Category Archives: Marketing Help

Business Plan Creation Guide for RMTs

business plan for massage therapists

One of the most important decisions you will have to make as an RMT is whether you want to start your own business, or work for someone else. There are pros and cons to both situations, and not everyone is suited to running their own business. There are many misconceptions about the amount of work required to run a clinic, as well as what clinic owners are likely to earn from their business. If you’re considering starting your own business, it’s imperative that you make sure you have a firm understanding of everything that’s involved. The best way to do this is to create a comprehensive business plan.

What is a business plan?

Business plans are documents, usually 20 or more pages long, which describe in detail various important bits of research about a potential business’ likely success or failure. It looks at factors like the location of the business, potential customers (clients), the costs of running the business, what the competition is like, and potential income from the business.

Business plans are traditionally required when you’re applying for a business loan or some other form of external funding. However, creating a business plan even if you don’t plan to apply for a loan is hugely beneficial as a potential business owner. Gathering and organizing the information required for a business plan helps you to make educated choices about your business, and to avoid a lot of the common missteps that new business owners encounter.

There are several components to a business plan. We’ll break each one down, and give you some direction for what to include with each component.

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary is a short form of the entire business plan, including the most important elements of each section. It’s usually only a couple pages long at most. It’s purpose is to provide a concise “short form” of the business plan for someone to review quickly, so they get a good summary of what’s contained in the more detailed plan. It should be included at the beginning of your business plan, but it’s also a good idea to have independent, stand-alone copies ready too. Because the Executive Summary contains information from all the other sections, it’s better to leave this create this section last.

Business Overview

The Business Overview includes general information about the business.

You’ll want to include the proposed structure of the business. The three common types are sole proprietorship, partnership, or incorporation incorporation. If you’re not sure what the difference is, you can read more about business structures here.

You’ll also what to include information about the history of the business (what lead you to creating the proposed business), the type of business (a massage therapy clinic, multi-disciplinary practice, mobile practice, etc.), and the location.

The Business Overview isn’t long, but it should give the reader a clear idea of what sort of practice you will have.

Operations Plan

The Operations Plan is a description of the day to day activities of the business. In the case of a massage therapy clinic, you would describe the different types of tasks completed at the business, such as booking appointments, maintaining and storing client records, treating clients, and so on. This section is also where you describe the layout of the business – how many rooms will the clinic have, and what purpose will each of them have? What types of employees / contractors will work at the location, and what are their general duties?

Assume the reader has never been to a massage therapy clinic before. After reading the Operations Plan, the reader should have a clear understanding of your business’ daily operations.

Market Analysis

You will want to show that there is demand for massage therapy in the region you plan to operate your business. The Market Analysis section is where you describe the demographics of the area (population, age, average income level, etc). You can find this information in the Census Program data from Stats Can. You start by searching for the city where you want to pull data from, and go from there. The most recent data as of the time of this writing is from the 2011 census, but the 2016 data should be released soon.

You’ll want to identify your target market(s) in this section. Target markets are subsets of the general population that you believe your services will appeal to the most. Although it can be tempting to say “I want to target everyone!”, it’s usually better to focus on a particular niche of the population and focus on your attention on them. Obviously you can still treat people outside of your target demographic, but narrowing your focus to a niche allows you to create more effective marketing, build your client’s reputation within that community more quickly, and differentiate yourself from competitors. Examples of target markets include “new moms”, “youth”, and “athletes” (ideally specific types of athletes, such as “runners” or “group sports players”). You should pick a target demographic that you are already very familiar with; usually a niche that you actively belong to yourself.

Once you have a target market figured out, you can use the demographic data to see if the population of the area you selected is likely to support your business. For instance, if you’re planning on opening a clinic which focused on “new moms” in an area which is predominantly elderly, you will struggle to find clientele.

You’ll also want to find census information specific to health conditions and healthcare in the area. Stats Can has information on this topic as recent as 2013 as of the time of this writing. Identifying common health concerns in the area can help you narrow down what areas your practice could focus on, based on what impairments are likely to be prevalent in that region.

It’s helpful and visually appealing to create charts and graphs to show the data you collect in this section. You can use Excel or similar programs to show how large your potential target markets are, how much of the population is likely to have conditions that you can treat, and so on.

Products and Services

In this section, you’ll describe all the various services (and products) your practice will offer. You will want to break down each service / product with a brief description.

