Many therapists, especially newer therapists, struggle to develop a strong client base and have difficulty reaching new clients and getting them booked. There are many techniques for marketing and many advertising firms who would love to sell you marketing packages. While some of these things do work, many are simply too far reaching (and expensive) for a massage practice. Why pay for advertising in a town that is 40 miles away when your client base consists primarily of people who live and work within 10 miles?
Knowing Your Ideal Client
An important piece of marketing is knowing your ideal client. So how can a massage therapist truly “know” their ideal client? Ask! Ask the clients you already have where they heard of you. This question should be on your intake form. Ask them how far they drove to get to you and how you fit into their day and their schedule. Ask them what attracted them to you. You may not want to ask every client “20 questions,” but there are those who you have a good rapport with who are more than happy to take a few moments and help you out by answering some simple questions. After all, they want you to stay in business, too.
Massage therapy is a personal business and, as such, the best marketing is often more personal in nature than what advertising agencies and marketing firms typically offer. It is very possible to create and maintain a decent marketing plan for the year on a minimal budget, but you will need to invest some time and energy into it.
3 Effective Ways to Get Noticed
- Local Events: Offer chair massage at local events, especially any event that has a health and wellness theme. By offering chair massage, even if you charge, you are offering people a chance to speak with you, feel your work and touch, and get comfortable with you before actually making an appointment. The trick to making these events pay off is to be prepared. Have brochures and business cards to hand out. Do a drawing and don’t just give a gift certificate to the winner – email ALL of the entries and offer them a few dollars off when they book with you – and definitely include a link to your website in the email! Have people sign up before you work on them and ask for email addresses, then send them a thank you for visiting you at the event. Take the time to introduce yourself and network with other business owners and vendors at the event. Make everything about the event work for you.
- Referrals: Referrals are the best way to build your business and a referral reward plan is a great way to jump start this process. Even without a reward plan in place, a simple sign reminding clients that you value referrals reminds them to recommend you. When you do get a referral, take the time to thank the referring client, even if you are not offering them any financial bonus. It can mean a lot to someone that you took the time to thank them instead of taking it for granted that they spoke for you with their friends and family.
- Social Media: Social media can be a goldmine and is a wonderful, low cost way of reaching clients and developing an ongoing relationship with your client base. Facebook allows you to create a page, which your clients can like, where you can post regularly with updates about openings and availability, upcoming specials, deals and promotions and, most of all, you can add value to your services by curating health and wellness content for your clients. Don’t make all your posts a hard-sell all about your business. Rather, offer other content that may benefit your clients. Especially if you know a client is following and has a special issue or interest, be sure to add value to that relationship by adding content that the client will be interested in. This way, you are building these relationships with your client base, and their friends, and their friends, and their friends… If you are using Instagram or Snapchat, be sure to be careful with images. Never post pictures of clients without their expressed permission and of course be careful never to post anything that could be mistaken for a sexual image. Massage memes, inspirational images, and nature pictures are fantastic ways to add visuals to your social media. Twitter is another great way to offer added value to your therapeutic relationships by posting health and wellness tidbits throughout the week. Keep in mind that these social media accounts need to be maintained and posted to regularly. If you suddenly go quiet, your client base will think you have gone out of business.
With a little careful planning, some dedication and work, along with a bit of research, it is totally feasible to plan and create a marketing plan that will reach and maintain a relationship with the people who live and work near you, who will be thrilled to become your clients.