facing more competition in the years ahead. So, developing client loyalty should be an important part of your plans. In an interview regarding his new book on Customer Relationship Management (CRM at the Speed of Light: Capturing and Keeping Customers in Internet Real Time), author Paul Greenburg reports that it costs from four to 11 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain one. So, including marketing tools to remind your clients to reschedule is an important, cost-effective part of your overall marketing strategy.

Hopefully by now, you can begin to appreciate some of the many benefits we can offer you by helping to create a professional image for you. Please contact us to discuss further your marketing needs and to learn just how we can help you reach all your practice goals. We are here specifically to help you succeed!