Regardless of clientele, geographic location or technique, every massage therapist can create a signature-services menu that makes her practice stand out.
As a massage therapist who is passionate about natural healing and restoration of the body, Naomi Thompson, owner of Healing Palms Spa in Austin, Minnesota, has created a brand that incorporates her personal philosophy while addressing the needs of her clients and distinguishing her practice from the competition.
Thompson’s specialized Rituals—her signature treatments—combine oils, scrubs and other products made with natural, organic ingredients that offer detoxification and exfoliation.
After doing some research, Thompson devised a line of signature services that offers the pleasures of aromatherapy along with a healing component.
Her basic Skin Care Ritual removes dead skin and cleanses the lymphatic system, while providing a deep, moisturizing treatment. Other of her signature offerings use specific ingredients as their foundation.
“Coffee has long been known for its ability to reduce cellulite, detoxify and boost metabolism, so the Coffee Ritual is designed for a more therapeutic purpose,” Thompson explains. “The Paradise Ritual is for deeper hydration as it uses a blend of oils to enrich the skin.”
Before launching a specialty product or technique, therapists should think about how to brand their practice and what signature service would best enhance it.
Paul Heslop, chief care officer at Salt of the Earth, manufacturer of “customized concoctions” in Woods Cross, Utah, emphasizes the end goal of a massage practice or spa is to create an experience. “You want the guest to remember your [practice] and your signature service,” he says.
To achieve that goal, Heslop suggests therapists ask themselves a few questions: “What does your [practice] do better than any other in the market? What music or songs best describe your practice? Who are your customers?” he says.
“For instance, if you love lemongrass and green tea, use this to create your signature services,” Heslop says. “It becomes your identity, what you’re all about.”
He emphasizes massage therapists should also know their competitors and how they differ. “If you don’t know who you are and what you do, you’re more apt to miss the mark when it comes to branding,” explains Heslop.
Jean Shea, founder and CEO of BIOTONE Professional Massage & Spa Therapy Products, advises therapists to focus on client need and desire when creating a unique service.
“What would my clients want in a signature service?” Shea suggests you ask yourself. The answer, she says, can help the therapist zoom in on an idea that will enhance his existing brand.
“Make your signature treatments more specific than general,” Shea adds. “For instance, if you want to do something to lessen pain, ask your clients about certain areas of the body that might be experiencing pain, and create your signature treatments around these, as this is more effective than just pain reduction in general.”
Selecting an appropriate name for your signature services is important to conveying the reason for the treatment. In Thompson’s case, she labeled her services based on the origins of the main ingredients.
“We also wanted to give the customer a feel for what they are getting,” she adds. “[The signature services] create a sense of relaxation and connection for them, even during the booking process.”
Before deciding on what to offer as a signature service that enhances your particular brand, Thompson cites the importance of education.
“Learn as much as you can about what you are providing,” she explains. “You need to know why you are using what you are using and not just what it does.”
Appeal to the Senses
When exploring a signature service, think scents and colors, says Elisabeth Thorn, director of sales and marketing for WR Medical Electronics Company and Therabath Professional Paraffin Products.
“One of my clients is a chain spa and uses pear as a signature fragrance,” explains Thorn. “This scent is used consistently throughout the facility.”
“There are so many products you can group together around a signature scent,” she adds.
Scent selection could be based on the massage therapist’s mood says Thorn. For example, a person who is ins a fun-loving mood might choose a heady vanilla scent for the oils, lotions and creams used in the practice or spa. Someone who is feeling more subdued and introverted might opt for the soothing aroma of lavender, so the paraffin, oils and other products used that day would be violet in color and lavender scented, she explains.
Involving the client in the creation process makes the experience even more special.
“Choose the spa’s signature scent and then allow the client to choose her favorite oil and allow her to mix the product herself,” says Heslop. “This creates a sensory journey, a ‘wow’ experience. Use some of the product [during a session] and the rest becomes a take-home gift.”
In addition to spa add-ons and products marketed as signature services, massage techniques can also be marketed as signature services, especially when the massage therapist packages products to support those services.
When marathon season rolls around every October in New York City, for example, runners seek out Laurie Towers for sports massage. Towers is CEO and founder of Physical Advantage, and has established a reputation for her signature services for athletes and active individuals.
