business strategy

To complement “Expert Advice: How Can I Connect with Local Colleagues, to Benefit All Our Businesses?” in the April 2015 issue of MASSAGE Magazine. Summary: As a business strategy, cooperative marketing can be an effective and efficient tool to expand your massage practice, whether you partner with businesses that share your mission and demographic; share your mission but target a different market; or provide a different service to your market. 

Your marketing success can be significantly greater, more enjoyable and less risky if you join with other practitioners in cooperative marketing activities. Cooperative marketing is a great way to overcome marketing reluctance, and combining some of your marketing tasks with others saves time and money. You also generate a powerful synergy, as the creative process is significantly enhanced by team effort versus a solo act.

Create Your Business Strategy

The benefits of cooperative marketing extend beyond just stretching your marketing budget. Some of the most dreaded aspects of marketing become less of a chore when you don’t have to do them alone. For best results, develop a working relationship with at least three other practitioners, including a practitioner in your field who:

  • targets a different market
  • shares your target market
  • offers different services to your target market

Keep in mind, you don’t need to limit mutual marketing relationships to other practitioners. Your business strategy can also include working with retail establishments, suppliers and nonprofit organizations.

One way to ease into working with others is to jointly plan a small-scale marketing activity. You can increase the scope of your marketing alliance as you build confidence in yourself, your co-marketers and the process. In essence, you’re creating a short-term partnership, so create an alliance proposal that includes the purpose, priorities, goals, financial outlays and interaction expectations.

Same Service, Different Target Market

The following are ideas for joint marketing ventures for wellness providers who specialize in the same method of wellness care, but work with different target markets:

  • Share a booth at conferences, health fairs and expositions.
  • Advertise in local publications, on the radio or TV.
  • Co-write an article and submit it to your local publications.
  • Contact media to do interviews together.
  • Give presentations to the general public. 

Same Service, Same Target Market

The best time to join forces with others in your field who target the same market is when the market is too big for you to handle yourself. For instance, this may occur if you contract to provide services for a large corporation. Depending on the size of the company, you may even need numerous practitioners. Another similar situation could arise if you work with a specialty group, such as an athletic team. Here are some ideas for marketing partnerships:

  • Submit joint proposals to corporations for your services.
  • Give in-person or video presentations together.
  • Volunteer at athletic events.
  • Co-sponsor an athletic or charitable group.

Different Service, Same Target Market

As a business strategy, cooperative marketing can be quite effective when providers of different services and products focus on the same market. In addition to allied wellness practitioners, extend your combined promotional efforts to include other businesses that share the same markets. Examples might include health-food stores, restaurants, educational organizations, hair salons that use natural products, bookstores, specialty clothing shops and cultural groups. When working with these partners, you could:

  • Design wellness packages—services and products—for businesses and special interest groups.
  • Place joint advertisements in local publications.
  • If you’re in a professional building or shopping complex, get together with the business owners to co-host an open house; or create joint advertising to attract new clients to your location.
  • Co-sponsor an event, such as a fundraiser for a local charity or a health awareness day.
  • Design a special flier that describes the services, products and benefits of the businesses involved in the cooperative venture.
  • Co-sponsor seminars on health-related topics.
  • Create packages for celebrations: holidays, birthdays, thank-goodness-tax-season-is-over, and anniversaries.
  • Place a display with your cards and brochures next to the cash register at a restaurant, and put coupons from the restaurant in your waiting area.

Cherie Sohnen-MoeAbout the Author

Cherie Sohnen-Moe ( is an author, business coach, international workshop leader and successful business owner since 1978. She has served as a faculty member at the Desert Institute of Healing Arts and the Arizona School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Sohnen-Moe is the author of Business Mastery and Present Yourself Powerfully, and co-author of The Ethics of Touch. She is a founding member and serves on the board of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education.