Promotion and Sales: What language do you speak?

By Lisa Curran Parenteau, LMT, NCTMB
May 29, 2009

Promotion and Sales: What language do you speak?

By Lisa Curran Parenteau, LMT, NCTMB
May 29, 2009

Editor's note: This is the second article in a four-part series discussing marketing in the massage industry.

I know you desire more success and abundance in your practice and in your life. Even now, you are improving your practice by keeping current with your professional journal Massage Today! I also know that you are curious about how to promote your business in some new ways. Strong communication skills are a key building block to successful promotion and increased sales. When talking about massage and your practice, what language do you speak?

Effective communication, listening and being compelling enough to be listened to, is truly a skill that is a life-long pursuit. This quote by Edith Wharton illustrates my view: "There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it." Some folks are better listeners (mirrors), while others are better speakers (candles). I want to focus this article on building some skills to help us communicate about the art and science of massage with more ease, poise and illumination. My hope is that this will not only impact your business, but also our profession as a whole.

If you are like many therapists, you are probably a very good listener, both verbally and non-verbally. Likewise, your skills and confidence in clearly articulating what you do, why you do it and how you might provide an invaluable service may be a challenge for you. I invite you to move out of your comfort zone and consider trying a few new tools. First let's create a new (or updated) "elevator speech" (or pitch). Stop rolling your eyes. I promise you, if you give this a try and practice it, your confidence will soar! The second tool is developing a bullet list of solutions that you can offer to your potential perfect clients.

A few questions to put on the table in preparation for developing your pitch: What would you say if you ran into an old friend or classmate in the street that you hadn't seen for awhile and you told them you had become a massage therapist? How do you answer the question "What do you do?" Can you sum it up in a few minutes, with passion?

Elevator Speech: Your "Pitch"

An elevator speech is a short and sweet opening to your professional side. Add a bit of your personality and you will be set to capture the attention of potential clients and widen your professional network. This miniature speech should be a prepared presentation that sounds "off the cuff."
Here is a simple 4-step process that will have you ready for Toastmasters, or YouTube, or at least a bit more comfortable at a community networking event!

Step 1: Brainstorm some descriptive language about what amazes and thrills you about your work. Jot down words and short phrases as they occur to you. Don't worry about making sense or connections. You are simply gathering raw material. Be authentic and use words that you would really say in conversation!

Step 2: From this list, choose two words that you find especially evocative - that really tug at the heartstrings of your passion for your work. Trust yourself and go with your instincts here. If you can, look up each word in a dictionary. Contemplate what you have chosen and what it really says about why you are a massage therapist.

Step 3: Gather the pieces.

  • The first part of the speech:"I do (nature of service)". Describe what you do by using some of the feeling from Step 2.
  • Second part of your speech: "for (ideal client)". Who are your perfect customers? List some of their characteristics here.
  • Third part of your speech: "so that they can (benefit to the client)". What are the benefits to your perfect customer? What is your unique selling proposition?

Step 4: Now, put it all together in one or two sentences. This statement, in 60 seconds or less, should introduce you and what you uniquely offer the world. "I do (nature of service) + for (ideal client) + so that they can (benefit to the client)".

A good elevator speech will most likely evolve over days, weeks, or months. Start the evolutionary process by writing your first draft today. In other words, don't wait for the perfect elevator speech. Write an imperfect one, use it, and the perfect one will evolve in time. Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker, states, "Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people."

Bullet List of Solutions

What is your solution to your potential client's problem or need? This bullet list of talking points is an expansion of the third part of your elevator speech. Why do most of your perfect clients seek you? Injury related pain reduction, sports conditioning, an energetic modality, or simply 60 minutes of serenity? Remember, YOU are the good listener, and you are probably very intuitive as well. Think of some health benefits of massage, quotes from experts and research some statistics from one of our professional association Web sites: American Massage Therapy Association; Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals; and/or Massage Therapy Foundation

Do a Google search on your massage specialty and interests. Write a clear and concise objective list of the benefits of massage for your perfect client or target market. Because of my special area of massage, my bullet list of solutions or talking points focused on promoting massage for elders and those in end-of-life care. They address the improvement in the quality of life for this fragile population:

Massage Benefits For Elders

Reduces stress
Deepens relaxation
Deepens breathing
Lowers blood pressure
Stimulates circulation
Relieves joint pain
Reduces swelling and edema
Stimulates bowels
Stimulates flow of lymph
Improves sleep
Releases endorphins
Decreases fear and anxiety
Brings sense of well-being
Decreases isolation

I would also add some quotes from experts in the field:

  • Ann Catlin, owner and director of the Center for Compassionate Touch: "Massage enhances the quality of life of elders, especially those affected by debilitating conditions. The therapeutic use of touch has been shown to support healing, relieve pain and provide comfort to those living with the effects of aging, disease, or disability."

  • Terre Mirsch, RN, vice president of Holy Redeemer Health System: "The patient requires less medication for anxiety or fear, so you might have lower pharmacological costs associated with your program. By reducing anxiety with massage, you might also prevent nighttime crises in the home, which in turn decreases nurse or social worker visits and expenses."

  • Dietrich W. Miesler, founder of Daybreak Geriatric Institute: "Touch has been known to create a rise in blood pressure of people in a deep coma and to penetrate the nonverbal state of late-stage Alzheimer's patients, who suddenly during a massage blurt out, 'Oh, this feels good,' only to return immediately into their silent world."

To educate myself, I also have some stats about the opportunity for massage to serve folks in these special settings as part of my list. These trends help me feel passionate about my work!

  • When the baby boomers start turning 65 in 2011, 10,000 people will turn 65 every day.
  • The fastest growing segment of our population is 85 years and older.
  • Among people turning 65 today, 69 percent will need some form of long-term care, whether in the community or in a residential care facility.
  • There are 16,000 certified nursing homes; 39,500 assisted living facilities; 1,900 continuing care retirement communities and more than 4,700 hospice programs in the United States.

What specific benefits, expert opinions and market trends define your special area of massage?

One Final Note

This article focused on verbal communication. Now align your newly crafted elevator speech with everything that represents or brands you in the professional world. What do you want to say in your printed marketing collateral and on your Web site about what you do and the benefits to your specialties? What about your facebook profile, business page or group, and your LinkedIn profile? As your practice grows, changes and is re-defined, take the time to refresh your branding. The good news is, today is the first day of the rest of your professional life!

I touched on the concept of your "perfect customer's characteristics" in Step 3 of the elevator speech construction. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and assisting you in defining your perfect customer in my next article. Until then, Namaste.