The 10 Keys to Branding Your Massage Therapy Business

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Do you struggle to attract and retain the right clients for you? Do you yearn to have word-of-mouth renown? In an increasingly challenging market flooded with talented therapists and extremely savvy consumers, discover 10 Keys to developing a brand full of integrity that will inspire you, attract loyal customers, and make promoting your practice effortless.

1. Identify your values: This is the most critical step and yet, the one most massage therapists overlook. Do some soul searching and get a crystal clear idea of what matters most to you as an individual first and then as a company. Your values form the base of your business and should influence every decision, from what kind of logo you print on your business cards to the business partners you seek.

2. Identify your mission: Once you clearly identify your values, take the time to write a mission statement. Ask, why does my practice exist? What do I aim to accomplish? Write in simple language that a 12-year old can understand using, ideally, 8 words or less. If you are stuck, do a search on the internet for "mission statements" and use the most compelling ones as templates. Your statement should energize and inspire you morning, noon, and night.

3. Identify your ideal client: Again, an incredibly critical step. Looking at your mission statement, ask, "Who do I love working with most? With whom do I have the most success?" Although you might be reluctant to narrow down the potential pool of clients, the biggest mistake you can make is trying to please everyone. This dilutes your service and identity so much that you fail to strike a nerve with anyone. Even though you will turn some people off, you will attract others who will bond with you for life. And the best part about identifying your ideal client is knowing where to find them.

4. Create an emotional connection: Every potential customer wants to know one thing, "What's in it for me?" In order to compel someone to purchase a session with you vs. any other therapist, you need to connect with her in an emotional way. How can make her life better? What pain will your service potentially reduce or eliminate? What problems do your clients face? How will hiring you solve those problems? What will his life be like afterwards? Think in terms of the benefits your client will receive instead of the features of what you offer (see Key #5).

5. Identify the benefits vs. the features: Know your services and/or products inside and out. But instead of simply listing the features of the various methods you offer, describe your menu in terms of how the client will benefit. So instead of simply listing "shiatsu massage," describe it as "a relaxing and soothing experience that will erase the knots and twinges of your stressful environment." Remember, it's all about creating that emotional connection with your ideal client and telling them how you can make their life better.

6. Create an experience: Why should your potential client hire you as opposed to any one of your competitors? What makes you unique? Successful companies understand that they are in the business of creating experiences that enrich lives. Starbucks does not just sell coffee. From the music they play (and sell) to the comfortable furniture and inviting decor they offer, they create an atmosphere that people will pay for above and beyond a hot (and pricey) beverage in a cup. What atmosphere do you create for your clients? Think in terms of all the senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing.

7. Commit to a message: How do your values and mission tie into your image? Carefully revisit what matters most to you and broadcast that to your ideal client in both your promotional materials and in how you present yourself. Once you are clear on your message, stand behind it and don't waffle.

8. Be consistent: This also relates to your values and mission. Once you are clear about why you are in business, maintain your integrity, from the level of service you provide and your tagline to the way you follow-up with customers and the uniform you wear. Be conscious of every detail and match it to your values, your mission, and your message. Your brand is much more than your letterhead and website. It is everything you do as a representative of your business including your responsiveness to returning phone calls, the clarity of your payment policies, and your participation level at networking events or groups.

9. Have the courage to reinvent yourself: Even (or especially) if you have been in business for a long time, take the time to ask, who do I REALLY want to be? You might have created your business without being clear about your mission, or your mission might have changed. Or because the climate and the market constantly evolve, you might have hit the target five years ago, but have lost your edge since then. Be brave enough to ask if your current image is right. If not, you now have the opportunity to reconnect with your current mission. You should revisit your mission, goals, and business strategies at least every 6 months.

10. Beware of following trends: If you want longevity, don't fall prey to the seduction of the latest trend. (And if you recognize a technique or service as "trendy", it's probably already too late to jump on that bandwagon.) Keep looking inward at what you stand for and forward at how your company changes lives. Build trust by showing you aren't fickle or easily swayed by change simply for the sake of doing something different.