Assume your reader doesn’t know anything about massage therapy. After reading this section, they should have a good idea of what a typical treatment will entail (intake, assessment, treatment, home care, etc.).

Sales and Marketing

The Sales and Marketing section is where you will outline your price list, and how clients may purchase your services (in clinic, online, etc.).

You will also use this section to describe your marketing efforts. How will you market reach your target demographic? What will make them want to buy your services? Be specific here – instead of “I will do short in-person seminars running groups”, specify which running clubs you’ll approach, the length and topic of the seminar, a proposed schedule for the talks, and so on. Include several different marketing approaches here, and be mindful of potential costs… you’ll need to know how much each marketing activity will cost for your Financial Plan. Outline how you track to see which marketing activities are working and which aren’t.

Need some marketing ideas? Check out the ClinicWise article “RMT Marketing Strategies“.

Competitive Analysis

Identifying how much competition you will have in your chosen region, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of each of those competitors, is a big part of determining whether starting a business in that area is viable.

You can use Google Maps to search for massage therapy businesses in a specific region. On the map, you can see the areas that have high or low concentrations of massage clinics. You can also use the “Street View” function to see what the area looks like – is it an industrial area or more of a suburb? Is there a major attraction (mall, big box store) nearby, or is it almost entirely residential? Does the area look very wealthy, more low-income? Where are the major employers, likely to offer their employees benefits, relative to the area?

Once you have found a region you like, and have identified your nearby competitors – I would recommend other clinics within a 3-5km radius of where you want to open your clinic, but it depends on the population of the area – you will want to research each one. Check out their location, as well as their marketing materials, to identify strengths and weaknesses. Do they have easy access to parking? Are they located for a lot of walk-in traffic? Are they visible from a busy street? Does the location look profession? Is their marketing appealing? How many practitioners do they have, and what services do each offer? Are their prices above, below, or on par with the other competitors? What makes them stand out from the other clinics? What might turn a client off from visiting that clinic? Are there any elements that would appeal to (or dissuade business from) your target market?

For each competitor, briefly discuss how you will compete against their relative strengths and weaknesses. Make sure to detail what will make you stand out from them. Will you offer services none of the other clinics do?

Management Team

The Management Team section is where you provide the professional biographical information for all key people involved in the business. In a typical sole proprietor massage therapy practice, this might be just the owner of the business, but in larger practices it could also include proposed co-owners, clinic managers, chief operational / financial / sales officers, and so on. A list of each person’s qualifications is important to show they have the skill set required to make sure the business operates effectively.

Financial Plan

The Financial Plan section is likely going to be the most detailed and time-consuming component of your business plan. However, it’s also arguably the most useful part, as it will help you figure out if your business is financially viable or not.

In the Financial Plan, you’re going to include all financial information related to your business. This includes:

Start up costs. What investments will you need to make before you even open the doors? You’ll need to factor in things like registration and insurance, any deposits or down payments for property / renovations / vehicle / etc., stocking your initial supplies, purchasing office and treatment equipment, legal / consulting fees, and so on. Create a spreadsheet and list every single item, along with it’s cost. Don’t estimate costs – research the cost of each item so you have a realistic idea of what the actual total will be.

Ongoing expenses. What monthly / yearly costs will your business incur, just to stay open? Lease payments, hydro and other utilities, yearly registration and insurance renewal, online booking / record keeping systems costs, and other monthly or yearly expenses should all be itemized and listed.

Marketing and promotions. Any new business will likely need to invest a significant amount of resources into acquiring new clients. We often her the value of word-of-mouth marketing, but we need to get clients in the door first. Depending on your target market, and considering the marketing initiatives you described in the Sales and Marketing section, compile a list of all the costs associated with your planned marketing activities. Many of those costs may be on-going.

Occasional / per-treatment expenses. Some expenses fluctuate based on how busy you are. For instance, any supplies you use as part of a treatment will be consumed more often when you get busier. List all costs related to offering your services (locations, acupuncture needles, cleaning supplies, etc.), and break down roughly how much of each supply you use per typical treatment.

Debt repayment. Many small businesses will require to take out loans to cover their start up costs. Make sure to factor in debt repayment into your financial plan. Other debts like student loan payments should may also be considered business expenses – separate out how much is payment on the principle, and how much is interest payment, as you can possibly deduct the interest you paid at income tax time.

