The massage and bodywork industry can be tough. Unless you’re a full-time staff member at a spa, gym, physical therapy or other medical practice, building a base of regular clients can take a considerable, and at times, herculean effort.
There are myriad ways to get your name out there and build up buzz — but with so many options, it can be hard to work out which is the right approach for you.
And trying a hodgepodge of half-baked marketing tactics will give you a terrible return on your investment.
But not to worry! We've got some guidance to help you narrow your options, and focus your energy where it can make the most impact on your practice.
(By the way, to dive further in depth on these topics, get our Free Guide: 5 Steps to Your Massage Practice's Most Profitable Month Ever)
Referrals: The Power of the Good Review
If you make a client happy enough to come back, chances are they are probably going to sing your praises. If a friend of theirs is talking about how their shoulder is aching, your client is going to pipe up and throw your name out there. And clients tend to refer new clients that are a lot like themselves — so your best referrals will often come from your best clients.
So how do you ensure that your clients are having a positive experience?
By asking for feedback and addressing concerns. You’re not going to make everyone happy 100% of the time, but sometimes a little adjustment here or there based on clients feedback can make all the difference.
Your Marketing Starts with Client Experience
Before you start your session, have a checklist that you run through to make sure the client is comfortable.
- How is the temperature?
- How is the lighting?
- What about the volume of the music?
- Is there anything happening with the client on that day that you should know about?
While you may think you have the client’s preferences down pat, acknowledge their standard preferences, while checking in again, maybe something like, "Is 78 degrees good for today? It’s a little chilly outside — I can adjust it or turn on the table heater if you'd like."
You can simultaneously show that you’ve been paying attention, and that you’re ready to make adjustments to suit their needs.
Following Up After Sessions
Put together a standard email to go out to clients after their visit — a low-pressure list with a couple of questions and a prompt for suggestions. Obviously, if someone suggests that their experience would’ve been greatly improved by a bottle of Bollinger champagne or a complimentary pedicure...well, you can’t please everyone.
Pay attention to little things that you can adjust immediately.
Run through your pre-session checklist again: temperature, pressure, music, lighting. If mid-session the client started to get cold, you’ll know for next time to raise the heat at the start, or do a quick extra check-in along the way. The important part is conveying to your client that you're there to make them happy, and want your space to be welcoming and cozy. Like your mom told you, it's the thought that counts.
Print Marketing & Foot Traffic Visibility
As we work exclusively with small wellness and fitness businesses, for many of our clients, we don't typically recommend allocating much of their limited budget toward print marketing — online marketing is insanely effective when done right, and often a better investment than print.
But for a personal service business like yours, print is a crucial component to growing your practice.
You need materials for your existing clients to hand to friends and family, and to hand out yourself when you're networking.
Print marketing should reflect the tone you’re trying to convey to your clients. You want it to be beautiful and worth keeping, so that people are less likely to toss it. Drop brochures, flyers, and business cards in relevant area businesses. Think about convenient commutes! If you’re in a downtown or urban area, what buses or trains let off nearest to your business? Where are people boarding them coming from? It might be worthwhile to drop some materials along the route. In a rural area? Get to local business and drop of fliers, and use community boards.
As for signage: get out there! Put a sign up out front, and make any windows noticeable and inviting. Make passers-by take notice.
If you're ready to go further, our free massage marketing guide I mentioned above has recommendations and a guide for your print marketing.
Social Media Marketing:
Organic & Paid
The majority of the marketing that wellness businesses are doing these days is online, because that's where your new clients are too.
I’d quote statistics about how often people are checking their Facebook feeds, but it’s too terrifying for me. Marketing on Facebook is simply a non-negotiable for your massage practice — love it or hate it, we've made our clients hundreds of thousands of dollars using Facebook marketing. You simply can't afford not to be marketing your massage practice on Facebook.
In the years since Facebook bought Instagram in 2012, they've folded Instagram marketing opportunities into the Facebook platform, which can be useful and intuitive.
Organic Social Media Marketing: Own it!
I'm not talking about pesticide-free.
This covers all your social media marketing that you don't pay Facebook or other sites for.
Your starting point is posting regularly to share content, which keeps you in people’s feeds and on their minds. It's also a great way for you to establish your expertise, which will expand your base of followers, and reach your clients with content and information you want them to have.
