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.
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.
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.