Expansions / Renovations / Repairs. Any successful business should have a plan in place for growth. You may want to upgrade equipment (like going from manual to hydraulic tables), renovate your space, of even more into a larger space after your business grows to particular size. On the other end of the spectrum, things break, and money may need be invested periodically for repairs. You’ll want to plan to set money aside regularly to allow for repairs and long-term growth.

Income taxes. As a business owner, you will be responsible for setting aside money for income tax. Your income tax rate varies based on the amount of money you earn during the year (you can find more information on that here). Remember to factor that in as you calculate your income.

Salaries  / IC payments. Most successful clinics eventually need to hire additional therapists in order to expand.  You will want to include any staff payments in your financial plans as well. Some clinics prefer to make their staff employees, otherwise prefer to go the independent contractor route. The rules for employees and contractors are different, both in payment structure and in labour conditions, so make sure you have a firm understanding of the difference  before deciding how to proceed.

Projections. Projections refers to how much income (gross and net) the business is expected to generate. Calculating projections isn’t an exact science, as you’ll need to create estimates about the number of clients you’ll acquire, especially earning on. As a general rule, it’s better to be conservative and low ball the number of clients you’ll acquire for the purpose of creating projections. You would typically break this down into weekly or monthly segments. If you’re not sure where to start with your projections, you can refer to the ClinicWise article “How much should I charge for my fees?“.  It features an Excel spreadsheet tool you can download and play around with some numbers to see how much income you can expect to earn with different service pricing.

The information is usually presented in a table (spreadsheet) format, which is set up to do the calculations for you. That makes it easier to adjust the calculations if one of the amounts changes. The scope of the Financial Plan in your business plan should cover at least a  couple of years.

Addendum(s)

At the very end of your business plan, you should include your references. Typically this is supporting evidence for the claims you make throughout the business plan – print outs of pricing for equipment, raw demographic data, resumes for your management team, and so on.  You don’t have to include price lists for cheap office supplies like paper and pens, but any large purchase (massage tables, bulk lotion, office furniture, commercial lease pricing, etc.) should be included as reference.

 

That’s it! Take your time when creating a thorough business plan. It’s better to have accurate figures rather than hasty ones, or you’ll only end up making uninformed decisions and hurting your business in the long run. It’s always a good idea to have your business plan reviewed by someone you trust who is familiar with business operations, as well as an accountant or someone in the financial industry to help you figure out if your projections are realistic.

Bryan Quesnelle
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Bryan Quesnelle

Massage Therapist and Web Developer at ClinicWise
I lead a double life as a registered massage therapist and a web developer in Kitchener, Ontario. When I'm not treating patients or developing products for ClinicWise, I'm usually building websites for other businesses and organizations.
Bryan Quesnelle
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Massage Therapy Marketing Stories Contest!

Massage therapists are always on the look out for great marketing ideas, and who better to get some of those ideas from than our peers! Many RMTS have created some AWESOME, UNIQUE marketing initiatives or campaigns which have had fantastic results for our clinics. Are you one of them?

So what is the contest about?

To help out our colleagues, I’m asking any RMTs who have run successful, creative or unique marketing campaigns to share their story. During the month of July, 2016, I’ll be collecting submissions from massage therapists who are willing to share:

  • what they did for their marketing campaign
  • how they organized it
  • how they tracked their results
  • any advice for someone else thinking of doing something similar

All of the submissions will be combined and made into a free marketing guide for RMTs once the contest is over!

At the end of the submission period there will be a draw, and one lucky submitter will get a prize from our sponsors!

Our AMAZING Sponsors!

Special thanks to our sponsors, who are generously donating their services and products toward our prize!

whole-body-healing
massage-therapy-collective

The Rules

  • Any RMT in Canada can submit a marketing story for consideration.
  • Entering a submission means you accept and agree that your story can be used in the marketing guide created at the end of the contest. If you want your story to be included anonymously, please let us know with your submission.
  • Multiple submissions with different marketing stories are allowed, but only 1 ballot will be entered into the prize draw per person.
  • We will announce and notify the winner once the contest is finished and get their mailing address for the prize.

Submit your Marketing Story!

Your Name

Your Email

What was your creative marketing event / activity / campaign?

How did you plan it out?

How did you track the results?

What would you recommend for someone planning the same type of activity?

