Effective marketing of your services is a very important issue. That’s why we’re so happy to receive this article from one of the leading experts in the field, Clete Preuss. He is the founder and president of ROI Marketing & Consulting based in Scottsdale, Arizona and has created advertising campaigns for some of America’s largest corporations. He is one of the most awarded marketers in the country for his creatve advertising and strategic planning.
We think this article which is filled with important practical tips and advice will be greatly appreciated by our readers. In the future, we will try to publish more articles on this important subject to assist our readers in building successful practices.
(FREE OR NEARLY FREE) MARKETING TECHNIQUES TO BUIILD YOUR PRACTICE.
Yogi Berra, the legendary sports figure famous for his twisted witticisms, once said of golf that 90% of all putts left short of the hole don’t go in. Well, his math may have been inaccurate, but his point was true. When you’re looking for clients, 100% of the people who have not heard of you will never enjoy the benefits of your expertise.
Many practitioners, especially new ones, find themselves in the precarious position of wondering, “How long will it take for me to build my business through referrals?” You can do better than that by pro-actively promoting yourself. And you can do it for very little money if you’re willing to engage yourself in the marketing process. Here are the simple but effective tools:
1. Start with in-person networking: relatives, friends, neighbors, parents of your child’s schoolmates, etc.
2. Join groups that share your interests, including churches, local community groups and charitable organizations to volunteer your time. Community and church bulletin boards still exist and remain a good way to advertise yourself.
3. Create a simple black ink flyer and print it on bright yellow paper and post it on as many bulletin boards as you can find. Use a large headline to get attention. Some samples are: “Don’t Suffer Needless Pain” or “Feel The Immediate Benefits of Massage Therapy” or “Massage Therapy Will Improve Your Quality of Life.” Then add some copy about your particular skills, licensing, modalities and approach to healing and wellness. If possible, include a small photo of yourself. Mention that your rates are affordable, may be covered by insurance and that you have “special introductory pricing” for new clients. List either your office address or if you work from home, tell people you will come to them. And call out your phone number and website.
4. Give some flyers to your friends and relatives and ask them to place them in their lunch rooms at work.
5. Make a copy of your zip code area and mark all business and street plazas. In your free time go there one by one and leave flyers at as many businesses as you can.
6. Try local companies with large work forces. They might let you post your fliers in their lunch rooms.
7. Stay in touch with alumni from your LMT school to see what they’re doing to build their practices. Offer to cover for them when they’re on vacation or sick.
8. Create your own personal database of practitioners in your area. Always exchange e-mails with your colleagues if you are taking continuing education classes. Be sure that you participate in the work of your local AMTA Chapter.
9. Join professional and business networking groups (including Forum on our website, www.massageprofessionals.com, political clubs, sports leagues, etc.)
10. Pass out your business card whenever appropriate to as many people as possible. (They’re all potentially clients).
If you need business cards or better business cards and stationery, Google “free business card design” and you’ll find many online companies who will allow you to set up your card and stationery from existing templates for free. You can then download the file and print the cards yourself on your home printer or take the file to a quick printer like Kinko’s or Office Max and pay them about $30 to print 500 cards. Three such sites are:
Next, go to the Journal Of Massage Science section on this website and click on the March/April issue of 2009 which is listed to the left of the page under search. This article shows you how you can approach the physicians in your area and provides a letter and brochure you can print and drop off at medical offices of local pulmonologists. You may use the letter as a template to target other medical professions. This is a valuable and free prospecting tool to help you connect and follow up with your area physicians. Many of our readers have used this free tool to build their practices.
Then, also on our site, we have a Practitioner Locator page that is set up for the public to find a practitioner in their area. If you register with us (there’s no charge), you can enter your information for a free listing on that page. With your free registration, you’ll also receive regular industry updates and other valuable information by e-mail.
If you want a professionally designed flyer, places like Kinko’s can help you for a small fee or you can go to the internet and google “free flyer design” and buy/download a simple software design program for about $40. Many of the sites, like smartdraw.com will give you a one-time free download of a flyer program in hopes you will subsequently buy the program.
Leveraging Your Expertise
You offer, of course, a valuable service. Instead of taking money out of your pocket to spread the word, exchange your skills for publicity and new clients. Go to churches, charities and schools who do fund-raising events and offer one or several free massage sessions as raffle or auction prizes to support their cause. In doing so, you will gain positive publicity from the event, establish a networking relationship with the group and secure first-time non-paying clients who will hopefully become regular clients and good referral sources.
Also offer short talks about various benefits of massage therapy at the end of community or church meetings. Be sure to choose an important topic (e.g. muscle pain) and use the simple language and memorable analogies.
Gather a list of community events from the newspaper, local magazines, bulleting boards and the Chamber of Commerce and offer to set up a corner with your table for free massages throughout the day. Hand your card out to everyone and have people put their information into a fish bowl for a drawing for a free massage. Every one of these leads represents a person who is interested in massage and they are yours to call as soon as possible after the event to garner new clients. Call at a convenient time, develop a rapport, offer a discount for a first massage or offer a package deal for prepaying multiple massages.
Other ways to leverage your expertise are to offer an incentive to existing clients (like 50% off their next session) if they refer a new client to you or to offer to barter/trade out sessions for professional services you need, like bookkeeping, teeth cleaning, website design, etc. It never hurts to ask.
Website & Social Media
This is a confusing and intimidating world for many people and too diverse and layered to explain here in any great detail. Suffice it to say, it’s an important world and you need to learn about it and utilize it for the ongoing success of your practice. Begin to educate yourself on at least these aspects: your own website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Be sure to constantly increase the number of friends on your social network sites. Inform everyone about your interesting cases when you were able to help your clients.
If you don’t already have a professional website, start with that. Develop your own website even if you work for someone else. Design it simply and efficiently. Be sure to list all your educational experiences including continuing education classes you took and modalities in which you consider yourself an expert. It would be great if clients you helped would post their opinions about your work on the website.
To save money, if you have rudimentary computer skills you can build your own website through many online sites. Just Google “free website design” and check out a few companies. They offer custom design for a moderate price and free design from templates that you plug into with your own information. They have video tutorials that will show you how to do this. Different sites have different deals. For instance,
1. weebly.com offers free and low-cost template design and free domain hosting for a period of time.
2. GoDaddy.com has a basic package for $5 per month (less with an annual commitment) that gives you an up-to-5-page free website design with domain hosting and an e-mail account also included.
Both sites also have free or low-cost ability to add Facebook, a blog and Twitter to your site.
You are more than a Licensed Massage Therapist. You’re also a business owner who from time to time needs to put on his marketing hat to increase the success of the practice. Don’t be afraid. You have something valuable to offer. You relieve pain. You contribute to people’s quality of life. You are a practitioner wholly supported by science. And you care. Spread the word!