Massage marketing expert shares results of practice-building outreach

(Olympia, Washington) Nov. 19, 2009—Massage therapists, on the whole, are losing potential clients.

That is the discovery made by massage marketing consultant Eileen Ryan, a blogger for Natural Touch Marketing for the Healing Arts (, the online company that provides marketing materials for massage therapists. In October, she talked to Natural Touch Marketing customers to see if there were any common issues bodyworkers are facing in their practice-building efforts. What she found was that every bodywork professional she talked to was struggling. No matter how long they had been in business, who their clients were or what modalities practiced, their practices were all failing to meet their business expectations.

Ryan summed up the first reason bodywork businesses are failing this way, “Many massage therapists, estheticians and Reiki practitioners are shy, retiring, right-brain kind of people. This is all well and good when in session. But to get people to make appointments, bodyworkers have to show people that they can help. They have to be ready to talk to people. They have to believe they are educated, worthy and have something unique to offer. They have to believe in their work. Otherwise, they are going to have trouble having the most basic business conversations with people.”

Here are the other four reasons businesses of bodyworkers are failing to thrive.

1. Bodyworkers don’t target their audience. Targeting potential clients is a straightforward step that requires some reflection. Before bodyworkers ever hand someone a business card or make any other marketing efforts, they have to be clear about what kind of clients they want in their office. They need to determine the kind of people who are a natural fit for their skills. Those are the people massage therapists should target with their marketing efforts.

2. Bodyworkers don’t say the right things when they write their marketing messages. They need to speak to their target clientele. When massage therapists know who they are talking to, then they know what message that client will respond to. Instead of placing ads or sending mailings with general messages like, “Come in for a relaxing massage,” bodyworkers should be specific. For example, “We help you recover from injuries,” “I can help you improve your game,” or, “We reduce neck and shoulder pain.”

3. Bodyworkers aren’t comfortable with marketing, so they don’t do it. Marketing is basic customer service. Just like consumers expect any business to let them know what their return policy is and what day a sale is starting, massage clients want to know if their massage therapist is practicing a new technique, offering a special or changing locations. Potential clients want to know who can help them manage their pain or reduce their stress.

4. Massage therapists think marketing is hard and that it costs a lot of money for materials, printing and mailing. The truth is marketing massage can be simple, straightforward and inexpensive. All it takes is a little time. Marketing is really just extending the care and concern about clients’ well-being beyond the limits of a session. A massage therapist who introduces himself or herself and hands a business card to someone with neck and shoulder pain, for example, is being both considerate and taking a step to build a practice. In the same vein, mailing reminder postcards or sending e-mails announcing specials is friendly, easy and affordable.

For more on Ryan’s interview results with massage therapists, see