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I am a fairly new Massage Therapist.  I graduated with 500 hours in July and rented a room from the school I graduated from here in California for $100 a month (it is actually $200, but I split it with another graduate). 

I am trying everything to get clients and not getting any success.  I have tried:

Craigslist (which I get the MOST business from)
Facebook
I have donated gift certificates to various events as raffle prizes and even the winners haven't called to redeem their certificates.  (So, I can't GIVE massages away? lol)
I advertise at the health club I belong to and even give 10% off and give out 5 minute freebie massages during the advertising events and have only booked 4 massages off of that (and those we at 1/2 price because I was desperate)!
I am on call with a local salon/spa here in town, but have only done 4 massages for them and that is at a 60/40 split.

I just got a new website set up, I have passed out hundreds of cards and volunteered at different events.  Almost everyone that gets a massage from me says it is awesome, but I just don't know why I am having such a hard time getting business.  I have done many swaps with other therapists to make sure that my technique, attitude and "bedside manner" are good and would keep business.

I am open to any suggestions you may have.  I really want to succeed in this business and hope I am just having a hard time getting it off the ground. 

Thanks in advance for any ideas you may have!


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Hello Stephanie,

Ive done the Same Here, Ive been trying to build my clients since march 2010, and I cant even give away freebes to friends, My phone doesnt ring, Ive done eveything you have tried, even local newspaper ad, coupon book, rack cards at local cafes. flyers in parking lots, etc...

At first I though it was because of the economy, then i thought it was because im a man, but Noone seems to want a massage or has money for one... Im at wits end, im begin to feel like it was a waste of time and money, and a Student loan to pay off...

I hope the PROS will have useful suggestions...
I know how you feed David! I am hesitant to spend any money advertising because I am already paying $100 a month in room rent and I have used it 2x! The school said they would send walk in business our way, but I have a full time job AND a three year old son, so i can't afford to sit there waiting for walk ins to show up. I did just agree to a deal with yellow book to advertise through them, which is only $9 a month and that will start in a couple of months, but until then I need some clients. Hopefully things will pick up soon for both of us, good luck to you!
Wear a shirt around that reads "I rub feet". You'll get comments and clients while running your errands. ;)
--
Here's one here: http://bit.ly/Irubfeet
Those are some great ideas! Thank you! I thought I was getting out there, but I guess I have been "playing it safe" and not really getting myself out there. I will try some of those ideas for sure! Thank you!
Cool Stephanie,

Let us know of your successes! ;)


Stephanie Hargon said:
Those are some great ideas! Thank you! I thought I was getting out there, but I guess I have been "playing it safe" and not really getting myself out there. I will try some of those ideas for sure! Thank you!
Hi Stephanie,
I had a look at your website. If you are going to go the web route for promoting your massage having a well designed website is really important. I see your serenity4you site is from a free hosting site that will put up whatever banner ads they want in exchange for hosting and design. I dislike these hosting sites for massage therapists because your website should be about you and your massage, not the hosting site and their advertisers. There are some massage themed hosting sites, I believe the ABMP has one that does produce decent sites, that can help you build a site while retaining your character. You can also crowd source your website idea to the world if money is an issue (google: crowdsourced design) or if you can spend a bit more there are many great web designers with whom you can start a design relationship with. When choosing a massage I generally ignore a practitioners websites qualities and judge the practitioner on other contents of their character because, in my experience, many good MT's are not that web savvy and create really bad websites while giving really good massage (perhaps that is why they are MT's and not in Silicon Valley). However, I think the general massage consuming public does not look past the website first impression when making a decision. Best of luck and congratulations on your practice. If you want a couple of California web designer leads feel free to contact me.
Good points Ezekiel,

I didn't click thru to her site, but I agree with your comments. I've seen a lot of poorly designed sites that have ads that are unrelated to the practitioner and their offerings. This is distracting and can lower the perceived professionalism of the practitioner.

When I started out I created a site using ABMP's free website builder as well, but then found that it didn't allow for many of the things I wanted to do, such as customizing the theme of the site beyond choosing one of a few templates. I also found trouble when I wanted to incorporate things like online booking. Perhaps they've done a wild upgrade since them that allows for a lot more customization, I don't know.

Seeing this issue in the industry and wanting to create a greater sense of kinship and community among practitioners I created massags.com where users can create their own fully-customizable website built upon Wordpress, an extensible, open-source platform that allows for full customization.

Anyway, this is starting to sound too commercial, so I'll leave it at that. If you're interested you can check it out. It's there for you.

