To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Practice Building: Market, Educate and Promote with Massage to Your Community,” by Karen Menehan, in the June 2011 issue. Article summary: Massage therapists throughout the nation are packing up their massage tables and chairs and heading out into their communities to remind or teach potential clients about the health benefits of massage therapy. These therapists know that when it comes to marketing a practice, nothing replaces hands-on connection with fellow human beings—and with creativity and ingenuity, community outreach can be fun and educational for the therapist as well.

MASSAGE Magazine Editor in Chief Karen Menehan talks with Kathy “KJ” Burley, owner of That’s the Spot! Massage Therapy in Moundsville, West Virginia.

Q. What advice can you give massage therapists who might want to get involved in marketing to their communities?

A. Don’t wait for them to come looking for you. Pay attention to your local newspapers or radio and TV stations for announcements of community events where you might have a presence, then contact the sponsors.

Ask if they would like you to donate a promotional coupon for them to give away. This might be for a free massage or a discounted rate on a massage. Next, ask their permission to set up at the event.

Become familiar with the people in the sponsoring organizations with which you’d like to work. Make sure these folks know how to contact you and regularly remind them that you are interested in participating in public events.

Contact your local library and ask if they would be willing to host an educational event where you would speak about the health benefits of massage and offer a demonstration. (When I did this, the scheduled one-hour forum stretched into two hours due to the many questions, indicating great interest from the audience.)

Ask the counselors in your public schools if you can be included in career-day programs.

Get creative. What group(s) in your area might be interested in programs on self-care, stress relief and wellness? Call them up or better yet, send out a nicely composed letter offering to be a speaker if they need one for a meeting. Be sure to include several business cards and brochures.

Q. How do you keep all of your community event information organized?

A. When I first started doing these events, I had a checklist to be sure I didn’t forget anything I needed. Now, I have a tote bag that I keep packed with:

  • Sign-up sheets and a clipboard
  • Pens and tape
  • Business cards, rack cards, brochures and holders
  • Laminated posters that are similar to my business card
  • Signs that advertise my price or “Three Minutes Free.”
  • Hand sanitizer and lotion
  • A spray bottle of table cleaner
  • One to two hand towels
  • Disposable face-cradle covers or paper towels
  • A small trash bag for those disposable face-cradle covers
  • Post-it notes or a small notebook
  • A wallet with petty cash for making change
  • Bottled water and healthy, high-energy snacks for myself

When I load the massage chair into my car, I grab the tote bag as well and I’m ready to go.