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Massage Today
January, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 01

When Money Is Tight: Five Tips for Marketing Cheaply and Effectively

By Diana Moore

Small businesses face a perpetual challenge: how to grow the business and stay within the marketing budget at the same time. Follow these tips to market your bodywork business for next to nothing.

Be Picky About Business Cards

Business cards are arguably the cheapest marketing tool around. They are also fun to choose! But don't forget that you want a business card that will dazzle the people you hand it to.

First, look around and see what appeals to you. Be picky about how it will represent your business. What graphics do you find inviting, yet won't interfere with the readability of the text?

Second, decide what you want it to say. Make your message short and concise so people can quickly grasp what you do in their brief look at your card. Include your name and/or business name, contact phone number(s), e-mail/Web address and possibly your physical address. Then add a tagline or summary statement about what you do best: "Sports Massage and Injury Treatment"; "Chair Massage at Your Worksite"; or "Pregnancy and Infant Massage". Don't list techniques like myofacial release or neuromuscular therapy that people may not understand. That's for your brochure and your Web site. Instead briefly state, for example, that you can help relieve back pain, headaches or chronic tension.

Third, get them professionally printed.

Target Your Ideal Clients

empty wallet - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark It is a waste of time and money to market to people who don't care about what you have to offer. Look at the second step again. What did you write for the tagline for your business card? Does this tell you anything about what kind of person benefits most from your work? Those are the kind of people who will care about your ability to help them, whether they are pregnant, seniors or people with chronic pain.

Get creative and focus your marketing efforts (and dollars) on these ideal clients. Go out and find places they go: community centers, gyms, office buildings, etc. Opportunities abound in these arenas. Hospitals and corporations, for example, have employee bulletin boards where you can post flyers. Look for places you can leave business cards, such as clinics, salons or gyms. Write articles for corporate or community newsletters that target particular groups.

Boost Client Rebooking

Encourage your clients to come in more often. One marketing adage says that getting repeat business costs less by far than gaining new clients. But massage therapists often don't want to seem pushy. Realize that people rely on professionals to help them determine how to cope with challenges. You are one of those professionals. If you want to help your clients feel better, you will encourage them to receive bodywork regularly. This can be as simple as having your schedule book out as your clients are leaving, asking them, "Would you like to reschedule now?"

Clients who come in sporadically often appreciate efforts made to contact them. Use marketing to encourage clients to re-book at the same time you affirm that you care about their well-being. Call to find out if their last session helped. Send a postcard or e-mail announcing mid-day openings to clients with flexible schedules. Mail or e-mail newsletters or articles with self-care information.

Make the Most of E-mail

Unless your clients aren't the online sort, use e-mail to notify them (inexpensively!) of your availability. Online communication reinforces the warm, personal connection you establish with clients in your studio. It encourages back and forth exchanges, helpful to the client and good for building a more client-centered practice. Here are some examples. Send e-mails about an upcoming special targeted to particular clients who might like it. If a client has a particular condition, send information about an upcoming yoga, tai chi or other class that might help. If a client is having a particularly stressful time, send a check-in e-mail and share your openings that might fit his or her schedule. To take it a step further, send an e-mail newsletter, an even more in-depth client education tool.

Contact Other Professionals

Whether they are looking for injury treatment, spa experiences, stress reduction or something else, your ideal clients seek out what they need in the community. Who are the other professionals providing solutions to the problems characteristic of this group? Let them know what you are doing.

Say your ideal clients are professional women over 40. You know that most of them get their hair cut, styled and colored. Many of them workout in a gym and/or attend yoga, Pilates or tai chi classes. Some of them have sought mental health counseling and support. Send a letter of introduction to hair stylists, personal trainers, directors of yoga studios or mental health counselors. Then drop by, introduce yourself and ask if you can leave your business cards. Hand out gift certificates or discount coupons and invite them to come experience your work. You may even want to give a presentation or two to groups such as the staff at your favorite health club or your local chapter of the American Holistic Nurses Association. None of these efforts will cost much other than your time.

If advertising isn't in your budget, don't give up on marketing. There are plenty of good avenues for expanding awareness of your practice in your town and community. Try one of these suggestions at a time, and find out what works for you.

Diana Moore has worked in marketing for more than 10 years. Currently, she works as a writer and editor for Natural Touch Marketing for the Healing Arts. Before her career in marketing she practiced massage therapy for 14 years, many of them as a hospital-based massage therapist in Olympia, Wash. Diana also teaches yoga to people with heart disease and other chronic conditions. Reach her at .


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