5 steps to build your brand as a massage therapist
By Michelle Francis-Smith and Nicole Nifo
When running any business, there are key steps you must consider to make sure you succeed. Inside the world of massage therapy education, there is a massive amount of attention to theory and technique – with business training not getting nearly enough airtime.
By Michelle Francis-Smith and Nicole Nifo
There is so much to learn in a condensed period, leaving graduates hungry to get started and make back their investment of time and money. Whether you’re a new graduate starting your first career, or a seasoned professional entering your second or third, there is excellent value in developing a business plan.
Business planning may seem a little daunting, especially if you are a new grad just wanting to get your feet wet, but it’s one of the most important parts of running a successful business. If you do not have an understanding of your niche/target market, then you won’t know to whom you are selling to, or what problem you are trying to solve for them. Through our combined experience both as RMTs and clinic owners, we have created five key steps to brand your massage therapy business. As you review them below you can substitute the specific niche or target market you desire to work with and then hit “go.”
Step 1: Pen to paper
First, we suggest spending some time thinking about why this particular area of massage interests you and what you can bring to your patients. (Again, ask yourself what problem you are trying to solve for them?) Determine your target market and what additional training you may require to help build credibility. For example, the target market for our massage practice is with patients who are going through the perinatal cycle (pregnancy, birth, postpartum and infant care). Our target market for our education business is RMTs who want to work with patients in the perinatal cycle and their infants.
Step 2: Marketing strategies
Once you have established your niche market, you can start to think about marketing. For a massage therapist who has been in practice for over ten years, you may remember marketing your practice mainly by word of mouth, doing freebie massages at events or office spaces, and advertising your business in the Yellow Pages. The convenience of the Internet has allowed most of us to promote our practices without leaving the comfort of our offices, using Google ads and social media. There is still benefit to building relationships with people face to face at either networking events or by meeting potential patients and allowing them to test-drive your techniques on a massage chair.
For a perinatal massage therapist, the niche is the pregnant patient. A lot of parents use tools such as Google and social media platforms to engage in the information to help them with day-to-day tasks, and even look for parenting advice. Marketing a massage practice with this niche can get noticed by Google and other online platforms. To create professional looking posts for social media, take a look at free websites like canva.com to design your posts, posters and even business cards. Although most companies are starting to use more green ways of marketing, having a simple business card can be a useful tool in social settings.
Step 3: Relationship building
Cultivating long-term relationships with professionals who are like-minded and share a similar niche market to your business will pay off over time as you build the reputation in your community as the go-to person. For a therapist building a perinatal practice, professionals like pelvic physiotherapists, midwives, obstetricians and lactation consultants can all inter-refer with a perinatal massage therapist. Exploring ways to collaborate with these professionals can result in you cultivating new business for each other along the way.
Step 4: Get out and engage
Staying authentic and creating a voice for what you do in your practice can be done in many ways. Not everyone feels confident making videos online, so you may choose to write a blog, or guest blog for another business. Podcasting is also a great way to get your message across without the fear of being in front of a camera.
A perinatal massage therapist may choose to guest speak at a childbirth education class or a local mom group to talk about the benefits of massage therapy after having a baby. As perinatal educators, we engage online by sharing topics that interest our target market on Facebook Live and have created a comfortable space where we can support RMTs who share our vision for perinatal care.
Step 5: Mentorship and coaching
Lastly, we know it can be hard to stay on task because there are so many when starting a business. Finding or hiring a mentor can help keep you on track and remind you of your goals, it is common to try and skip steps or get “shiny object syndrome” along the way. Finding a Facebook group with professionals who work with your niche or within your profession can help guide you as well. In a Facebook group, like-minded RMTs across the country can share treatment plans, articles, studies, and ask questions all related to a particular niche.
You don’t know what you don’t know – while information is power, knowing what to do is not enough to be successful in your business. Since the key to success is applying your knowledge, a greater emphasis should be placed on executing the five steps explained above. We have plugged into this formula at the onset of our business in 2015, and were amazed at how much growth and visibility it brought to our brand. Not only are more RMTs taking our training sessions, but we also have more speaking engagements and publications going out to our mentorship within the field.
Now that you have the tools to take your leap, watch your massage therapy business grow to new heights.
MICHELLE (B.A., RMT) and NICOLE (RMT) are the co-founders of Perinatal Massage Therapy Education. They inspire to empower and educate massage therapists with tools to more effectively and confidently work with perinatal patients. They provide continuing education courses in pregnancy, postpartum and infant massage, to help build your toolkit and increase your confidence to transform your perinatal massage practice and business. pregnancymassagetherapy.com