Chandigarh, India (PressExposure) July 20, 2008 -- "What is the fastest way to get clients without spending a lot of money on advertising?"
One word, referrals! Yes, it's a proven fact that if you can get your existing clients to refer their friends, family, and work colleagues etc to come and have a massage with you AND get them to start referring also, your practice will grow much faster than using any other marketing method, and at little or no cost.
This is simply because a recommendation directly from a friend, family or colleague has far more 'weight' than the most elaborate advertising campaign that money can buy. It all comes down to 'trust'.
Before someone will climb on your massage table, they must have enough trust that you are professional, that you are good at what you do and that you will take good care of them. So when a new client has a treatment with you and loves it (because you always give your best), that builds trust.
Afterwards, if they talk to someone they know (who trusts 'them') about how great the treatment was, that trust of you is transferred.
This is what makes 'word of mouth' marketing so powerful.
On top of this, if you can give your clients 'incentives' for referring people to you by starting your own Referral Rewards Program or Referral Appreciation Program, you can greatly speed up the process of getting clients into your businesses and onto your table.
If you don't currently reward your clients for their referrals, you should definitely start! Now if you're just starting out as a massage therapist, you might well be thinking, "That's all well and good James but I don't have many (or any) clients yet, so how am I supposed to get referrals from clients I don't have?" I hear you. Fortunately there is a solution. If you don't yet have many (or any) clients of your own, what you need to do is to network with other health practitioners and businesses that do.
Bottom line, we are surrounded by many other businesses/practitioners that already have hundreds, if not thousands of clients on their books that would no doubt be interested in receiving massage.
What we want is for these business owners / practitioners to give us access to their list of clients so we can attract as many of them as possible into our business and onto our table. You're probably thinking, "Why on earth would anyone ever give us access to their clients?" Well under normal circumstances they wouldn't, but if the right approach is taken, you'd be surprised at just how 'accommodating' people can be.
What I'm talking about here is Joint Ventures and while this has such a 'corporate' sound to it, it's really just businesses working together to create what I call 'win-win-win' situations for everyone involved: your business, their business and their clients/customers.
So let's get right to the point and see how as massage therapists, we can specifically use the power of joint ventures to unlock the door to a steady stream of new clients.
Many of you will already know that one of my favourite Joint Venture methods is the 'Endorsed Offer'. I have had great success using it here on the Gold Coast with Chiropractors, Naturopaths and Hairdressers.
Let me explain how it works...
The goal of this strategy is to get the Hairdresser (for example) to make an announcement to his/her list(s) of clients, 'endorsing' your massage service. The thing is, success in any business is built on solid relationships and the Hairdresser (or any suitable business for that matter) will only do this for us if 'endorsing us' will make their relationship with their clients even stronger (and in the process make them look good!).
The way we can make this happen is by creating a 'win-win win' situation by offering a valuable FREE Gift that the Hairdresser can offer to his/her clients. My favorite valuable gift to offer is a FREE 30 minute massage. The Hairdresser gets to offer this to his/her list of clients, as a 'special thank you' for their support and you get the benefit of having highly targeted 'leads' actually getting on YOUR table, which is exactly what you want!
Plus, his/her clients get a FREE massage! It's the ideal 'win-win-win' situation!
Now if you are thinking that giving away FREE massage is a crazy idea, then you are not taking into consideration the potential 'Lifetime Value' of the client.
Think about it for a moment, if the Hairdresser sends out your offer to 100 of his/her best clients and out of that 100, only 20 take you up on your offer, then that's 10 hours of your time and effort (20 x 30 min sessions) in massage for $0.
That doesn't sound good at all, does it?
However, if just 2 of these 20 become regular clients that book in for a $50 - 1 hour massage once per week, then that initial 10 hours of your time and energy is now potentially worth $5,000 per year to you, for potentially the rest of your career!
How many of these kinds of clients would you need to be making your ideal income? 10, 15 maybe 25 if you're really keen to work.
So, it pays to look at the big picture i.e. the potential 'Lifetime Value' that someone can bring to your business, especially when you are first starting out and have ZERO CLIENTS.
Something else to consider here is once someone gets under your 'magic hands' for 30 minutes, do you think at the end of 30 minutes they might like to extend the session to the full hour? Pretty good chance they would and without needing too much persuasion either!
Believe me, I did this a lot when I first started out and more often than not I was able to convert a complete 'freebie' into a paying client. Albeit at a 50% discount, but a brand new 'paying' client nonetheless!
Whether or not you have been able to convert them into a paying client, you will have at the very least made a new contact that you can then market your massage to for the rest of your career, provided they loved the massage.
The next step in the process is to send out a hand-written 'thank you' card couple of days later to each person who received the free massage, thanking them for coming in and trying out your service. Inside the card you should include another free gift voucher that they can then give away to someone they care about and the referral process continues.
In fact, I would go as far as to say that if you did nothing else but seek out Joint Venture partners and used methods like the Endorsed Offer, I've just explained above (there are loads of different Joint Venture options by the way), it would be more than enough to build a thriving and successful practice! You then need to make sure that you keep them coming back by providing excellent bodywork and following up on a regular basis.