Bryan Quesnelle
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Bryan Quesnelle

Massage Therapist and Web Developer at ClinicWise
I lead a double life as a registered massage therapist and a web developer in Kitchener, Ontario. When I'm not treating patients or developing products for ClinicWise, I'm usually building websites for other businesses and organizations.
Bryan Quesnelle
Follow Me

How Much Should I Charge for My Fees?

Disclaimer: I am not an accountant, and nothing in this post should be viewed as formal accounting advice. The purpose of this post is for general information only – please consult an accountant if you need more detailed help with your finances.

how much should I charge for massage therapy

One of the first things a new massage therapist – or one opening a new practice – has to figure out is a fee schedule for their services. There are several things you’ll want to consider when creating your fees, to make sure you’ve covered all your bases.

Billable Working Hours

The first thing you’ll want to figure out is how many hours per day you can comfortably work, and then figure out how many of those hours are billable and non-billable. Billable hours make up only part of the hours you’ll actually work… the remaining hours are non-billable hours.

Billable hours are the hours you work in which you are generating income. For massage therapists (and most service providers), this means the hours which you are treating  a client.

Non-billable hours are the hours you work during which no income is being generated. This includes your time spent cleaning up between clients, doing administrative work, and other business tasks no one is paying you for directly.

The average work day for a massage therapist is made up of both billable and non-billable hours. Let’s say the RMT take clients from 9am to 5pm on a given day. For the sake of this example, let’s  also assume the therapist’s schedule is full of 60 minute appointments. Most RMTs say they need 15 minutes between clients to reset the room, charge the client leaving and welcoming the client coming in. In the 8 hours the therapist has available, they can only work an approximate 6 billable hours. About 25% of their scheduled time is spent on tasks that don’t generate income directly.

The time spent on billable vs non-billable activities will vary depending on the length of the treatment. A 30 minute treatment requires the same amount of cleanup and administrative time as a 60 minute treatment. If the above therapist has a full day of 30 minute treatments, they will only have 5 billable hours total for the day. About 37% of their scheduled time is spent on tasks that don’t generate income directly.

If your billable hours don’t make up a majority of the scheduled hours that you have, you should probably adjust your schedule a bit to decrease your non-billable time. Sometimes it’s a matter of changing your process – for instance, using an online scheduling system that sends out reminder emails automatically instead of manually emailing or texting clients remindrs every day.

Expenses (Business and Personal)

The next thing you’ll want to do is add up all of your expenses. Most business plans suggest that you add up all your regular business expenses, but I’d actually suggest including your personal expenses too (separately). Try to be as accurate as you can when figuring out your expenses – if the cost for something fluctuates from month to month, I’d recommend the higher cost in your estimates. That way if your estimates are off and it ends up costing less, you have some extra money instead of coming up short.

Some common monthly business expenses include:

  • Rent
  • Heat
  • Hydro
  • Advertising
  • Meals and Entertainment
  • Bank / point of sale charges
  • Office supplies
  • Professional and accounting fees
  • Travel
  • Phone and internet
  • Postage and delivery

Some common yearly business expenses include:

  • Insurance
  • CMTO Membership
  • RMTAO Membership
  • CEU Courses

Some common monthly personal expenses include:

  • Mortgage / Rent
  • Heat
  • Hydro
  • Phone & Internet
  • Cable
  • Banking fees
  • Car payments
  • Debt repayment
  • Groceries

You can likely think of a few more, but that’s a good place to get started.

Break-Even Analysis

Now that you have all of your expenses figured out, you’ll want to do a ‘break-even analysis’. For a single-client service-based business like massage therapy (we can only treat 1 client at a time), this means figuring out the minimum amount of money we need to charge per hour to cover our expenses. We are essentially dividing our total expenses by the number of scheduled available hours we have per month.

Once we have that figured out, we can convert that into how much we need to charge per service (based on what % of an hour that service uses) in order to just cover expenses and break-even.  In addition to covering your regular expenses, you’ll want to figure out how much the cost is for the supplies required to offer that service (laundry for the sheets, cleaner for the table, lotion / oil / gel, etc.) and add that the break-even amount for the service too.

A real break-even analysis is usually only focused on covering business expenses. However, as sole proprietors, it’s often helpful to consider how much we need to make in order to break-even with personal expenses too, to make sure we can cover all of our monthly bills.

We also have to consider how “full” our schedule is. If we work fewer hours, then more of our income goes toward expenses, so the break-even number for a less-full schedule is higher than if the schedule was fully booked.

