Growing your massage therapy business can be exciting—and a lot of work.
The most difficult part for any practitioner is finding massage clients quickly.
Second only to perfecting your technique, your ability to acquire and retain clients will make or break the success of your massage therapy business.
For some of you, this is a struggle you have overcome, or perhaps it is a struggle you still have today. Although the ability to gain and retain massage therapy clients is not rocket science, it is a skill that needs to be developed and practiced constantly.
Some of the more obvious and often talked-about ways to attract clients include properly identifying your client base; distributing marketing materials; networking; becoming a customer of businesses you would like referrals from; developing relationships with physicians and chiropractors; and putting forth can’t-refuse offers to introduce local prospects to your services.
I am going to step beyond some of these more traditional avenues of client attraction to focus on ways you can connect with past, current and future clients via your online presence, in the form of websites, directory listings, Google search placements, online scheduling and your social media profile.
There are various opinions on the role a website plays in helping a potential customer locate your massage therapy business, and in driving traffic to your door.
It is a commonly held belief that all business models today need a custom website, one uniquely designed to meet your specific needs in content, imagery and function. I am here to say this is not necessarily true.
What is true is people need to be able to find you online quickly and easily navigate your online presence to do the one thing they came online to do: find an excellent massage therapist in their preferred area and make an appointment.
The most important aspect of your marketing is, hands down, your Web presence. The first time any potential client has an interaction with you will most likely be through your website. Sadly, I see so many massage websites that don’t offer a professional image.
This is because the site either contains many errors or unfinished areas, doesn’t function or link properly, or is simply not user-friendly and looks tossed together.
Your Landing Page
If you don’t have the time, resources or inclination to create or maintain a professional website, a landing page can likely serve you best.
A landing page that falls under a corporate umbrella can serve to drive you to the top of search engine listings and can be a wonderful way to associate yourself with an already branded entity that will help to develop the client base you deserve for your business.
A landing page will cost you $15 to $30 per month in hosting and upkeep fees, and can be used in all forms of social media. It can drive clients to your online shopping cart and scheduling software; allow individuals to leave reviews; display your business name, logo, address, e-mail address and phone number; and provide a map to guide clients to your office.
The best example of well-planned landing pages can be found with realty companies. Within the corporate umbrella of Keller Williams Realty, for example, one can find multiple landing pages for the individual realtors who work for that company.
These realtors take advantage of the traffic patterns of the corporate site by listing themselves under the Keller Williams umbrella, and thus have the opportunity to get more traffic to their page as a result.
You can also build an independent website using a service like wix.com, squarespace.com or godaddy.com.
Long gone are the days of Yellow Pages advertising. Directory listings can still be a key element of successful marketing—but your paper phone book is best used as a doorstop. Your new directory is online.
If paying for ads is not an option for you, align yourself with a group of massage therapists using the same directory service to gain viewers. This is different from your landing page, as it serves as an online version of Yellow Pages.
Your combined efforts will pay off in the long run.
Many directories offer free introductory, or base, listings. Use these to your benefit and search for a few high-quality sites to invest in and receive optimal visibility. (Examples of categorically listed directory sites include Angie’s List and Yelp.)
Another thing to keep in mind is the importance of adding keywords that connect with the terms people use when searching. When people search for massage, most websites are invisible or buried in search results.
If the website you have created doesn’t have good keywords, it won’t be picked up by search engines such as Google and people won’t be able to find your page fast.
Instead, it will be buried among thousands of other miscellaneous listings. (This is another reason you may want to use a corporate landing page that is created and maintained for you.)
Keywords are often incorporated into website content or headings. Sometimes, keywords can make the language of a website sound a bit skewed, but these words are used to aid in directing people to your site.
For example, most often, customers type in what they are looking for, along with where they want to find it; for example, “Massage, Minneapolis.” From there, the listings of page one appear, from paid ads to places, or businesses located in your geographic area, and then those pages with the most traffic.
Even if your site is pretty and brands you well, it will not help you gain new clients if it cannot be found by search engines. This is where changing a simple line from “Sam’s Massage Locations” to “Massages in Minneapolis” is crucial.
To make your business accessible online, invest in optimal search engine optimization (SEO) by paying someone to handle this task or by researching what keywords people use when searching for your service and then handling SEO yourself.
Develop a user-friendly website or landing page—one that is compatible with a mobile device, because an increasing number of people use smartphones or tablets as a primary vehicle for searching the Internet.
In today’s busy world, being able to schedule massage appointments online is becoming more of a competitive edge—so unless you or a staff member is available every hour of every day and willing to make appointments at 2 a.m. when a client has a kink in her neck, you need an online scheduling service or software.
If you do not return phone calls or e-mails in a timely manner, you treat your business like a hobby. In an anonymous survey conducted by Massage Advantage, just 10 to 20 percent of therapists who were asked about booking appointments said they call clients back within a 24-hour period.
Some massage therapists said they never bother to call back at all.
This is all the more reason to portray a more professional image and take the negative edge off massage scheduling. Online scheduling allows clients to easily browse your available options and choose the appointment that best fits their schedule.
Creating and maintaining a Facebook page is vitally important to the relational aspect of the industry we are in. You begin building a trust relationship online.
Your Facebook business page should be separate from your personal Facebook page. Your Facebook business page helps you boost traffic to your website, connect with new people, retain the clients you already have and run ads. You must set up a business-focused Facebook page and start asking your clients, friends and family to like it.
Your Facebook business page needs to be maintained with proper content to be effective. Posts must engage your followers; offer tips on home care and information on the importance of massage, and occasionally serve as an avenue for creating a can’t-refuse offer.
Twitter is another excellent avenue of connectivity and serves much of the same purpose, but it can also be used for extra-special deals or last-minute openings. The most important thing to remember with all social media is people can turn you off at any moment, so you need to create content that keeps them coming back for more of what you have to share and, more importantly, to book massages.
Many services exist to assist you with creating and maintaining your professional image online.
If your social media and website prowess leaves much to be desired, turn to professionals who can help you build, maintain and grow your business.
Allow yourself to focus your attention on providing the best quality of care, while you let others assist you in growing your massage therapy business to its greatest potential.
About the Author
Darren Taylor has more than 23 years of experience in the massage therapy industry and is CEO and founder of Massage Advantage by 360°, a national marketing company that specializes in getting massage therapists new clients. Massage Advantage utilizes the latest marketing trends, including well-organized campaigns, organic searches, direct marketing, e-mail marketing and social networking.