Want to be successful as a massage therapist? You may have to change your mindset. You have to be committed to making your business, practice or just you in your massage job successful. No excuses or complaints about what is happening around you. Go out and make it happen. In order to be successful you have to act successful.
Try to imagine (daydream, if you will) what is important to you. What is it that would define success for you? Spending more time with your family? Having a full book each and every week? The ability to take time off? Being able to hire another therapist if you own your own practice? Adding more modalities or services to your menu? Additional trainings? Teaching? Let yourself go with defining the picture of your own successful practice. Your mind won't differentiate between the real and the imagined and remember what you think, you become. Visualize what you want and your thoughts will make it your reality!
Stay tuned as I build on this first step!
A Glimpse at the book I am working on!
Marketing for the Massage Therapist
Just the word marketing sends many massage therapists into a state of confusion. What exactly is marketing? How do I do it? Do I have to sell?! First thing let’s define marketing.
Marketing – The action of promoting products and services. Sales is what you expect after you market your service. Advertising is a way of marketing your service.
Your service is the type of massage that you are trained to do. And your massage modalities can be targeted to a specific “market”. A market is the group of people that would pay for your massage service. And there are many ways to find out who those people are.
A niche market is the group of people who would most benefit from the massage service or services that you offer. EX: Someone who specializes in Sports Massage would be looking for those people who are athletes either as their career of as occasional athletes or weekend warriors.
SO…who is your niche market? Who are the clients who would benefit most from the type of massage that you do?
Start by listing what modalities you are trained or certified in. And make a list of those modalities that you would like to be trained or certified in as this will become your future market!
So what are my preferred modalities? The modalities that I like to use when working with my clients. What clients (and their issues) make you the happiest to work with?
Who are the clients that these modalities best serve?
Develop products and services that make your clients feel as if you were put on the face of the planet just for them!
What are the massage sessions that would be most accommodating to them? Length of time? Time of Day? Day of the Week?
So what is your niche market?
Age of client, Gender Specific (i.e.-pregnancy), Lifestyle (athletic, office worker, stay-at-home mom, etc.), Economic Status are all examples of a niche market.
Don’t market to clients that you do not feel comfortable or competent to work on.
This information is what defines your perfect client. Now take the time to visualize your perfect client. See them if their environment. See them making the appointment with you. See them coming into your office. See them as you are working with them. See them getting off your table energized/relaxed/de-stressed/in less pain, etc. The people that you visualize will be the people that you will draw into your business. Remember also that those issues that you may have knowledge of may be the people that you will attract. If frozen shoulder is something that you have worked through you may find yourself working on an entire client base of people with that same condition.
Now define your actual market. Your market is the total amount of people in a well-defined area that are looking for services such as yours. By having information about the market that is in your area you can then narrow down those that are in your niche market.
The first thing you should know is what is the size of your market? In other words what is the population in the geographic area from which you can expect to get your clients? What is the locality in which you are located? What are the income levels in this area? You should be able to get this information online through census statistics at www.census.gov
Size of your market, Population/geographic area (town, county, zip code, etc.), Locality (where is your office), Income levels (from census data)
You should also be able to come up with an approximate number of your market share.
Market share is the possible number of people available within your population who could get massage. This can be based on age, gender, activities, etc.
How many are available to treat – what is the population in your area who could possibly schedule a massage – # EX - 10,000
What percentage of that population actually want or get massage % – EX -25% so # * % (10,000 x 25% =2,500)
What is your possible percentage of that number? –EX - 5% - 5% x 2,500 = 1050
What is your benefit to this population? What do you do that others in your area do not do? What is your specialty? What are the modalities that you know that you could “market’ to this group? What is their WIIFM?
WIIFM – What’s In It For Me! How does what you are doing satisfy that question for this population? People need to feel that when they are paying for something they are getting value for the money spent.
What are you offering? What needs do your services fill? Come up with a few answers to these questions.
Now come up with the areas in your community where the people are that you are hoping to target in your niche market. Go to Health Clubs (athletic types), Pediatricians (stressed out moms), Obstetricians (Pregnancy Massage), Chiropractors (people with muscle tension, etc.), Health Food Stores (relaxation, etc.) and do some “marketing”. Talk to people, post flyers and do whatever you need to do to introduce yourself to the people who you think that you serve.
Post flyers where the people you want are!
They need to want it, need it or be ready for it!
This is the marketing end of what we need to do as massage therapists! The advertising end is a part of this and includes those flyers that you create, the postcard or e-cards that you send, your business cards, car magnets, brochures, rack cards or whatever way you chose to put your name and your business name into the hands of those people that you want to attract to your business.
