As you begin to establish your practice, you'll be focused on how to get more people on your massage table. Most of them will like what you do so much they'll come back. These are the people who will be your bread and butter, and to keep them scheduling, you should stay in touch with them between sessions.
Postcard mailings are an effective and inexpensive way to do this. Postcards are more likely to be read and kept than other kinds of mail, and they are also likely to be passed on to others, supporting the word-of-mouth marketing so many massage therapists depend on.
What to do with postcards
Using postcards, you can send discount coupons, appointment reminders, session follow-ups, quick informal notes, announcements for events or specials---almost anything. Postcard are also a great way to let your clients and associates know they are important, so send postcards wishing a happy birthday, thanking them for a referral or following up with some information you promised. Also, if you want to make an announcement, such as introducing your new practice, adding a new service or reminding people you have gift certificates available for the holidays, a quick postcard will keep everyone up to date.
Focus your message
David Walker, a massage therapist who has marketed his practice in numerous ways, believes postcards are an inexpensive way to stay in touch. He adds highly focused postcard promotions work exceptionally well for him.
Not long ago, Walker created three promotions:
- An afternoon special for clients with flexible schedules.
- A "get back on the table" message to inactive 9-to-5ers.
- A discount offer to his inactive house-call clients.
From experience, Walker found that giving a percentage discount doesn't get much of a response. What does work is such a message as, "Buy a 60-minute massage, get 30 minutes FREE." (He's a big believer in all caps.) Walker says, "The message you put out is important. If it doesn't work, something was probably wrong with the wording."
Reward your referrals
Seventy percent of people in the U.S. are significantly more inclined to buy something recommended to them by family or a friend. Positive word-of-mouth support from your clients to their friends and family provides the best advertising for your practice.
At her massage and Reiki business, Victoria Hux piles a stack of "Thank you for your referral" postcards on the office desk, so every therapist has access to them. When a new client has been referred by another client, the therapist will mail her a postcard with a $10 discount offer. The client who made the referral then comes in for an appointment with the discount card in hand.
Clients really respond to the program, Hux says. "It's about the same overall cost as an ad in area papers," she says, "but it's more effective because Mrs. Smith is spreading the word about her satisfaction with my service."
Remember to include these three items on your promotional postcard.
- An attention-getting headline. This can be a special offer, an announcement of your new practice or just, "It's been awhile ...."
- A call to action. Tell people what to do. Some examples include: "Call before the 15th;" "Call to get the time slot you want;" and "Get $5 off when you reschedule."
- Your contact information. Don't forget your phone number, e-mail address and other necessary contact items.
It's also important to keep your mailing list current by using first-class postage. Undeliverable postcards will be returned to you to help you update your mailing list. Here's how it works:
- Make sure your return address is in the upper left corner of the addressing area.
- Print the words, "Return Service Requested" directly below the return address in at least 8-point type. (The postal service has to be able to see the message.)
Building a new business with a postcard
Here's a last word from Jon Petersen, L.M.T.: In 2008, after only a year in business, he sent 320 Christmas postcards announcing this offer: "Buy a gift certificate by Dec. 31, and get the second one for 25% off." By February, his mailing list grew to 400. In addition, half the bookings after the holidays were new clients due to gift-certificate sales, an impressive boost for his fledgling business. Petersen says, "People delete e-mail. With postcards, you have a nice-looking card in your hand."