Communication, hands-on work and laying a marketing foundation. (Oh, my!)

Published: April 25, 2012

When I stepped out of massage school I was well prepared to begin working for myself. I had a few clients lined up. I had 10 sets of linens, a gallon of oil and a great room in a chiropractic office. I knew the basics of recording my income and expenses, how to use SOAP notes and I was aware that I would be trimming my fingernails every darn day for the rest of my life.

I was pretty excited when a casual, easy chair massage job presented itself to me right away. A friend said, "I get together with a large group of women once a month and we make scrapbooks. People are all crouched over the tables all night and complain about neck and shoulder pain. You should come with your chair!"

And I did. I schlepped my massage chair and a big 'ole tip jar and I made a little sign. I met lots of women and tackled their traps and tight pecs while they asked me all the typical questions potential clients ask.

Where is your office?
Do you do deep tissue?
Where did you go to school?

Those were pretty easy to answer. But then came harder questions.

My sister saw a massage therapist for sciatica during her pregnancy, do you do that?

Hey, is massage good for kids with sleep issues?

I've still got pain from my rotator cuff surgery and the PT says I always will. Is that true?

What are "knots"?

I fumbled the answers. I over explained. I under explained. My lack of confidence in speaking about massage overshadowed my skills and ability.

Not only that, but on the rare occasion I actually responded with something fairly succinct and useful, I would then forget to give the person my business card. Or I would fail to say, "Would you like me to put you on my email list?" And I never had the courage to come right out and ask, "Would you like to make an appointment?"

I floundered for months (okay, years) until I finally got cozy talking about massage. Once I got that skill down, I realized that I hadn't set my marketing up properly, encouraging people to come to my office wasn't a smooth process. I could hand them my card, but if they lost it (I lose cards immediately) they would have a hard time finding me, since my website seemed buried deep in all the listings online, and my name is kind of hard to spell.

When I remembered to ask for an email address, I would get back to the office and wrack my brain for 2 hours trying to figure out what to say in a welcome email without being cheesy, too sales-y, or sounding stupid.

I was even more lost when I was outside a job-related environment. I've avoided even mentioning I'm a massage therapist at a social event, even when someone gave me a great opener like, "Oh, this carpal tunnel is problem is killing me!" I still smack my head when I remember that.

Once I got that all figured out, technology came along and changed everything. More people started using email daily. Fewer people answered their phones. Website platforms expanded and changed. Social media came along. Awesome! Now there are even more ways for me to fumble communication!

Clearly, it was all overwhelming. I'm guessing you've felt some of that overwhelm, too. Here's the good news: we can help you. Even better, we can help each other. No doubt you've developed a script for describing a useful shoulder stretch. I would love to hear it. I bet another massage therapist you know has a great suggestion for phrasing gift certificate sales in an email. Howsabout we all get together and make this work?

Greg Hurd and I will be presenting "Freestyle Massage and Marketing" on Saturday March 16 at the 2013 New England Regional Conference. Join us.

We've created a protocol for determining when it's appropriate to introduce massage into a conversation, how to do it, and how to apply introductory and effective hands-on work in any and every environment. We've created a checklist of marketing elements to have in place so you can smoothly refer people to your services.

Greg and I have combined his hands-on and communication genius with my marketing savvy and created the class we've always wanted to take. We've never seen a class like this before. We are revved up and excited to bring it to you, and we expect it to be revolutionary. Epic. Silly. And really, really useful.

In this workshop, every massage therapist will be a student and every massage therapist will be a teacher.

We've got videos, live role-play (it's okay if you're shy, everything is mellow and voluntary), hands-on demos, a truly useful workbook, large & small group activities, and a pretty awesome soundtrack, too.