Chose a job that you like and you will never have to work a day in your life. Confucious
The question of what is Medical Massage has become the million dollar question in massage circles. And the question I just received is this "Is there a difference between medical massage and clinical massage?" For the first part of my answer I will defer to James Waslaski, a leader in the massage field, and a quote from his article in Massage Today from June 2004!
"The best short definition I gathered from medical massage therapists is: "Medical massage is performed with the intent of improving conditions or pathologies that have been diagnosed by a physician; a wide variety of modalities or procedures are utilized to focus the treatment based on the diagnosed condition." I was determined to prove that advanced disciplines, such as neuromuscular therapy, CranioSacral Therapy (CST), myofascial release, lymphatic drainage, massage for cancer patients, orthopedic massage, etc., fall under medical massage disciplines, and certification in many of these disciplines usually requires a minimum of 100 hours of training." http://www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/06/03.html
Waslaski teaches an Orthopedic Massage class and has a book from Elsevier called Clinical Massage Therapy: A Structural Approach to Pain Management. I do not have this particular book but any other book from Elsevier is in the form of a textbook. Elsevier is a company that I dealt with when I was the Massage Therapy Chairperson at a private school in Florida. More about books in a bit.
So now that I have muddied the waters, let me address the Clinical Massage Therapist part of the question. I found the following quote:
While a massage therapist can work with clients who have tension, stress and pain, "more serious issues are often treated by a clinical massage therapist. This practitioner uses techniques specifically designed to help injuries heal, improve range of motion, and increase muscle function. Also known as medical massage, therapists who perform this work generally do so by prescription from a doctor." http://work.chron.com/clinical-massage-therapist-16412.html Please note that this person is NOT a massage therapist, but that does not make her remarks any less true.
About 10 years ago, I was lucky to attend a seminar at the Florida Chiropractic Convention in Orlando. This convention has in the past, and I would assume still does, hosted a Massage Therapist track as part of their training classes. At this particular convention I attended a CE Class about Medical Massage by Sandy Fritz. For those who do not know, Sandy is the main author of two textbooks by Elsevier/Mosby: Fundamental of and Science of Therapeutic Massage. In her lecture she feels the ALL massage is basically medical or clinical. Her reasoning for this is that all massage has some sort of "medical" benefit to the client regardless of why they are on the table.
But of course the massage industry as any other profession likes "labels". It makes for great marketing and sales for massage schools and continuing education providers. Don't get me wrong, I do believe there is such a thing as Medical Massage but contrary to some advertisments it is not a required "certification" to do that type of massage. (Disclaimer - My opinion and I do have a Medical Massage Certificate!)
The standard definition for Medical Massage is that it is an outcome-based, results-oriented specific treatment to a targeted area or problem. The treatment is by diagnosis and prescription of a physician and may follow their specific instructions after a thorough assessment or evaluation of the problem. It is also generally billable to insurance. Be aware that not all states allow billing to insurance companies by massage therapists, licensed or not. For more information about Insurance Billing for Massage Therapists please look up Vivian Madison Mahoney at www.massageinsurancebilling.com. I was fortunate enough to take her class and received great documentation on the insurance billing process. She does have an insurance billing seminar on DVD and if you take a class with Premier Continuing Education you can receive free CE hours from her. (Shameless Plug) www.premiercontinuingeducation.com
My personal opinion is that networking with a physician or chiropractor would be the best way to get into this type of massage. Advertisment and marketing to a specific client base would be another way. But first you need to have the training to do this type of work. Clinical-based massage is much more specific and requires the therapist to have more specific training and understanding of the mechanics of the human body. Back to that Anatomy and Physiology that you learned in school.
My recommendation and that of James Waslaski in his article mentioned above is to have training in as many advanced disciplines as possible. Recommendations include (but are not limited to): Myofascial Release, Neuro-muscular Therapy (NMT), Trigger Point Therapy, Cranio-sacral Therapy and Sports Massage/Stretching. Additionally more specialized Hydrotherapy applications, including Hot/Cold Stone and other more structurally-based modalities such as certain types of Lomi Lomi and Structural Integration techniques. You also need to know how to explain why/what you are doing to your clients.
Recommendations for books include (but are definitely not limited to): Anatomy Trains by Tom Myers, Kinesiology by Joseph E. Muscolino, A Massage Therapist's Guide to Pathology by Ruth Werner (who by the way will be teaching some classes at Sage Continuing Education in Lancaster, PA this fall! - www.sagecontinuinged.com), any of the textbooks by Sandy Fritz, Trail Guide to the Body by Andrew Biel, Basic Clinical Massage Therapy: Integrating Anatomy and Treatment by Clay and Pounds (an LWW textbook), and Fascial Release for Structural Balance by James Earls & Thomas Myers. I am currently taking the online course by Niel Asher on Trigger Points that I highly recommend (NAT) and any of the books by Clair Davies on Trigger Points.