Competition

Once you have an estimate of how much you need to charge at minimum, it’s time to consider what’s appropriate as a maximum, and what is a sustainable fee structure for your area. This is done by checking out your competition.

Knowing who your competition is can be more difficult than it sounds. While many locations offer massage therapy, each clinic might offer services or perks that are different from yours. To get a true sense of your competition, you’ll want to get the fee schedules from clinics in your area who offer services that are very similar to yours. This doesn’t just mean the same time denominations – it also means that any ‘add-ons’ for those services are similar to yours. If a spa down the street offers a 30 minute massage therapy treatment, but it’s part of a larger spa service that includes a stream-room period or something similar, than it’s not really the same service as a 30 minute massage therapy treatment by itself.

Once you have identified 5 (or more) businesses nearby that offer comparable services to yours, find out what their fee schedule is by visiting their website, contacting them by phone, or making a stop at their location. This can also be a great networking and referral building activity too, as you each might offer services the other doesn’t. You should also find out if their posted fees are inclusive of HST not not, and only compare the prices without HST added.

Once you have the pricing from each competitor, you can figure out what the average cost for services are in your area.  As a general rule, you don’t want to price yourself too high – even being exceptionally good at massage won’t bring clients back if you’re charging way more than everyone else.  You definitely don’t need to undercut your competition (offering a lower price as an incentive to see you instead of them) either. Since price can effect people’s perception of quality, being known as the “cheap” massage therapy clinic isn’t ideal. Aiming for somewhere in the middle is usually safe to attract clients, and keeps the market in the area healthy for everyone. If you do want to charge more than your competitors, you’ll want to make sure your marketing reinforces why your services have more value (do you have add-ons that others don’t? Treat a specific niche market primarily? Etc).

Profit Projections

Of course, covering your expenses and making sure you’re not priced out of your market is important, but so is having some disposal income and saving for the future!  Using the average cost for services in your area, you’ll want to figure out how much gross income you can expect to make in a year. I’d recommend figuring out the maximum gross income (assuming your billable hours are completely booked), and then again using a very conservative number of billable hours booked. Remember that your tax bracket (what percentage of your income you are taxed) is calculated based on your gross income (before write offs). It’s also used to determine whether or not you need to collect HST. You can use these projections and estimates to plan a bit ahead of time for tax season.

Once you’ve figured out the gross income, subtract the break-even amounts (regular expenses + (costs per treatment x number of treatments)) for the year. That will leave you with your net income. If you decided to include personal expenses in your break-even numbers, it will give you an idea of your disposable / saving income (before taxes).

If the number seems uncomfortably low, you know you’ll need to increase your service fees , find a way to reduce your expenses a bit, or increase your billable hours.

Hate doing math? You’re not alone.

It’s pretty intimidating trying to do all the necessarily math to figure out your break-even numbers, compare your prices, cover all your expenses and estimate how much money you’ll make. For the non number-lovers out there, we’ve put together a free spreadsheet document that does most of the math for you. It was designed to help you figure out a price that makes sense for the four most common services an RMT clinic offers: 30, 45, 60 and 90 minute massage therapy treatments.

Click here to download a copy of the “how-much-should-I-charge” Excel spreadsheet

This spreadsheet document has multiple pages, which can be accessed by using the tabs at the bottom of the page:

document page tabs

Each page includes boxes for you to enter numbers (like your expenses and competitor’s prices), and some boxes  hat are calculated automatically with formulas. Only the boxes you can enter information (the ones with yellow backgrounds) are editable, so you can play around without worrying about accidentally deleting an important formula. It’s pretty easy to use.

There is some example information entered into each box already. Once you’ve replaced it with your actual expenses, test prices, and so on, it’ll will give you an idea of what to expect. When you’ve entered your information into each page, return back to the Summary page and adjust your prices to see how the change will affect your business!

Keep in mind that this spreadsheet is no substitute for a real accountant, but it may help to give you a rough estimate of what to expect and help you figure out what is reasonable to charge given your situation.

