Marketing Matters

Archive for May, 2009...

Filed under How To

I had an object lesson this week.

I am absolutely devoted to my Mother Care (peri-natal) yoga class. Half the time there aren’t enough students to make it worth the instructor’s while.

Because I have a vested interest in taking this class, I’ve been working with Kristen (instructor) to figure out how build up her attendance. How hard could it be?

In addition to Mother Care yoga, Kristen teaches popular pre-natal yoga and new parent yoga classes. She is a well-known doula. She emails her regular clients with class updates. She offers discounts for bringing a friend and takes flyers to playgroups. As far as I can tell, Kristen has the absolute best pool of potential clients ever and is doing everything she is should to promote this service.

Why aren’t the moms coming to my favorite class? They should be flocking to it.

At the end of every class (when we have class), Kristen asks students what she can do to make the class more accessible. A different day of the week? Different time? She gently talks about the importance of moms taking time to recharge themselves. About giving dads or partners the chance to be parents on their own without “supervision.”

Kristen gets different answers each time she asks. They all sound logical — weekends are the only time our family can be together, too tired in the evenings, classes are during the baby’s “needy” time.

Because Kristen is a smartypants, she didn’t react to all these suggestions. She considered them. Kristen didn’t feel like she was getting The Real Answer.

I was fairly twitching with impatience and biting my tongue firmly. I wanted to get schedules changed and new fliers made up and to rewrite her class description and, and, and! I wanted the class to happen now.

This week, Kristen got her Answer.

A mom said she wasn’t able to come to classes sooner because her baby was nursing every two to three hours. The class is two hours long. Most new moms who come to the class are nursing. The class plus travel means new moms will be at least 2.5 hours away from their babies.

Ah.

That would be The Real Answer.

So. Good for Kristen for continuing to ask her clients what they needed, for looking for the real reason for sparse attendance. Now she knows that she needs to adjust the length of the class.

I learned that it’s a good idea to keep asking until you get an answer that resonates with you and your practice.

If you are convinced that there is a market for your work with a specialized group — police/dog trainers/welders — keep asking until you figure out exactly what they need. Special hours? Longer sessions? Shorter sessions? Clearly stated bodywork benefits relating to their particular needs?

There is an answer. You’ll know it when you hear it.

All my best,
Eileen

If you’re interested in reading more about writing ad/flyer copy, Diana has a good article on targeting your clients’ real concerns.

Eileen is the marketing coordinator for Natural Touch Marketing.

Comments (0) Posted by Eileen Ryan on Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Filed under Beyond Beginnings

This is the time of year where the rains ease up and my gas bills quadruple. Festival season, oh, yes!

For the bodyworker in the right frame of mind, a festival or fair can be an excellent place for you to meet the clients you would like to add to your practice. At the very least, it’s a nice break from the norm.

Local vs. Regional:
A regional festival, like Bumbershoot or the Oregon Country Fair, is more likely to be a working vacation than a perfect spot to reinvigorate your practice. It might be a good opportunity to reinvigorate you. These sorts of events are generally full of people looking to have a positive experience and you can’t stand in the middle of so much fun energy without catching it yourself. Also, it’s a place where you can be inspired by what other vendors (not necessarily bodyworkers) are doing to attract clients.

Local festivals are the places to look for clients to add to your practice. Not only do you get your dose of good energy but you have exposure to people who live and work around you. This is a chance for people to meet you in a “neutral” space. It’s a chance to become familiar with your face and your personality and, hopefully, your work.

Focus on Who You Want to Serve:
If you are trying to add clients to your practice, you will be most efficient when you know who you want to attract. Some are obvious: local races or matches for sports massage, farm fairs or farmers’ markets for green-focused practices, 4H events for families.

Also consider the neighborhood where your practice is located. Introduce yourself. Be neighborly. Perhaps the office next door has an employee lunchtime BBQ every spring. Can you do neck/shoulder/arm work while they’re waiting for their bratwursts to grill?

If the Tae Kwon Do school across the way has a big meet every year, go see how you can get your practice involved. Wouldn’t it be useful to help local competitors gain an edge over the competition by being focused and warmed up before they step into the ring? And, while we’re thinking about it, wouldn’t it be useful to parents dropping off their kids to have an appointment with you while their child is in class?

I have seen the same therapist next to her chair shaking hands and handing out cards at both the Capital Food and Wine Festival and at SLURP this year. I’d say she’s after gastronomes who like a little luxury and are willing to spend their money on quality. A lot of the attendees go to both events so she’s gaining recognition and becoming comfortably familiar. And the sign by her chair saying, “Will work for wine,” probably doesn’t hurt.

Be Ready:
Have some sort of signage where people can clearly see your offer and rates from more than 10 feet away. A piece of notebook paper taped to the sunshade support isn’t going to do it.

