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Massage Today
July, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 07

Don't Advertise What You Do, But What Your Client Receives

By Cary Bayer

Last year, I was teaching a series of classes in our nation's capital and, wanting to get some fresh fruit for a post-seminar snack, I went into a giant grocery store in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Unlike just about every other supermarket and retail outlet that I've ever walked through throughout this vast nation of ours, it surprisingly did not have a customer relations department. But don't be shocked. That's because this giant had already awakened its own inner giant: it had a Solutions Center. The difference is quite palpable. Customer relations is what stores offer; solutions are what customers desire. Going into a store that sports its own department for solving your problems is a fresh breeze that would make anyone a loyal and devoted customer.

As a business coach for massage therapists and alternative healers, I often tell such practitioners that they can benefit immeasurably from this significant distinction when it comes to preparing advertising for their services, developing the proverbial 30-second elevator speech, and learning how to effectively talk about what they do. When I teach throughout the country, I come across dozens of different wellness magazines. As I peruse these (usually) monthly publications, I see ads from many therapists and virtually every single one of these, with rare exceptions, are usually just business cards plunked down in the publication. Each of these "so-called" ads makes the same basic mistake, and makes it in a big way.

I say "so-called" ad because it's not an ad at all, but a business card. What these messages do is communicate to a reader what the therapist will do for him, rather than what the prospective client will receive from the therapist. Advertising in this way is a huge missed opportunity for therapists and a big waste of the money they work so hard to get. What most alternative healers need to understand is that most of the people who could possibly find their way to their couches, tables and offices wouldn't recognize their shadow or their own myofacial if it hit them in the head.

Therapists would benefit enormously by realizing they'll be far more successful if they engage in technical shop talk only with other therapists, but use plain and simple English to clients and prospective clients. This holds true whether the healer is communicating through an ad, newsletter, brochure, website, or in an elevator, at a party, or in line at Starbucks. It's one thing to talk modality to other healers at a continuing education training or state convention; it's quite another thing to talk that way to a layman in physical or emotional pain who is simply looking for much-needed relief. To paraphrase the old acronym: Keep it Simple Therapist (KIST).

I'm not saying there's no value in discussing what you do and the technical aspect of the modalities you practice. They serve the valuable function of providing rationale for the rational side of your prospective client's nature. It intelligently explains the value of your work when telling potential clients the benefits they can receive. It speaks to the left side of their brains.

Commercials for wise marketers do this on television, on radio and in movie theaters. Print ads for savvy businesses do this in magazines and newspapers. A car spot, for example, might describe rack and pinion steering, anti-lock brakes and deployment of airbags. This explains how and why if you buy that vehicle, you can rest assured that your kids will be safe. The best of these commercials will analyze the features of the car but they'll demonstrate safe braking on icy roads, keeping your little ones safe. This speaks to the right side of your brain and your feelings.

A commercial for a vacation in Israel, for example, will show images of historic synagogues, churches and mosques for Jewish, Christian and Muslim viewers. It will provide the feeling of ancient peace in the Holy Land. This reaches your heart and the right side of your brain. If the creative team at the ad agency is smart, they'll also convince the left side of your brain that increased security and anti-terrorism forces will make you feel safe while you're there.

If you meet me at a party, a continuing education training, or your state convention and you ask me what I happen to do, I won't tell you that I'm a life coach. This is despite the fact that this is clearly what my business card says that I do professionally. Instead, I'll tell you that I regularly help people create breakthroughs in their finances, in their businesses, in their relationships and in their spiritual lives. I'll tell you that I have privately helped more than 150 different massage therapists and dozens of other alternative healers create breakthroughs in their business and their personal lives. In other words, what you'll hear me do is describe the results that someone can expect by working regularly with me. If you don't think this gets people's attention far more quickly and persuasively than falling into the trap of saying the type of service you provide, then you haven't been paying close attention to how people listen. Very few people care what you do while you're going into your description. They're far too busy listening for what benefits they can receive from you.

So, if I happen to meet you at that party or convention, and I ask you what you do, you don't have to say that you're a massage therapist. You could tell me that you give people the beautiful feeling of well-being. Or you could tell me that you relieve pain from people's bodies and souls. And if my feet are killing me from teaching all day or I'm feeling some other pains in my body, you can bet your sweet myofacial, if you're a massage therapist, that you'll have gotten my attention in a proverbial New York minute.

Click here for previous articles by Cary Bayer.


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