Archive for September, 2010
I’m often asked to reveal the most powerful marketing strategy you can use to market your massage practice. While I would love to give you one tried and true marketing strategy that will work for you without a doubt, I hesitate.
Why do I hesitate? Because the most powerful marketing strategy has little to do with advertising, web sites, direct mail, email marketing, referrals, or even video and blogs.
No, before any of those things will really have any impact on your massage practice you’ve got to do one thing. You have to uncover and communicate a way in which your massage practice is different from every other massage practice in your area. Get out of the commodity business and stake your claim on a simple idea or position in the mind of your prospective clients.
Ways to Differentiate Yourself
In other words you need to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack. Let’s look at a number of ways to claim a unique point of difference – your brand.
1. Service – Many times this can be the packaging of a service as a product. Massage is usually delivered on an hourly basis. But what if too that same hour of massage and packaged our massage sessions based on an outcome, with defined deliverables and fixed package price.
If you work with athletes and you know it usually takes 4-5 sessions to help relive a rotator cuff injury, why not package that as a 5-session massage package where at the end of the 5 sessions your client will reach some outcome that you have set up at the beginning. Or perhaps you work with pregnant woman and you think it is ideal for a woman to come in once a month during her pregnancy. Why not package this at 9-session pregnancy massage.
This is a very effective way to differentiate a service offering. Don’t forget to give the service a powerful name!
2. Determine Your Niche – Carve out a niche or two and become the most dominant player serving that niche. A really nice bonus to this approach is you can usually raise your prices dramatically when you specialize in this manner. Need more information about how to target your ideal client (i.e. niche)? Check out my ebook Your Target Market, Finding Your Ideal Client.
3. Create an Irresistible Offer – Become known by an offer you make! Like this one… an accountant offers his tax preparation clients a 100% refund on their preparation fee when they refer four new clients. They are the 100% refund tax guys.
4. Solve a Problem – What do prospects/clients fear or seem to believe about massage? Focus on communicating how you have the solution. When I was younger I hated going to the dentist – and usually avoided it – because going to the dentist meant pain. But then I found Dr. Ternisky who advertises “Painless Dentistry”. I no longer avoid going to the dentist. Here is another example from our general contractor who just did our roof. When I was looking at this general contractor’s advertising, I noticed that he promoted the fact that he owned more ShopVacs than any other general contractor on the planet. I was intrigued so I asked him about it. He told me that what his clients appreciated the most was the way his crews cleaned up at the end of the day.
5. Message of Value – Many times there are things that you do – extras that you provide – that don’t get communicated. Your positioning might just rest in more effectively communicating what you do. I know an office furniture dealer that has adopted the message – We Make Your Business More Valuable – to communicate all the things they bring to the party. Now, everything they do is focused on delivering on that statement. Everyone else in the industry just sells furniture. Do you just do massage? Or do you give your client their life back?
6. Guarantee – Can you offer a guarantee so strong that no one else would dream of doing it? You probably guarantee your work anyway, you just don’t say so. Come out and boldly announce that you guarantee results and watch what happens!
7. Customer Service – When you think of superior customer service in the retail industry, what chain comes to mind? I think everyone knows the story of the customer service provided by Nordstrom’s. If Nordstom’s can do, you can too! Create your own over the top customer service and word of mouth advertising will flow liberally. One of the greatest ways to kick this off is to over deliver on your first customer contact. Give them something more than you promised — extraordinary service, extra touches during the service like a heated towel or eye pillow, a gift, a discount for a related service.
8. Develop a Unique Touch – You have probably heard that you should under promise and over deliver. What better way to over deliver by being generous. A few years ago, I remember that a friend told me about her financial planner. He has his client’s car detailed in his parking lot while they are having their annual review. What a unique touch! I bet his clients can’t help but rave to their friends. Mine did!
Clues to Uncovering Your Difference
1. Look at your current clients. What common elements exist among your best clients?
2. Interview your clients. Ask them if they can tell you why they chose to work with, why they stay, why they refer?
3. Study your competitors more closely. What do they do that you could do better, what don’t they offer they you could, how do they position themselves?
Communicate that Difference
Once you choose your strategy or combination of strategies to differentiate your massage practice, then focus all of your advertising and promotion around shouting about that difference.