Business cards, business cards, business cards. Geez louise, if I see one more MT with a stack of torn up — neatly, I’ll grant you — slips of paper with their name and number, I shall bite through the radiator. You’re going to need a gazillion of them because you’re going to hand two to every person you talk to. They’re not that expensive. If you’re really together, make up some specific for the event. They need to look professional and they need text that explains the benefits of your work. People need a reason to keep the card. Give them one.

If you have a brochure or flyer that explains the work you do, so much the better. Someone may be interested but still unsure or doesn’t have enough time (or your festival schedule was packed! :) ) Be sure any information you give them has your contact information on it. There is also a greater impact if you are able to address their needs as specifically as possible. An example: At an airshow, have one flyer for men, another for elder men and another for stressed out, Tums-popping men.

Festival-goers are great but don’t forget the vendors, coaches, bands, volunteers, staff, etc. I recommend walking around the festival location during set-up and introducing yourself. Bring your daily schedule. Get people signed up. “You know, at lunch time and the end of the day my schedule gets packed. Those seem like times that would be best for you. Do you want to sign up now so you have a space saved before the crowds get here?” Don’t discount the benefits of trades, either. Wouldn’t it be nice to trade a 15 minute session for help taking down and loading your stuff? Or for two flats of bedding plants?

There’s nothing wrong with being memorable. The therapist with the sign reading, “Will work for wine” got more people talking to her than she would have otherwise. They wanted to know what kind of wine she was after. If there was a low price limit. If they got a special award for finding the best tasting wine. The conversation was opened. People could approach her about something other than her work initially. Also, she had the same sign at both events so people were inclined to remember her.

Festivals are a time to celebrate. Celebrate your practice and celebrate the work you have put into making our world a little better.

All my best,
Eileen

Related article: Dipping in Your Oar: Notes on marketing massage at local events

Comments (2) Posted by Eileen Ryan on Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Filed under Marketing Matters

 This week I got a serious request for some input. It reads:

“I have just recently moved from Chicago to Cape Cod, MA, and accepted a job at a spa/gym. The space and business is new to the owners of the spa. They have two other locations on the cape. I have been hired to be the massage therapist/marketing person.

We have tried numerous marketing ideas. Some examples:
Spring stimulus package for $99.00 (includes-hair cut,facial, massage),
Beauty bucks-$20.00 off a purchase of $80.00 or more,
Referral program for the trainers- refer 2 people get half-off a service.
We have even attended a ladies community night in which over 500 women get together at a local venue, to see the local businesses and what services they have to offer. Not one has called or come by.

What are we not seeing? I have learned not to discount your services or give them away for free.

The web-site for the gym is www.fitness500club.com and we are under the link Beyond Beauty. We also have our own link for the salon/spas, www.beyondbeautycapecod.com.

Please help. I do not want to give up on this venture.”

Usually I do three or four backing and forthing emails with people who ask for insight into their situation. Then I write a blog entry with their background and my suggestions. I find I ask the same kinds of questions most of the time. This time I’m going to ask the questions as part of the entry so you all can see one way to start examining how you market your massage therapy / bodywork practice. And so you can give your insights, too. Jump in!

Also, I have no idea what this person’s name is so I’m calling him/her “Sam.” I like “Sam.”

Dear Sam—

I don’t want you to give up either. Let me go through some basic questions and we’ll see if we can’t figure out what’s going on here.

Just to be clear, are you the massage therapy/marketing person for Beyond Beauty, right? Not all three locations. And when you say “massage therapy person” does that mean you are managing the massage therapy side of the business or that you are the massage therapy chief-cook-bottle-washer-and marketer?

Who are your clients? Who do you want your clients to be? Year ’round residents? Summer residents? Visitors, women, men, gym members, CPAs? Who are you focusing on here?

Is massage a recently added service with this company? Are there plenty of MTs in town (in other words, is the town educated about the benefits of bodywork)?

How is the gym side of the business?

I see that Beyond Beauty is an Aveda Spa. How does that affect your marketing, if at all?

How are you getting your marketing ideas (stimulus package, beauty bucks, etc.) out there? Web only? Newspaper? Fliers? Brochures in B&Bs? Mailings? How are you trying to get the attention of your targeted clients … other than the ladies’ community night?

Ladies’ community night: What was that like? A booth? A chance to speak in front of an audience? Chair massage demos? How did you try to attract clients? Why do you think no one responded?

Sam, the answers and insights you give to these questions will help us focus on what you should think about doing next. Let’s get cracking!

All my best,
Eileen

Okay, gang. What did I forget to ask? I usually remember some essential question after I push the send button. Which I’m doing … now …

Comments (0) Posted by Eileen Ryan on Thursday, May 14th, 2009