Bryan Quesnelle
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Bryan Quesnelle

Massage Therapist and Web Developer at ClinicWise
I lead a double life as a registered massage therapist and a web developer in Kitchener, Ontario. When I'm not treating patients or developing products for ClinicWise, I'm usually building websites for other businesses and organizations.
Bryan Quesnelle
Follow Me

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for RMTs

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making your website as search-engine-friendly as possible. When search engines like Google organize the results of a particular search, they rank which websites will appear closer to the top based on several factors. Many of those factors don’t require much (or any) technological prowess, and collectively they can play a significant role in boosting your website’s rank during searches. It’s important to know that there’s no way to guarantee you’ll be the number one result in searches… If someone tries to sell you a service with that guarantee, it’s very likely they aren’t a trustworthy agency. However, the more steps you take to improve your SEO, the more likely it will be that you’ll show up at least on the first page or two of search results.

This article will go over some of the easier steps that you can take to improve your SEO. First, we’ll explore the different type of search results, and how they work in relation to search engine optimization.

Different Types of Search Results

The term ‘search result’, in the context of online searching, refers to the list of links that show up when a user types a term or phrase into a search engine.

Clicking on a search result will take searchers to a specific website or web page, which is identified by the link itself. The most common type of search result is a text link, which is usually blue. Links can also be images or even videos. However, regardless of the type of link, each search result acts in the same way taking users to a website. Searching for a given term or phrase might yield thousands or even millions of results, which are spread out over multiple pages. It’s pretty rare for people to look at more than the first page of results, so it’s in your best interest to show up near the top of that list.

There are many different search engines, but this article will focus specifically on Google. Google is by far the most popular search engine in North America, which makes it the one to be most concerned with.

Google has 3 major types of results, some (or all) of which may show up during a single search.

  • Pay-Per-Click results, which are essentially ads in the form of search results. Website owners can pay to have their link show up in prominent places.
  • Organic search results, which is the type that search engine optimization targets. Organic results make up the bulk of search results, and are shown in an order determined by the search engine.
  • “Google Maps” results, which are centered around the searcher’s location. These types of results are represented by plots on a map, and are helpful in showing searchers nearby services that relate to the topic they searched.

types of search results

In the screen shot, we can see an example of all three types of results in the locations they commonly appear. The red areas show the Pay Per Click results, right at the top of the list, and along the right hand side. The green area shows organic results, running down the central column, and continues downward to show about 12-15 links. The blue area shows a link to a map, which includes the Google Map results. Occasionally, these items will be shown in the central column as well.

Pay-Per-Click Results

Pay-per-click ads are the only type of search results that requires you to pay for better placement. Only website owners who are willing to pay for placement will show up in the ‘ads’ section. When they create an ad, website owners also create a list of search terms and phrases they would like to associate with their ad. Each item in this list is called a ‘keyword’.

The website owners also limit the amount of money they are willing to spend for each ‘click’ on one of their links. This limit is called a bid. Limits can also be placed on the amount of money to spend on bids in a particular day. When a user searches for a term, the search engine checks all the ads that have added that term as a keyword. Then, it checks to see how much each user is willing to pay to show up in the list of paid results. The users who are willing to pay the most, and haven’t spend their daily limit already, show up near the top of the paid results. The website owner only actually pays for their bid if a searcher clicks on their ad – that’s why the model is called Pay-Per-Click. There is no charge if the ad is shown by the searcher doesn’t click on it.

If you’re interested in getting more exposure via Pay-Per-Click marketing, the service you want to use is called Google AdWords. Creating an AdWords account is free, and has great support if you have any questions. If you’re trying to decide whether or not to use Pay-Per-Click ads, take a look at the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Creating an AdWords account isn’t difficult, and gives you control over who sees your ad.
  • It takes little to no effort to show up high in search results through pay-per-click.
  • Bidding on multiple keywords means you get exposure for people searching for a wide variety of topics.

Cons:

  • If you rely on Pay-Per-Click as your sole means of getting exposure, it can get expensive in the long term.
  • If your ad balance is depleted, your ads stop showing until you replenish it.
  • Users may choose to block ads, or get annoyed with companies who use ad placement too heavily.

Ultimately the choice is yours… Pay-per-click can be a great way to get exposure, especially for new businesses or websites.

Google Maps (location based) Results

When looking for services like massage therapy clinics, often location can be a deciding factor for would-be clients. Finding a business close to home or work is definitely appealing. Google Maps shows businesses or services nearby that relate to the topic the user searched. Showing up on this map during location-based searches is obviously of huge benefit.

