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

The Media is the Massage

By Cary Bayer

The medium is the message.Marshall McCluhan

One of the first things that a journalist learns is to ask and get answers for the five key questions: who, what, when, where and how.

In a previous article, you learned what to say in an ad. In another one, you learned how to say what you want to say. In this one, you’ll learn where to say what you want to say.

The ads to which I’m referring are one of two types: either the retail-oriented ad (e.g. “half-price special for new clients,” or “buy one, get one free”), or the image ad that positioned you uniquely in the marketplace. While there is an art to how to communicate in an ad, there’s not a precise science to where to communicate, even though media specialists in advertising agencies ply their sophisticated demographic and psychographic analyses trying to make it as scientific as possible.

For a massage therapist promoting a discount pricing ad to attract new clients, there’s a bit of trial and error that will probably be necessary. The following media outlets are ones that you’ll likely wish to experiment with:

  • Daily newspaper (paid)
  • Weekly community newspaper (free)
  • Weekly community newspaper (paid)
  • Monthly or bi-monthly wellness newspaper/magazine (free)
  • Weekly or monthly cultural newspaper (free)

Depending on where you live, you may not have all these options available to you. If, for example, you live in New York City, you’ll have a multitude of these options, but there likely won’t be a weekly community newspaper for which you are asked to pay. If, on the other hand, you live in Woodstock, NY, there’s a paid weekly community newspaper but not a daily one. The options available for each media outlet are as follows:

Daily newspaper: In large metropolitan areas, advertising in the daily newspaper is going to be too expensive for most massage therapists. However, there are quite a few small cities that offer affordable daily papers. The Boca News in Boca Raton, for example, can be an excellent media choice for a south-Florida LMT.

The advantage of using an inexpensive daily in a small city is that it reaches a large audience. The disadvantages are three-fold: the potentially high cost for ad space; not everyone who sees your ad is interested in massage; and you are paying to reach some readers in further areas of distribution who might not want to drive that far to get a massage.

Weekly community free newspaper: Most communities feature a free newspaper that reports on local news and incorporates advertisements from local businesses. The cost is very affordable and everyone who reads the ad is located close to your massage table. The negatives in promoting your services here are two-fold: not everyone who reads the paper is particularly interested in getting massaged, and not everyone who receives the paper reads it very closely.

Paid weekly community newspaper: In Woodstock, residents are eager for Thursday afternoon arrival of the Woodstock Times, a well-written and well-liked weekly paper. If you’re a massage therapist in this newspaper’s distribution area and you’re contemplating advertising your services, this option is a no-brainer. If you live in an area that lacks a daily paper but has a paid weekly one, chances are strong that this is the first place to consider when advertising.

The major pros here are: a well-read paper, affordable costs, and most people are within driving distance of your table. The major con, again, is that not everyone who sees your offer is interested.

Free monthly or bi-monthly wellness newspaper/magazine: Not every community gives people access to a free monthly or bi-monthly wellness publication. But if yours does (and most populated areas now do, as the Natural Awakenings regional franchise business model has spread far and wide), this is an outstanding option.

The advantages are that virtually everyone who reads your ad understands the importance and benefits of massage, and readers look at the ads far more closely than people leafing through their daily newspapers. The disadvantages are that because distribution can reach into the hundreds of miles, you wind up paying to reach a large number of readers who are not willing to drive to your table, and they’re too far for you to drive to them. In addition, the cost for advertising here might be too pricey for some LMTs.

Weekly or monthly cultural newspaper (free): This can be a good option for some LMTs. In the New York City area, for example, the legendary Village Voice is a good choice. However, most therapists don’t have this kind of publication as an option. The benefits to advertising here: Readers looking for good entertaining and culinary adventures check out the ads quite carefully. The downside: The price can be steep, and many readers might be unwilling to drive to see you.

Experiment with these media choices and see what works best for you. Keep careful records of the responses to your advertising in terms of numbers of people trying you out, and what percentage keep on seeing you. In most cases, all it takes is one ongoing client to make it worth your while to advertise in any of these media outlets.

Click here for previous articles by Cary Bayer.


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