When you make changes to your massage business, you also need to effectively communicate with clients so you can avoid any of the negative feedback that often comes with these announcements.
Over the course of your client interactions, you have probably discovered that your original business structure is less than perfect. Change is most often spurred by negative client feedback, violated policies, advanced education that allows you to offer superior treatment methods, or a feeling of being unfulfilled. Any one of these factors will require significant changes to improve your business—or even to shift your entire structure.
Over the past 16-or-so months, your biggest reason for change is likely the effect that COVID-19 has had on your business. With an increasing number of massage therapists pivoting their practices by implementing virtual consultations (and even full sessions), offering online intakes and payments, and updating their health and safety policies, the good news is that announcing business changes is on the upswing.
Effectively communicating with clients is critical to the resilience of your business.
The marketing methods you used when you first opened will not be the most effective methods now—no matter how successful they were back then. Bottom line—you’ll need a new strategy for communicating your new structure.
You may be wondering: If your initial strategy was successful, why should you change it? Simply put, the purpose of creating awareness for a new business is to gain clients, while the goal of communicating a structure change is to successfully transition existing clients from the old way of doing business to your new and improved system. Old methods simply are not the most effective.
Whether your changes are due to new COVID procedures, general policy changes or a completely new way of doing business, the following methods will help you effectively communicate with your clients so you can avoid any of the negative feedback that often comes with these announcements.
Communicate with Clients via Email
Email lists are gold when it comes to mass communication. If you are not already regularly emailing your list, you are missing out on an excellent opportunity to connect with your clients and build deeper therapeutic relationships.
Hint: Choose an email platform that provides analytics so you can track who opens each email as well as when they open it. This will be useful in optimizing your email delivery and assisting your retargeting efforts.
For all marketing purposes, I highly recommend splitting your email list into two categories: Top-tier clients and general clients. The top tier should consist of the top 10% of your clients, based on factors that are most relevant to your business. Factors to consider are annual dollar spend (the most popular choice) and visit frequency but can also include the problems you most like to solve, top sources of referrals, or clients you connect with the most. Whichever factors you choose, be consistent and make sure they are meaningful to your business as you will use this split list for many communication opportunities.
Pro Tip: You will not want your emails to these two groups to be glaringly different, but you will want to make each one apply to the appropriate category. This will be your main source of communication that you will use to build all other methods, so make sure to give it the proper once (or twice) over for grammar and spelling.
Five elements to include in emails:
1. “Big changes are on the way—and I want you to be the first to know!” A bold opening statement like this primes your top-tier clients to hear your good news. Creating excitement right off the bat helps ensure that they read the rest of your email. For general clients, “Big changes are on the way—and I’m so excited to share them with you!” is an appropriate alternative.
2. A sentence underscoring your dedication to providing the best service possible. “Because I am deeply committed to providing you with the highest-level results…” is appropriate to use for both categories.
3. Implementation date: when the new changes are taking place. This date can be different for each category, depending on what your changes are. If you are announcing a new price structure, offering your top-tier clients an extended time before the changes go into effect is a great way to reward their loyalty. If your changes are policy-related or you are announcing a completely new business structure, you will want this date to be the same for both sets of emails to avoid any confusion.
4. Description of what is changing. This is where your position of authority will shine. Be as specific as possible to explain why these changes are critical in delivering better service experiences and enhanced results.
If you are changing the structure of your sessions, a short paragraph beginning with: “In order to continue providing you top-level service, we’re changing the way our massage sessions are structured. This means more benefits for you! Beginning on ABC date, all massage sessions will include…” is sure to get your clients excited. To avoid any confusion, do not refer to your old structure or include any changes that are not significant.
5. “What WON’T be changing.” This is a perfect time to highlight signature elements of your practice that clients depend on. A little bit of trust and security will help eliminate negative feedback that comes with an announcement of big changes.
In this section, you can include elements such as: early/late/weekend hours, ease of scheduling, results and expertise clients have come to expect, and any other important factors that will remain the same. Again, avoid referring to your old structure so your clients do not get confused.
6. Finally, show your clients how much you appreciate their loyalty. Thank them for trusting you with their pain relief and relaxation needs and for helping to make your business a success.
Communicate with Clients via Facebook
Your business page is another gold mine for communication because it allows you to not only connect with your existing clients, but also attracts yourwarm leads (potential clients who have been following you, but not yet booked a session). This is an excellent opportunity to get the “lurkers” excited, too, and it may even spur them to book their first session.
Pro Tip: Make your Facebook page a place where your authority and expertise shine. Content that is relevant to your practice and gets clients excited will inspire them to share it with others, thereby extending your reach.
Using your email as a guide, pull a few of the most important points to create a post that will capture your audience’s attention. Even better? Say it in a video! Clients are much more likely to engage with a video, so boost your views with a short but lively clip that not only is informative but gets clients excited about your new changes.
Communicate with Clients via Your Website
Front and center on your homepage is the perfect place to add an announcement. Make it pop and make it short; a box with cutoff text that links to a special announcement page is all you need. It will provide just enough information to intrigue visitors and push them to click for the full announcement, but will not take up too much of that previous homepage real estate. Have you ever read an article on Facebook or an online magazine and had to click for the full story? This is the same concept.
Pro Tip: On the separate announcement page, you can modify the original email content you created. This is a great place to link additional documents such as new COVID procedures and policies, general policies, price changes, and anything else that is relevant to your new changes.
Communicate with Clients via Local Facebook Groups
If your practice is accepting new clients, local Facebook groups can be a wealth of opportunity. It’s always a savvy business idea to join your local community pages, as well as any special interest pages that are relevant to your ideal clients. Hanging out where they hang out (digitally) is an easy, no-cost way to connect. Once you’ve established yourself in your chosen groups, you can create a post announcing your exciting updates.
Pro Tip: When sharing your exciting news, keep it upbeat and brief. Give just enough information that it sparks questions, where you can provide small bits of details to keep engagement up.
About the Author:
Melinda Hastings, LMT, BCTMB, MTI, has practiced massage therapy since 1996. She holds active licenses in Washington and Texas, and is also a Texas Massage Therapy Instructor. She is a Nationally Approved Continuing Education Provider through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. Her CE classes are offered through her seminar business, Inspired Therapist Seminars. Her articles for MASSAGE Magazine include “7 Steps to Marketing a New Massage Technique” and “Relaxation Massage Doesn’t Deserve its Bad Rap: Reach More Clients by Marketing Massage as ‘Just’ Stress Relief.”