An image of a person with a giant magnet, attracting other people to it, is used to illustrate the idea of using your marketing message to attract lifetime clients.

Most massage therapists focus on two things when building their business: hands-on skills and marketing. While both are incredibly important, one critical element is often missed: a robust client-education plan. When you educate clients with your marketing message, it is easy to fill your practice with lifetime clients.

The Marketing-Message Challenge

Clients are more critical of marketing tactics now than ever before, as they are continually bombarded with sales emails, social media ads and sneaky marketing messages. Even their text messages aren’t immune to sales pitches.

As a result, they ignore sales messaging as much as possible, severely limiting your ability to get your message across and perpetuating the problems of not enough clients and not enough income. 

Massage therapists have historically used desperation-marketing tactics, if I may make such a bold claim, which have never produced the results they were seeking. These tactics are typically applied to social media, which has expanded exponentially over the last few years, and to client emails.

The result? Low engagement, unsubscribes and blocks. 

What exactly is turning clients off? Most notably, seeing “Book Now!” availability posts filled with dates and times open, and outdated messaging that does not apply to them. Yet these are the exact types of social media posts and emails that are pushed out by tens of thousands of therapists every single day.

Ditching these unsuccessful tactics and replacing them with a powerful client-education plan is easier than you think and will help you build your authority position and get more clients on your table—clients who will quickly turn into lifetime clients who are happy to help you build your client list by referring their family, friends and colleagues.

But as with all marketing, client education needs to be relevant to the needs of your target clients. And your marketing message must be specific if you want to grab their attention and get them to take action.

Ditch Generic Messaging

The first thing to avoid is actually one of the most popular posts floating around massage therapists’ social media pages (even some well-known businesses in the industry are guilty of this): a graphic touting the benefits of massage.

You’ve seen it. You’ve likely even shared it at some point in your career.

But the truth is, no one cares about these generic benefits—especially not in messaging they have seen over and over and over.

Potential clients are not searching the internet for “Why should I get a massage?” They are searching for solutions to their pain, dysfunction and stress problems. The generic benefits of massage are not speaking to these problems, are therefore irrelevant, and will continue to be ineffective at producing the conversions you are trying to achieve: more clients on your table.

Now, let’s get on with creating an expertly crafted educational plan that converts potential clients into those lifetime clients your business desires. 

Your Marketing Message: State the Conditions Your Massage Relieves

It is important to understand the unique needs of your target clients and to know who those clients are. What problems are they seeking to have resolved?

Take a look through your schedule for the last 90 days and pull out your session notes for each client you treated. This will give you excellent insight into the most common problems you have been resolving for your clients.

I suggest starting with the top three to five problems to begin your client-education plan to avoid getting overwhelmed. 

The next step is to highlight any significant results that stand out with each problem treated.  Did your client experience a significant reduction in pain after a particularly effective session? Were there any functional limitations that were resolved after a specific technique was applied?   

You will also want to make note of your clients’ starting points. You should be able to describe any limitations, pain level, and how their problem was affecting their work or life when you first began treating their problem. How does their starting point compare to their ending point after you have fully resolved their problem? 

Be as specific as possible and remember to use simple language that is easy for non-massage therapists to understand. Technical jargon will turn even your perfect client away if they can’t easily understand what you are saying. Keep your language client-friendly to keep their interest.

Your Marketing Message: Be Specific

Get clients emotionally invested in the benefits and results they can experience. When potential clients are emotionally invested in the results you can offer them, they are much more likely to become loyal, lifetime clients.

Connecting how their pain, dysfunction and stress problems are affecting their work or life provides a deep level of clarity around the need to have these problems resolved.

This will then open the door to educating the client about the difference in the intention of treatment massage versus luxury massage, giving them the knowledge they need to better choose the right type of session to meet their needs.

When you focus on specific benefits you can offer clients instead of relying on those generic, non-compelling benefits seen in massage graphics, you will gain the kind of attention that underscores your expertise, builds a deep level of trust and gets people to take action.

Educating clients on these specific benefits will help you quickly stand out as the go-to expert for massage therapy services in your community.

This strategy is perfectly suited for such digital marketing as social media and email and can also be modified to fit your print marketing needs as well.

For larger print pieces, you can select either the most significant or most frequent problem you have treated and highlight the starting-improvement-resolution elements, remembering to use simple, compelling language.

For more limited print pieces, you can simply phrase your most significant problem and result as a question or create a tag line that speaks to your expertise. 

Integrity in Up-Sells

Now, let’s apply this strategy to face-to-face marketing and upselling. The majority of massage therapists upsell on the spot, when the client is in the treatment room or when booking an appointment over the phone. Upselling is a great way to boost your profit and is a way to provide even better results for your clients. 

Before offering an upsell, you should fully understand the primary problem your client wants resolved. Only then will you be able to identify and recommend the best treatment option or product to meet their goals. Remember, an upsell should deepen and expand the effectiveness of the session, not simply pad your pocket. 

Presenting an upsell is yet another opportunity to educate your client. By walking them through why you have chosen this particular treatment option, how it fits in with the goals they have for the session, and how it will improve or speed up their results, you will be building trust, underscoring your authority position, and deepening the therapeutic relationship.

This will give the client confidence in your expertise and will lead to a higher upsell conversion.

Whether you are recommending a primary session, an upsell or a full treatment plan, closing the sale requires a high level of integrity. The purpose of the upsell should always be greater than the profit you stand to make.

This means pushy, hard-sell tactics need to be avoided. Instead, simply present the absolute best session plus upsell you believe will best meet the client’s needs and let trust and your expertise do the selling. 

Because people are much more aware of sales tactics than ever before, most clients will come to the session (or book their appointment) expecting to be offered an additional or an extended service—and they might have their “no” ready and waiting.

If the client declines your upsell, it’s important to maintain your soft, professional approach. Let them know it’s OK to proceed with the session as they have booked it. Again, the goal is to meet the client’s needs and build trust. Avoiding hard sales tactics will accomplish that, making it easier to get a “yes” with the next offer.

Follow up after the massage with a full summary of the session, including your expert recommendations (primary service plus appropriate upsells) for their next session. Remember to include your recommended upsells and the client’s response in your session notes so you can be fully prepared for their next appointment.

Stand Out with Your Marketing Message

Excellent hands-on skills and basic marketing are important elements needed to build your massage therapy business, but they are not enough to create a thriving practice that will stand the test of time.

Creating a robust client-education plan that goes far beyond generic, overused massage benefits and instead focuses on the specific problems you are resolving for your clients will help your marketing stand out, allowing you to easily gain the attention of your target market. 

Ditching old-school desperation marketing in favor of a marketing message that features emotionally connected content will create a solid foundation of authority, allowing you to fill your schedule with your target clients who are ready and willing to book your services and become lifetime clients.

Melinda Hastings

About the Author

Melinda Hastings, LMT, BCTMB, 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.