The fall and winter seasons are the busiest time for many massage therapists. Gift-certificate sales can be brisk for the holidays, and massage therapists may see more new clients compared to any other time of the year.
Although you can't directly charge for your services as a student, you can still receive valuable experience marketing gift certificates. Experimenting with gift-certificate promotions can do a number of things for you as you look toward building your practice.
- It will get people in the habit of thinking of your services as a wonderful gift.
- When people come to see you with a gift certificate, it helps you build your list of contacts and potential clients.
- By learning how to market gift certificates now, you won't lose valuable time learning this skill once your practice is up and running.
- You'll make mistakes, learning what to do and, maybe more importantly, what not to do.
- It will help you learn how to talk to clients about how you can help them as well as other people they know.
As many massage therapists will tell you, speaking to clients about booking their next session or buying a gift certificate can feel awkward in the beginning. "I'm a massage therapist, not a salesperson," you might say. While this may be correct, it is also true that if you care about clients feeling better, you will encourage them to receive bodywork. This goes for their friends and family, too.
Create a Gift-Certificate Promotion
How do you express the idea that giving a gift certificate is giving the gift of health?
- Start by researching why people seek massage. Ask your friends or clinic clients why they carve time from their schedules to receive massage. Listen carefully. They are giving you clues to what motivates people to get massage—and, consequently, to buy gift certificates for other people.
- Link those concerns to the benefits of what you do. Here are some examples of complaints massage therapists frequently hear:
- I'm stressed to the max.
- My back (neck, feet, shoulders) hurt.
- I'm exhausted and drained.
3. Now draw the conclusion: Massage can help reduce pain, relieve stress and help people feel better as a whole. The secret is you have to tell them that.
Practice Marketing at the Clinic
Give yourself a practice marketing assignment at your student clinic.
- When appropriate, gently remind clients gift certificates are available.
- Ask if you can put up a gift-certificate display. On it, display the clinic's gift certificates along with messages that will speak to the clinic's clientele. Adjust the messages below to echo the concerns you heard from your clients.
a. We live in a fast-paced world. To keep going, the people you care for need a time and space to let go. Give the gift of massage.
b. Lighten up for the holidays. If your special someone has not been feeling his best, make the holidays better for everyone. Give him (or her!) the gift of massage.
c. Have a friend or loved one in pain? Give the comfort of massage therapy.
d. Reduce your holiday shopping stress. Give a beautiful gift certificate to a friend or loved one.
- Market clinic gift certificates online, using some of the same messages you used in your display.
Practice Using Gift Certificates on Your Own
If you are doing practice massage before receiving your license, consider offering friends and family members a chance to give the gift of your services to others—for no charge, of course. Make or purchase gift certificates. Give them to some of the people you have practiced on, but be selective. Give them to people you enjoy working on, either because they respond well to your favorite techniques or because you are especially able to help them with their particular challenges. These are the people who are most likely to use gift certificates, and who are most likely to pass them on to other people who will respond well to your work.
Gift certificates are basic to marketing bodywork at the holidays, and that goes for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, too. Get a jump-start on understanding marketing gift certificates. Do what you can to practice now, so you have the skills later as you begin to build your practice.