Is Social Media helping or hurting?

A friend of mine and I recently made a pact to never look at Pinterest again…”It makes me feel completely inadequate,” she complained to me.  I know the feeling well! Lately, everywhere you look, websites are making you feel bad about yourself: too much gluten, too little exercise, not enough sleep, too much caffeine. What about your massage practice? Social media and the over-abundance of information online are giving therapists low self-esteem about their businesses, too.

So what can we do about this?  Where do we turn for advice?  Sometimes it seems like all those Facebook groups would have the answers, just join one and ask a question and more seasoned therapists are there to lend a helping hand.  Great  idea?  But is that really what is happening?

I feel like many of these groups, well meaning though their origins are, have become a bastion of therapist shaming.

“Work at a franchise?  You are destroying the world that therapists knew before the dawn of franchises!!”

“Use Groupon?  Oh my god, how can you get yourself out of bed in the morning, you are undervaluing yourself and ALL massage therapists everywhere…you should be ashamed of yourself for trying to bring people into your business!!”

“Need help with a client who has a medical issue?  What the heck is wrong with the school you attended…how could you possibly be allowed out in the world with such little knowledge of massage!!”

“Want advice on how to deal with a co-worker?  What the heck is wrong with you, why aren’t you out on your own, in the open world giving chair massages to whomever will sit there long enough!!”

“Want to make more money in your private practice?  Hire people, work out deals with the concierge at high-end big city hotels, surely there are a couple of those in small town America where you have your practice!!”

Obviously, some of these are hypocritical and self-defeating, and that is half of my point.

Here’s my solution…Quit looking at Facebook too!!  Those kind souls who started Facebook groups didn’t mean for things to turn out the way they have.  And those people who are giving advice… do you really know them?  Do you know how long they have been practicing?  Do you know if they have a successful practice?  Do they know you?  Do they know if you live in a small town or a big city?  Whether you are a single parent working three jobs or someone who is just doing massage on the side until you retire from another profession?  Find a coach; find a mentor.  Find someone near you that you admire who is willing to be your support.  Ask at your school or your place of business.  Don’t rely on blind information; it’ll just make you feel bad.

The Myth of the $100K Massage Therapist

There’s a book written about how to make $100,000 per year as a massage therapist. It’s written by a lovely woman who made her fortune in massage working in Seattle and on high-end celebrity clients. Her book is insightful, and very helpful if you live in a large city and you are willing to work the hotel trade. My problem with her book is that most of us don’t live in large metropolitan areas. We don’t have fifty different five star hotels with concierge’s palms to grease… so what do we do?

(And I must admit, I live in Knoxville, TN, which while not a huge metropolitan city is by no means a small town. Those of you in small towns have a real challenge to educate your area on the benefits of massage, as well as to remove the stigma that often surrounds massage in small towns.)

Well, my suggestion is that we do the same thing we do when we get a challenging client on our tables…we get creative, we try different things, and we don’t stop until we find a way to make what we do work!!

There are lots of different marketing ideas out there. If you live in small town America, the best thing that you have is your reputation. No matter what you do, word of mouth is going to be your best marketing tool. But there are only so many people you are going to be able to touch in a day, so how can you leverage your time and your skill set? There are actually lots of different ways.

One of the most effective is a referral card. Print up some cards, postcard sized, and give them to each client who comes to see you. Offer their friends a small discount or a sampler service, and then offer the client the same when their friend books.

Another way is to speak to groups, if you are comfortable talking to groups of people. Most local service clubs (Rotary, Kiwanis, Junior League), your local library, and other civic organizations are in need of speakers…many do a healthy living series annually. Bring a discount card with you, and hand them out liberally. There’s a old salesperson’s saying that goes, “you must give away 100 business cards to earn one client’s business.” Think of that! You need to do 100 chair massages to earn one good, steady client; that is going to take a while.

And always remember, it’s your personal reputation we are talking about here. So think about whom you want to present to your community. You are a professional; you have a business to build! What do think of your banker if he is wearing shorts and a t-shirt to work? Would you want your doctor to have a runny nose? Does your manicurist have dirty nails? Present yourself in a manner that will draw the type of clients that you’d like to see in your business. If you are comfortable with working on athletes, then clean, nice sweat pants, a polo shirt and tennis shoes might be the dress that you should wear. If you want to work with alternative health seekers, perhaps yoga pants and a flowing top and some sandals that you slip off during the session is the way to go. Remember that you are always representing your business – in the carpool line, in the grocery store – dress the part. Be prepared, have business cards and your calendar with you at all times. Keep your website updated. You are a business owner now; you are on your way!!

Welcome!

Hello all! Welcome to Beth Teaches Bodywork, a blog intended to share knowledge, experience and therapeutic touch with Massage Therapists, clients and anyone else who may be interested.

In this space, we will have several weekly items, such as Muscle Mondays and Weekend Wisdom. We will also be sharing plenty of other great information on massage, healthy living, relaxation and plenty of other topics. Please check back regularly for new content and follow us on Twitter @ContattoWEC.

Have a wonderful day and be well!

–Beth