I hope this addresses the question posed by my Facebook reader this morning. Obviously the best place to start is in the beginning and being a licensed massage therapist is that first step! Having the desire to "make a difference in the pain and posture of the body" is the next step. I hope this points you in the right direction. Please feel free to comment here.
References used: www.medicalmassage.com, www.massagetoday.com, www.mmpa.us
I'm looking to getting back to massage on a professional level but I'm unsure where to begin. I'm only looking to do massage 2 days a week and wondering if that is even possible.
First of all, let me say that anything that you desire from your massage career is possible. Secondly, what you put into something is what you will get out of it. If you want to only work 2 days a week then you will need to get out there and find the place that is the right fit for you to do that or start marketing yourself as a therapist to build your own client base in your own business. There is not really a “cookie-cutter” approach to building a massage career, no matter how much or how little you want to work. But it is my opinion that massage is a wide open field with endless possibilities.
There are lots of “advice” blogs out there but my response would be to get out there and “pound the pavement”. In my experience if you want something bad enough you will figure out a way to make it happen. Create some business cards and start handing them out if you want to work on your own. If you want to start in a spa, ME (Massage Envy) or a Chiropractic office that is great too! Get out and start talking with the places where you could work. Let them know what your goals are as far as when you could be available and if they are hiring. Most places do hire part time therapists. Have your resume ready and up to date when you do go out to places. Call around first and see who might be looking for someone. As we have often said in Professional Development classes go into the places you are thinking about and see what it is like to see if you could envision yourself working there.
Take the time to make a list of the things that you want in your massage career. You started by saying you want to work on a professional level. Does that mean in a spa or in a Chiropractic office? Where is it that you could see yourself working? Put that on your list. What days would you be available to work and what hours? Put that on your list. And then add anything else that would define the perfect job for you right now. Or do you want to work on your own? Could you do this from your house? What would that look like to you? Would you have the space to do this? Find out what the restrictions and regulations would be for where you live. Or would you travel to your client’s home or place of business? This is normally called on-site massage. Would you feel comfortable doing this? How would you screen your clients?
After you make your list of your requirements for the job that you would like to have then take some time to imagine that job/career. How does it feel? Where are you working? What days are you working? What population are you working with – seniors/elderly, pregnancy, work-injuries, sports massage, spa clients, etc.?
So what I’m saying is that the place to begin is to define what you want in the most exacting way that you can and then go out and make it happen. And you make it happen by keeping to your dream and going out there and finding the place that is right for you. I’m not exactly sure what area you are in but there are many places out there that I’m sure you can find one that will work within your requirements.
And get out your Pro D book to review some of the things that I mentioned!
And check out this link from the American Massage Therapy Association
So I'm working on a new book to be titled 100 Massage Business Builders and I thought I would share just 5 of them here.
1. Network with other Health Professionals who can send you clients and to whom you can send clients.
I know that this sounds pretty straightforward and pretty much a DUH moment but what I am saying is to network with people that you would go to for their services. If you want to network with a Chiropractor, then know the Doctor, have it be someone you trust to go to yourself. Don't just call on a every Chiropractor around your location and say let's network. I know this goes against some others who make this recommendation but that is how I feel and is how I have built my practice in the past. My personal Chiropractor was in my network and we did share clients back and forth. Why would you send a client to someone you wouldn't or haven't seen personally?
And don't forget that other Massage Therapists should be on that list also! What? Why would I want to send a client to another therapist? Do you know every modality and how to treat absolutely every condition that a client may have? I know that I certainly don't. You need to be strong enough in your conviction to help your clients and confident enough in your own abilities (or lack thereof) to sometimes refer out! They will come back to you for the service that you provide.
2. Network with people outside of the Health Profession who can send you clients and to who you can send clients.
But why would I want to work with people other that Health Professionals? Do you want to build a client base? And see many different clients? Network outside of your profession. Do you have a favorite Florist? or Travel Agent? or Coffee Shop? or Craft Store? or Hair Stylist? Get with the owner or manager and ask if you can put some of your cards in their business and in return you will put their business's card in your location.
Better yet, plan a marketing campaign with them! Mother's Day, Valentines Day, etc. are get times to buy flowers. Get with the florist that you like who is local to your shop and set up a campaign where they buy flowers from the florist and get a $10 off (or whatever you decide) coupon for a massage or they buy a massage gift certificate from you and get a $10 off (or whatever you decide) coupon for flowers at the florist.
Get creative and get some new clients in the process!
3. Get your name out there! Pound the pavement!
Now there will be some work involved in this one, so get ready.
If you were to take a poll of the other businesses around where you are located, how many even know about you? You would be surprised at the number of people who may go to work right next to you who do not even know that you exist or what your business is about! Get out there and introduce yourself, take some rack cards, your business cards and/or discount coupons so they know who you are (this should be person to person) and what you do. My mantra to new students in my Professional Development class is "For every hour of massage (when you are first getting started) you need to market 2 hours!"
