An image of identical pegs, with one being elevated above the rest, is used to illustrate the concept of authority marketing.

Authority marketing focuses on how you can support your clients’ needs via your expertise and provide them with the results they demand. An authority-based business model is your secret weapon to not only getting your services seen by the very people you want to work with, but to build a high level of trust along the way.

Outdated Perspective

The business of business is to grow your business, right? But sadly, most of us have been approaching building our businesses from an outdated perspective.

Taking our cue from large corporations, we tend to focus on getting our offers in the faces of the public. Specifically, tactics such as promoting a discount and announcing appointment openings are the go-to. But in this mad rush to get our services seen, we’ve forgotten the most important element of effective marketing: authority.

Becoming the go-to expert in your community extends far beyond the services you offer. It has nothing to do with where you’re located. And it’s certainly more than what you charge and what openings you have. Yet therapists continue to focus on these ineffective marketing tactics—because that’s what we’ve learned from big businesses.

The problem with this “commercial” approach is these large corporations are marketing for volume. As an individual therapist, a volume-based business model will always fail because you’re limited in the amount of clients you can physically offer services to each week. You simply cannot sell as many “products” as a large corporation.

Authority Marketing

Successfully centering your authority position around the specific needs of your clients will create a culture of respect within your business. As clients begin to trust you, they will naturally seek out your services while respecting you as an authority on the problem they want solved. This respect will then spill over into your boundaries, fueling positive client behavior.

The benefits of authority marketing are plentiful:

  • It helps you become the go-to expert in your community, driving demand for your services.
  • As an in-demand therapist, you can successfully charge a higher rate for the results you provide.
  • You’ll experience less income fluctuation, no-shows and appointment changes, creating a more stable schedule.
  • By increasing a potential client’s trust in your expertise, you’ll see a higher rate of compliance with home care instructions, thereby expanding the results your clients can achieve.

Transitioning Your Marketing

So how do you transition outdated marketing tactics into an authority marketing strategy?

First, you need to believe you are far more than “just” a massage therapist. Think outside the box when creating your tag line by using language that more specifically tells people what you do. Are you a pain relief specialist? A headache expert?

Second, you must have a clear understanding of what you actually do, beyond the modalities you practice. When someone asks you what you do, be ready to fire off a succinct, yet powerful statement that tells them who you work with, what problems you solve and how you do it. Start your sentence with “I help …” and see where it takes you.

Third, become known for something—but not everything. Trying to be an expert on everything dilutes your message and weakens your authority. Instead, focus heavily on promoting the results you’re best at achieving and then expand those results to the various problems they’re most appropriate to treat.

Fourth, give clear examples of the results potential clients can expect to receive. Instead of simply stating the end result, put your work into a larger perspective. Think beyond the specific pain you’re resolving and include the life transformation your results help facilitate.

Online Presence

Creating a strong online presence will help you spread your message and authority position throughout your community. The goal here is threefold: exposure to develop name recognition, build trust and provide valuable education. Be sure to include the following when developing your online presence:

Branding: Consistently using a well-thought-out logo, brand colors and fonts will help the public visually connect your business, your name and what you do. And when they see your brand repeatedly, they’ll instantly know it’s content they want to engage with.

Website: In today’s fast-paced, instant-gratification world, people expect the information they want to be easily accessible. A professionally-built website not only houses your brand and your message, it’s where potential clients can learn more about what problems you solve, the services you offer, your education and experience…everything they need to take the next step: booking a session.

Social media: This is the hub of engagement. Social media platforms offer an interactive experience where the public can get to know you through continuous content and comments. This is the perfect place to push immediate-action content as well as provide deeper information about your expertise and how you approach treatment for specific problems.

Social proof: It’s not enough to simply tell the public you’re the best at what you do (and they need the solutions you’re offering); they need to hear about it from others who have already experienced it. Reviews and testimonials provide the social proof people demand.

Killer Authority or Authority Killers?

Buildinga solid authority position means you need to be on top of your game. You won’t be perceived as an expert if you’re perpetuating outdated information (hello, toxins) or sharing generic information (like the basic benefits-of-massage graphics that are passed around like candy on Halloween).

As the authority on whatever problems you solve, potential clients expect fresh information they can trust. And they want it from your perspective, not someone else’s.

Content that isn’t in alignment with your brand’s message will only confuse your audience. Keep the focus of your content on your areas of expertise and yourself. The public not only needs to know what you do, but they need to connect with you as a person, too. Break up your more serious topics with posts that share fun facts about yourself and give your audience a metered glimpse into who you really are. This not only builds trust, but gives your brand personality.

Personal opinions on politics, religion and sex (unless you can tie it to the problems you help treat) only seek to divide your audience and kill your authority position. Avoid these topics and focus on the needs of your audience instead.

Avoid asking for the sale too often. Frequently posting a list of available appointments and splashing “BOOK NOW!” all over your social media platforms gives the impression your business is struggling or you might not be very skilled. Like it or not, the vibe you’re putting out is either attracting or repelling potential clients—and this one is definitely repelling them.

Authority Builders

Now that you know what to avoid, let’s talk more about what you can do to build an authority position that attracts your perfect clients.

You need content that educates and draws your audience in and gets them engaging. When your content compels people to comment, you’re building trust not only between you and the commenter, but within your entire audience. The more people comment, the greater the social proof.

Talking about your achievements gets people’s attention. Whenever you have something to celebrate, such as a work anniversary, learning a new modality, or client results that are out of the park, post about it! People naturally love to cheer you on. And while you have their attention, they’ll be more likely to scroll through the rest of your content.

Know what your unique selling point is. How do you, your services and your business stand out from the sea of therapists in your community? Once you identify why you’re the best choice for your target market, all of your content should support that.

Client-Centered Authority Marketing

A strong authority position will certainly help you build a profitable, well-respected practice. You should feel great about sharing your knowledge and expertise with your target market and should do so consistently.

One last thought: There’s a fine line that separates authority and inflated ego. Planning your authority marketing strategy in advance will help you keep the clients you want to work with at the center of your attention. Remember, they’re looking up to you as the expert, but you’re not looking down to them; you’re supporting them through your content and services.

Melinda Hastings

About the Author

Melinda Hastings, LMT, BCTMB, MTI, has practiced massage therapy since 1996. She holds active licenses in Washington and Texas, and is also a Texas Massage Therapy Instructor. She is a Nationally Approved Continuing Education Provider through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. Her CE classes are offered through her seminar business, Inspired Therapist Seminars.