You (really) can do more with less. If the owner of your local print shop says you have to get the postcard design to him by Friday (and today is Wednesday), you’ll get that postcard created in those 48 hours faster than if you had 3 months. If you promised your staff you’d bring them lunch tomorrow and you only have $25 cash on you, you’ll opt to purchase everything you need for a great big scrumptious salad, a container of instant iced tea, and some chocolate chip cookie dough to bake tonight instead of ordering two pizzas that won’t fill them up (or be as good for them!) If two of your staff members call in sick this week, you’ll still get all your work done; the phones will be answered, emails will be returned, appointments will be made, and massage therapy sessions will be completed. When you have less ~ whether it’s time, money, or people ~ you just naturally think more creatively, become solution-focused, and always figure out a way to make it work. In addition, less is not only more, but also often better. When you’ve got a set schedule, a certain budget, and a streamlined staff, the results are typically better than if you didn’t have to be anywhere at a certain time, money was unlimited, and everybody did everything for you. And, when it comes to marketing your massage therapy practice, here’s how to do more (and do it better) on a shoestring budget:

1. Be your biggest fan.

If you don’t tell others what you do for a living, how will they know? Just like sports fans, reality TV enthusiasts, and movie goers are always sharing their thoughts about their favorite things, you need to talk about your products and services with as much passion and regularity. Come up with a short description of your services that you can readily share with anyone at any time ~ even in an elevator. Carry your business cards with you and always be thinking in the mindset of a “Marketer” since you are, after all, your greatest promoter.

2. Embrace your community (and they’ll embrace you back!)

Before focusing on trying to secure new clients from neighboring suburbs, let your own community where you’ve established your massage therapy practice know you exist! Consider sponsoring a Little League team, a bowling team, a 5K charity run, or the local dart club. Instead of paying with cash for the team’s uniforms (with your massage therapy practice name on the back), find a local printer in your town who is willing to barter. Swap his professional services for an equal value in massage sessions. Design cool bookmarks with a great quote on them and the name and location of your practice, laminate them, punch a hole in them, add a tassel, and leave them at the local library.

3. Collaborate with other companies.

Orchestrate a monthly meeting with other local business owners in your community. Each month meet at a different business location of someone in the group to discuss how you can help the community with all of your diverse services and products and how you can help each other. By going to the physical location of each member of the group, you’ll be better able to promote their products and services by checking out their wares or tasting their products personally. Cross-promote on coupons, brochures, websites, fliers, and social media platforms. By connecting with and promoting other businesses in your community, you’ll be constantly encouraging residents and visitors to shop locally.

4. Be the nucleus of networking.

Whether by going to city hall meetings, leaving your card at the local diner, or supporting your local theatre and baseball team ~ network! You don’t have to recommend to each new person you meet to make an appointment at your practice today, but the more people you meet, greet, and shake hands with, the more you increase your opportunity to expand your portfolio of clients.

5. Lunch on me (on you!)

Once a month, pick a local business and offer free chair massages during their lunch breaks. While there, you can leave behind some of your marketing literature, network with the staff and owners, and see if that business would like to come to your business to have your employees taste their soup du jour or wear one of their beautiful necklaces for the day.

6. Create a spark.

Whether through your social media platforms, press releases, the local news, your website, your fliers, a feature article in your local paper, or simply by word-of-mouth ~ create a buzz around your business. Perhaps at the beginning of the month you’ll get the word out that for every client who hires you at least once for the month, they’ll have the opportunity to win something valued at $500.00 at the end of the month. That prize can then be 10 hours of free massage sessions for the following month (and you can make those transferrable so that if the winner can’t use them, he/she can gift them to a potential new client who can).

7. Ask for (and reward) referrals.

Don’t simply ask for referrals; offer to give your loyal, referring clients something in return for recommending you. Whether it’s a free gift card, a free session, a free aromatherapy candle, $25, or a CD of minimalistic music, let them know ahead of time that you’ll be thanking them with a tangible gift for each client they send you.

8. Have a strong underpinning.

Build a solid foundation with your established clients. Don’t waste any opportunity to provide nothing but exceptional customer service to each client. Keep the happy ones happy and make the unhappy ones happy. It takes less effort and costs less of an investment to keep a customer than it does getting a brand new one. Start an email campaign, invite your clients to follow you on Facebook, be friends with them on your LinkedIn account, and ask them to write a review about their experience with you on Yelp. Have a strong foundation and then keep the communication channel open.

9. Create coupons

Advertise on Amazon Local, in coupon mailers, and through the creation of your own coupons to distribute to clients to use on their next visit. Everyone appreciates a discount. If you opt to put a date on the coupon, give the recipient at least 3 months to redeem it. If you make it good for any time less than that, it may not get used you give a customer a coupon for a discount to use on future business, there’s a high probability they’ll be back.

10. Pay It Forward

Don’t feel that giving your services away for free is a loss to your company. It’s not. Don’t hesitate to give someone a free hour, a free session, or a free gift card to try your services.

Building your massage therapy business is not about making the almighty dollar that one time ~ with that one-time client; it’s about building long-term relationships over the years with loyal clients who regularly refer you to others. Shoestrings are great for giving you a strong foothold. Shoestring budgets can do the same.