Although your current clients are your best source for marketing your massage therapy practice, it’s not their job to bring in new clients for you. That’s your responsibility. Keep providing world-class, exceptional services, and their referrals will come; however, you can’t afford to sit back and wait for them to refer you. Taking the time to gather your thoughts, create a marketing plan, and work to bring some aspect of it to fruition each day will help establish and grow your business exponentially. Here’s how to get started marketing your massage therapy practice in the most effective and affordable way:

Define Your Goals

In order to determine if your marketing efforts are a success, you must first define your goals. Simple goals include obtaining a specific number of clients, or increasing sales to a certain dollar amount. Longer-term goals may include opening another location or increasing the types of services you offer. Each goal should link to a timetable, which helps you determine if your marketing plan is working or if you should start considering alternatives. Don’t use vague goals like “make more money” that are impossible to quantify.

Define Your Customer

Before you can begin to market your massage practice to the public, you must first determine whom it is you are trying to reach. You simply cannot be everything to everyone, so by narrowing your focus to a specific type of person or location, you can spend your advertising dollars and energy much more efficiently. One of the simplest ways to define your customer is to pick a geographic area in the general vicinity of your practice and find ways to engage the locals. Advertising and creating an active presence in the community are two excellent ways to make your business known.

Define Your Category

While you don’t want to exclude customers, finding a specific niche is a great way to set yourself apart from other massage studios. Whether it’s hot rocks, deep tissue, or Swedish massage, promote yourself as the leader in that particular type of therapy. Get the customer in the door and then you can upsell to other services.

Define Your Competition

Hopefully you did this before deciding where to lay down roots, but if not, now is the time to examine other massage studios in your area. What do you do better than they do and how can you overcome your weak areas? Is it just a matter of price or do they offer a much more welcoming environment? Understanding the opposition is an important part of achieving success.

Define Your Budget

So you want to increase sales by 100 percent in the next 6 months? Great. How much money can you spend to make this happen? Small businesses that have a shoestring advertising budget find it tough to stay alive, much less grow. A common figure for a start-up business is 7-8 percent of projected gross revenues. Half of that figure normally goes toward brand development, which includes things like websites and the creation of a logo. The other half goes to advertising, community fairs, and other events.

Be Consistent

Whatever your marketing plan is, don’t abandon it at the first sign of trouble. If you have confidence in the plan, give it at least 6 months of consistent work before you start making major changes. Pay particular attention to how your business responds to major advertising efforts. If you send out a direct mail coupon, track the response in the following days so you can tweak the next effort if necessary. Commit to spend a certain amount of time on marketing each week and keep that commitment. Pretend you are paying a person, you, solely for a marketing effort and as a business owner you expect a good effort each and every week.

Take Advantage of Mentors

The Small Business Administration and some local governments offer free mentorship programs with successful business people. These are men and women who have been through both successes and failures and can give you valuable tips on how to get your business off on the right foot and prepare for sustained growth. There are also support groups where small business owners can share horror stories and provide a helpful ear.

Find Smart Ways to Automate

There are many software options out there to help you streamline business management and marketing tasks. For example, find tools to help streamline SOAP notes, accounting, text reminders, reviews and email marketing. Each of these tasks you perform on a daily or weekly basis, finding ways to reduce time spent without sacrificing quality and performance can free you up to work on your overall marketing plan and goals.

As mentioned above, get started by defining who your target market is, set goals and carve out time to spend on your marketing. Stick with it! Consistency will be the difference in reaching your goals or not.