Relationship marketing is about just that – building relationships. Massage is such a ‘personal’ profession really where people don’t want to be sold to and massage therapists don’t want to sell. What really happens on the table no matter what technique one does is about building a relationship. It starts from the minute someone even thinks about wanting a massage. They may not even know about you. From everything you do – how your website looks, how you answer the phone and how you educate clients it is all about relationships.
When people first want a massage they start thinking about it and will often start with searching for ‘massage, your city or town’. When your website comes up first in the listings it can make a big impression. The other part is that it needs to have enough information in the listing to make a person want to click on it. This is done through what is called the metatags of your site. This is a piece of code that doesn’t show up on your page but it is used by the search engines. The meta tag has 2 parts really – the keywords and the description. Using the right keywords and description are crucial. How would you describe what it is that you do in a sentence that would make someone want to click on your site?
What people are looking for online is a solution to their problem – whatever it may be… stress, pain, and injury are probably the most common. Your metatag should address their problem. My personal slogan is “You don’t have to live in pain”.
So once you get people to your website it is still all about building a relationship. People want to know that you know what you are doing and that you can handle whatever issue that they are having. Using your website to educate people as to the different types of diseases and conditions that you work with is all about building relationships and trust – enough so that they will pick up the phone and call or email you.
So your website is one of the many different types of relationship marketing. Once you get people on the table your possibilities just increased exponentially. Each client you get has family, co-workers and friends who are one of your best possibilities. The client will go and tell others about their experience so you have to make it the best massage you ever do – each and every time. The client interview and getting the details of what needs to be done is the first part. Being able to listen to what is going on in your client without giving any advice or opinions can work wonders. Most often what people are really needing is to be heard and understood. Learning active listening skills is an important part of building relationships with massage clients. Explaining what happens in the body when muscles are tight are also part of the experience so that you can educate clients about the real benefits of massage – not just those things like “increase your circulation” and “relax tight muscles” but you can take the time to let people see just what is happening in their body as you work on them. I will do things like work one arm and then ask them to feel the difference. If someone asks what it is that I am feeling in their body I turn the question around and ask them. Getting people more in their bodies so that they can feel the real benefits of massage is a good start. To me the real benefits of massage are the ones that are not so obvious. Sure being out of pain is the most significant but people in pain are usually depressed, frustrated, angry and it will show in their life. I had a client tell me that she came in with neck pain and didn’t realize that it would change her life. She is much nicer to her co-workers, more efficient at work and nicer to her spouse – go figure!
The word of mouth process continues in relationship marketing. Networking with other health care professionals and businesses is paramount. Chiropractors are usually the first bet because their work is related in some ways. Working with chiropractors also has its own issues but you can learn to deal with them. Dentists, Acupuncturists, Naturopaths, Psychologists and mental health counselors are all in the networking category. The best way to contact them though is with interest in their business or practice to use as a possible referral source for your clients. Become clients of them yourself. My massage business was basically jump started by a chiropractor that I was going to. I actually was not even looking for referrals and then all of a sudden he was sending me client after client. Working with other professionals who have similar philosophies about healing is important too.
Every time you get a referral from someone respond in some way with a progress report if it is a physician or a thank you note if some other business.
So start thinking of marketing as just building relationships. What relationship can you build today? Call that chiropractor up the street? Visit the business next door and talk to your neighbors.