The ultimate goals of all your marketing efforts are to fill your massage therapy appointment book and to develop loyal, repeat clients.

As an independent businessperson, you should evaluate your marketing program periodically, in order to make sure the steps you are taking to build and maintain a successful practice are helping you to achieve those goals.

Your marketing campaign should focus on two areas: attracting new clients and getting existing clients to reschedule. Newsletters can be used effectively to achieve both of these goals.

“My practice has expanded from one to four massage therapists since I began mailing newsletters to our clients six years ago,” said Kip Treece, a massage therapist in Lafayette, Indiana.

“Generally, we mail six issues a year. My client list has grown from 400 clients to over 2,200,” Treece continued. “Whenever we send a mailing, we see clients who haven’t booked with us in a while.”

As a business-building tool, the educational client newsletter is definitely a multi-tasker. In one easy step, a well-written newsletter sent to your client list can:

  • Educate your clients on the many benefits your services offer.
  • Remind them to call for their next appointment.
  • Promote referrals and gift-certificate sales.
  • Build client loyalty.
  • Strengthen your professional image.
  • Let your clients know how important they are to you.
  • Create rebookings and fill your massage therapy appointment book.

“A newsletter is truly unique,” wrote Don Sadler, vice president and editorial director of Media 3 Publications in Atlanta, Georgial. “No other marketing vehicle lets you communicate relevant, educational information to carefully targeted audiences and cross-sell products and services using a soft-sell approach that’s not perceived as an advertisement.

“People read—and value—newsletters,” Sadler continued. “In a survey by Standard & Poor’s that focused on newsletters published by financial services companies, 92 percent of newsletter recipients said they read at least some of the issue … Newsletters help you build brand awareness, strengthen customer loyalty and increase customers’ lifetime value.”

There are many ways you can use your newsletter to enhance your practice. You can:

  • Mail or email your newsletter to potential clients.
  • Encourage your clients to share their issues with others.
  • Generate new business by mailing to selected professionals with a cover letter introducing your services.
  • Use your newsletter as a handout at health fairs and public presentations.
  • Leave copies with willing merchants, such as health-food stores and chiropractors.
  • Use as inserts in community newspapers in your area.
  • Mail to nearby residents. (You can purchase a mailing list of selected names near you.)
  • Use with a cover letter and mail to new neighbors with a first-visit discount. (You can obtain the addresses of new residents for free through the utility companies.)
  • Include an issue with services like Welcome Wagon.
  • Use in place of business cards.
  • Ask people if they’d like to be included on your mailing list.

Are Newsletters Cost Effective?

When planning or reviewing your marketing campaign, you should evaluate each element for cost effectiveness and return on investment, as well as how much time, expense and effort it adds to your work schedule. Since most therapists operate solo practices, finding the most efficient ways to accomplish your goals is key.

You have so many things to accomplish each week that determine your viability, so you need to find ways to make the best use of your time and marketing dollars.

In order to properly evaluate a marketing tool, you should have a good idea of what constitutes a good financial return for the dollars you spend on promoting your services.

For example, if you spend $100 producing and sending a marketing piece like an educational newsletter, how much income must you bring in as a result of your mailing to make it worth your time and effort?

One way to measure the success rate of your newsletter marketing campaign is by keeping some basic business statistics. In other words, you need to keep track of certain key activities in your practice from week to week, so you can evaluate the effectiveness of your actions.

For instance, if you keep track of the number of massage sessions booked and delivered each week, you can monitor how your practice is doing—and how close to reaching your target you are. If you want to deliver 22 massages each week and you are averaging 14 a week now, you know you need to take some action to generate eight more appointments per week.

Then, when you mail a newsletter, you can track how this mailing affects your schedule. If you average 16 massages a week for several weeks following your mailing, you can observe the results your newsletter is bringing; in this example, two more massages per week. Without a way to measure your results, all of your marketing actions will be guesswork. So be sure to track the important practice activities, as they are the scorecards for your business.

Using the above example, say you determined you generated 10 additional massage appointments from your latest mailing to 200 clients. If you spent $100 on the mailing and brought in $500 on the increased massage appointments, you earned a return of $400 on your marketing dollars. If these were typical results and you sent six issues a year, you’d spend $600 to increase your profit $2,400—which is a great return for your efforts.

