Sell yourself! Ideas for more effective marketing
Every therapist’s marketing campaign has to target a primary market (the patients) and a secondary market namely other health professionals. Therapists often focus on the primary market but neglect to pursue the secondary market. They tend to underestimate or deliberately avoid marketing their businesses to other health professionals despite it being an important source of new patients especially now that Therapeutic Massage Therapy is in the process of getting medical aid recognition.
Promoting massage therapy to the public
- Make sure all marketing and promotion campaigns align with the Allied Health Professions Act.
- Establish a niche market - cultivate a field of interest e.g. pregnancy massage, orthopaedic massage, sports massage.
- Make your services known through advertisements in publications and websites that reflect the culture and life world of a health profession.
- Write letters of introduction to support groups and organisations.
- Sign up to internet referral lists such as the MTA list and other appropriate websites.
- Encourage word of mouth promotion by providing a safe, ethical and professional service.
- Consider a leaflet drop, taking into account that research has shown that it is one of the marketing strategies with possibly the lowest return rate.
- Address interest groups in person, on the radio and in printed articles. Make an effort to research your subject thoroughly beforehand (If you are unsure about content or legality of your article or presentation, consult with the MTA). Avoid copyright and reproductive right infringements at all cost.
Promoting massage therapy to health professionals
- The most effective way of making your services known to colleagues is to meet them face to face. Although telephone calls, letters of introduction, asking patients to hand your business card to their primary health practitioners all contribute to raising awareness, it is the personal interview that will be the most effective marketing tool.
- Other ways of disseminating information about your profession and yourself is through writing journal articles and making presentations to health professionals.
- Link your marketing strategy including advertising, public relations, advocacy and awareness raising campaigns to the Health Awareness Days published in the MTA Notice Board. This not only brings you in contact with potential patients but also other health professionals.
- Remember the principle of abundance and rather than view them as ‘enemies’, build strong and loyal relationships with other massage therapists in your area. As colleagues we form part of one another’s referral system. If every body is a potential customer, there are more than enough business out there for all of us.
Although the laws and regulations pertaining to advertising and promotion pertaining to Therapeutic Massage Therapy may seem restrictive, with some creative thought and a clear understanding of what is allowed and what not, innovative and resourceful opportunities for marketing our profession can be developed. Go forth and sell yourself!
Avoid illegal marketing strategies
- Touting by making claims about massage therapy.
- Putting up outside advertising such as banners, sign boards that contravene bylaws and Allied Health Professions Act.
- Exhibiting and doing demonstrations at any fairs and festivals including health and wellness expos.
- Paying and receiving commission from companies, guest houses, hotels etc.
- Paying or receiving perverse incentives through i.a. mutual marketing schemes. Mutual marketing refers to a massage practice partnering with another local small business with the aim of growing both of businesses through joint marketing, advertising and promotional campaigns. An example would be for a Pilates instructor to offer a free lesson to a patient who buys five treatments from a particular massage therapist. This type of marketing is prohibited for health professionals across the board including massage therapists.