When a massage client hands someone else your business card along with a wonderful recommendation, that is the perfect referral. The possibility that this potential client will call you is huge.
This is what I call the golden ticket of marketing, because this type of referral builds your business effortlessly and quickly.
Since this is the perfect marketing scenario, the question you have to ask yourself isn’t how to market to or where to find more potential clients; the question is, “How I get clients to hand a business card to someone they know and talk about my service in a way that inspires that person to schedule with me?”
The first thing you do is obvious but not always utilized. It is simply to ask your clients to refer others to you or to let clients know you are accepting new clients. Then, make sure you have business cards available for clients to take with them.
The easiest way I have found to do this is to place a nice sign next to where clients undress that states you are taking clients and have a stack of business cards visible nearby to take.
If this is not creating enough referral for your business, then there are two ways to increase the referral of new clients through existing clients. Both come down to you implementing either the motivation to refer or the incentive to refer.
Motivation to Refer
There are clients who refer for the simple joy of helping someone be successful. These are wonderful people to have in your clientele. The reason these clients feel motivated to refer someone to you is because you helped them in some way and someone they know is having a similar issue. The similarity of the issue, with the potential of you providing the solution, is their motivation. They want to be helpful to both this person with the issue and you as their therapist with business success. It is a solution where everyone benefits.
To foster more of these opportunities, think about who has referred others to you and why. Whether for stress relief, a gift certificate, pain management, or a sports rehabilitation session, understanding the specific reason one client will refer a potential client is helpful when it comes to future marketing with all clients.
If there is a theme surrounding referrals, such as stress management, start gearing your marketing to that theme. A suggestion could be emailing a weekly newsletter about the specific topics that are drawing in more referrals as a way to continue to motivate and educate your clients. Include that you are accepting new clients in this newsletter.
Observe if this specific marketing creates the desire for current clients to talk more about you. If it does, continue to pursue this type of marketing. If it does not, pay attention to the cues your clientele give you about why they send you people.
This is what we would call organic marketing: having or creating the natural desire for others to talk about you.
Of course, showing appreciation and thanking clients for their referral complements this type of strategy well. Something as simple as a personalized thank-you card shows similar appreciation of their efforts on your behalf. If someone took the time to refer someone to you, taking the time to thank them in a handwritten note has a similar feeling of value.
Then there are other clients who respond better to tangible encouragement to promote you and therefore require something a little more than just asking.
Incentive to Refer
This is exactly how it sounds: You are gifting something to the person who referred a potential client to you. It is simply another way of saying thank you for their effort and showing them your appreciation.
This could be something as simple as a gift certificate to the movies or dinner somewhere. It could be a bottle of essential oils or bath salts that you sell inside your office with a thank-you card. Whatever you choose to offer, the intention behind your action is to show appreciation for their time and effort.
For my own business, when I received a referral from a current client, I chose to send that client a gift certificate for a 30-minute free massage. This is why:
I observed that most clients gave that 30-minute certificate to someone else. Along with a business card and a referral, they would hand over a gift for that person to schedule. The percentage of people using those certificates was remarkably high.
When you look at the overall expense of marketing and the time required to develop that marketing, this approach felt more time- and cost-effective. Not only did I not have to spend dollars on advertisements, I also observed that it was three or four of my clients who consistently referred and there was a steady influx of new clients when my schedule needed filling. Once I was full, I thanked these specific clients and let them know that when I was accepting new clients, I would personally tell them so that they could earn their free 30-minute massage certificates again.
To me, it feels like a referral system that gives me more control over being able to actually influence my own schedule and clientele.
I have learned that the motivation application fits the therapist. Some therapists feel uneasy about providing an incentive and prefer to thank the person. Others feel more satisfied with thanking the client through a gift. It honestly depends on you and what makes you more comfortable with your business. Either way, always make sure to thank a client in a thoughtful way for marketing your business and helping you be successful. In doing so, you make that client much more likely to refer again.
About the Author
Amy Bradley Radford, LMT, BCTMB, has been a massage therapist and educator for more than 25 years. She is the owner of Massage Business Methods and the developer of PPS (Pain Patterns and Solutions) Seminars CE courses and an NCBTMB Approved CE Provider.