A few weeks ago, I was reading posts on a social media forum for massage therapists, and I observed how a recent massage therapy graduate stated they were frustrated and thinking about giving up working for themselves. The reason being, they could not seem to find clients and could not figure out how to get people to schedule appointments with them.
This therapist stated they had been posting to different social media platforms daily and had listed pricing and coupons but had little to no response.
Other therapists on the forum offered suggestions, but there seemed to be a theme to those answers. That theme talked about the struggle and hardship trying to find clients because it took so long to get consistent clients to schedule who would then refer others to them.
A few therapists offered suggestions of different ways to market which I promote as well. These therapists stated that this person needed to figure out how to get their hands on people to build a clientele. Some asked if this therapist had tried chair massage or other ways of meeting people and they stated they had not.
In essence, this new therapist had not “put themselves out there.”
What Does it Mean to Put Yourself Out There?
At the end of the day, all marketing is about is matching up what you are selling to someone’s greater need or want. With that in mind, marketing is not about where to find clients; it’s about helping clients find you by meeting that need even if just for a moment.
If this sounds like you, here is what putting yourself out there could mean to you:
• Getting uncomfortable by asking for opportunity and experiencing fear and success.
• Physically packing up massage equipment and going to where the clients are.
• Fostering opportunities to meet people that require you to go outside of your comfort zone.
• Asking people to come to your table knowing that some will say yes, and others will say no—and then you keep asking.
• Contacting the owner of a business and requesting if you can set up a massage chair in an office or location designed to meet people you don’t know.
My experience is when it is uncomfortable, it is making you put yourself “out there”—in real life with real people for a real opportunity. For massage, unless you can get your hands on someone, they don’t know you can meet their needs.
Think Like Your Client
We must remember that while we understand massage therapy is a skilled professional touch, clients view it as an intimate personal service. From the viewpoint of your client, how you market massage services is to have the opportunity to put them at immediate ease with you in a safe way.
In order for clients to feel comfortable with a stranger touching their body in a therapeutic way, there needs to be a certain level of reassurance that they are in safe hands. For that reason alone, potential clients rarely contact a massage therapist without a referral or personal knowledge of who the therapist is.
There are two basic requirements for effective marketing to work for the self-employed therapist:
1. A potential client needs the opportunity to sample your services; They need for you to touch them and talk to them so they can get a sense of who you are. If they are comfortable with you and your touch, you have fostered a professional relationship that can be positive.
2. A potential client feels a high level of comfort scheduling an appointment when someone has personally referred you to them (business card, word of mouth).
When either of these options occurs, the potential for a client to schedule is much greater. Ultimately, you are responsible for creating both of these opportunities, whether you are employed or self-employed.
A suggestion I give therapists when venturing out into the community is to start requesting opportunity in locations where the therapist has something in common with the potential client.
It is less nerve-racking and much more comfortable to place yourself into an environment where communication can be more natural because both you and the potential client have something to discuss. It also helps you understand the client’s body better and therefore have more knowledgeable application.
Starting out with something in common creates rapport and builds trust and confidence faster and easier with people you have just met.
Another way to approach this is to choose places where it is evident that potential clients could benefit from massage, such as a doctor’s office. You could request this from an office where you are a patient.
Or look at donating chair massage to lunch meetings for global community organizations. Look into the chamber of commerce for monthly meetings and offer chair massage at those meetings armed with business cards, a great touch and a smile.
The Power of the Invitation
Another marketing solution I offer those I coach is to invite people to try out your services for a free half hour.
I’ve met acceptance and resistance this idea because there are varying toward opinions about giving away your free time. However, here is my thinking:
I would rather have something potential caused than wonder how to find someone to get on my table and not having someone. Inviting someone provides the opportunity to touch and show this potential client the value of your service.
And if you think about this concept from a marketing standpoint, use business-building strategy by selecting people whom you know can pay for your services and will potentially promote you. Use your time wisely and think through why you would invite specific people. And of course, give them the best massage you can while they are there.
Gaining a clientele requires strategy and commitment. An opportunity to touch people will always be your best marketing solution. When you make the effort to put yourself into those opportunities where your potential clients are, those people will show up on your table.
About the Author
Amy Bradley Radford, LMT, BCTMB, has been a massage therapist and educator for more than 25 years. She is the owner of Massage Business Methods and the developer of PPS (Pain Patterns and Solutions) Seminars CE courses and an NCBTMB Approved CE Provider.