To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Practice Building: Market, Educate and Promote with Massage to Your Community,” by Karen Menehan, in the June 2011 issue. Article summary: Massage therapists throughout the nation are packing up their massage tables and chairs and heading out into their communities to remind or teach potential clients about the health benefits of massage therapy. These therapists know that when it comes to marketing a practice, nothing replaces hands-on connection with fellow human beings—and with creativity and ingenuity, community outreach can be fun and educational for the therapist as well.

by Karen Menehan

There are two primary reasons community outreach is so important to any massage practice: brand recognition and public education.

Get known
Brand recognition means getting your practice’s name and face (you) in front of the public enough so when someone thinks of massage, they think of your massage business.

Community outreach gives you the opportunity to create a high profile, with your massage practice’s name placed in front of dozens, or even hundreds, of people at any given time.

“Marketing is all about getting your name out there, making sure yours is the name they associate with your field of business,” explains massage therapist Kathy “KJ” Burley, owner of That’s the Spot! Massage Therapy in Moundsville, West Virginia.” I distribute quite a few business cards and brochures at each of these events. I also have begun giving out business-card sized magnets.”

Even if someone doesn’t take advantage of a massage session right then, she adds, “they have been introduced to my business and me, and hopefully will find my number and call when they are ready to receive what I have to offer.”

Volunteering at community events can also lead to a positive association with your brand in the minds of consumers. “You constantly meet new people and have the opportunity to introduce your services and yourself to potential clients,” explains Marty Harger, owner of Balance–Therapeutic Massage and Wellness Center in Heber City, Utah.” I also believe we have to give to receive in business, and donating time, ideas and space for the greater good is critical to our success locally, as well as our professional image.”

The second important aspect of community outreach, educating potential clients, can help fill a massage therapist’s session book.

“In my experience, one of the largest reasons people don’t receive massage is because they are not comfortable with the idea of an unknown person touching them while disrobed, even with proper draping,” explains massage therapist Becky Crofoot, who owns Intuitive Approach Massage and Bodywork in Kirkland, Washington. “Establishing that comfort level beforehand is a very important step, [and] participating in community events is a great way to do exactly that.”

Many people unfamiliar with massage might still think of it as a way to be pampered while on vacation, Burley says, explaining she takes advantage of community outreach opportunities “to try to educate the public about the health benefits massage therapy offers, that it’s not just for pampering—then I invite them to take a few minutes in the massage chair to experience what my touch can do for them personally.”

Education at community events can be an effective means of garnering referrals from health professionals. Burley says doctors and dentists who have introduced themselves to her or received a massage from her at an event have later ended up referring patients to her practice for pain relief, assistance with improving reduced range of motion and reduction in chronic headaches.

“I find it far easier to touch someone’s heart and mind when I can talk to them face to face,” Burley adds. “Because much of my marketing is geared toward education about the health benefits of massage, I find it much more effective to be able to engage the person in conversation, answer their questions and begin to make that personal connection, create that personal relationship.

“The personal touch—communication,” she adds, “leads to permission to touch—massage. “

Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor in chief.