Commit to it, stay at it and resist the temptation to wander off in the next new direction. Building a brand, and that’s what I’m talking about, takes time and patience. The payoff, however, is what differentiates the winners from the losers in this big marketing game.
You can have anything you want in your business (for realz!), but until you can articulate exactly what that is, no one can help you get it.
Got thoughts or feedback here? What is your differentiating factor? Leave a comment and let me know!
“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” –Muhammad Ali
How do you explain Friendship?
So you want to know what to charge for your massage services. You’ve compared and looked at what your competitors charge within a 5 mile radius of your zip code. You figure if you price just a little lower then what they charge, you’ll get the business.
The problem with this kind of thinking is (at a minimum) two fold:
1) Someone will always be cheaper than you.
2) How do you know that what your competition is doing is successful unless you sit down and have a candid conversation with them?
You don’t. Every business owner and entrepreneur struggles with how to price their services (and products).
If we were selling comparable items – like the same brand of toothpaste – that would be one thing.
But we are not. We are exchanging our talent, education and time for people to invest in us.
We are conditioned as consumers to compare apples to apples. But in reality, our profession does not allow for this. How you see, perceive, work on a client is different from what I, or any other massage therapist “does” in the same circumstance. But you already know that. That is why it is important to really think about your pricing strategy.
So if you know all of this, then why do you really want to be the cheapest massage therapist in town? Price alone attracts a certain level and quality clientele. If you want to be the one to deal with bargain hunters, who will do just that – search for a bargain and haggle with you about your prices and what they can get every step of the way – then pricing below your competition will certainly earn you that status.
But if you’re looking for respect and to be valued for your knowledge, healing ability, heart and soul, then think carefully about what you are worth and the value you bring to the (massage) table. That, in itself, will sell the client on working with you.
Whatever you’re thinking in terms of a starting price point, multiply that by 10% and start there. The majority of massage therapists undervalue and under-invest in themselves. While this alone does not tell me that you are charging what you’re worth, it is a good starting point. This guarantees that you are at least 10% higher than what you were originally going to charge. Numbers are just that, numbers.
If you can’t proclaim to the world that you are worth your services, then they won’t proclaim it either, and they’ll be visiting the massage therapist 3 doors down from you.
Pricing is not just about the numbers. Pricing is a series of steps and research – within you – that gets you where you want to be. Before you can set any price or number on your services (or products), you need to fully and honestly answer these questions: (1) who are you? (2) what are you about? (3) who do you want to serve? (4) what value and experience do you bring to your clients? All of these variables have an impact on your price – not just what your competitors are charging or how good you are (or think you are) as a massage therapist.
Learn to charge what you’re worth and not blindly follow the industry standards.
I would love to hear what you charge for massage and how did you come up with that price? After reading this post, will you make any changes? So take a minute or two and post in the comments below.
“Worry puts tomorrow’s clouds over today’s sunshine.” –Linda Roisum
Today I wanted to talk to you about some very important points that I see us, as massage therapists, not taking seriously enough. If you’ve been with me for any length of time or are one of my students, you know I constantly preach – charge what you’re worth.
The question is: What are YOU worth?
At a meeting the other day, a marketing consultant opened her talk by asking the group, “What are you worth?” She went on to discuss all the different ways we minimize our worth or discount our value in desperate attempts to close the sale. After all the pitfalls of pricing and selling were laid out, she closed the talk by asking again, “What are you worth?” The responses around the room were very entertaining as people began to realize or give themselves permission to adjust their prices to make a profit!
As a wakeup call for your own massage business, I want to give you some options to consider ensuring your pricing delivers the profitability you deserve.
1. Educate your customers. When prospects approach you or call/email you for your prices, this is a buying signal. They are telling you they are ready to buy and willing to spend money to purchase your expertise. – Provide superior service and they won’t look elsewhere and won’t blink at your price. Excellence is priceless.
2. Many prospects perceive value and price as equal. A lower price can actually hurt your credibility and sales because they associate the best quality products and services with premium pricing. Listen to your clients. Do some competitive research and be sure you are not shorting yourself.
3. Periodically calculate your profit margin to be sure what you charge, after expenses and overhead, pays you a good living. Covering expenses, overhead and payroll is not enough.
4. Periodically do the numbers to be sure that the actual cost/hour and price/hour give you the necessary profit margin.
5. There are ways to keep your prices fixed to maintain value and yet be flexible. Add the flexibility by designing different packages.
