An image of people holding up stars, to illustrate the concept of marketing for massage therapy.

Many massage therapists hate massage marketing. Perhaps it’s time we take a big step back and reconsider the way we’re doing that marketing. Here are six massage marketing tasks you should re-evaluate, or even quit:

1. Quit spending all your efforts attracting new clients. It can take anywhere from five to 25 times as much money to attract a new client as it does to keep one you’ve got. Sure, in the beginning you’ve got to have the clients to work on before you can get them to come back; but after you’ve started building your client base, your energy is better spent doing the things that keep clients coming back.

2. Quit taking your current massage clients for granted. How do you keep clients coming back? You start with the rebooking conversation, but then it’s all about customer service. What is the total experience of engaging with your business like? (Not just their time on the table.) Can you make it better? Also ask yourself: Would some of your current clients benefit from more frequent or longer sessions? Offer it to them! (By the way, good customer service starts with having client-centered marketing.)

3. Quit promoting massage. We are massage therapists, but we aren’t selling massage—we’re selling the results people can get from massage and the experience of getting that massage from you and your business. If your promotional efforts are all about convincing people how great massage is, it’s time to re-work that message to be client-centered; that is, what change or experience do you deliver with the tool of massage therapy? Sell what clients actually want.

4. Quit doing so much massage marketing. Think about all the things you do under the heading of massage marketing: Facebook, website, Instagram, blog, Twitter, TikTok, discounts, flyers, rewards for client referrals, networking meetings, Google Profile, YouTube, discounts, free chair massage, and on and on.

It’s exhausting, but we think the more we do the more clients we’ll attract. That’s rarely true.

Also, when we do so much it’s difficult to know which massage marketing efforts work and which ones don’t. What if you chose five massage marketing tasks and focused on those alone for three to six months? When you figure out which ones are working for you, drop the ones that aren’t and maybe try some new things if you want to.

5. Quit giving money away randomly. We jump to discounts and free massages to solve customer service problems and promote our practices too quickly and too often.

Discounts can work for you when you use them strategically. They need to have a specific purpose and a measurable goal.

If you don’t know what they’re supposed to do for you, how do you know if they work?

A strategic discount also often has an end date. That allows you to test whether it made a difference or not. How many discounts are you offering right now? What are they supposed to accomplish? Are they doing that?

When it comes to solving a customer service problem, a sincere apology accompanied by a gift certificate—even if it’s less than the price of a massage—for something that’s specific to that client carries more weight than a free massage. Does your client love the coffee shop down the street? A sincere apology plus a $30 gift certificate to that coffee shop shows you put more thought into your “Sorry, I screwed up” than “have a free massage” does.

6. Quit being generic. A long-term client relationship is based on three things: giving the client the results they want, creating an experience that’s a good fit for them, and the hard-to-quantify personal connection. The more you promote you and your practice specifically the less marketing you have to do.

Why? Because you’ll be attracting the kind of clients who specifically want what you specifically offer. Dare to be unique. Your marketing shouldn’t look like every other massage practice out there.

Kelly Bowers

About the Author

Kelly Bowers is the owner of the Healing Arts Business Academy. She is the author of three books— “The Accidental Business Owner,” “Can I Deduct That,” and “Between Doormat and Diva”—and an NCBTMB-approved provider of continuing education. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. She practices (NC license 16669) in Durham, North Carolina.