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The Marketing Coach

By Cary Bayer

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Marketing Deep Tissue vs. Spa Massage

Recently, while I was staying with my wife at a resort hotel, which happened to have a beautiful spa on the premises, I purchased a vacation package that included, among other things, a Swedish massage for each of us. My wife and I typically get a massage at least twice a month, and have for many years. Personally, I hadn't experienced a Swedish session since the last time I ate a Swedish meatball, which was many moons ago. More for professional purposes as a marketing coach for massage therapists than for my body's own rejuvenation, I decided to sign up for that particular treatment, instead of upgrading for $10 more for deep tissue. I figured since it's been such a long time since I've experienced a Swedish session, let me see what some of my deep tissue-oriented massage therapist clients of mine were competing against.

How Sweetish it Wasn't

The best way that I can think of depicting the 50-minute massage I received — which, by the way, was only 45 minutes on the table — was the rubbing on of oil. To say that the therapist's touch was light would be a bit of an insult to the word light. Now, to be fair, she did apply some pressure on the two areas that I told her were hurting when she asked what was going on in my body. But the word "some" is the way I'd characterize the pressure that she used. Light is probably a better way of characterizing her touch on the troubled areas; remember the rest of her massage was light lite. If Miller Lite beer used to be promoted with the campaign theme, "Everything you always wanted in a beer and less," her touch would best be described as, "nothing you always wanted in a massage and less."

Marketing Deep Tissue vs. Spa Massage - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark If you go into a conscious eating establishment, you may very well encounter the expression "gluten-free," to explain, for example, how the bread was baked. I'm very familiar with gluten-free bread; I hadn't been familiar before with "glute-free" massage. That's how I'd have to depict the therapist's manner of treating my gluteus muscles. Well, free isn't exactly fair; she did spend almost one minute on each glute — over the sheets.

Knowing what I do about massage, having received many hundreds of massages during the course of my lifetime, I would never describe the three quarters of an hour that I spent on her table as anything like therapy. I'd have to call it relaxation, at best. (Although, I have to admit that the frustration I felt with her virtually no-pressure touch was anything but relaxing. But I laughed to myself when I realized that I did, after all, sign up for Swedish massage, so there it was, Swedish lite.)

Now, if you're a massage therapist who specializes in doing do deep tissue work, and there are a lot of therapists in your area who do principally relaxation massage, or if there are spas in your market that are popular, marketing yourself as a massage therapist who does massage therapy, as compared to relaxation massage, can be very strategic and an effective way to build your business. You might even tell people that Swedish massage is like deep tissue massage the way a fruit punch at a heavily chaperoned high school prom dance is like heavily spiked rum punch at a Caribbean local bar.

Swedish vs. Deep Tissue

The first thing I'd recommend in your advertising communication is to show the superiority of deep tissue massage versus relaxation massage. You could say that relaxation is a by-product of massage therapy; it needn't be the goal. (This is not to say that there's no value in giving or receiving a relaxation massage. In our highly stressed and tense world, where people spend 10 hours a week or more commuting to work in crowded trains, buses, and highways, relaxation is a highly valuable asset.) Even if a considerable amount of pain is felt in a deep tissue treatment, there's still some relaxation that results by the time the session is complete. It's expected that a client will leave a massage therapist's table relaxed and more free of pain. To be perfectly honest, I felt more relaxed waiting for 15 minutes in the waiting room next to a delightful flowing fountain than I did during, or after, the session I took at the spa.

A headline that you could use to compare your deep tissue treatments to the fluff and buff of some competitors, who specialize in relaxation massage, or spas, which do a great deal of Swedish sessions, could say the following:

MASSAGE IS THERAPY, NOT JUST RELAXATION. Body copy in the ad could then go on to cite research on massage that shows in a scientific manner just how much physical healing actually occurs with therapeutic massage.

Another headline could speak to the shortness of spa treatments. It could say: MY MASSAGES ARE AN HOUR, NOT JUST 50 MINUTES. Body copy might also indicate that your hour-long sessions often spill over an hour, while spa treatments often are just 45 minutes on the table.

You could also conclude either ad with a touch of humor: You could show a picture of the CBS-TV news program, 60 Minutes, and have a caption that says, When a show is called 60 Minutes, it goes for 60 minutes, not 50 minutes. Or you could say: Deep tissue vs. Swedish is more like therapy vs. "sweetish." Sweet is nice, but then so is candy. But you wouldn't use candy to heal your body — maybe to heal a broken heart, but not to heal tense and tired muscles.

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