The holidays are approaching. Now is the time to plan creative and fun activities to celebrate the season, express appreciation to your clients, expand your clientele base, and increase your revenue stream.

Holiday Incentives
Many therapists offer special discounts or added value services to their current clients to show their appreciation and to jump-start the holiday spirit. Also, the holiday season is when the highest volume of gift certificates are sold. So many people dread the gift purchasing process they either don’t have sufficient time to shop or aren’t really sure what to buy. A massage certificate is the perfect gift, even for themselves! Some holiday incentive ideas are:

– Offer several types of package plans (particularly if you don’t ordinarily do this).
– For every 2 1-hr massage gift certificates you buy, you receive a free 1/2 hour massage gift certificate.
– Purchase a 1-hour massage gift certificate and you can purchase another one at half price.
– Buy 5 1.5 hour massage gift certificates for the price of 5 1-hour massage gift certificates.
A fun incentive to offer clients is a free service or product with each gift certificate they buy (they can keep the freebie or give it away); an adjunct service such as a paraffin dip; a small bottle of essential oil, custom blended scented oil/lotion, or sports cream; a holiday item such as a plant or a candle; or a health-related item such as a stress ball, a self-massage tool, a book, a pocket chart that shows reflexology points, or an eye pillow.

Another variation is to offer a higher-value gift with the purchase of a number of gift certificates such as the following: Buy 3 1-hour massage gift certificates and receive a free 1-hour massage gift certificate; Purchase 5 1-hour massage gift certificates and receive a basket filled with health-related products, a large plant, or a wreath; Buy 10 1-hour massage gift certificates and receive a certificate for dinner for 2 at [insert the name of a restaurant (or even offer several options)].

Phrases that Inspire Gift Certificate Purchases:
– Massage is the one-size-fits-all gift.
– Massage guarantees the recipient at least one hour to relax and be the center of the universe.
– Massage is not a gift that sits on a shelf collecting dust.
– Massage is a creative out-of-the-ordinary gift.
– Relax your way through the holiday season with massage.
– Enjoy the fruits of your hard work. Treat yourself this holiday with massage.
– For prospective clients: Explore the joys of massage this holiday season! 20% off on your first adventure or an adventure for friends and loved ones!
-You’ve worked hard all year. Give yourself and others the gift of AHHHHHH this holiday! First massage is 25% off!

Set a festive tone by decorating your office. Include a variety of holiday motifs (e.g., Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kawanzaa, and the broad category of Seasons Greetings). You can: hang posters and signs; apply rub-on window decorations; string colorful lights; arrange holiday plants (e.g., holly, poinsettias, Christmas cactus); use sheets that have holiday prints or colors; serve hot cider and healthy treats; gently diffuse seasonal scents such as pine, frankincense, and vanilla; and play a variety of holiday music.
Create a display highlighting several of your gift certificate packages:
– Place a gift certificate against a candle and wrap them both with a bright ribbon.
– Attach a gift certificate to a ”holiday” plant.
– Put a certificate in a beautiful box.
– Put a ribbon around a number of certificates (let’s say 10) attaching a colorful note that says something like ”Gifts for Others” and then wrap some certificates (perhaps 2) and attach another colorful note that says. ”And I get this!”
– Purchase little bottles and fill them with your customized massage lotions/oils and attach a gift certificate with a ribbon.
– Purchase miniature dradles and chocolate Hanukkah gelt and place some of each in a mesh bag, tie with a light blue ribbon and attach a gift certificate.
– Kawanzaa candle colors are green, red and black. Get one of each, tie them with a colorful piece of material and attach a gift certificate.
– Print the 7 principals of Kawanzaa on a small card decorated with an African-American print border and attach it to a gift certificate.

For those of you who do mostly on-site work, you can still create a holiday environment. Assemble a kit of items in a small box. The box becomes the stand. Drape a piece of colorful material over the box and display your items (e.g., candles, a small silk plant). An effective visual way to inform your on-site clients about your holiday specials is to take pictures of your gift certificate packages, scan them into a computer and make a small poster (with a heading such as ”Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas”), attach the print to a cardboard picture frame, and unobtrusively place the frame on your display box.

Cooperative Marketing Ideas
Have fun and expand the scope of your holiday expressions by combining your offers with others.

1. Contests: Put together a ”pamper” package with a restaurant, a florist, and another service provider such as an esthetician. Hold a contest to give away the package. You could also team up with a health food store for a ”Healthy Holidays” drawing consisting of a massage and a basket of healthy treats. A variation of these contests is to contact a radio station and have them offer the prize collection to their listeners. You will probably have to do 2 or 3 packages, but the ”free” advertising makes it extremely worthwhile.
2. Fishbowl Drawings: Attach a note that says ”Drawing for a Free Massage” and next to the bowl place a stack of small cards that are printed with information about you on one side and the front side have a catchy title such as ”This Holiday Give the Gift of Health” and list benefits of why massage makes the perfect gift.
3. Seasonal Health Enthusiasts: Put together packages with sports centers, health clubs, and related retail stores targeting people who take vacations during this time (or are making those New Year?s Resolutions) and ride their bicycles, jog, or simply increase their work-out routines. The headline could be something like ”Get Healthy, Stay Healthy, and Enhance Your Performance with Massage.”

Spread the Word!
Announce your holiday specials early and frequently: Include information in your newsletter; mail personalized letters to some (or all) of your clients; send regular or oversized postcards (design your own postcards and print them at home or take them to a copy center, or buy the card stock with holiday designs from companies like Paper Direct where you customize the inside message and print from your computer); place a notice on your web site and affiliate sites; post signs in your office; give talks and mention your specials; take out ads in local publications; place posters in bookstores, health food stores, gyms, sports centers, and any place where you can find your target markets; and create a holiday gift certificate flier that you give to current and prospective clients (e.g., take the scanned photos of your certificate packages and on the back print the benefits, prices, and contact information).

Submitted by Cherie Sohnen-Moe