To be a successful massage therapist, you must move away from generalizations and paint a very specific picture of what you can do for the client.

Unlike successful massage therapists, many massage therapists find it difficult to attract new clients. Their marketing is generic and does little to set them apart from others.

They soon find themselves fighting over the same clients.

As a result, many therapists resort to discounting. This leads to price wars, devalues the industry and burns therapists out way too soon.

So, what’s the answer?

Public education, or “educational marketing.”

Successful Massage Therapists Resonate and Connect

As therapists, we are well aware of the benefits of client education. This leads to better compliance, re-bookings and referrals. But how do you go about educating a client you haven’t met yet?

When it comes to attracting more clients, the problem isn’t the lack of prospects. It’s the failure to resonate with people and connect with their needs.

This is why many massage therapists feel caught up in a competitive environment and struggle to grow their business.

To educate the public and convert them into clients your message has to be crystal clear. You must move away from generalizations and paint a very specific picture of what you can do for the client.

Simply stating your title, qualifications along with a list of modalities and techniques does little to inform the average person on the street about the benefits of your treatments.

You must ask yourself, are you marketing to the public or other massage therapists? Is your message easy to understand, or are you using terms and phrases that only another massage therapist would understand?

Understand Awareness

In his book, Breakthrough Advertising, Eugene M. Schwartz (1927–1995) wrote about the “awareness scale” and the concept of “traffic temperature.” A basic understanding of these concepts will help you integrate public education into your marketing plan.

First, let’s look at the awareness scale, this is a horizontal line used to show the various levels of consumer awareness. On one end we have the totally unaware, and on the other, we have the totally aware.

The awareness scale follows a progression from totally unaware, to problem aware, solution aware, brand or product aware, and finally totally aware.

Those who are brand or product aware are your raving fans. They are your hot market. They know they have a problem, they know that you can offer a solution, and more than likely they are already your client.

Next, we have the solution aware. These people know they have a problem, and they know that massage can help. They are aware that massage can be a solution to their problem, they just haven’t heard of you yet. As far as traffic temperature goes, this is your warm market.

The hot and warm markets are where the majority of businesses focus their marketing. After all, it’s easy compared to communicating with their cold market.

But, it’s also highly competitive as most businesses are targeting the same market segment. Specifically, those who already know that massage can be a solution to their problem.

So now let’s step right back to the totally unware. These people don’t even know they have a problem.

They may believe that the pain, stiffness  and immobility they suffer is normal. A natural result from injury or aging and there is nothing that can be done about it.

Or, they may be aware that they have a problem but have no idea that your treatments can help them. This is more than often a result of upbringing or sociocultural beliefs. They have never considered natural therapies; when they have pain, it’s off to the doctor for a pill.

Those sitting at the totally unaware or problem aware levels are your cold market. You will be targeting your public education marketing campaign at this group.

Before sitting down to create an educational marketing piece, it’s very important to understand the purpose of the message.

To be effective, your message must educate and move the prospect along the awareness scale.

It must take them from totally unware or problem aware to solution aware. Then from solution aware to ultimately becoming your client.

When preparing your marketing message for the general public, please consider the following:

Don’t Assume That the Public Know What You Do

This is a big one. Just because you know that massage can benefit your clients don’t assume that your cold market does.

For example, Jim suffers from chronic sciatica and is currently on a cocktail of prescription drugs. He comes from a family that has always gone straight to the doctor at the first sign of pain or sniffle. His family and friends have always criticised massage, calling it voodoo.

But he’s desperately seeking an alternative to the pharmaceutical regime that is wreaking havoc on his mind and body.

One day, while limping down the street he comes across an A-board with the word “MASSAGE,” printed in big, bold letters, followed by a list of techniques.

Jim keeps walking.

Why? Because the message didn’t speak to his pain, it didn’t resonate with him; it didn’t communicate that the treatment on offer could help him.

Don’t Use Industry Terminology

Another major mistake is using complex industry terms, technobabble and geek speak in your marketing. Remember you’re communicating with people who have never experienced your treatments before.

Keep your message simple. Use everyday language to describe what you do.

Don’t focus on the “hows”

Your client doesn’t care how you do it; they just want an outcome. Your client is ultimately looking for a solution.

Concentrate your marketing material on outcomes and benefits, not the techniques you use.

How to Reach Your Cold Market

So far we’ve covered what educational marketing is and why it’s important. We’ve also looked at the three main things to consider when crafting our message. Now let’s look at how you go about it.

Public education means just that. You have to let the public know that your treatments are beneficial for specific issues.

And I mean, specific.

You just can’t say that massage is good for everything. That’s far too general and communicates nothing.

To educate the public, you need to speak directly to their pain points. You are going to create an article that describes how massage can help with a specific health issue. And then, at the end of the article, you’re going to invite the reader to contact you.

The important thing to remember here is the article is not about you and your treatments. It’s about the reader, their problem and how massage can help. This is what is generally termed a bridging article.

You’re providing information to the reader to enable them to make an informed decision. You are moving them from problem aware to solution aware. Now it’s time to turn them into a client. You do this at the end of your article by inviting the reader to contact you.

Answer the Question That Your Prospects Are Asking

What should you write about? Well, you should be answering the question that the reader is already asking. Tap into what they are typing into Google. One of my favorite tools is answerthepublic.com.

This web application allows you to enter a search phrase like back pain, headaches, stress, etc. It will then go off and compile a list of all the questions people have entered into Google on that topic.

For best results keep your search relatively broad. You may be surprised at what people type into Google.

Don’t assume to know what people are typing; you could miss out on a real gem.

Write your article in clear, everyday language. Avoid industry terms and technobabble wherever possible. Remember this is an educational piece. The reader has more than likely never been exposed to massage or the terms you use to describe what you do.

Consider including references to research or case studies by recognized and respected sources. These will add weight and credibility to your article.

One of the most popular types of educational material is a list article. This could be a list of things the reader can do to manage their health issue by combing self-care with various treatment options.

You could also compile a list of various modalities that can help with the issue. Of course, your modality will be the hero of the list.

Here are a couple of example titles for list articles:

  • 5 Drug-Free Ways to Manage Your Lower Back Pain
  • 7 Little Known Tips for Managing Tension Headaches

Once your article is written, it’s time to publish it on your blog or website.

Now create social media posts pointing back to your article.

Note the power of this strategy.

Your social media posts are no longer simply promotions targeted at your warm and hot market.

You are now providing value, information, education to an otherwise untapped market. No longer do you have to compete for clients; you have expanded your reach to a new audience.

Take the Time

Taking the time to educate the public is important for many reasons.

It raises awareness of the industry in general and helps you stand out and scale your business.

Public education allows you to position yourself as the go-to person for specific problems while opening up new markets. Public education will help you become a successful massage therapist.

About the Author:

Tim Cooper is an author, educator, podcaster and business coach. In 2016, he created Wellness Business Breakthrough an organization dedicated to helping wellness professionals overcome restricting challenges in their business. In 2018, he created and co-hosted the Global Wellness Professionals Marketing Summit, an online event that brings together industry leaders to educate and empower wellness professionals.

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