Each Google Maps result is shown as a point on the map, focused around the user’s current location. This is especially helpful when a user is searching for a business using a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet with built-in GPS. A searcher can also specify a starting point other than their current location, to find locations nearby their workplace, cottage, vacation spot, family member / friend’s house, etc..

Each result can be clicked to see more information about the business, like what the storefront looks like, and relevant contact information such as the company’s phone number and website.

Google Maps Results

On the above image, we can see several points listed on the map to the right, with a listing of what each point represents on the left. The order of the results is primarily based on location, but other factors play a role as well. Google Maps results also blend elements of pay-per-click and organic results. For instance, pay-per-click ads can also include location information, and show up on the map in the same way that they show up in regular results.

There’s also a special type of location-based result called a Google My Business (formally Google Places) result. Google My Business accounts are free, and allow website owners to list information to be included with their Google Maps results. Things like hours of operation, company logo, contact information, and a website can all be added. Creating a Google My Business account helps ensure your business shows up in Google Maps results.

Organic Search Results

When people talk about improving their search engine ranking, or SEO in general, they’re referring to showing up higher in organic results. The bulk of results that show up when a user searches for a topic are organic results. The competition in this area can be pretty steep.

Organic result rankings can’t be bought, the search engine determines what order they appear in, and which ones get priority. Google will attempt to show the links it believes are most relevant first. Relevant, in this case, refers to which results it thinks will be the most helpful to the searcher, based on the terms they searched for.
It does this by comparing each website against every other site to see which has more ‘relevant’ points.

Search engine optimization is the process of making sure a website has as many relevant points as possible, to encourage Google to show it closer to the top of the list of search results. The more relevant your website is determined to be, the higher up the list you’ll show up. There isn’t a single setting or practice you can follow to guarantee improved rankings… there are several things a search engine considers relevant, so you have to manage as many of them as you can. The best thing to do to improve your ranking is to break down the process into several small steps, then ensure that you do as many of those steps as possible.

Some of the things to consider, in no particular order, are:

  • The quantity and variety of media on the site
  • How recently and frequently you add content on the site
  • How many times the search terms show up on a web page, and where those words are located on the page
  • How many other websites have links to your site, and the quality of those websites
  • Integration of other Google products: submitting a site map to Google, creating a Google Places page, etc.
  • How much traffic your website gets, and how many people have clicked on your site while looking for similar terms
  • How your visitors interact with your website (commenting on things, visiting multiple pages) and social media integration on your site

There are other, more technical, things that can effect SEO ranking as well, be this article will focus (mostly) on the steps that people can do easily with minimal technical skill.

We’ll begin exploring the basics on page 2.

RMT Marketing Strategies

targeted marketing strategies for massage theapists

Marketing strategies to draw new clients is one of the most frequently discussed topics for massage therapists. A lot of therapists are hoping for a single activity, strategy, tool or service to fill their schedules indefinitely, but the reality of the situation is that marketing is an on-going process. Instead of trying to find a single solution, it’s often better to break down a marketing strategy into several smaller activities, events and demographics.

Marketing events that appeal to one client may not appeal to others. For instance, a marathon runner will likely have different treatment goals than a pregnant woman… the wording and approach used when marketing to each of those people should reflect their needs, impairments and interests. Trying to find a one-size-fits all strategy can be nearly impossible, so I’d recommend focusing your efforts on one target demographic – called a niche – at a time. This article will hopefully give you some ideas for your niche marketing efforts.

Types of Marketing Materials

Before you initiate any kind of marketing strategy, make sure you have some supporting materials.

Brochures and Flyers
Having several different print materials, each with its own target demographic, can be much more effective than trying to create a single brochure or flyer for general use. One brochure that focuses on massage treatments and home care suggestions for pregnancy-related impairments will draw more interest from  Lamaze class attendees than a more generalized flyer. Handing out brochures discussing sports injury recovery tips and sports massage would be better suited when giving a talk to a runners’ club. You don’t need a different brochure for each unique situation, but having a couple of specialized brochures, each focused on a particular niche, can draw more clients that a single brochure that is too general. Make sure that you use language the client will understand: laymen’s terms over anatomical terms, short, simple sentences, and images that reflect situations the client may encounter.

