To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Market Research That Works,” by Renae Bechthold, in the May 2012 issue. Article summary: The first question to ask yourself before you take the first steps toward creating a massage-business marketing plan is, “Who is my audience?” The cute response is, “Everyone who has a body should be my client.” But if you use this answer to navigate, you will head off in exactly the wrong direction—a move that will cost you thousands of dollars, not to mention the cost of your passion and drive.

by Renae Bechthold

Let’s discuss target marketing, or how to align your marketing methods with your audience. If you want to cater to whole families, then you would choose images that evoke family, connection and happiness, for example. Your colors would be bright and cheerful. You would communicate this vision to a graphic artist who can create the look and feel for your business that would draw, attract and resonate with your intended target audience. You would use words and phrases this audience can understand and relate to.

If you want to focus on geriatric massage, then you would choose images and phrases that evoke a sense of rapport when older adults and caregivers come into contact with your business.

If you focus on therapeutic or medical massage, as another example, and want to build rapport and connection within the mainstream medical community for referrals, then your images, look, feel and language would be different then if you focused on the spa market.

Perhaps knowing what images, colors and language best resonate with the target audience you have chosen for your business is not a great skill set for you. If that is the case, then meet with a qualified, experienced graphic artist to help you put into visual format the sense of your business and the benefits you want to evoke.

So many marketing challenges are solved when you know your core audience. Once you know who they are, then do a bit of research. What do they like to do? What do they relate to in life on or off the job? Do you want to cater to a higher-end clientele or will your office be located in a mainly middle-working-class area, thus drawing on that demographic? Use the Internet to research images that come up when you type in certain search phrases related to your audience. What language do you hear or see being used in relation to this specific audience? Become a student of your audience, and really learn about them. If you can’t speak or communicate their language, you will never be heard by them nor will you appear credible to them. If you are in business to serve them, you better be able to speak their language—and this means more than just their spoken dialect.

If you’ve determined your clientele will be of a higher median income, then make sure every message your business puts off is a match to that core audience, from the office location, to the décor, to the quality of paper you use with your intake forms, to your brand and marketing images, and communication pieces. Your audience needs to see themselves in you; they need to know you can relate to them.

What if your core audience is mainly working-class people? They are down-to-earth, hard-working, value hard work and also value taking care of themselves. That will tell you a lot about them and what they resonate to. Shape your image to fit what they expect, and give them the quality and value they expect. Shaping yourself and your marketing images and communications to fit your audience does not mean you manipulate them. What you promise with your marketing images, you also must deliver and deliver honestly. If you don’t, your core audience will spot this dishonesty in a heartbeat.

Renae Bechthold is a professional business coach with 27 years of business-building expertise and creator of the $100,000 Massage Business Self-Study Program. She owns Metro Massage (, a company that trains therapists to grow their business, increase their revenue and become more effective business owners through learning and mastering the business of massage.