by Debbie Roberts, L.M.T.

Let Your Big Heart Build Your Business, MASSAGE Magazine

February is American Hearth Month, so why not celebrate heart health in your business and your community by joining the cause?

How you can get involved

Each year the American Heart Association hosts Heart Walks in communities across the country. These events are a great way to increase exposure in your business and give back to your community.

I became involved with the American Heart Association back in the 1980s when I was one of the first volunteers to get the Heart Walk going in my community in Martin County. Now, the event has grown to include hundreds of participants each year.

How can you get involved? First, contact the American Heart Association either in person or online at www.heart.org. In addition to tons of information on how to live a heart-healthy life, the website explains how to form a team in your community that can walk at the event to raise money and awareness.

You can use your business as a platform in your community to build that team almost effortlessly. You can invite staff, clients and even friends to come and walk on your team. Then, provide everyone with team T-shirts with the name of your practice or spa, your logo and your slogan printed on them.

This doesn’t have to be an expensive venture. You can even buy T-shirts and use inexpensive iron-ons. In the past, my shirts have read “Massage and Fitness Professionals: Serving Your Health and Fitness Needs.” But you can also use catchy phrases like “Reflexology: A Sweet Treat for Your Feet,” or “Follow Me for a Great Massage” and have the name of your company underneath.

You can even offer clients that participate a discounted massage the week following the walk to reward them for being involved. You can also check with event organizations to see if “goodie bags” are being handed out to volunteers and participants at the walk. If so, ask if you can make a contribution to the bags. You can include brochures or a free product sample with your card stapled to it. Make sure the card has a compelling offer, such as a discount or free gift if they come see you.

Take it a step further

If you’d like to go a step further in your involvement, offer to be a part of the local organizing committee in your area. I’ve done this many times and it’s a rewarding experience that allows you to take a leadership role in your community and puts you in touch with other business and community leaders.

You can also volunteer to offer chair massages at the walk, with all the proceeds donated to the American Heart Association. I typically charge a dollar a minute for this service and let people choose their custom massage and the amount of time they want to spend in the chair.

In exchange for the donation, ask the event organizers if you can pass out your card or brochure along with a free sample or promotional item, like a magnet or stress ball. You can also ask permission to take photos at the event that you can use in later promotions.

I recommend sending out press releases to local papers before and after the event. This year’s event photo can run a week or two after the walk with the headline “Local Spa Owner Has a Big Heart.” Then, give a brief overview of your participation along with a quote or two from a happy client from the event (make sure you get the person’s written permission to use his or her name). You can send the same image and a similar press release out the following year letting people know what’s coming and how your organization will be involved.

You want to let others know you have given back to your community and watch that effect snowball. When you establish this type of presence in your community, people will take notice. Before you know it, you’ll be receiving calls from other organizations asking you to participate in their next event.

Wear red and get your business in the black

Feb. 4 is National Wear Red Day, so in my office we all wear red and host our annual Fit and Fabulous Day. The community is invited to join us for $20 per person. The entire event lasts about two hours and features a signature speech by me on how to speed up your metabolism.

This year, I’ll be joined by an Arbonne International representative who will have samples of the popular Figure 8 products for guests to enjoy. We’ll also serve a healthy lunch donated by a local café in exchange for event exposure.

As part of the event promotion, we offer half-price massages and facials that day for anyone who wants to stay after the event. I also hand out dietary recommendations from the American Heart Association on using less sodium, healthy cooking tips, 10 Red Foods and how to start a Better U program—all available through the American Heart Association website.

I work closely with local media to promote the event through press releases to my community newspapers, magazines and television stations. I even place a few low-cost ads in local publications. I make sure the media is aware that a percentage of our proceeds from the day are donated to the American Heart Association and I mention all of the great organizations that partner with me to make the event possible. (One important note here: In order to use the American Heart Association in your publicity, you must be preauthorized to do so. There are forms online, or you can call your local office and speak to a representative to set this up.)

In addition to working with local media, send out an e-blast to all your contacts about the upcoming event and set fliers and promotional materials in your spa. Then, tell everyone you see about it. This event has been so popular for us in the past that I’ve had to make sure people RSVP and pay in advance so that I can get an accurate count on the number of guest to expect.

However you decide to participate, February is the ideal time for you to become more involved in your community, your business, and the health and well-being of your clients and yourself.

Read “Carry a Heart-Healthy Mentality Throughout the Year,” by Debbie Roberts, L.M.T., by clicking here.

Debbie Roberts, MASSAGE MagazineDebbie Roberts, L.M.T., is innovator of the Assessment, Treatment & Muscle Stabilization (ATM)™ Technique. Roberts is the owner/operator of Massage and Fitness Professionals Spa in Stuart, Florida, seamlessly blending her expertise in personal fitness and sports-injury rehabilitation with a unique day spa experience. Her book, So You Want to Own a Spa, What Are You Thinking? is an instruction manual for would-be spa owners full of wit, humor and practicality. She’s currently creating a “Spa Business in a Box” full of done-for-you business templates, checklists and scripts that will be released later in the year. She is founder of Debbie Roberts Seminars, a CEU company providing continuing education for massage therapists and personal trainers. For more information, visit www.DebbieRobertsSeminars.com or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/debbierobertsseminars.

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