Massage practices can increase word of mouth referrals from existing clients by 86% based on new research that shows using altruistic approaches work best.

I think most of us would agree that word of mouth referrals are both the least expensive and the most effective forms of marketing our massage or bodywork practices can have.

But how many of you have tried to create a proper campaign around increasing referrals from existing clients?

Sure, you’ve handed out a few business cards to clients hoping they circulate them with their friends.

But that’s just wishful thinking.

To get clients to act, you’ll need to answer one very important question:

“What’s in it for them?”

And that’s what this article is all about.

Your first thought is probably to give referring clients some kind a monetary award. Perhaps a discount off their next session, or a free massage after three referrals, etc..

Have you ever been asked to do something nice for another person, were offered money to do it, and then wondered why it made you feel upset or even a little insulted? This is especially true if you knew the person asking you well and if there is a degree of friendship in your relationship.

Bizarre, right?

What that feeling boils down to for those of us who consider ourselves to be compassionate, kind souls, is that when offered money to do something nice (that we probably would have done for free), it feels like the person asking thinks we have to be paid to do something nice.

Ick. That’s not how we see ourselves and definitely not the way we want others to view us either.

So when answering “What’s in it for them?”, you may want to stay away from offering financial incentives to clients.

Ok, so what then?

Turns out a much better way to approach things is by creating an opportunity for your clients to feel happy when they refer clients by appealing to their altruistic nature. Let’s face it - it feels good when we give to others. By helping others, we feel good ourselves.

And that’s how you’ll want to structure your referral incentive.

Allow your clients to give something thoughtful to their friends and acquaintances. Let them give out discounts to others on a first-time service, for example. They’ll feel like they saved their friend(s) some money and helped find a solution for what’s troubling them.

What’s in it for them? The deep sense of satisfaction that comes from helping another person out, especially when there’s no ulterior financial motive to do so.

To be clear, this isn’t just a personal opinion. This is backed up by research.

Now that you understand a better way to approach building your massage or bodywork practice with referrals, there’s nothing left to do but to iron out the details of your referral program.

Then market your program like you mean it.

  • Share the details of your referral program with clients. Ask them for their help and let them know WHY it matters to you.

  • Print some business cards whose ONLY purpose is to increase referrals. They should be designed for those who have never seen you and need to know who you are, what issues you’re really good at helping with, and why they should take a chance and book an appointment with you.

  • Send out an email campaign to your clients announcing your referral program. Reinforce that they’ll be helping their friends AND that they’re helping you too.

  • Make sure you TRACK every referral that comes your way.

  • Surprise and delight those clients who do send you referrals. They won’t expect it, but they’ll be guaranteed to appreciate your gesture of thanks. The key is to make their reward a one time, unexpected thing, otherwise you’ll slip back into the “direct expectation of a reward” dynamic you’re trying so hard to avoid.

With a smart, compassionate and consistent approach towards encouraging client referrals, you’ll find your practice will be able to attract more new clients with almost no expense.

Bringing out the best in others will bring about the best in you. The resulting deeper sense of purpose and meaning is intoxicating.

We wish you all the best on your journey towards happiness and fulfillment!

Mark and the MassageBook team