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Massage Today
October, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 10

The Power of Newsletters

By Jenn Sommermann, LCMT

If you have read any of my previous articles, you know that I am passionate about marketing and that success comes to those who do it efficiently and effectively. Unfortunately, many massage therapists don't feel it is necessary and rely solely on word-of-mouth, only to shut their doors after a year or two of being in business.

Most of my articles and marketing tips focus on techniques that are simple and cost-effective. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money and it can be quite enjoyable.

One of the most overlooked marketing techniques is a newsletter. Why everyone doesn't produce one is beyond me. It is one of the single best ways to inform clients, keep you in their minds and get the phone ringing. Read on and find out how simple it is. By the end of the article, you should be jumping at the opportunity to produce one.

There are two types of newsletters: print and e-mail. Many years ago, the former was the only option and it was more costly. It not only involved production, but also printing, labeling and postage. Although this is still used successfully, you can choose the more cost-effective route of e-mail. At the very least, you should be gathering contact information on your clients including their e-mail addresses. Even if you are not ready to start an e-mail newsletter, you want to have the addresses for when you are ready. Not only should you collect your current clients' e-mail addresses, but those of potential clients as well. When you are at events, whether socially, providing chair massage or networking, ask people for their contact information. Before you know it, you'll have a substantial database of e-mail addresses. I like to keep mine organized on an Excel spreadsheet.

At this point, many of you are probably saying, "I have no time to write a newsletter" and your point is well-taken. In fact, the industry has recognized these time limitations and done much of the work for you. There are several companies that offer massage-specific newsletters for sale. Google "massage newsletters" and you will find them. You can purchase a template for hard copy or e-mail. Some are generic in nature, but others can be personalized for your business, often with a personal message from you. These companies offer a list of topics from which to choose, ranging from the benefit of water to gardening injuries. Choose the topic that fits the season and/or your clientele. When you purchase the hard-copy template, you are responsible for the printing, labeling and postage. Many massage therapists still use this method but keep in mind, it is more time-consuming and more expensive than the e-mail variety.

The e-mail template is similar in that you chose the topic and can often customize. Your task is then to distribute the newsletter to your database. Unfortunately, with so much spam in people's e-mails, Internet service providers (ISPs) are very strict about sending bulk e-mail. The goal is to get the newsletter into the mailbox of your prospective client. If it goes into a spam folder, it is a waste of your time and effort.

To remedy this, many companies will do bulk mailing for you. In fact, you have probably received an e-mail from one of these services and perhaps didn't even know it. Some of these services charge for the quantity of e-mails you send and for the frequency of use of the service: The more you use it, the less you pay per e-mail. If you regularly send newsletters to your clients and e-mail them with weekly specials or appointment openings, this service is a must and very cost-effective. Of course, you can send each newsletter individually. However, assuming you have at least 100 e-mail addresses, this can be time-consuming. Some ISPs will grant special permission to send bulk e-mails but it takes some effort to contact the company and request this special status.

Remember that any monies spent for a newsletter counts as a business deduction. Keep track of the printing, labeling and postage or the ISP and of course, the cost of the template and mark it as a promotion or marketing expense.

Last but not least, you can create a newsletter yourself. Many people fear doing so because they think it has to be an elaborate tri-fold with lots of color and photos. And then there is the issue of content. Who will write these professional, educational columns? It doesn't have to be that hard. In fact, it doesn't have to be hard at all. The only purpose of a newsletter is to keep your business fresh in your prospective clients' minds. This can be done through a simple e-mail.

My monthly newsletter consists of four paragraphs and one graphic. I have contacted my ISP and asked for permission to send bulk e-mail. Once a month, I e-mail about 300 people with a friendly e-mail. The graphic is on the top of the e-mail, corresponding to the season or the holiday. The first paragraph is about me and my practice. I always like to share a little bit about myself in the beginning. My clients genuinely care about me and want to hear about some little tidbit of my life. The second paragraph consists of the "special" of the month. For example, in the month of May, I offer a Mom's Day Special package, and this is the place I let my clients know about it. The third paragraph is a perfect place to either add something about massage or some other interesting tidbit. One month I added a recipe for BBQ pizza. One month I wrote something about the benefit of nylon vs. cotton socks for exercise. Of course, feel free to write something about massage, its benefits or any other health-related article.

Whatever it is, write from the heart. Your clients will appreciate your effort and since they already know and like you, they will enjoy whatever you have to say. The last section of my monthly newsletter never changes; the frequently asked questions or FAQs. Where do I travel? What do I charge? What modalities do I use? Do I accept tips? Is there a cancellation policy? What can I expect from my massage? I cut and paste them into the new e-mail each month. And that's it! Pretty simple and wildly effective.

Keeping in touch with your clients via a newsletter is one of the best ways to boost business. It never ceases to amaze me how the day newsletters are received, my e-mail inbox gets fuller, faster and my phone rings more. What do you have to lose? You have so much to gain.

Stay focused.


Click here for more information about Jenn Sommermann, LCMT.

 

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