Marketing Matters

Filed under Beyond Beginnings

This is the time of year where the rains ease up and my gas bills quadruple. Festival season, oh, yes!

For the bodyworker in the right frame of mind, a festival or fair can be an excellent place for you to meet the clients you would like to add to your practice. At the very least, it’s a nice break from the norm.

Local vs. Regional:
A regional festival, like Bumbershoot or the Oregon Country Fair, is more likely to be a working vacation than a perfect spot to reinvigorate your practice. It might be a good opportunity to reinvigorate you. These sorts of events are generally full of people looking to have a positive experience and you can’t stand in the middle of so much fun energy without catching it yourself. Also, it’s a place where you can be inspired by what other vendors (not necessarily bodyworkers) are doing to attract clients.

Local festivals are the places to look for clients to add to your practice. Not only do you get your dose of good energy but you have exposure to people who live and work around you. This is a chance for people to meet you in a “neutral” space. It’s a chance to become familiar with your face and your personality and, hopefully, your work.

Focus on Who You Want to Serve:
If you are trying to add clients to your practice, you will be most efficient when you know who you want to attract. Some are obvious: local races or matches for sports massage, farm fairs or farmers’ markets for green-focused practices, 4H events for families.

Also consider the neighborhood where your practice is located. Introduce yourself. Be neighborly. Perhaps the office next door has an employee lunchtime BBQ every spring. Can you do neck/shoulder/arm work while they’re waiting for their bratwursts to grill?

If the Tae Kwon Do school across the way has a big meet every year, go see how you can get your practice involved. Wouldn’t it be useful to help local competitors gain an edge over the competition by being focused and warmed up before they step into the ring? And, while we’re thinking about it, wouldn’t it be useful to parents dropping off their kids to have an appointment with you while their child is in class?

I have seen the same therapist next to her chair shaking hands and handing out cards at both the Capital Food and Wine Festival and at SLURP this year. I’d say she’s after gastronomes who like a little luxury and are willing to spend their money on quality. A lot of the attendees go to both events so she’s gaining recognition and becoming comfortably familiar. And the sign by her chair saying, “Will work for wine,” probably doesn’t hurt.

Be Ready:
Have some sort of signage where people can clearly see your offer and rates from more than 10 feet away. A piece of notebook paper taped to the sunshade support isn’t going to do it.

Business cards, business cards, business cards. Geez louise, if I see one more MT with a stack of torn up — neatly, I’ll grant you — slips of paper with their name and number, I shall bite through the radiator. You’re going to need a gazillion of them because you’re going to hand two to every person you talk to. They’re not that expensive. If you’re really together, make up some specific for the event. They need to look professional and they need text that explains the benefits of your work. People need a reason to keep the card. Give them one.

If you have a brochure or flyer that explains the work you do, so much the better. Someone may be interested but still unsure or doesn’t have enough time (or your festival schedule was packed! :) ) Be sure any information you give them has your contact information on it. There is also a greater impact if you are able to address their needs as specifically as possible. An example: At an airshow, have one flyer for men, another for elder men and another for stressed out, Tums-popping men.

Festival-goers are great but don’t forget the vendors, coaches, bands, volunteers, staff, etc. I recommend walking around the festival location during set-up and introducing yourself. Bring your daily schedule. Get people signed up. “You know, at lunch time and the end of the day my schedule gets packed. Those seem like times that would be best for you. Do you want to sign up now so you have a space saved before the crowds get here?” Don’t discount the benefits of trades, either. Wouldn’t it be nice to trade a 15 minute session for help taking down and loading your stuff? Or for two flats of bedding plants?

There’s nothing wrong with being memorable. The therapist with the sign reading, “Will work for wine” got more people talking to her than she would have otherwise. They wanted to know what kind of wine she was after. If there was a low price limit. If they got a special award for finding the best tasting wine. The conversation was opened. People could approach her about something other than her work initially. Also, she had the same sign at both events so people were inclined to remember her.

Festivals are a time to celebrate. Celebrate your practice and celebrate the work you have put into making our world a little better.

All my best,

Related article: Dipping in Your Oar: Notes on marketing massage at local events

Comments (2) Posted by Eileen Ryan on Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

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