To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “The New Tide of Geriatric Clients: How to Work with Senior Athletes,” by Sharon Puszko, Ph.D., in the June 2012 issue. Article summary: Whether or not a massage therapist specializes in geriatric massage, all massage therapists will see an increase in the number of older clients being treated. Advances in medicine and technology combined with changes in attitude about wellness will allow baby boomers to remain more active and live longer than many of their predecessors. The implications of this demographic shift will vary, from seeing older clients who are in better shape and sustain more injuries because of their active lifestyles, to massaging extremely frail clients in their 90s.

by Sharon Puszko, Ph.D.

Massage for the geriatric population has become increasingly popular over the past five years, and senior athletes make up a significant percentage of that population. Here are some quick tips for marketing your massage business to athletic seniors.

1. The basics still work. When working with athletic seniors, it is important to create some basic promotional materials. Business cards, brochures and folders should contain information tailored toward the needs of this specific clientele. I have found it useful to always have copies of these items on hand—I keep mine in a small box in the trunk of my car—because you never know when an opportunity might arise to build your client base.

2. Website, Facebook page, e-mail newsletters. The Internet has revolutionized the way we communicate, making it easier and cheaper than ever to promote your business. If you think seniors are unlikely to be online, you are mistaken. The most recent research shows from 2004-2009, the number of seniors using the Internet increased 55 percent, with Facebook being their second-most-visited website.

Creating a Facebook page for your business is a fast, free way to advertise online. It can also serve as an online contact file, since you can keep track of how many clients you have by “friending” them. If you have the resources to create and maintain your own website, that is even better. Both Facebook and a personal website will allow you to send e-mail blasts to keep your business fresh in your clients’ minds.

Creating a monthly e-mail newsletter is another effective way to keep in touch with your clients. Include some information active seniors would be interested in, such as wellness topics or announcements about fitness events along with some fun information related to massage.

3. AARP. If you are not a member of the AARP, join it. You do not have to be older than age 50, and its website and publications are excellent sources of information for everyone working with the aging population. This is the main organization from which you can gather information for your business not just on seniors, but also on active seniors. It also offers opportunities for marketing online.

4. Health-and-fitness fairs. Reserving a booth at these fairs provides an excellent opportunity to market your services to athletic seniors. The cost to rent space can vary, but it is well worth it when considering the number of people you will meet. Fairs usually last several hours, so come prepared with enough supplies to last that long.

5. Regional agencies and organizations on aging. Use the Internet to research community, county, state and federal agencies connected with aging that could be an avenue to help you market yourself.

In fact, some of these agencies might sponsor wellness fairs like the ones mentioned above. Many of these agencies also have online or print newsletters, in which you might be able to place a small advertisement. This is another venue in which you want to carefully craft a succinct, strong message, both verbally and visually.

Advertisements in these publications are a great way to advertise to the senior community, but they do cost money. Therefore, make sure you get the most “bang for your buck,” which means spending some time and money creating a great-looking advertisement.

Sharon Puszko, Ph.D., L.M.T., is an educator and owner/director of Day-Break Geriatric Massage Institute, a nationally approved continuing education provider of massage for seniors. Puszko has 35 years of experience teaching and working with the senior population. She is a contributor to textbooks and has published numerous articles. For more information, visit www.daybreak-massage.com.

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