To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Easy Steps to Success: Create a Massage Practice that Stands Out,” , in the April 2011 issue. Article summary: Among a sea of competitors, standing out can be the key to success. Small steps can take your practice to the next level To rise above the rest, get creative and consistent with your marketing and outreach efforts, know your way around online and in-person networking, and never forget to provide the best possible client experience.

A facet of marketing that can help massage therapists rise above the rest is known as networking. These days, networking does not have to mean dressing up and attending a formal event. With the advent of social networking tools, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs, massage therapists can connect with thousands of people at once from a home or office computer—or even from a phone.

“It’s important when building any business to stay connected with your community,” said Meagan Holub, a massage therapist, author and business coach. “Social networking makes it easy to access all the people you would normally never be able to keep up with in busy, modern-day life.

“While it is not a replacement for connecting with people in the flesh,” she added, “it does allow you to access and educate potential clients in a way that is far more time-, energy- and cost-effective than attending every social event in town.”

Marketing mentors suggest using social networking to inform, educate, entertain and engage people. This can help create the connection and trust level necessary for a new client to make an appointment and a current client to keep coming back.

“Use your profiles and pages to create conversation or dialogue about the issues that are important to your intended clients,” said Felicia Brown, a massage therapist and marketing coach and blogger for www.massagemag.com, “and to position yourself as the expert who can help them with their problems or concerns.”

Occasionally, massage therapists may want to run specials or incentives to those people who are fans and friends of their online pages and profiles. However, experts caution against doing too much outright selling via social networking.

“The most successful businesses use social media as a means to engage their fans and create stronger relationships,” said Ann Ross, a massage therapist and marketing mentor. “Those that spend their time spamming or coming off as desperate will only hurt themselves in the long run.”

As for the more old-school form of networking, where you meet people in person, take time to figure out what type of clients you most want to meet and the settings where you’ll be able to shine.

“I think this depends on an individual’s preference for being in large or small groups, or one-on-one interactions,” Brown said, “as well as the clientele someone is seeking and the type of massage they provide.”

She recommends first determining where to find your target clientele, in terms of events, organizations and meetings, and then deciding on those networking settings that best suit your comfort level.

Brandi Schlossberg is an avid bodywork client and full-time journalist based in Reno, Nevada. She has written recently for MASSAGE Magazine on many topics, including “Get Support: Hire a Marketing Company to Promote Your Practice” (March 2011) and “Degrees of Healing: Hot and Cold Therapies to Relax, Relieve and Refresh” (November 2010).

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