Newsletter Preparation

To get the best results from your newsletter, begin by creating an attractive, easy-to-read look that enhances the image of your practice. Here are some tips to make your newsletter more effective:

  • Keep it short and to the point. Offer information on the subjects your clients bring up during their appointments, such as handling stress, neck complaints and back pain. Ask your clients what they would like to see in future issues. You can also share results from recent studies on massage.
  • If you take more than 100 words from any already-printed material, you must obtain permission from the publisher to re-use the material.
  • Don’t get too technical. Remember that most people don’t have much knowledge in anatomy and physiology, so refrain from using confusing terminology.
  • Stay positive. Have your newsletters match the direction of your practice—to improve your clients’ lives physically, mentally and spiritually. Carry that message forward in your writing.
  • Address just one person. Direct your message to the reader, not your entire client base. It makes your message more personal and more effective.
  • Include a time-dated special offer to get clients to book their sessions right away. Consider offering a discount for booking an appointment by the end of the month or a package discount for those clients who are interested in pre-paying for several massages.

You can also add personal touches. The newsletters that massage therapist Leslie Hendricks, of Montclair, New Jersey, sends out include a Cozy Client Corner section where she features a client who has his or her own business, as a reciprocal networking gesture.

Hendricks said that mailing her newsletters on a bi-monthly basis has made a huge difference in her massage income. She averages from six to 10 appointments booked in the week following a mailing.

“The newsletters act as a gentle, friendly, fun and informative reminder for my clients to call and schedule their next appointment, as well as purchase gift certificates for special occasions,” she said. “I even get positive feedback as my clients tell me that they truly look forward to receiving them. So it’s well worth the effort.”

Newsletter Services

You can do everything yourself or use a newsletter service.

A newsletter service provides ready-to-send newsletters on many topics—you just add your contact information and mail them, or you can add an additional letter before sending them out. You can find newsletter services by searching online through Google, Yahoo or another search engine, using keywords like “massage newsletters” or “massage marketing.”

“Having a newsletter service has been a tremendous help for marketing my business,” said massage therapist Rochelle Clark, of Seattle, Washington. “I’ve always had good intentions of writing my own newsletter, but never got around to the task. It always felt overwhelming to make the time.

“The newsletter service I am currently using looks so much more professional than anything I would have designed,” Clark continued. “Each time I send out the newsletter, an average of five clients that have not been in for massage—for sometimes two or three years—have called to schedule appointments. That’s a great return for my time and effort.”

What About E-Newsletters?

Since virtually everyone has e-mail, you should consider sending e-newsletters as well. The first obvious advantage is your savings in postage, which is the most costly aspect of a print newsletter. Also, e-newsletters are environmentally sound when compared to printed newsletters.

Other advantages of e-newsletters include quick delivery time (minutes instead of days), the ability to use vibrant colors at no extra cost, and the ability to track results, as certain e-mail services have ways for you to monitor how many people opened the e-newsletter.

For e-newsletter success, you should create and maintain a dedicated e-list for your massage business. Whether you create your own group e-list or use an e-mail service, having a list that is specifically for your practice will save you time and simplify your marketing efforts. If you have a Web site, you can add a subscription form to allow people to sign up to receive your e-newsletters.

Make a point of getting permission from your clients to send them your e-newsletters. This will increase the percentage of people who will read them, because they will be expecting your e-mails and not mistake them for spam. When you’ve established a strong relationship with your clients, they will look forward to hearing from you.

“My e-newsletters have been a wonderful asset to my business,” said massage therapist Jennifer LeStat, of Falmouth, Massachusetts. “[They add] another level of professionalism, while showing my clients that I care about their health outside of my office.”

LeStat said that several clients have told her they look forward to receiving her monthly e-newsletters, and that some even keep them to re-read important points covered in a particular issue.

“Without appearing pushy, newsletters are also an effective reminder tool for busy folks—a gentle nudge to take time to take care of yourself and loved ones,” she said. “Because of all of the above, newsletters sent on a regular schedule have been very good economic tools for my business.”

A Proven Tool

Whether you create your own newsletters or pay a service to create one for you, the bottom line is this: The client newsletter is a proven marketing tool that can help you build a stronger practice. Offer print copies to clients at your practice, and develop an email list to stay in touch with clients digitally.

Educating clients will help you fill your massage therapy appointment book.

About the Author:

Jon Lumsden offers client education newsletters, e-newsletters and Web sites through his company, Massage Marketing.