Certain strategies will help attract and keep high-quality clients in your massage business, and they are offered here to show you how to build clientele as a massage therapist.
As a massage business owner, there comes an entirely different set of roles and responsibilities you have to manage beyond giving a great massage. Where many first-time business owners struggle is being able to consistently attract and retain clients into the business, and do it profitably.
Your Ideal Client
One of the first and most important steps to consistently attracting and retaining your ideal clients is to define who they are. Without a clear and specific picture of your ideal client, it becomes far too easy to create bland and generic marketing that does nothing to resonate with the kind of clients you want in your practice.
Think of your ideal client in layers. First, your target market is the general population you would like to attract, such as “people within five miles of my business who are in pain.”
Your niche is a further refinement, and subset of your target market, for example: “Female athletes, dealing with injury and recovery.”
Finally, your ideal client is a clear and specific example of the kind of person you would like to attract: “Marcia, a 39-year-old triathlete and endurance athlete. She’s having issues fighting back against an aging body while trying to continue to reach peak performance. She’s looking for something to help recover from her injuries faster, as well as keep her injury-free during training.”
When defining your ideal client, ask yourself questions such as:
• What are the defining characteristics of this person?
• What is/are their age? Gender? Hobbies? Interests?
• Are they in any unique stage of life?
• What types of problems are they having and are they actively looking for solutions?
It’s OK to have more than one type of ideal client—but it’s important to focus on only one or two types of clients in your marketing efforts.
Finding Your Client
Once you have a clear picture of who your ideal client is, you can begin the process of finding out where they are (or finding ways to make them come to you).
Ask yourself questions like:
• Where does my ideal client likely work?
• Where can they be found on the weekends?
• Where do they look for answers regarding the problems I can solve?
• What are they searching for online to find solutions?
• What groups or communities, online or offline, are they connected to?
By defining your ideal client and understanding where to find them, you’ve done over half of the legwork to successfully attract them into your business. Now you can focus more on getting in front of them with a great message and great offer.
Depending on the kind of practice you operate and the type of ideal client you want to attract, sometimes it can be tricky to easily identify an ideal client out in the wild.
Sometimes it’s worth it to do the work and actually create an ideal client. Creating an ideal client can begin by simply asking, “What does my client need to know before they can make an educated purchase decision?”
By leading with content marketing, such as blog posts, articles, videos and tutorials, you can educate your target market and push them closer to being ideal clients.
Standing out as a massage therapist doesn’t mean you have to be the most talented or trained, or having found some way to reinvent the wheel. In every little town there’s a successful pizza shop that is doing nearly the same thing as every other pizza shop.
What is important is that you are known for something by your target market. It can be as easy as stating clearly what you do, and who you do it for. Giving a great massage and having great customer service are valuable benefits, but should already be a given.
Try crafting a simple message that targets a specific type of client with a specific benefit, such as:
“We help pregnant women achieve flexibility and stress relief.”
“We help athletes overcome muscular tightness.”
“We help seniors increase flexibility.”
Consider this: There are only two reasons someone is going to buy something from you: Somebody has something they don’t want, such as pain; or somebody wants something they don’t have, such as being pain-free or relaxed.
Your job is to convince them that by choosing you as their massage therapist, they’re going to be able to achieve their goals better, faster, cheaper or easier than by going at it alone.
When you can become known for your specialty, your ideal clients will start to find you.
Don’t be Afraid of Sales
When it comes to an industry focused on health and wellness, “sales” starts to become a sort of dirty word. It’s essential to understand what sales is, how it works and how it’s different from marketing.
There are many definitions, but think of it like this: Marketing is all the attention gained in bringing people toward your door. Sales is the thing that actually causes them to hand you money.
Sales is just an exchange of value. You give your clients a great service, and in return they give you money. If you know that the service(s) you provide honestly and genuinely help your clients achieve their health and wellness goals, then you have nothing to be afraid or ashamed of.
Remember—sales without marketing is quite possible, and is even normal in some industries. Marketing without sales, however, will lead to an empty schedule and an empty bank account.
Pay for Online Advertising
Paid online advertising can be a very exciting and enticing avenue to follow. However, here’s the truth: Just because you’re spending money for marketing doesn’t automatically make it better or more effective.
What paid advertising really does is buy you speed. Instead of slowly having to work your way around to get your message and offer in front of others, online advertising gets it in front of others quickly.
The good news is that online advertising on major platforms has a low barrier to entry. Instead of needing to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars up front, like billboards or direct mail, you can get started with budgets of a few dollars a day. When it comes to deciding which platform to choose, most practices utilize one, if not both, of either Facebook or Google.
Consider this: Google is great when the market isn’t over-saturated or your ideal client is actively looking to book an appointment.
Facebook is great for engaging people in a conversation, or presenting your services to people who may have not considered massage as a possible solution to whatever they’re dealing with.
While you can attract new clients profitably, at very affordable rates, expect a minimum reasonable budget of $150-$300 per month to see sustainable results.
Test, Tweak, Repeat
It’s really easy to see and hear success stories from other therapists, and assume they figured it out on their first try. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that most marketing campaigns start with an educated guess and are refined over time—not based on a Hail Mary.
Treat every new marketing campaign as a small-scale experiment. Create a hypothesis and release it into the wild. You may strike gold on the first try, but what’s more likely is that you’ll need to make minor adjustments to get the best results.
Try a different price on your offer, change the verbiage in your ad or the script you use when rebooking, maybe even consider a different niche or ideal client.
Just Ask for the Rebook
There are many methods and frameworks for retaining a new client. The exact script or process will be unique to every business type and every business owner, and may even need tweaks depending on how the client found the practice.
What is most important to remember is to simply ask. Too many therapists are afraid to ask a simple question such as “Would you like to go ahead and schedule your next appointment?”
Remember, no one can say “yes” if you don’t ask. There’s no need to be afraid. If someone didn’t trust in you or your services, they wouldn’t have come to your business in the first place.
Plan from the Top Down
At the end of the day, remember that tactics will not lead to success, in and of themselves. And more importantly, they need to sit in alignment with you and your business all the way up to the top. Consider the hierarchy like this:
• Your values are what define who you are and what you want out of your business. A therapist who’s interested in profit and revenue above all else will run a very different business than a therapist who values spending time with their family first.
• Your goals are created in alignment with your values. What is it you want to accomplish, that lines up with your inner values?
• Strategy is the plan you’ll take to achieve your goals. A focus on strategy will make it much clearer when the actions you’re taking need to change, or are actively working against you.
• Your tactics are what fit into your strategy. These are the individual “steps” you’ll take as part of your strategy to achieve those goals.
Build your business and plan your growth from the top down—not the other way around.
About the Author
Darryl “DJ” Turner is a husband, amateur bread baker, Facebook marketing specialist and the founder of Massage Marketing & Growth, an educational and products company, and podcast, where he helps massage therapists consistently identify, attract and book their ideal clients without relying on steep discounts or sleazy sales tactics.