4. Your initial advertising does NOT have to cost you a lot of money!
I know that we are in the age of clicks and SEOs and VistaPrint free business cards. (Remember that there is not really such a thing as totally FREE - those free business cards do come with an advertisement for the company that printed them - thus you are doing advertising for them!) Most of you have a printer and some type of software to create the written word. What I propose is to create some inexpensive "flyers" using colored paper and black ink and taking them around when you are doing #3 above! And 8.5" x 11" piece of paper can be used to create 2 handouts by doing a double print and cutting them in half.
Not high tech enough for you? I'm an old fashioned girl but I still think it would work as an inexpensive way to introduce yourself. Just make sure everything is spelled correctly with proper grammar and all the required information about who you are and what you do - Name, Address, Contact Info, License Number. You could even include a $10 off coupon for the first massage.
5. Plan your advertising/specials around Holidays/Seasons.
You should know about Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas, Valentine's Day, etc. but what about Spring Cleaning, snow shoveling, gardening or sports activities? All of these things can be opportunities to sell Gift Certificates or get people in the door for a massage session.
Be creative and get more clients!
More to come and watch for my book on Amazon!
How about a Loyalty Program?
A Loyalty Program can be an effective way to give your clients the incentive to return to you on a regular basic and more frequently. And it doesn't benefit just your clients - you can use it to reward specific behaviors from your clientele.
Loyalty programs have been proven to drive business. Don't we all have a fistful of Loyalty Cards for everything from bagels to zoo passes. (couldn't come up with an A example quickly!) Why, I even have mine in an app on my smartphone and many of the grocery stores that I frequent just scan them in! Bottom line, customers expect loyalty programs from businesses. Period. Studies have shown that there are more than 2.6 billion loyalty program memberships in the U.S. with the average U.S. household active in 6.6 programs. Research has also shown that members not only spend more when they visit, they also visit about 20% more often than non-members. A good loyalty program, paired with excellent service keeps clients coming back through your doors. And loyalty programs can be as easy as getting 10 extra minutes after 5 paid massages or purchasing a specific number of massages at a reduced price! Or have them accumulate points based on the massage service you are providing.
But before you automatically enroll your clients in a loyalty program, ask them to participate. If there is paperwork involved this will keep only those clients that are interested in a program enrolled. However, once you explain your program to a client, why wouldn't they all want in? Asking them to participate gives you a chance to explain the program and its benefits to them
So how do you benefit? Once your program is set up and your clients are enrolled, you should begin to see an increase in repeat business. Clients are more apt to reschedule if they are rewarded for it so make sure you design your program with that in mind. And make it easy for clients to accumulate their savings, rewards or points and also then use them!
Increased client retention and client services are your goals while providing excellent customer service and rewards to your clients!
It costs 6 times more money to acquire a new client than it does to retain an existing client!
AND, repeat clients spend 67% more than a new client will.
So, take the time to keep your current clients happy and coming back!
First impressions are the longest lasting. We've all heard the saying "You don't get a second chance to make a first impression". Well, it's true. A positive first impression/experience will make them more likely to return again and again. Studies have shown that your client will visually assess both you and your place of business in the first seven (7!) seconds! How long does it take you or the front desk person to get to them when they come in the door? Because, if you can speak to them you might get 30 seconds to make that first impression.
With online interaction most often being their first interaction with you, what does you website or social medial page say about you? When the client makes the call or visits your office, make sure that knowledgeable and friendly staff is there to greet them. Make sure you speak clearly, use their name if it is a new scheduled client and engage the client in conversation. That first impression really does mean a lot, so...
What does your office look like? Little things make a big impact when a client walks through the door that first time. Is your facility clean. Is your staff appropriately dressed (uniform, common attire such as all in khaki or black pant, all with white shirts or polo shirts, etc.)? Are there current magazines in the waiting area? Is the music appropriate to the atmosphere you wish to relay to the client? Are retail items available for purchase with correct pricing in place? Remember that even a small disappointment in your office environment can add up to an underwhelming experience for your client. This can be especially important if you share office space with someone not in the same business as you!
Are you selling retail products? And do they compliment what your services provide? Studies indicate that a customer/client is approximately 50% more likely to return to your business when they can purchase a retail product from you. In my experience I have even had people that were not originally my client come into my office because they heard from one of my clients that I had a certain product for sale! Client will be much for likely to return if they can buy the product that you may be using in their session also. And it also helps if you take credit cards too!
So these are the basics - next post I will address some tactics that others, including me, have used to get clients in the door and keep them after that first appointment.
Paula J Kaprocki, LMT
I am a Licensed Massage Therapist with thoughts, aspirations and opinions - much like any other person on the planet!