Best,

Joshua



Ezekiel OBrien said:
Hi Stephanie,
I had a look at your website. If you are going to go the web route for promoting your massage having a well designed website is really important. I see your serenity4you site is from a free hosting site that will put up whatever banner ads they want in exchange for hosting and design. I dislike these hosting sites for massage therapists because your website should be about you and your massage, not the hosting site and their advertisers. There are some massage themed hosting sites, I believe the ABMP has one that does produce decent sites, that can help you build a site while retaining your character. You can also crowd source your website idea to the world if money is an issue (google: crowdsourced design) or if you can spend a bit more there are many great web designers with whom you can start a design relationship with. When choosing a massage I generally ignore a practitioners websites qualities and judge the practitioner on other contents of their character because, in my experience, many good MT's are not that web savvy and create really bad websites while giving really good massage (perhaps that is why they are MT's and not in Silicon Valley). However, I think the general massage consuming public does not look past the website first impression when making a decision. Best of luck and congratulations on your practice. If you want a couple of California web designer leads feel free to contact me.
Dear Stephanie
I feel your anquish; You need money now..your son needs attention and the idea of giving more of yourself to sell yourself is tiring...
Samantha had some great ideas and I understand what she was saying about advertising on Craiglist.Although you said that it is where you get most clients then why not keep that avenue open? Its not Craiglist that is the problem but How you advertise..Dressing unprofessional in a picture or stressing "sensuous" instead of therapeutic is all part of inviting seedy characters..
I have semi- volunteered.@ events..and usually found that I was used and abused by the end of the day. When you consider the sheets or face covers you use plus oil. and your energy.It may leave you wondering if it was worth it !
May I suggest you speak with GM at a hotel to provide in-room massage.?. I was lucky to get a permanent special little room at a hotel .I pay them rent but found that business increased when I quit my other job @ spa simply because I was available!.They are happy to advertise that they have an on site therapist... Remember in this economy even hotels get slow! Although with a few regulars and some cheap advertising you should do quiet well. I wish you all the best! It seems like you have what it takes..positive thinking won't hurt.
Are you asking your clients to re-book? Are you asking your clients for referrals? Sam was correct in "selling yourself", but most new therapists have the most difficulty in just asking for the business. The worst anyone can tell you is "no". Eight years ago I had an instructor tell me that she has never been to the same therapist twice. Do you know why? Because they never asked her to return. Lesson learned.
Here, I dug this up from a printed interview I did in ABMP's Different Strokes member publication back in like May:

In this digital age, how can massage practitioners use the
Internet to grow their business?
My best quick advice is to create a website that showcases what
you are about with regard to massage and bodywork. Be sure
you are listed in Google’s Local Business Listings at www.google.
com/lbc. From here you can offer specials and coupons and
garner reviews from recent clients.
Choose a relevant social network for the massage and wellness
industry; don’t bite off more than you can chew. I also strongly
recommend that MTs steer clear of paid advertising offered
by sites like Yelp.com and Citysearch.com. The best of their
features can be had for free. I’ve seen this before; the return on
investment doesn’t justify a monthly price tag of nearly $300.

How else can online marketing work to an MT’s advantage?
I’ve used a variety of online promotional strategies to build my
practice. Offer specials relevant to upcoming holidays and get
them posted on your website about a month before the holiday.
Mention it via email, social media, via the telephone, or directly
with your clients after a session. Send out reminders at two
weeks out and send a quick non-intrusive reminder about 3 days
before. This strategy will help you maximize your return.

How was ABMP helpful to you in developing an online presence?
I used ABMP’s image library when I was first starting to create
online content for my site, which was also hosted through ABMP.
The images in the photo library can be pretty useful for projects
you’re working on for your website or promotional materials.

How about networking the old-fashioned way, through
community involvement and outreach. Do you engage in
those areas as well?
I engage with a community of wellness practitioners, many of
whom are also massage therapists. This helps me stay connected
to like-minded professionals and stay relevant in the bodywork
space. This wasn’t an element I focused on early in my massage
therapy career; in retrospect it should have been.
For those who are just starting out, I would recommend
that you make a goal of engaging in a certain number of hours
of free community outreach work each week. Think about
a demographic that interests you or with whom you have a
connection; ask around about giving your time in this way and
you’ll find yourself enriched by the experience. Ultimately you’ll
receive back more than you ever gave. Just remember it must
always be about giving, not receiving.

Do you have any other advice for MTs as they develop
their practices?
Keep in contact with your clients! If you don’t, you may never
hear from them again. This is not about you; people just don’t
have it as a habit to receive massage regularly and may find
it hard to justify the expense. Demonstrate to them that their
session is worth far more to them than they pay for it. Other
than that, reward your clients and make sure they know how
much you appreciate them.


The entire interview is viewable at http://www.scribd.com/doc/44336507
One point I think is important is that by shifting focus to keeping it on their wellness, cost isn't immediately their first question and concern. They become genuinely concerned with their own wellness and sense of well-being and they tend to intuit that this is valuable enough that money is a secondary factor.

Does this ring true for anyone?

(If anyone mentioned this above, I apologize. I've only been able to stay partially connected to this conversation today.)

Hope you all had a nice Monday after a long and lovely holiday weekend!
I started to read the replies but didn't get through all of them but I just wanted to let you know that the one thing I've learned best in the nearly 8 years I've been doing this is it takes time.

Keep at. Stay determined. Continue to put yourself out there.

As you continue to gain experience not only massaging but working with people you'll gain confidence and it's that confidence that people will start to respond to.

Don't forget to ask people to reschedule when they leave; have post cards or note cards to mail in a week or so with a discount included if they do not.

Carry business cards with you where ever you go - best if a quick price list and discount is included on back, and leave anywhere you feel comfortable: with your tip at a restaurant, with the cashier at Walmart if you've talked a bit during check-out, with your chiropracter or doctor.
Buy Body Sense and have your name on it and request to leave at dr's offices and hair/nail salons in your town.

HAVE A WEBSITE!

You don't always get businesses from these connections immediately; but the more you get your name out there the more people will talk about you when massage does come up.

Hope this helps and much luck!!

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