Word-of-mouth referrals are a massage therapist's most essential marketing tool. But how do you generate buzz about your practice? The answer lies in networking.
Networking is essential for massage therapists, whether one is in private practice, runs an outcall business or is employed by a franchise or clinic. The best way to let people know about the benefits of massage is to educate them firsthand.
Various networking opportunities exist today, and with the increasing popularity of social networking, you can reach people at any time of day, any day of the week.
If you're a massage student, network with classmates and clients that visit the school's student clinic. Let your family and friends know how massage can benefit them. Locate a massage therapist in your community who can serve as your mentor. Always be ready to talk about the benefits of bodywork, whether you're in a line at the supermarket, bank or shopping center.
If you've graduated from a massage program and are an established practitioner, contact community organizations and ask to provide a presentation to the group's members. For example, contact your local chamber of commerce or homeowner's association. You can also contact your city's public library, as well as cultural, business or religious organizations to see if they would be willing to let you speak to its members. Remember, always have business cards and an appointment book on hand, as you may book a few sessions after you've completed your presentation about massage therapy.
If you specialize in a technique, such as sports massage, then network with people who can benefit from your specialized training. With sports massage, for example, you could network with school athletic departments and sports clubs.
Establishing relationships with other local businesses can also provide a great networking opportunity. Locate complementary businesses in your area, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist's office, nail salon or spa, and ask to leave your business cards displayed there. In exchange, you can also house their business cards in your practice, which can lead to a prosperous partnership for referrals.
Social networking is also key if you want top stay visible on the Internet. Most people nowadays use the Internet, not the Yellow Pages, to locate a massage practitioner in their area, so it is necessary to create an online presence if you want to be seen by potential clients. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter are most popular, and you can create either a personal profile or profile of your massage business. When creating your profile, be sure to include all of your contact information, such as phone number, website and hours of availability, and include news and articles about the health benefits of massage.
You can also use these sites to promote any specials you may offer, as well as let people know about a vacancy in your schedule due to a client's last-minute cancellation. Interact with your audience and be approachable. If clients feel comfortable asking you questions and interacting with you on a social networking site, they may feel more comfortable asking questions, buying products or upgrading to additional services in your practice.
Other social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, allow you to network with other massage professionals and potential clients by joining in discussions and electing to join various topic-themed groups.
By being prepared and willing to reach out to potential clients, you will be able to generate the buzz necessary to maintain a thriving and successful practice.