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Massage Today
April, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 04

Is This Any Way to Run a Business?

By Cary Bayer

Retail advertising, discussed in my previous column, requires precise advertising layouts and copy. Make certain that the words "50 percent off" are not only prominent in type size, but the very headline of the ad as well.

It should look something like the following: "50% OFF MASSAGE SALE." Directly below that, indicate what the actual cost will be for first-timers who respond. For example, if your normal fee is $70 for an hour-long session, indicate that your price has been slashed to $35. One effective way of doing this is to use the universal language of the line through the center of some image or piece of copy. Also, make certain that it's clear to any reader of your ad that the offer is only for new clients.

The buy-one-get-one-free promotion is the one I recommend more highly than the 50-percent-off special, because the new client gets to experience your healing art twice and also pays full price for it once. Your message should feature the word "free" in very big and bold letters. In recessionary times, that word is of huge importance to people. It seems as if every single aisle that I push my shopping cart through at my grocery store has a promotional offer featuring the word "free" in big letters. The supermarket isn't the only category of business doing buy-one-get-one-free appeals; so, too, are restaurants, bookstores, clothing stores and many other retail establishments. Your layout should look something along the lines of: "Buy One Massage, Get One Massage FREE" or "FREE MASSAGE when you purchase one massage for (your price)."

Don't waste any valuable advertising space mentioning the many modalities you practice. Most people, especially those who aren't familiar with massage, don't know much about neuromuscular, deep-tissue or Swedish, and they couldn't care less about each. LMT lexicon is great to share in more appropriate settings such as local chapter meetings and state/national conventions but not to the average consumer. The average client or prospect of massage wouldn't know their myofacial if it hit him in the head. Instead, talk to them about the many benefits they will receive from their service, not the service itself.

Keep your communications simple, particularly in your ad, where less is more. Open space in the ad is of value; it helps convey the feeling of relaxation the client desires to experience on your table and that you're eminently capable of delivering. Ad messages that are very copy-heavy are less effective than ones that have more "air" or negative space in them. Empty space is a good thing; think of it as a kind of Zen approach to advertising.

I recommend that any offer you're touting should have expiration dates. This can be inserted right underneath the price. If your ad comes out at the beginning of the month, give the reader about 30 days to take advantage of your special. This encourages a prompt response if people are to gain the price break. Creating a sense of urgency is important. After all, why shouldn't they get cracking to get a free massage?

I wouldn't waste ad space communicating that the new client needs to redeem their free massage within a week of getting their paid massage. That's something you can convey when they call you on the phone and book a paid session. The reason for the free massage within a week of the paid one is to give the client the experience of enjoying your work on a weekly basis so that if they become a client, they have established a small habit of seeing you weekly. Naturally, at the bottom of your ad, you'll need to include your name, phone number, Web site (if you have one), address (if you have an office) and license number.

Incorporate these creative elements in your ad and you will have some new customers. One client of mine had 19 people respond to such an ad. Sixteen of these people never came back as regular paying clients. On one level, you might argue that the advertising was a waste of several hundred dollars. After all, that's a lot of free massages to give out. If you're paying attention to the numbers, however, you will have noticed that I didn't mention the other three. One became a regular monthly client. One came in regularly every two weeks. The third opted for a weekly visit. One other thing about this weekly client: she is a medical doctor, and has been referring many patients who have also become clients.

When you consider that 16 massages were given away for nothing, was this promotion worth it? If you think it was a waste, you might never be able to grow your business. Let's try to analyze what these new clients will be netting the therapist. Let's suppose each client keeps up the massage frequency they have begun. Then let's suppose each client remains a client for what most therapists say is the average length of a client relationship: three years. At a $70 massage rate, the monthly client will pay $840 the first year and a total of $2,520 over the course of this estimated three-year term. The bi-weekly client will spend twice that amount, or $5,040, in those 36 months. The weekly client will pay $10,080 in that period. If you add all this up, you reach a total of $17,640; and that doesn't account for any MD referrals. To generate such revenues, the advertising expenditure was about $400.

To paraphrase the famous old National Airlines advertising slogan: "Is this any way to run a business? You bet it is."

Click here for previous articles by Cary Bayer.


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