A therapist who has been in the massage business for 30 years recently asked the question, “how do I know if I’m marketing properly? It’s not one of my strengths.”
Let me tell you, it is rarely part of your skillset or “massage toolbox” and it is definitely not taught in your Diploma course. So it’s not surprising to hear questions like this.
Think of marketing as communication. Are you communicating with your clients? Perhaps. But, are you communicating well?
There are many blogs written by experts that provide their step-by-step process to becoming a marketing guru. But how far do you need to delve into marketing for it to be effective? It varies greatly depending on your business size and goals. I’m going to share some simple ideas that are personally tried and tested.
Tip No 1 – First set out your goals
What do you want to achieve? Lets say, to increase clients from 10 per week, to 15 per week. Or, would you like to get booked out? Clearly define these goals in your marketing plan.
Tip No 2 – Planning time
If you are a small business or sole operator, time is valuable and you are monitoring your business 24/7. Take a look at your schedule – how long could you dedicate to marketing? Is there a slow Monday morning, or a small window of time you can block out each week? Set aside about 3-4 hours in your diary for marketing and client follow-up each week.
Tip No 3 – Set up a free Google Business Profile
With a Google Business Profile, your clients and potential customers can find you via Google search and Maps. It will be linked you to your clinic or practicing address and help to bring search “traffic” and enquiries to your door.
Tip No 4 – Focus on getting Google “Reviews”
Getting Likes on social media only gives you an online perception of being popular! Reviews are what you want – they show up next to your Business Profile in Maps and on Google Search. You can request reviews from customers by sharing a URL specific to your business. Get more tips for generating reviews here.
Tip No 5 – SMS communication
Send SMS reminders, or a weekly Facebook post with your appointment times, cancellations or updates. It works well to capture “last minute” clients to book up your gaps during the week. This approach is ideal in the startup phase of your business and it doesn’t cost the earth.
Tip No 6 – Speak the same language as your clients
What makes you stand out from the crowd and why should the client choose you? What will grab their attention, what do they actually want? Consider your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). For example, things like “street parking,” “weekend appointments,” “couples packages,” or “mobile massage.” Use these eye-catchers to create marketing campaigns. If you speak their language, your clients will respond positively and your hard-earned marketing budget will be put to good use.
Tip No 7 – Create content to share with your clients
Do you know some self-care tips and stretches that you can share? Only write lengthy posts, blogs and content if this is your thing, because it may become a burden. One alternative is to post quick updates on Facebook, with an image or photo to grab your audience’s attention and remind them about your massage service.
Tip No 8 – Word of mouth
Use your existing contacts – friends, family, clients, to help you. Start by sending a simple email or message to your network of friends. Call on those who willingly put up their hands to be “guinea pigs” while you were training! Spread the word about your business and maybe offer an incentive if someone introduces a new client to your practice.
Tip No 9 – Create your marketing plan and review it
Decide on a range of marketing ideas – from traditional advertising, word of mouth, to online campaigns and social media. List them in your plan. Evaluation is vital, to see what marketing initiatives have worked for you. You may find that Google Adwords is a waste of money and you only had 3 enquiries, or you may find it’s worthwhile.
Tip No 10 – Trial and test your advertising methods
You won’t know until you try! Don’t be afraid to venture into new territory. Avoid spending a heap on advertising, unless you are certain of the “return on investment.” It depends on your business, for example: if you are targeting tourists and reliant on holiday makers, or new clients all the time, then you definitely want to be found on Google.
Tip No 11 Google Adwords
If you are new to Google advertising, start with an experiment setting a small budget and see what works. Google sometimes offers “free credit” to get you in. There are also free online resources available to help you. Be prepared to skill up and spend some time on your own study and research on how to manage your ad spend and understand your ROI, (what result you can expect) otherwise you can easily waste money.
From our experience in small business, Adwords worked well initially. We used this strategy until our website started to get some traffic and organic ranking on Google.
Tip No 12 – For new business start-ups
You don’t need costly Practice Management Apps and systems straight away. Try starting with an Excel spreadsheet to capture your client’s details (name, mobile number and email) and trial an SMS App for bulk messaging. This is a super-easy way to send text messages to clients. A business Facebook page is free and a great platform for most clients to receive communications. You may not necessarily need a website, start marketing from a Business Facebook page, if this is how your clients engage.
Tip No 13 – What does my week look like?
For the business owner planning is key. Get into the habit of each Monday, sending out your appointment availability, to clients. Try SMS, Facebook, or email as possible ways to notify your clients of appointments, or cancellations each week.
- Use an SMS App – to send group messages to clients, or explore this option with an online booking system.
- Post on a Business Facebook page to share a list of appointment times each week.
Tip No 14 – Sharpen your Client management skills
- Find out how your clients wish to receive communications from you (they can “opt in” via a checkbox on your health history form). Ask their permission.
- Explain this is your method of sharing availability and ask if they want to receive the appointment times and updates.
- Client follow up – SMS your clients to ask how they are feeling after the treatment. It is also an opportunity to confirm their next appointment, or remind them of your recommendation to come back.
- Be confident and make clear recommendations for rebooking – they will appreciate it, even if they don’t respond.
There are many ideas that can be incorporated into your marketing plan, such as partnering with other businesses or practitioners to get your name out there. Or getting a business mentor to help with advice and marketing strategies. This information is based around our experience as massage therapists figuring it out for ourselves, over the last 10 years. I hope you find some of it useful!
If you would like to learn more about the principles of managing your clients which go hand-in-hand, perhaps you could check out our Client Management course.
In Client Management you will learn how to get better outcomes for your clients and increase the rate of re-bookings, through effective treatment planning and communication.