6. Set your fees just a bit above what you feel comfortable asking for. Then, bump them up incrementally until clients complain or you stop getting repreats.
7. When asked, be upfront about your prices, and then zip it. Do not apologize for your prices, defend your prices, or justify how you derived the price.
8. Yes, there are strategic times when negotiating/discounting a price is in your best interest. For example: a unique packaging of services for a new type of client (i.e. corporate seated massage), or the introduction of a new service (or product).
You have to appreciate what you are worth before your clients will. Decide what you are worth in the marketplace. Be sure your fee or rate has a profitability factor built in. You are worth it.
Your services and skills are worth more than you believe. Notice I did not say “think”? I want you to believe in yourself and your work. Until you believe in what you stand for, you’ll always limit yourself to the true freedom and wealth that comes as a result of offering your unique talents.
Just for a moment, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel, write down what you believe you are worth. Put a number that represents what you are worth for each one of your services. No matter how crazy a number, if you feel it’s $10,000, write it down. Don’t rationalize it. Just do it.
Post it where you will frequently see it and sit with it for the next 48 hours.
Part of getting what you want to be is learning to ask the right questions. Instead of asking “why?”, start asking “why not?”
Welcome to Motivation Mondays! Here is your thought for the week.
Imagine there is a bank account that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day.
Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course?
Each of us has such a bank. It’s name is TIME.
Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.
Every night it writes off as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to a good purpose.
It carries over no balance. It allows no over draft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day.
If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no drawing against “tomorrow.”
You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success!
The clock is running!! Make the most of today.
Last week, I talked about six tips to help you avoid burn out. Here are six more:
1. Manage your time. Poor time management is another thing we do that leads to burnout. Set regular business hours. Make appointments with yourself to get things done – and keep them! Being on time counts, show up promptly for appointments and expect others to do the same.
2. Stop blaming yourself or others. If you’re playing the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” game, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your attitude. Blaming yourself or others for things that have gone wrong doesn’t help. What does? Learn from your experiences and make changes to ensure that you get the results you want the next time.
3. Value yourself by establishing boundaries and limits. Learn how to do it in a way that clear and consistent. Don’t give away too much of your time. Let people know your policies and procedures. Be upfront with what’s acceptable and what’s not. Learn how to say no.
4. Deal with your emotions. Keeping your feelings inside usually leads to trouble. If you are feeling any kind of negative emotion, don’t deny it. Instead, learn how to acknowledge your feelings, be up front with them; and deal with the underlying causes.
5. Laugh, smile and enjoy the ride! Life is too short to worry and be serious all the time. Find ways to make your work fun and enjoyable.
6. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help. Everybody needs a little help once in a while. You can’t do everything yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or associates for help, or hire a professional when needed.
As a massage therapist in private practice, it is quite likely that you did not chose your profession because you wanted to be a business person. As a result, it can be challenging to go into business for yourself and be successful. Taking time to prepare and plan as you build your private practice will help you avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes. Below are ten areas to address to help ensure your success.
1. Get Your Life in Excellent Shape
Massage therapists and healing professionals know that our personal lives affect our professional lives, yet many who are struggling to market a private practice fail to take this into account. Look at all aspects of your life and determine what seems to be working for you and what needs to change. Determine any activities you need to reduce or eliminate in order to have the time and energy to market your practice. Examine your lifestyle and personal work habits and see where improvement needs to be made. The more your life is on order, the more time and energy you will have for marketing and building a practice.
2. Develop a Financial Plan
Before you start marketing your practice, assess your financial situation and make a financial plan. Make sure you have funds from other sources until your practice becomes established. Do not put your self in a position where you are desperate to secure clients in order to pay your bills. Potential clients may sense your desperation and may not be eager to hire you. Feeling secure financially will allow you to market and build your practice with greater confidence and ease.
3. Know that You Are a Business Owner
It is essential that you start seeing yourself as a business owner if you haven’t made this mind-shift already. You must pay careful attention to all aspects of your business–your revenue and expenses, how you spend your time, methods of attracting clients, and developing operating systems that allow your business to run smoothly.