Most of your content should not be directly promotional — aim for roughly 60% of your posts to be informative and useful for current or potential clients. Think about the pages you like to follow, and the ones you hide. I bet you run quickly from the ones that are always shouting for you to buy something.
Part of your organic marketing is just engaging with people. It's really important to be responsive and conversational. Answer any questions clients might have. React to their comments when appropriate. Provide a helpful tip or link to something interesting they asked about. Keep the doors of engagement swinging in both directions. The more you interact with your audience, the more likely your content is to show in their feed.
Want more free guidance on how to step up your DIY social media marketing?
Paid Social Media Marketing on Facebook & Instagram
There are a two major avenues to drive traffic to your website and build Likes of your Facebook Business Page with a more hands-on approach with paid options from Facebook — Boosted Posts, and Ads. Depending on your budget and the size of the audience or the specificity of targeting you’re looking to achieve, one may make more sense than the other.
Simple Boosted Posts
First up is Boosted Posts. Boosted Posts will be delivered to people beyond just the people who’ve liked your page, and will stay in newsfeeds longer — in fact, they'll stay for as long as you specify. You can boost something you’ve posted (as long as it’s in accord with Facebook’s advertising policies), but keep in mind that even though you’re paying to keep it in people’s newsfeeds, if you don't make it something exciting, interesting, or valuable to your potential audience, they're going to ignore it.
Facebook & Instagram Ads
Boosted Posts are actually a particular kind of ad that Facebook offers, and there are 3 ways to make them, starting with the "simple" Boosted Post.
You can go further than what that basic option provides by creating paid ads in the Facebook Ad Manager. These can be delivered on Facebook and Instagram. Your ability to narrow your targeting is far more sophisticated than it is when you’re simply boosting, and you can also create a variety of different ads beyond just boosted posts.
Facebook advertising is a huge topic, and requires care to do right.
We've seen clients throw money out the window on poorly designed and targeted ads before they came to us, and we've made our clients hundreds of thousands of dollars from Facebook ads when they're done right.
If you're going to start tackling Facebook ads, check out our course "Grow Your Massage Practice with Facebook Marketing".
Your Website: Tidy Up Your Online Home
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it at least four, maybe even five times: your website is more than just a place for you to share your schedule and contact info.
Really, it’s your online studio massage space, a marketing tool, and a place for you to establish your expertise and speak to your potential clients.
Your Website is the Center of Your Network of Tools
Done right, your website will fit into the mural of your online presence — alongside your social media and your newsletter — as a powerful tool in your client acquisition arsenal.
On your website, you can walk people through the experience of learning about who you are, what you do, and why your services are the right fit for them, and guide them into your universe by either registering for future communications via your newsletter, or by helping them book services.
There are endless options out there in terms of website platform and how to handle your buildout. Want to break down exactly what makes sense for you? Check out our comprehensive course on everything you need to know to build a website that brings in clients and makes you money.
If you’ve begun paid online marketing, you can inject code into your site to help you track visitors, their purchases, and direct ads to people who are going to be more likely to convert. Depending on your booking system, you can even track purchases that are made by folks that have seen your Facebook ads!
A Quick Word on Search Engine Optimization
There are loads of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services that we’ve seen businesses paying in the realm of $1K/month.
There's a ton that goes into SEO, a lot of which can be hard to tackle without getting technical.
But you can do the basics with a little care and attention. Most website building platforms will let you set your page titles and URLs, and you should have control over your content and headers. If you write digestible, meaningful content that includes keywords about your services in your page titles, URLs, headers and copy across your site, you’re well on your way to on-site search engine optimization.
This is the foundation of a larger SEO strategy. Being clever about how you’re talking about your services, like using key terms that people who would be interested in what you offer are looking for, is a huge step towards getting your site up to the top of the search results without shelling out extra cash every month to do so. And it'll set you up for a more tactical investment in SEO services when you're ready. (That's something we can help with, by the way.)
Where to Go from Here
We hope this has helped you start reflecting on your current marketing strategy, and begin identifying where you can streamline or make your efforts more effective. Marketing your business online is a varied landscape that's changing wildly, so just deciding where to take your first steps can be daunting.
If you haven't already, grab our free guide "5 Steps to Your Massage Practice's Most Profitable Month Ever" (seriously, it's free! whatcha waiting for?!) and get to it!