Posted on July 8, 2021
How to get clients as a massage therapist is always the first order of business for any practice. Attracting clients is especially important for a new practice but don’t limit it to that. You’ll need these skills when expanding or reinvigorating an existing practice. The ability to successfully market your business comes in handy when you have to deal with competition (especially when going up against franchises like Massage Envy).
There are numerous approaches to getting clients as a massage therapist:
- Networking and community engagement
- Cross promotion
- Directory listings
- Client referrals
None of these is a silver bullet, however. You’ll need to work hard and use a combination of some or all of them.
1. Network and become active in your local community
Massage therapy is an inherently localized business. Nearly all your clients will come from within a ten mile radius. A massage therapist who is known by more people gets more clients than one who isn’t. Networking in your local community goes a long way in putting your name out there. Attend housing association meetings, track meets, high school games, charity events, and the like. Move around and talk to people.
In social situations, “What do you do?” is bound to come up. “I am a massage therapist,” is the logical answer. The other person might mention their job and you’ll spend some time chit chatting about both your professions. You educate the person on the benefits of massages and conclude with a smooth, “You should come in for a massage some time.” Consider including a friends and family discount to sweeten the deal.
You should also consider setting up a stall or offering massage coupons at an athletic event like a track meet or softball game. Free massages for the winners and discounted ones for the fans. This approach also gives you the benefit of publicity.
2. Get local health-focused businesses to promote you
The health and beauty-focused businesses in your area are perfect spots to get new clients as a massage therapist. They have no reason to be hostile as long as you aren’t directly competing with them. The gym owner or dance studio owner probably won’t mind sending their sore clients your way. Your local hairdressers also wouldn’t have any qualms about sending their clients to you for further pampering.
You will need to get on the good side of these business owners if you want them to promote you though. Offering them free massages to demonstrate your skill is a good approach to get them raving to their clients about you. Alternatively, you can have them pass out your fliers. You can also have them raffle vouchers for free massages to their clients. The winners will hopefully come back as paying customers and the others might decide to check you out even if they don’t win.
3. Get listed in business directories as a massage therapist
Google has become the first stop for anyone looking for information these days. If someone, let’s say Christine, wants a massage, she’ll whip out her phone and google massage services in her town. It would be a shame if you didn’t appear on that first page of results.
You will need to create a business account with both Google and Yelp. These two are the most consulted online directories so they’ll do just fine in the meantime. If you have been operating for a while, you’re probably already listed on Google and Yelp so you’ll need to claim your business page.
Claiming your business on Google and Yelp enables you to correct inaccuracies and omissions in your business listing such as operating hours and contact information. You should also link back to your website (and make sure that your website conveys professionalism). On top of that, you get to engage with reviewers and address their concerns.
You should also encourage clients to rate you on Google. Getting rated by more people helps get you ranked higher on Google. A higher ranking and the consequent search discoverability helps you land more clients googling massage therapists in your area.
4. Attract clients to your massage therapy practice by advertising
A good advertising campaign can bring you a lot of business. Online advertising is the best bet because it’s both much cheaper and less intrusive than ads on traditional media.
If you advertise on Google for example, people in your area will only see your ad if they search for massage services. In addition to the high degree of ad targeting, Google only charges you ($1 to $2) when someone clicks your ad: guaranteeing a pretty high clicks to sales ratio. Google doesn’t have a minimum budget requirement either so you can start with as little as $10 a day.
5. Ask for referrals from your clients
Word of mouth remains the most reliable form of marketing. People will trust recommendations from family and friends far more than any ad. That means turning your customers into brand ambassadors. The easiest way is just asking them to refer you to their friends and relatives. You can offer customers a range of incentives to bring in their friends.
6. Be consistent
No amount of marketing can sustain poor business practices. Continuously attracting clients and building loyalty as a massage therapist will rely entirely on your ability to consistently provide an excellent service. Satisfied clients will keep returning and urge their friends to come along as well. The unsatisfied ones will do the exact opposite: stay away and poison their friends against you.
Remember that attracting clients to your massage therapy practice won’t always be easy. There will be some rejection and you will have to take that in stride.
The first question you should always ask is, “Who needs my services?” The obvious answer to that is that almost everybody needs massage therapy. But that is a tough target to meet so you can narrow it down to, “Who needs my services the most?” These will usually be those who routinely suffer from muscle soreness: the middle-aged, the elderly, and the physically active. Target them first because they’ll put up the least resistance. Widen your net after that.