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Massage Today
October, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 10

Building Your Authority and Credibility

By Stephanie Beck

We know reputation marketing is a big focus for every practitioner. I have provided some tools in previous articles to assist in building your reputation. Some of the topics have been on the importance of reviews, how back linking to highly credible websites boosts your image, and the review sites or citation sites you should be utilizing, listing and pulling in traffic.

Today, we are going one step further. We will be discussing content or marketing messages you should be using to build your authority and credibility.

Have you ever wondered why some practitioners are considered more credible or seem to have more authority than others? Why are they considered "experts?" Why do some practitioners seem to have an endless supply of customers wanting to book treatments with them? Why does it seem like some practitioners have their customers referring their family and friends continuously? It isn't magic; they have figured out who their customers are, what their needs are and shared how they can help them. In other words, they have positioned themselves as an educator and advocate for the success of their customers. How do they do that? We are going to share the ways in which you can develop yourself as an educator and advocate for your customers and position yourself to achieve that same success.

marketing - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Marketing with a Purpose

I have noticed over the years that most business owners do not know how to market with a purpose. The same is true with massage practitioners. Some want to only focus on the techniques or use the platforms for listing out an online resume' talking about their experience, education or what an expert they are.

The reality is if they just focused on the ways to make their customers feel understood by entering the conversations in their client's head, they would automatically and almost instantly gain their trust. At the very least, they would peak their customer's interest and start building a relationship. People make decisions to conduct business with people they know, like and trust. In order for people to feel comfortable, you need to build a relationship with them. This means you need to understand how they think.

How do you know what your clients are thinking? You have to first figure out whom you are talking to. Who are your customers? Knowing demographics like age and gender will only get you so far. More importantly, what are their main concerns, what are their habits (specifically their buying habits) and where are you most likely to connect with them?

You also need to understand why you are talking to them. It isn't to "book a massage" (although that may be the end result). You are conversing with them to help them see a bigger future. You want them to identify the pain they want to move away from. They are looking for answers or solutions to their problems; they aren't looking for names of techniques or care about your education or even how much your treatments cost. What they want to know is how you are going to help them feel better.

When you start crafting your content, consider how you want them to respond. Find out what their most important goal is and help them see a better future by imagining their world with that problem eliminated. Let them see what that problem is costing them and help them commit to their most important goal. Start your content with an end in mind; in other words, market with a purpose.

Educator and Advocate

Let's get in the right mindset for marketing with a purpose. Going forward I want you to ingrain this in your mind. You are not a practitioner, licensed massage therapist or any other certified title. To your customers, you are an educator and advocate for the success of your prospects and customers. Grab a pen and paper and write this down because this is important – "I am an Educator and Advocate for the success of my prospects and customers."

Why is this important? Because when you position yourself as the educator and advocate for the success of your customers, this removes any buyer/seller mentality. In fact, I don't want to you to even think about getting clients to book an appointment with you. Remove this from your mind. Concentrate on simply providing them with information that helps them solve their problem. As you move from the "book an appointment" or "let me tell you about this wonderful technique I just learned" or "how affordable my treatments are," into having a conversation with them about their needs, your mindset and theirs will start to change. They should begin to call you the expert and freely refer others to your practice. When you are seen as an educator and advocate, your IDEAL clients want to work with you and one of the best benefits is price is not a factor.

What are an Educator and Advocate? They share information that solves problems. When customers are searching online they aren't looking for brands or brand names. They are searching for solutions. By providing informational content that offers solutions, your prospects and customers should begin to trust you and respect your knowledge and expertise. This is how you will begin building your credibility and authority, and they will want to share this with all their friends and family members.

How do you become an Educator and Advocate? First, as we have mentioned already, start by understanding what your customers are thinking when they first find you online or in a direct marketing piece. Some examples of direct marketing pieces include: postcards, flyers and magazine or newspaper ads. Whether it's online or by a direct marketing, once a customer first finds you, they generally have four questions they deeply want addressed before they make the decision to do business with you:

  • Does this person understand my problem?
  • Are they qualified to solve my problem?
  • Is my situation unique and/or will this work for me?
  • What is my risk to find out more?

This is where engagement becomes crucial. It's not enough just to have great content, it really only qualifies as great content if you get them to engage and take action. I love this quote by international speaker and social media expert, Mari Smith, "Content maybe king, but engagement is queen and she rules the house!" Now Mari was referring to how valuable engagement is to social media when she said this, but I say this applies to any type of marketing you create. If you aren't engaging with your prospects and customers with any piece of marketing you will not get the results you want. On social media, that is referring to people liking, sharing, re-tweeting, commenting, re-pinning, responding or subscribing to your content. This isn't just about engagement on social media, you also want them to respond to your e-mail, call or visit your clinic from the ad from the direct marketing piece. To create the most likely possibility of engagement, be sure you are providing information that answers the questions we mentioned before.

How do you show you understand their problem? You demonstrate you understand their problem by sharing information and providing answers to the most common problems that they and others like them have had. You can also demonstrate a willingness to understand their problem by asking questions about their problems. Because you are making time to have a conversation instead of just regurgitating information, customers start to see you in a different light.

How do you show you are qualified to solve their problem and demonstrate that their issue is not necessarily unique? Provide social proof (case studies or testimonials of other customers) that your solution has worked for others who shared the same problem. If you are just starting out and don't have any social proof, you can borrow the credibility of other. What I mean by this is you can share the success others have received by using the same techniques or sharing research or results that produced solutions your clients are wanting. Everyone's opinion of success is different and not everyone achieves results at the same rate. We both know some will progress faster than others, you aren't guaranteeing them success; you are simply providing solutions that have worked for many others who share the same symptoms with similar results. These pieces of information build your credibility and authority in their eyes.

The last question we will cover is about risk. Customers and prospects are continuously evaluating risk when they are making a purchasing decision. The "what do I have to lose?" Or "what's in it for me?" are common thoughts when evaluating you. "What is my risk to find out more information?" That could mean the customer exchanges their contact information and time for a free report, reading a newsletter, setting up a 30-minute conversation or consultation, watching a "how to" video, or subscribing to a membership site to find out more. You help them move towards that bigger future. You do whatever is necessary with authenticity to get them the information they are seeking. As you provide this valuable information that helps them to understand that you understand and relate to their problems, you've just rocketed miles ahead of your competition. You have built more credibility and authority because you took time to have a conversation about them.

Your customers and prospects feel you understand their problems, you certainly sound qualified and they feel like their situations perhaps aren't unique. In most cases, customers begin to have an "I've got nothing to lose to find out more" attitude because they see you as a person who is invested and engaged in their problems. They position you has an expert and someone who can be trusted to provide them with solutions that will most likely work for them. They feel they know you and you have built a huge amount of credibility and authority with them that they now feel comfortable referring others to you. This earns you the right to be able to ask for their business and sometimes, you don't even get the chance to ask; they ask you.

Building credibility and authority is a process, just like learning massage was a process. Once you understand how it works you can start to implement the steps to achieve your success.

Click here for previous articles by Stephanie Beck.


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