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Massage Today
October, 2009, Vol. 9, Issue 10

Are You My Perfect Customer?

By Lisa Curran Parenteau, LMT, NCTMB

Perfect customers - who are they; how do we find them; and why are we looking for them? In my last article, we looked at an "elevator speech" formula, the third step of which was describing some characteristics of your perfect customer. In this article, I hope to help you discover your perfect customer and expand your tribe.

Traditional marketing focuses on going out in the marketplace and finding your perfect client/customer. Building a profile and going out to find them. There is another approach that I think is far more effective called attraction or seduction marketing. Attraction marketing is typically referred to in the dubious world of multi-level marketing (MLM). But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Attraction marketing says to focus on your product and improve it. I am suggesting a logical extension of this: Be the best you can be at what you do today, and you will attract your perfect customers and also find your tribe. What does this mean for bodyworkers? Be honest with yourself, uncover, refine and bask in your light and then let go and trust the process.

In the book Attracting Perfect Customers: The Power of Strategic Synchronicity, the authors describe the concept of the Lighthouse Test:

"The water is calm, the sky is blue, and many boats are out at sea. But off in the distance, a storm cloud is forming. It approaches the shore very quickly. The sky is getting darker, the waves are getting rougher, and many of the boats are being tossed about on the water. As the rain and the wind pick up strength, the power of the beam of light emanating from the lighthouse increases. The darker the skies become, the brighter the light shines to provide safety and security in the midst of the storm. Notice that not all of the boats need this beam of light to guide them to safety. Some have more confident captains and crews, and some are fully equipped to manage through storms safely and effectively. Now imagine that the lighthouse gets upset because some of the boats are choosing to follow their own path. The lighthouse feels that it is not successful if its light is not guiding all of the boats in the sea. It sprouts arms and legs and runs up and down the beach acting like a searchlight, doing its best to catch the attention of all the boat captains, attempting to encourage more of them to depend on its light.

"What do you think would be the result? Most likely, the boats whose captains were depending on a steady, constant stream of light to guide them safely around potential dangers would be damaged or destroyed in the chaos and confusion. Other boats might be steered dangerously close to shore so those on board could get a better look at the spectacle. Still others would be perfectly content to stay out at sea, relying on their own navigational equipment. The result: very few boats would be served well, or at all, by the lighthouse.

"Here's the test: How often are you, your employees, and your coworkers operating like lighthouses standing securely on the shore, attracting and safely guiding the boats (customers) that need your business with your light? How often do you run up and down the beach frantically looking for boats (customers) to serve?"

The authors believe "Perfect customers are most likely to find you when you are standing still!" In order to think about what is meant by standing still, lets consider "running around."

Do you have clients or employers who ask you to work in ways that make you feel uncomfortable or perhaps like you don't have the skill set for? Do you have clients that really push your comfort zone regarding boundaries: are chronically late or ask you for discounts for friends, or freebies? Are you running around trying to be all things to all clients, afraid if you pass up a client, you will lose them and their business? Consider the Lighthouse Test; have you been jogging up and down the beach?

So how do we stand still and attract others to our light? The first step in finding your perfect customer requires self-appraisal. Start with being honest about who you are as a massage therapist, how you want to practice and what you are good at today. Ask yourself some hard questions:

  • What kind of clients am I really drawn to?
  • What kinds of massage do I feel like I'm good at?
  • What kind of massage do I like?
  • What modalities or approaches come naturally to me?
  • What hours do I want to work?

Sometimes, it also helps to identify things you don't like. Ask yourself, "What clients do I have now who really bother me?" "Why?" You will soon uncover or validate some truths about your passions and your wiring as a therapist and as a person. As you allow your distinctive light to shine, you are allowing yourself to improve your product.

When I began my journey as a therapist, I was asked to "work deeper" than I was comfortable doing, and also to do treatments that I was not trained to do. Those experiences made me feel insecure and question my abilities. When I learned about the importance of standing in my purpose and following my passion, I took a risk and allowed my practice to reflect my passion. I always loved working with elders. I really felt good, deep down, about myself, when I was able to connect with someone in this special population. I also really gravitated to energy work of all kinds. I believed in it from the very start and knew that I had a little bit of intuition and inner guidance in this area. I knew that I didn't want to do sports massage or deep-tissue massage.

I researched and found advanced training. I also became a hospice volunteer and took the 30 hours of training offered by my local hospice organization. It resonated as no other modality or approach. I felt good about my skills and myself. I also really resonated with the people who were attracted to this kind of work. So we have taken an inventory of our current practice, uncovered and articulated some of our talents and interests. Now how do we refine them? The obvious answer is to develop advanced skill sets in those areas.

Here's another suggestion: Find a mentor in this specialty area and connect with them in some way. E-mail, call or sign up for a workshop. If not, explore and investigate everything you can about the person and their education path and those that they studied with. Look for someone who is successfully doing something you would like to do. Who do you want to be like when you grow up? What are those qualities, skills and accomplishments? I was fortunate to find leaders in my chosen specialty and the writings visionaries like Elisabeth Kubler Ross. I also continue to seek out marketing/sales mentors like Seth Godin, Michele Miller and Guy Kawasaki.

If you want to attract your perfect client, you also have to be willing to give up clients that are perfect for someone else. That is where letting go and trusting the process comes in. When I am standing in my purpose, among my tribe, it is a relief to refer clients who were looking for sports massage to other colleagues. The customer is best served by someone else, and my schedule is open for work that I am best suited for. Consider partnering or collaborating with other local therapists so you can create a referral network.

It is both an awesome responsibility and an honor to stand in your purpose and be a beacon of your unique light. If you continually center yourself in this truth, you will attract the attention of your perfect customers and clients who are a "perfect fit" for you and your practice. Your tribe will grow and your satisfaction in your work will shine brightly.

In the next article, I will explore the use of social media tools for business and marketing and how it might serve the massage therapy community in general, but how it also helps to build your tribe of raving fans. Let's be part of the emerging best practice conversation! Until then, enjoy your summer. Namaste.

Lisa Curran Parenteau is a specialist in marketing and practice development. She serves as marketing consultant for the Center for Compassionate Touch, LLC and contributes to curriculum and program development. She also consults with other businesses, non-profit organizations and professional associations. Lisa serves the American Massage Therapy Association as the 3rd VP, webmaster for the Mass. Chapter website and will serve as a 2009 Mass. Delegate to the 2009 national AMTA conference, where she will be presenting a Position Statement to the 2009 House of Delegates. She also serves the Massage Therapy Foundation as a member of the Community Service Review Committee and the Chairperson of the newly formed Marketing Committee. Lisa can be reached at .


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