It's important to learn the basics of how to successfuly market your massage therapy business before diving into social media platforms and email campaigns.

One of the most common questions asked by massage business owners is, “How do I get more clients?” Well, there’s no generic answer.

Ask that question to a group of massage therapists and you’ll get different answers from each of them—mostly riddled with individual marketing platforms or specific tactics that worked for them.

However, these tactics aren’t going to be of any use to your massage business unless you understand the broad idea of how to market.  

How to Market a Massage Business

For example, a lot of therapists will swear that you must have a social media presence in order to successfully market your practice, but with no context that’s useless advice.

First, there are many therapists who successfully build their businesses without ever being on social media. Secondly, without knowing if your target market is even regularly on social media and how to strategically use each platform if they are, you’re wasting your time. 

Understanding how to market is far more important than the individual tactics that may or may not work for you based on numerous individual factors. What works wonders to get clients for a therapist in the middle of Los Angeles, California, may have very different and disappointing results for someone in Gatlinburg, Tennesse, and vice versa.

Before you start diving into a social media platform, email campaigns, or the latest networking app that promises you all the clients you’ll ever want, first learn the basics of how to successfully market. This will then determine the specific tactics you’ll use later, allowing for the most efficient marketing possible, without so much frustration along with wasted time and money. 

Here, then, are the 5 keys to successfully marketing your massage business:

1. Know your ideal client. First and foremost, you must know who you’re speaking to in all your marketing efforts. Determining your ideal client is the first step in determining how you will market. You don’t know where to market and what tactics will be effective if you don’t first know who you’re trying to reach. 

So, what is an ideal client? This is the client that you love to see on the schedule. The one who makes you happy to come into work. The one who reminds you of why you got into this profession and gives you the full satisfaction for the value of your work. Will every client who lays on your table fit this profile?

No. But the vast majority of your clientele should be made up of this type of person. So in order to attract them with any of your marketing, you need to speak to them in all of your marketing efforts.  

To determine your ideal client, you’ll need to answer the following questions:

• What is your business mission? 

• What problem are you solving for people? 

• What type of work do you enjoy doing? 

• What type of people do you enjoy working with? 

Consider the demographics, complaints, and personality of who you want to work with regularly. You should now be able to determine a solid profile that encompasses exactly who your ideal client is.

Now that you have this determined, this will direct you on exactly how to speak to these potential clients and where you need to be spending those precious marketing dollars. 

2. Have a strategy. One of the biggest marketing mistakes massage therapists make is that they throw out random campaigns and haphazard ads in hopes of getting a few clients in the door and call it marketing.

What that really is, is advertising. Those individual tactics and attempts to get clients are only a piece of a much larger puzzle, called marketing.  

Marketing is the systematic planning, implementation, and control over all avenues of gaining new and repeat clients. The first part of that is planning, or strategizing. Those random advertisements, while they may result in a handful of clients here and there, are not going to truly build a solid clientele.

A marketing strategy will.

While a thorough marketing strategy can be quite in depth, let’s look at the two primary portions you’ll need to work through. 

Where does your ideal client spend their time? Is it on social media? If so, which platform? Do they regularly check emails? What search engine are they most likely using? What local businesses do they frequent?

Once you’ve established where your ideal clients are, then you know where you need to be. Surely your ideal clients aren’t only in one place, so be sure you’re diversifying the tactics within your strategy to reach as much of that target market as possible.

Let’s say you’re building a practice centered on geriatric clients. Social media probably won’t be a large part of your marketing strategy unless on those platforms you’re specifically speaking to their children and grandchildren.

Again, these individual tactics are just a piece of the larger marketing strategy puzzle that could include networking to the local senior activity center, speaking at support groups specifically geared toward seniors, and yes, advertisements for gift certificates tailored toward the children and grandchildren of those ideal clients. 

How can you appeal to this ideal client? This includes the copy, or written words you use, the topics you’ll cover in speeches, and the graphics and photos you’ll use on your website, social media, and printed materials. How exactly will you need to present your business to appeal to these specific clients? You’ll need to adjust your individual ad designs and copywriting to suit. 

Taking the time to develop a true strategy around your marketing rather than throwing out random advertisements is one of the most cost effective things you can do for your business.  

3: Branding. If you think branding is just a logo and maybe some colors, you’re only seeing the tip of a very large iceberg. True branding is far more than some pretty visuals that you put on your website and marketing materials.

Your brand is not a logo or a tagline or the colors or fonts you use. Those are all visuals developed to portray your brand. Your brand is the personality and theme of your massage business.

It’s how you speak to your ideal clients in the words you choose. It’s how they feel when they look at your advertisements or walk into your establishment. It’s the ideas they associate with your company. It’s the purpose and mission of your business. 

Fine tune your business mission, define your ideal client, and develop an overall theme to your business. Then and only then should you dive into developing the visuals. Think of it like illustrations to a book.

The book needs to be written first. The illustrations are simply there to give visual representation to the story. Write the story (the brand) of your business first, then develop the visuals around that. Having a consistent brand, visually and experientially, serves to solidify and empower all your marketing efforts. 

4: Sell a solution, not a technique. Take a look at your current marketing efforts and ask yourself if it’s clear what you’re selling. I’m not just talking about selling massage here.

That’s not how marketing works. You can’t just sell a service, a product, or a modality; you must sell a solution to a problem. Not many clients care about your techniques or what modality you use, so stop trying to sell that.

They want to know if you can solve their problem. Just be sure that you’re addressing the two problems people are really experiencing; the external problem and the internal problem. 

The external problem is that which is obvious, such as the headaches or back pain a person is experiencing. The internal problem is a bit more delicate, but necessary to address in order to have truly effective marketing. This refers to the deeper, even emotional reasoning behind why they would choose to book that massage appointment.

For example, if they struggle with back pain (external problem) and feel guilty that they can’t play with their children or grandchildren like they want to (internal problem), getting regular massages with you may be the answer for them.

This is the reason commercials show smiling people on romantic dates to advertise makeup; it’s meant to show customers they’ll not only look beautiful, but feel so as well.

Car commercials don’t cover all their features, but rather the unique design or excitement of driving their particular car. What internal and external problems are you solving for your clients. Speak, in every bit of your marketing, to that. 

5: Adapt. Understand that your marketing will need to constantly adapt. Whether that’s due to local economic fluctuations, a networking shift due to a business closing or opening, and of course the results of past and current marketing efforts.

Your marketing strategy and the individual tactics and advertising opportunities will regularly need to be tweaked and altered to suit an ever-changing environment.  

Just look at how much marketing has changed in the last five to seven years! The shift to social media advertising, and even within that, the changes in the types of ads that work. Five years ago, a pretty picture and a simple sales pitch might have convinced someone to buy.

Now you’ll need to be much more cunning and understand the intricacies of each platform and their user habits. If you’ve been in massage business for even just a few years, you’ve undoubtedly seen the spending changes that come with local economic shifts, or even just from one season to the next.

Be ready to change parts of your marketing strategy and specific tactics within it to keep your efforts as efficient as possible.  

While there are many forms of advertising, randomly choosing one or another isn’t going to effectively build your clientele and grow your business. Understanding and implementing these 5 keys to marketing, however, can set you on the path to success much faster and without the headache you may be accustomed to. 

Savanna Bell, LMT, is the owner of My Massage World, a membership company focused on providing marketing content and business education to help massage therapists around the globe build successful businesses as quickly and efficiently as possible.