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Massage Today
July, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 07

Don't Discount a Discount

By Cary Bayer

In my previous column, I discussed how raising your self-esteem can have a profound effect on your income. It can help you raise your fees, while discounting yourself can lead to discounting your fees. There is one time that lowering fees can be wise.

A variation on a nursery rhyme will shed some light on this matter: This little therapist went to market, wisely pricing their services (and brought home lots of new clients). That little therapist stayed home because they felt uncomfortable "marketing" and hoped clients would come to them. And this little therapist (the first, that is) ran all the way home (to fill out deposit slips, which they promptly took to the bank, laughing all the way). OK, maybe not laughing all the way. Sometimes, when you update a nursery rhyme, you tap into childhood wisdom. Like show and tell, milk and cookies, and naptime.

Unfortunately, marketing and pricing were not taught in kindergarten (or in massage schools, for that matter), but nursery rhymes were, so you can profit from the hidden knowledge they can provide. By the time you were in kindergarten, you knew a few things about money and pricing - enough to know a good deal when you saw one. If mommy wouldn't buy you that toy you wanted in the supermarket for $10 because it cost too much, by the time it got reduced to $5, you might have reminded her of the bargain awaiting her.

Fast-forward 20, 30, 40, 50 or even 60 years. Now you're a professional massage therapist. Let's say you're a good one, which means you're gifted once people are on your table. If that's the case, it's important you spend time getting them to that table, because if you're good, they'll keep coming back for more. They want what you offer, and you're good at giving it to them. So, here's the $64,000 question: How do you get more of them there?

That's the question so many massage therapists ask me. There are, of course, many ways to do that. I'll describe one such way in this article. It's a surefire method for all therapists, but particularly for anyone who:

  • is new to an area;
  • just added a new modality to their practice; or
  • just added a new therapist to their practice.

It's a technique that's been used successfully by many established businesses in many different industries. And it can work just as well in the massage business.

You've no doubt seen restaurants and retail stores in their first few weeks of operation. The "Grand Opening" signs are still up, the bunting is still present. Often, introductory prices are still in effect. All of this works to bring in customers, all of whom are new, since the business has just opened. Businesses do this because they know how valuable a new customer can be.

Massage therapists can profit from similar introductory sale prices. How many of you can resist a 50-percent off or 67-percent off sale at your favorite clothing boutique or department store? The reason the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year is because that's when stores from Maine to California discount their merchandise to stimulate holiday sales.

Who can resist a $60 massage marked down to $30 or even $20? Anyone who's ever enjoyed the benefits of massage would jump at the chance to get a massage for the price of a pair of movie tickets and popcorn. Sure, such deeply discounted prices might attract bargain hunters lured by a cut-rate massage who come just once because they'll buy anything once when the price is right. But the chances are outstanding that you'll attract many people already in the massage market - people who already are getting massaged regularly, but will try you out because of the sale. If they like you better than they do their current massage therapist, they'll switch to you in a New York minute.

Their next treatment also can be discounted from your normal rate if you inspire them to purchase a discounted, prepaid package of five or 10 treatments (as I've explained in previous columns). You'll also attract new people to massage, all of whom can become regular clients who come once a month, once every two weeks or once a week, and pay as they go.

My clients who have employed this strategy are finding surprising (to them, not me) results. One ad sometimes attracts several new clients, many of whom become regulars. Didn't realize getting a new client could be that easy? It can be.

As I mentioned above, it also can be a sound approach to market any new modality you've just incorporated into your work, such as Thai massage, hot stone, lomi lomi, and so on. If this pricing program delivers just one new client who comes to see you even once a month for three years, which seems to be in the ballpark of what an average client does, that client will be worth nearly $2,200 to your business. And that doesn't include the clients they refer to you. If someone told you that you could get $2,200 in new business by investing just $30 (the discount for an introductory session), wouldn't you jump at the chance to do it?

I thought so. So, what's stopping you?

Click here for previous articles by Cary Bayer.


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