Promotion involves the activities and materials you produce to gain visibility. This is the area to focus the majority of your marketing efforts. Some of the most effective promotional techniques include:
- holding open houses, presenting workshops and demonstrations;
- writing articles about massage or wellbeing for local newspapers, magazines, newsletters and online publications;
- having booths at community events, health expos and state fairs;
- sending direct mail pieces and newsletters;
- providing massage at conventions, store openings, sporting events, charity functions and at malls during the holidays;
- obtaining referrals;
- offering specials and incentives;
- donating your services;
- and having professional brochures, business cards and a Web site.
Personalized items such as pens embossed with your name and logo also fall under the category of promotion, even though it is commonly called specialty advertising.
Advertising is distinguished from publicity and promotions in that you must pay directly for your exposure. Some forms of advertising are display ads in publications, radio and television commercials, classified ads, billboards, phone books, and bus stop benches. Classified ads are usually the most productive form of advertising for massage therapists.
Publicity is free media exposure for your practice. It's a powerful, financially inexpensive tool for any business, yet business owners rarely take the time to work the system. Some examples of publicity are news releases, announcements, feature stories, interviews and press conferences. Publicity differs from advertising in that you don't pay for the exposure (although some media outlets do give news exposure preference to advertisers). The advantage of publicity over advertising is that this type of exposure lends more credibility. People are more likely to utilize your services if they read an article about you or watch you on television than if they see an advertisement about your business. When a respected journalist or reporter makes a positive statement about you, it has much greater impact than if you said the same thing about yourself.
Community relations increase your visibility and enhance your image. Cultivate these relations by:
- devoting your time and services to a charity or community organization;
- giving presentations in public schools (career day, health education week);
- sponsoring an activity such as "adopt a highway" or a "massage-athon" for a special cause;
- hosting your own radio show or public access cable show;
- giving free presentations; and
- becoming a spokesperson for massage.
Our Online Resources include links to more resources and ideas on public relations, promotion, advertising, publicity and community relations. See them here.