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Massage Today
January, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 01

How to Make Word-of-Mouth Marketing Work for You

By Sharon Desjarlais, CC; guest author for John Upledger, DO, OMM

When it comes to getting new client referrals, it is great when you can depend on your current clients word-of-mouth marketing. Those trust-inspiring testimonials that take place when satisfied clients tell their friends about you can make all the difference and lead the way for a successful business. But here's the secret: Effective word-of-mouth marketing doesn't happen by accident. You may be a gifted therapist with scores of satisfied clients. However, once these clients leave your office, they don't think about you. Instead, they think about how great they feel and then go on with their busy lives.

That's why you need a plan to rev up your word-of-mouth marketing engine. Follow these five simple steps and you'll bring in new referrals before you know it.

Step 1: Make a Profile of Your Perfect Patient

Not all referrals are created equal. Remember that client who never stopped complaining? Or the one who wanted to lie on the table and have you "fix" him? You may not want more of those same attitudes on your table in the future. Before you ask for referrals, be selective of who you ask. Take time to jot down a personality profile of your ideal client; those people who gave you more energy, more joy. Note: To get a complete picture, include both demographics (facts like age, gender and occupation) and psychographics (characteristics that focus on lifestyles, attitudes and preferences).

Step 2: Put Your Request in Writing

Do you get tongue-tied asking for a referral? There's no need to put yourself on the spot. Simply draft a referral letter to your current clients (the ones you would like to have more of). Tell those "perfect patients" how much you would enjoy filling your practice with others just like them. Then ask if they know anyone else who can benefit from your services. When your request comes from the heart, that warmth is likely to be appreciated - and returned.

Step 3: Be Effective, Get Specific

Remember that old computer adage, "Garbage in, garbage out"? The same concept applies when you're asking someone to "Google" their mental database for referral prospects. The more specific your input, the more effective the results.

  • spell out the characteristics of your ideal clients;
  • name the top conditions they may be struggling with;
  • outline the main benefits they get from your therapy; and
  • write a sentence or two that describes your work.

For CranioSacral therapists, I recommend: "CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, light-touch approach that releases tensions in the central nervous system so that every other system in the body can relax and self-correct." Being specific will help your clients identify solid prospects and pass on a good word about you.

Step 4: Offer a Risk-Free Step

No matter how strong your ethics or boundaries are - a therapeutic relationship that relies on touch is still considered an intimate one by your clients. Even someone who is referred may not feel comfortable enough to climb right onto your table. That is why it helps to buildrapport with prospective patients by suggesting a risk-free next step. Ask your clients to steer prospects to your Web site where you will invite them to the risk-free next step: a 15-minute phone consultation (at absolutely no charge to them).

Step 5: Make It a Habit

The easiest way to get consistent referrals is to take consistent action. Make it a habit. Create a referral letter template on your computer. Then, whenever you work with someone you enjoy, personalize that letter and pop it in the mail with some business cards.

When your word-of-mouth marketing system becomes second nature, it will take on a life of its own and breathe new life into your practice.

Click here for previous articles by John Upledger, DO, OMM.

Click here for more information about Sharon Desjarlais, CC.


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