1. How to determine your target markets: www.futureLMT.com/targetmarketanalysis
2. How to determine what's most important to your potential clients: www.futureLMT.com/targetmarketprofile
People often ask, "What is the best way to market my practice?" Unfortunately, no one-size-fits-all formula works. The marketing venues you choose are best determined by your target markets.1 The trick to marketing success is to determine what's most important to your potential clients and communicate how you can meet their needs and goals.2
One quick tip: When starting out, talk with everyone about your profession - family, friends, neighbors, and people in line at the grocery store, movies and department of motor vehicles. Share your enthusiasm for your work and the results it produces. Excitement is contagious!
Although there's no magic bullet, there are some steps every new massage therapist can take to acquire and retain patients in the first three months of practice.
Give to get
Decide how many sessions you want to work each week and do it. It doesn't matter if you have to give free sessions in the beginning. You need to establish your credibility and build relationships. The way to do that is to work with as many people as possible. Actually, many companies use the stratagem of giving things away to obtain long-term customers. Think about all the book, music, and movie clubs. They lose money on their initial sales, yet they know that the lifetime value of the customer is worth it. Other large corporations bank on the reliability of this type of promotion and give away samples of their products. They are confident that once people experience the products, they'll continue to use them.
The concept of "giving to get" also holds true for massage therapists. For example, let's say that your typical "regular" client receives six massages per year and stays with you for four years. If you give away 40 sessions in one month and only 10 of those people become regular clients (or refer you regular clients), then those 40 hours of work will bring you $132,000 over the next four years. Not a bad investment at all!
Estimate how much money you want to make and how many clients it takes to reach that goal. Program your mind to expect a set number of sessions, and soon you will find that those sessions are all filled with paying clients. Nevertheless, it's best if those free sessions are given to people who are likely to become clients or actively generate word-of-mouth referrals.
Building a practice requires consistent marketing, business acumen, perseverance, and optimism. Many practitioners give up too soon because they don't receive enough positive feedback and rewards don't come as quickly as desired. While exceptions do exist, it takes most people two to three years to build a thriving practice. You might need to take a part-time job in the beginning to augment your income. The caveat is to make sure that at the outset of your career, you set specific parameters for when you will take the plunge into full-time practice (e.g., number of clients, amount of money saved). Otherwise, you may never make that transition.
Once you have your first clients, it's time to take the steps to fill your appointment book. Marketing your practice can often appear overwhelming and arduous. On the other hand, there is no rule that says you can't have fun while promoting your business. Try incorporating creative approaches to building your clientele. Keep in mind that the most effective means of marketing wellness services is through a personal approach. Given that the majority of people become your clients because of a positive first experience with you, it's vital that your marketing plan include informal ways for people to get to know you and your work.