You’ve landed a job as a massage therapist in the spa of your dreams. Congratulations! Spas of all kinds provide a beautiful atmosphere of peace and tranquility in which to work, and the atmosphere can be very enjoyable for therapists and spa clients alike.

However, if the peace and quiet is due to a lack of clients on your table, your dream job may quickly feel like more of a nightmare.

Never fear … there is always hope for bringing in more business and spa clients through a variety of simple yet strategic marketing activities. While marketing is not always a popular topic for massage therapists, it is a vital one.

In fact, this often-shunned practice modality is the one that can help you make all the rest of them a success.

The definition I like best for marketing is this: Marketing is anything that touches spa clients and makes them want to see you for the first time or the next time—or, perhaps if you aren’t doing it well—for the last time.

Here are a few ways to encourage new and returning clients to try new things, thus adding a little hustle and bustle to the serenity of the spa, through a variety of promotions.

While each scenario is a little different, four different types are highlighted below.

Scenario 1: Massage for the First Time

If you are a practitioner joining a spa, salon or other business that is adding massage therapy for the first time, you may have to begin with basic education about the benefits of massage and the fact that it is now available in your establishment.

Generally, the first thing to focus on is getting people in the know about the most popular massage service in spas—the 60-minute relaxation massage. Whether you specialize in stress reduction, relaxation, pain relief or a combination of these, you’ve got to get clients on your table.

  • Start by offering a short demonstration for the rest of the spa team to let them know about your specialties, target clients, prices and hours.
    • Write up a short handout explaining the benefits of the techniques you offer, what conditions are most likely to gain benefit from them, and who you most want to work with.
    • Take extra time to answer questions, especially for anyone involved in booking your appointments.
  • Offer all other spa employees and service providers, particularly those who are established, a free or discounted session so they can experience your work.
    • Be willing to provide some type of reward (if legal in your area and permissible with your employer) for each new client they send to you for massage.
    • Keep the service providers as regular clients also, so they can honestly tell their clients they see you every week or month and feel better for it.
  • Set up an area in the waiting area to offer free chair massages, postural analysis or mini hand treatments to clients waiting for other services.
    • Use the time to get to know each client’s wellness goals or experiences with massage.
    • Let clients know what services you would recommend, and invite them to come see you that day or at another time.
    • Provide each person with your card and an introductory offer if he or she books a session with you before leaving that day.

Scenario 2: The New Practitioner

You are a new therapist in a spa with an established massage clientele and other therapists, but you need to get people coming to see you.

  • Follow all the suggestions above as long as they do not step on any other therapists’ toes.
  • Ask the manager or owner if it would be OK to send an introductory offer for your services to spa clients who have not been in for a massage in more than three months.
    • Ask for his or her help in making this happen and be willing to do the work yourself whether it is mailing postcards, making phone calls or sending emails. (You can certainly ask to be compensated for this, but also remember there is a reward for you coming in each new client you see.)
  • Give a massage to all other therapists at the spa—either as a trade or simply as a way to encourage their referrals when they are full or unavailable.
  • Take a stack of your cards and spa brochures to other businesses located around the spa. Introduce yourself as a new member of the team and provide the people you meet with an introductory offer.
    • If possible, find a nearby hairstylist, personal trainer or yoga teacher with a clientele similar to yours and invite him or her for a complimentary session. After the session, invite this colleague to return as a paying client and to send referrals your way.

Scenario 3: Market a New Treatment

You are an established therapist looking to get bookings for a new treatment you’ve added to your repertoire.

  • If you haven’t added the treatment yet, start by surveying your clients to see if they have an interest in trying whatever it is you want to add.
    • This will help you gauge if it is a worthwhile investment for you and the spa, or if other treatments might be a better fit.
    • A survey can also pique people’s interest and provide some pre-marketing, especially if you tie in some type of related incentive as a thank you for participating in the survey.
  • If you have already added the treatment, begin by educating clients about it.
    • Write about it in an email newsletter, post flyers around the spa, share on your blog or social media pages, or invite people to see a short demonstration at the spa. You could also post a video demonstration on your website, newsletter or social media pages.
  • Offer the new treatment at an introductory price or build into a package with your most popular service. For example, you could offer a Signature Treatment, such as the BIOTONE Coconut Crush Sugar Body Polish, for a special price of $15 (regularly $24) as a free bonus when someone purchases a package of six one-hour massages.
  • Find a way to offer samples of the service.
    • If it is a body polish, for example, you could start every massage session with a short hand or foot polish, taking the time to explain that it is a free “try-me” taste of the larger service. Provide clients with pricing information and ask them at the end if they want to do the full service next time alone or with a massage.

Scenario 4: Increase Bookings

You added a spa treatment months or years ago that has not been getting booked lately. The products need to be used up so you don’t feel like you wasted money by purchasing them.

  • Offer a free gift of a spa service to your VIP or long-time repeat clients.
    • While giving a service away may not seem like a great marketing idea, the clients won’t feel that way. In fact, your decision to use up products before they go bad might just inspire people to rebook this service.
    • If you want to increase the chances of that happening, offer some type of rebooking or package special on the service. You can also use the free spa service to encourage someone to upgrade to a more expensive service.

For example, if most of your clients usually get a 60-minute massage and you have an overstock of seaweed mask on hand for your 60-minute seaweed wrap service, why not include a free 30-minute seaweed wrap or seaweed foot treatment when they upgrade to a 90-minute massage?

If clients enjoy the body wrap or foot treatment, they can purchase the combo again in the future for the special price or buy a package for the wrap alone or the treatment combo.

  • You can also offer the spa service as a freebie or potential prize for clients who:
  1. Send a certain number of referrals
  2. Fill up a frequent buyer punch card
  3. Join your monthly wellness or massage program
  4. Purchase a package
  5. Give a review or testimonial
  • Donate the spa service to charities through silent auctions, drawings and so on. This may not spur more business directly, but is a feel-good way to help spread the word about what you offer.

The key is to be creative about how to get the word out and get people excited about what you’re doing—and to have an organized follow up in place for every promotion.

Consider how you can create visual interest in new offerings with in-house flyers and displays, retail products, social media posts and so on. Think about how you might incorporate related products or aromatherapy oils into other treatments as conversation starters.

Be willing to ask questions at every visit about what your clients like and don’t like in spa treatments, as well as what their goals are for being at the spa and wellness in general. Be excited to share new options for helping clients get the results they want and make it fun for them to see you each visit.

Felicia Brown is the owner of Spalutions and provides business and marketing advice to massage, spa and wellness professionals. She is the author of Free & Easy Ways to Promote Your Massage, Spa & Wellness Business and Creating Lifetime Clients as well as several other books. She has been a licensed massage therapist since 1994 and owns A to Zen Massage, a wellness spa in Greensboro, NC.

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