Tower offers specialized, rehabilitative techniques—including trigger-point therapy and connective-tissue massage—for clients, who include Broadway dancers, athletes who play on New York and Boston sports teams, and athletes of all stripes. She has further added her signature to her hands-on technique by fashioning her own product blend that includes a light mineral-oil base and arnica with a small amount of lemon.
Offering that signature product further helps Towers stand out from the competition.
Tying signature services into the seasons or holidays can also boost your bottom line and capture new clientele. Heslop tells of an upscale hotel whose management wanted a special Valentine offering. They put their signature product inside classy packaging made of natural paper and tucked a card inside with a personalized message.
“This is a powerful way to promote a signature product or service,” Heslop says. “You’re creating word-of-mouth, but the sample goes even further.”
Towers marketed her massage and personal-training specialties as a Have a Heart special to tie in with Valentine’s Day and continue for the remainder of February: Individuals could book a massage or personal training session and get a second session for 50-percent off.
Promote and Collaborate
Getting the word out about your signature services should begin with your current client base. Ray Baker, founder and CEO of Beautiful Image LLC, manufacturer of cosmetic micro-current machines in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, suggests massage therapists offer clients a sample of a signature service when they come in for their regular appointment.
Whatever the treatment might be—hand or foot massage, a facial, body contouring, steam—the opportunity to experience it at no cost could result in new business, Baker says.
After the complimentary treatment, offer the client a package deal on the service, he advises. Whether or not the client purchases the package, she most likely will talk about the service to friends and family, and word-of-mouth is one of the most effective ways to advertise.
Additionally, a postcard campaign can be an easy and effective way to advertise your signature service, draw attention to your practice and add to the bottom line. Baker recommends giving clients who have had the chance to experience a signature service two postcards.
“Ask her to give them to two friends and let you know who they are,” he says. He suggests rewarding the original client with a free treatment if one of her friends buys a signature treatment.
Depending on your geographic location and local economy, some massage therapists might grapple with promoting signature services, so Baker recommends collaboration with other specialists in the health-and-beauty field.
“Go to a beauty shop and offer the hairdressers a free treatment,” he says. Leave a couple of postcards that advertise your service, and follow up with the hairdressers to see who they have given the postcards to, Baker adds.
In this digital age, massage therapists can also spread the word about their new signature services with the click of a mouse.
“Facebook and Twitter are always good, as well as sending out email blasts to your clients who have opted in for more information,” explains Shea. “The email can highlight the signature service you’re promoting and call out any discounts or special packages that might be available by adding on another service.”
For potential clients who pass by your door, signage in your window can announce the new service as well, Shea adds.
Creating a website is relatively easy, with templates and technical support available. Using a professional website to advertise your signature products is cost effective and could have wide reach.
Sofia Higgins, creator of Sudatonic Body Care, a company that manufactures infrared blankets, suggests therapists use the power of the Internet to advertise special products and signature services.
“Explain why you are different,” Higgins says. If you make your own blend of essential oils, for example, tell potential clients why they are different and better than other available products, she adds.
Price It Out
Once a therapist has created a signature service, pricing becomes the next area to address. Offering an introductory price gives clients a chance to try out the service and entice them to return for a full-priced treatment.
“After this, the price should be calculated by reviewing what the products cost and what the timeframe for executing the service will be,” says Shea. “Services that are just too expensive are passed over by clients. Those that are priced too low are not seen as having a lot of value. Be reasonable and fair with the pricing.
“As it’s add-on, a good rule-of-thumb is to not it price it more than 25 to 33 percent above the base price,” she adds.
Massage therapists should understand their clientele and what the geographic location and local economic market will bear when determining price, adds Higgins.
All massage practices aim to carve their own special niche. Establishing a unique brand and creating related services and products can enhance your reputation, build a bigger client base and increase revenue.
About the Author
Phyllis Hanlon is a freelance writer whose specialty areas include health and medicine, religion, education and business. She regularly delights in the joys of massage. She has written many articles for MASSAGE Magazine, including “The Big, Beautiful Benefits of Sunflower Oil” and “Provide Wet-Room Spa Techniques in a Dry Room.”