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Massage Today
February, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 02

Giving Your Client Value in a Stressed Economy

By Cary Bayer

Recently, it has come to my attention from quite a number of LMTs in several different parts of the country, all of whom I've just begun to privately coach to increase their business, that their massage numbers are noticeably down this year.

Even some therapists, who have historically been extremely busy (e.g. booking a week or even two in advance), are advertising for the first time in a while, or ever for that matter, to get new clients.

Most have cited the strained economy as the major reason for this unusual decline in new clients along with the overall number of massages done.

Let me speak to this issue from experience I had from a recession in the early '90s. At that time, I owned a marketing and PR firm, which I started in 1984 and ran until 2001 when I chose to change careers and become a fulltime life coach. In that slowed down economy, most of my competitors were hurting or going out of business. My firm, however, was actually thriving. The inner work that I had been doing since 1987 to elevate my prosperity consciousness and create success, no doubt, had shielded me from this downturn for quite some time.

head massage - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Eventually, however, the all-encompassing economy hit my bottom line too; it just took a lot longer. Within a matter of weeks, I started to hear one client after another voice a similar message: "You're doing a great job for us, Cary, but we have to make some cuts to save some money, and marketing and PR are places we can and need to cut."

I tried to get my clients to see that if their competitors were making similar cuts - as they were - that they (my clients) could benefit from a competitive advantage by raising their profile during that time when others were laying low. But when companies get scared, they often react in a panic mode and don't always think so rationally. (Individuals are usually no different.)

Often, these same enterprises, which in good times are ever-alert to see any opportunity that presents itself (no matter how small), fail to see the massive opportunities in front of them when the economy declines. Blame it on survival thinking, but when adrenaline is coursing through your system and red ink is splashed across your accounting books, it's not always easy to think clearly.

In other words, it's hard for businesses to see the long term if they're afraid they won't survive in the short term. And it's often hard for individuals to see how massage can help alleviate the stress they're feeling when part of that stress is their anxious worries that they might not make their mortgage and be foreclosed on their homes.

Communicating With Your Clients

Massage clients can often think the exact same way. With the sub-prime crisis, record home foreclosures, and high credit card interest rates, many people are looking for ways to cut their expenses. Some are cutting back on massage, while others are cutting out massage all-together. Most therapists simply shrug, accept their fate, and say, "I understand."

If you're an LMT, it's better for you to get your clients to understand the importance of massage. To understand, for example, that when the going gets tough, the tough should be getting massaged. In other words, they need more massage, not less. When people are stressed-out because of their finances, they need all the stress management help they can get.

Therapists first need to understand this themselves. They then need to communicate this to every client who goes into panic-mode thinking, and they need to communicate this clearly and regularly.

Peace and Health

These clients also need to recognize that if their dollars have to be carefully spent in a troubled economy, they should do so for products and services that deliver to them as high a return as possible on every dollar they spend.

If you'd like to perform an eye-opening service for your clients (and yourself as well), ask them to write a list of the top 10 things that they did the previous month that gave them their greatest joy, peace or relaxation. I assure you that getting massaged will be on probably every list.

Moreover, chances are quite strong that it's not just in the top 10, but in the top 5. That means that massage may very well be the best thing they experienced in the previous month. Another way of saying it is that the massages you're providing, may be the best thing in their lives. So, at a difficult economic time, why should they eliminate the number one source of their joy or peace?

During the Great Depression, Hollywood nearly saved this country. As Michelle Pautz, writing in "Issues in Political Economy" just a year after the 9/11 tragedies, stated, "During the Depression, cinemas provided an escape from life and the plague of problems that accompanied it in the tough time. A major function of the cinema was a source of entertainment and a way for people to forget their troubles with stories that almost always had happy endings."

Even at the Depression's depths, 60 to 80 million Americans paid to attend the movies each week; and, in the face of doubt and despair, these films helped sustain national morale. No medium contributed more greatly than the motion picture industry to the maintenance of our collective consciousness during the worldwide Depression. (Interesting to note: In other countries, where access to movies wasn't as readily available, revolution, riot and political turmoil resulted.)

Massage therapy provides more than just an escape from the problems of the day for those who take advantage of it. It also helps promote health and peace in a profound way.

And if there's something that people need more than health and peace during the difficult economy that we're in now, please tell me what it is.

Click here for previous articles by Cary Bayer.


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