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Massage Today
August, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 08

Perception Is Reality

By Angie Patrick

Perception is reality. We have all heard that saying and have seen firsthand instances where it held true. We are taught our whole lives "not to judge a book by its cover," yet the basic human reaction is to do just that.

We live in a society that values fashion, the latest trends, the coolest cell phones, the hottest technologies and the most popular celebrities. It's a culture built on perception. The perceived value of a commodity often is leveled by the presentation it provides rather than the quality within.

The same philosophy is true in business. Often, a consumer will decide to bestow their business to the one with the slickest advertising, catchier name or the better customer comps. They turn to the Yellow Pages, to the community mailers or individualized direct mail pieces to make their decisions. The better-known name often gets the first shot at a customer's initial business. If this were not true, then advertising would not be the multibillion dollar industry it is.

In this sea of competition, how do you make your business shine above the others? How do you make your business name the one in your community synonymous with massage, alternative medicine or general wellness? It's not as difficult or as costly as you might think. It simply requires a bit of time and a commitment to succeed. Here are a few business image-building tips that can assist you in your quest for greater exposure and higher customer perception.

1. Be a part of your community. Join the Chamber of Commerce for your city or county. By taking this initial step, you instantly will be a part of a rewarding networking opportunity with other businesses in your area. Everyone you meet is a potential client, and they all are attending the event for the same reasons you are; they want to contribute to the community while building their potential customer base. This provides you with a wealth of opportunity to make your practice known to businesses and individuals alike who can and will spread the news about your practice.

2. Many communities have promotional mailers that enable you to send your message to hundreds, if not thousands, of households in your community. This type of exposure has a cost associated with it, but is often nominal compared to the exposure it provides.

3. Volunteer for community or charity events and provide free services. Often, you will learn of these events as a natural progression of your relationship with the Chamber of Commerce. By offering your time and services, you will allow a firsthand opportunity for people to try your services before making a commitment to buy. If ever it were possible to pass out samples of massage, this would be the trick. Virtually no one will want to pass up an opportunity for a moment's relaxation, and in the time you hold them in your capable hands, you have the opportunity to share with them your talent, as well as information about your business. They leave feeling refreshed and now they also are a bit more educated in how they can obtain further services from you and your practice.

4. Have quality marketing material. It honestly does pay to take the time to settle on a branding for your company. Be it a logo, a phrase, a cute cartoon character or a slick cutting-edge philosophy, make sure it's properly represented in the materials you share with others. There are so many places available now that can provide you assistance with the design of your marketing materials. Additionally, templates can be found online and free of charge for things such as business cards, informational brochures and flyers. Any office supply store can provide you with inexpensive software that can assist you in choosing the look that is right for you. The bottom line: The material you provide is the reference piece on which potential customers will base their buying decision. Be sure yours is professional, clear and concise, and relays the positive image you wish the customer to have of you and your practice.

5. Have professional-looking invoices and receipts. Your company name should appear clearly on the documents, and contact information should be found easily. Often people retain these receipts and invoices for various reasons, and to have them appear as professional documentation leaves the client with the same impression of your practice.

6. Always answer your telephone in a professional manner. This often is the first personal impression a potential client may have of your company. And a phone answered "Hello," just doesn't cut it. Be clear about your business name and your role in it. A professional way to answer your phones may be, "Thank you for calling Massages by Sue. This is Sue Smith, how may I assist you?" This speaks volumes to the potential client about your professionalism. It is a much better representation than your basic greeting. Be sure your answering service message is equally clear and concise. Provide a call to action asking the client to leave their name and number for you to contact as soon as you are free.

7. Maintain a professional appearance when you are involved in anything where you will be representing your business. From the meetings you attend to the clients you see, be sure you are dressed professionally. Your individual concept of professional attire may vary, but rarely is it appropriate to wear the same type of clothing you might wear to a club or social gathering. Conservative, professional attire can convey the message that you can be relied upon and are trustworthy. An example may be a pair of khaki slacks and a polo shirt. Perhaps you prefer medical scrubs. As long as you are neat, clean and well-organized in your appearance, you can speak volumes about your capability without saying a word.

Your business is your vehicle for income, professional growth and your future. Be sure you give it the best possible opportunity to grow and prosper by adopting a few of these tips as your own. You undoubtedly will see the rewards in an increase in first-time customers. Once you have the opportunity to show what you know, you have the opportunity to make them a recurring customer. Getting them in your door first is the key. Giving them the proper perception about you and your business is the way to insure you capitalize on all potential client opportunity.

Click here for previous articles by Angie Patrick.


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