4. Develop a Vision for Your Massage Practice
It’s difficult to get somewhere if you don’t know where you are going. Develop a detailed vision of what you want your massage practice to look like in 6 months, 1 year and 5 years and write it down. How many clients do you want to have? What days and hours do you want to work? How much income do you need/want? The more clarity and specificity you have, the more likely you will turn your vision into reality.
5. Develop at Least One Specialization
Massage Therapists and healing professionals new to private practice often fear that if they are too narrow in the type of services they offer, they will rule out many other potential clients. The opposite is actually more often true as people tend to want to hire specialists. The more targeted you are in marketing your practice, the more you will stand out from others and become known for your expertise. In addition, it’s easier to market your practice to a particular group if you know where to find them.
6. Determine Any Negative Attitudes and Fears You Have About Marketing
Many massage therapists, and healing professionals are uncomfortable with the marketing aspect of being in private practice. They see their role as to be there for others and not to promote themselves. Our repeated exposure to negative and manipulative types of marketing further contributes to the belief that marketing ourselves is somehow inappropriate. Any negative attitudes and fears you have about marketing a practice need to be eliminated. You can and should find ways to market with integrity and authenticity. Be proud of your services and have confidence that you have something to offer people that they need and want.
7. Develop a Marketing Plan
In order to market your massage practice successfully you must have an integrated marketing plan. One of the most common mistakes helping and healing professionals make is trying a few methods of marketing your practice haphazardly, and when the results are not immediate, they erroneously assume the techniques don’t work. Flourishing massage practices are frequently built upon a number of marketing strategies that work together over time. To market effectively you must make yourself repeatedly visible to potential clients and referral sources so that they get to know and trust you.
8. Choose Marketing Methods That Excite You
Take some time to explore and develop marketing methods that suit your unique talents and interests. There are numerous ways to promote your practice. To get ideas, read books, take courses, ask other professionals how they built their practices, or hire a marketing consultant or coach. Marketing can be an enjoyable and creative process that provides a balance to the work you do with your clients. Find a way to take pleasure in this aspect of your business and you will be more motivated to do it.
9. Make a Commitment To Build Your Practice
Typically it can take anywhere from 1-3+ years to build a full practice. Exactly how long will depend on several factors including the size of your current network, how effectively you market, the demand for your area of expertise, and how much time you spend developing your practice. Make a commitment to take action steps on a regular basis. It’s best if you set aside a specific amount of time on a weekly basis for marketing your practice, and try to stick to this schedule even when you become discouraged or become tempted to allow other things to take priority.
If you want to learn low- and no-cost methods to develop your massage practice, check out the second edition of my book Creating a Prosperous Practice, Spending Little or No Money Marketing.
Welcome to Motivation Mondays! Here is your quote for the week.
“It’s never crowded along the extra mile.” Wayne Dyer
Many people experience burnout at some point in their lives. Massage Therapists are even more likely to fall prey to burnout especially when they are self-employed because the buck stops with them. If you feel as if you’re starting to burn out here are some things you can do to avoid it.
1. Take care of #1. If you’re run down, you’ll burn out faster. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat right, exercise and de-stress on a regular basis.
2. Make the time to do nothing! We all need to take time to relax, refresh and replenish. Don’t keep pushing yourself. Keep regular business hours and take breaks during your work day. Make sure to schedule in time off and vacations on a regular basis. You’ll come back with a fresh outlook and perspective.
3. Get back in touch with the things you value. Is your work fulfilling and meaningful for you? If not, check in with your values. What’s missing? Where are you compromising? What needs to be eliminated? What are you merely tolerating? Re-assess and re-adjust your priorities as needed. If you work for yourself, you’re in control. Make the choices you want to make by honoring what’s important for you.
4. Think out of the box and challenge yourself consistently. If work has become a chore or you’re in a rut, try spicing things up a bit! Find innovative ways to do mundane tasks, create new products or services to add to your offering, improve performance, or tweak what you do best and make it even better.
5. Establish realistic expectations for what you can and cannot accomplish. If you find that you’re driving yourself too hard it may be time to let go of unrealistic expectations and readjust. Shorten your to-do list, give yourself some slack when needed and know when to let up on yourself and others.
6. Learn how to communicate clearly. Resolve conflicts, don’t run from them. Let people know what you expect from them, and ask them what they expect from you. Be clear and concise with what you say, and how you say it. Listen closely to the people around you, it will teach them to listen closely to you.