Presentation Materials
If you’re giving a talk or presentation to a group, you’ll probably want to product a slideshow or other similar presentation materials. Slideshows should be short, and not overly wordy. A good general rule to remember for slideshow structuring is “5 by 5” – each slide should have no more than 5 bullet points, each with 5 words or less. This is obviously just a guideline, but the idea is to keep the audience focused on what you’re saying instead of ignoring you in favour of reading from the screen. The slideshow’s materials should be tailored to the group you are presenting to – a general talk about massage therapy is less appealing than a talk about health issues that readily apply to most people in the room. If you’re looking for inexpensive space to rent for presentations, local libraries usually have space available for much cheaper than conference centers or hotels.

Online Materials
One benefit to online marketing materials is the significant cost savings. While it might not be practical to have a brochure for every single event or demographic you treat, you can easily create blog posts for each unique situation. Going to speak to some hockey players? Write a blog post on hockey injuries, common home care treatments, and the benefits of massage for hockey-specific aches and pains. Doing at-work treatments for factory workers? Create a post on common repetitive strain injuries common to factory work, and how massage can help. It doesn’t take long to create a blog post, you can reuse the content in other marketing materials like brochures and slideshows. Sharing your posts via social networking sites, especially to local special interest Groups (where appropriate), can be a good way to increase exposure and build credibility within a niche market without needing to spend a dollar. As an added benefit, your SEO ranking will improve if you blog often as well.

Discounts, Packages and Bundled Services
The topic of discounts is pretty controversial among massage therapists. The choice to offer discounts is entirely up to you, but if you do, make sure the discount is reasonable for your own benefit. The ultimate goal of a discount is to draw new business and increase revenue – since there is no guarantee that a discounted client will rebook at full price (or at all), offering a discount can mean a loss of revenue without long term gain. Instead of large discounts on entire hands-on treatments, you could consider bundling services into small packages, or offering low overhead add-ons to your treatments as a free bonus. A small homecare package with a theraband, a tennis ball, a leaflet on some popular stretches and self-massage, and a small pack of epsom salts can be given to clients without increasing your overhead per treatment by more than a few dollars. Offering a discounted – or free – upgrade (like adding hot stone to a treatment) instead of discounting the entire massage, can improve the value of the treatment without breaking the bank. You could also consider bundling services with other businesses for particular demographics – talking with a flower shop about offering a massage gift certificate and flower bouquet package for mother’s day can be an easy way to cross promote each other’s services without the need for either party to discount significantly.

Examples of Niche Markets

  • Athletics. Different sports and athletic activities have different common impairments. Tailor your materials to address the impairments, massage therapy modalities and home care activities that best suit the sport you are talking about. Instead of just approaching players, market services to coaches and league organizers and try to arrange treatments before or after games. Focusing on one sport at a time is often a wiser way to start.
  • Health conditions. If you’re fundraising or attending an event or facility focused on a particular health condition (cancer, MS, etc.), make sure your materials discuss that condition. You can talk about massage treatable impairments that commonly occur alongside the condition. If you’re attending a fundraising event, raffle or auction a gift certificate to an attendee of the event.
  • Pregnancy. Pre-natal and post-natal massage are very popular. Talk to Lamaze teachers, yoga instructors who teach pre-natal or mommy/baby classes, midwives, OBGYNs and other pregnancy specialists about cross promotions, guest speaking, short self massage or infant massage classes, or similar joint activities.
  • Corporate offices. Approach corporate offices or other large employers about offering info sessions about common workplace injuries, or coming in to provide chair massages to staff. Appealing to the HR department about the benefits of massage, and demonstrating that massage can be a cost effective means of keeping their staff healthy is a good way to help convince them to have you come in.
  • Particular age groups. Offering a free talk to staff of nursing homes on the benefits of massage for conditions commonly affecting their clientele can help build referrals. You could offer to do mobile treatments right at their facility. Talk to the schools in town and ask if you can supply them with hand outs detailing home care for treating sprains and strains, backpack carrying strategies, and other conditions that may impact children’s health. If possible, you could offer to attend a parent teacher night and speak with the parents as a group about home care solutions, and how massage might help with some impairments.
  • Cultures or special interest groups. Offering services to members of a particular culture or special interest group can be a great way to network. Many cultural groups have meetings or special events that you could attend. Offering to do provide treatments in an indigenous community, getting a booth at an LGBT event, or providing treatments for donations at a fundraiser for combating violence against women can be an opportunity to show support for a people or cause while networking.

You don’t have to focus on every niche market at once. It’s often easier to spread out your efforts throughout the year, which we’ll talk about on page 2.