High-quality printed marketing materials such as business cards, letterhead, envelopes, brochures, gift certificates, newsletters, post cards, client information sheets, signs, greeting cards, fliers, and display advertising are all part of a professional image. Your visual promotional pieces reflect the character of your business and their design depends on your target market(s) and the image you wish to portray. These items don't all have to look identical (actually that's not a good idea) but the colors, designs and overall look should follow a common theme (e.g., the same set of fonts, corresponding style of of graphic images, matching colors). For your visual promotional materials to be effective, they must appeal to the clients you want to attract.
This article contains samples of promotional materials from four massage therapists: some were created by professional graphic designers and printed on a press. Other pieces were done by the therapists and reproduced with a laser printer. And several items illustrate how to personalize preprinted marketing materials: it's important to note that all of these are effective promotional tools.
Kay Peterson is a massage therapist in Wisconsin. She has several therapists who work with her. Her major goals for her brochure are: make people feel informed and comfortable about the massage services offered at the center; be eye catching and pleasant to read; and put forth an air of professionalism. She designed the brochure herself using Adobe PageMaker 6.5 for Macintosh. She credits her volunteering for the AMTA state chapter with the opportunity to learn the workings of this publishing program.
She is happy with the results although she is quick to point out a misspelled word and an improperly placed comma. She likes the color and the logo, and is glad that she could download royalty-free photos from the AMTA web site. Comments from clients include: elegant; simple, yet effective; beautiful; and oriental feel. People eagerly take the brochure and some clients display them in their places of business.
She has implemented a guarantee policy which she plans to include on the next printing. When asked for words of wisdom Peterson says, "Keep promotional materials simple, informative, and clean. Edit down as you would in writing poetry. Start with an idea and whittle away until all that is left is the essence of the idea conveyed powerfully. I am not saying I have achieved this powerful message but that is the method I use."
Charlotte's Deep Muscle and Watsu Therapy
Deer Isle Injury Care Center
Charlo Davis is a massage therapist and Watsu practitioner in Maine. Her print materials kit consists of: brochures; business cards; gift certificates; and directory listings.
She placed listings in The Chamber of Commerce Island Guide (with an accompanying map), the Arts Guide, and the Bay Community Register to get her name and phone number in the public's eye. Her two goals for the Chamber Guide and Map were to provide a way for summer visitors to find her and to remind the local workers and their families that she is there. The Arts Guide was distributed to the many local galleries to attract gallery customers and the students and staff at the local International School of Crafts to her services. She is pleased with these promotional pieces.
Davis also gives her brochures and cards to local inns and to summer rental agencies for display in their rental cabins. Both renters and agents use her services. She says, "Agents, of course get a season discount!" She has two listings in The Bay Community Register under Health Care. She utilizes this to keep her name visible for all the local people year round.
She crafted the brochure herself and a friend designed the water-lily and -pad image. Another friend put the artwork into computer files and made the brochure laser ready. She uses the water-lily logo on her cards, certificates, and display listings in the Arts Guide and Island Guide.
Her advice for print materials is, "Know whom you want to reach and make your information easily available to those people. When using materials to reach people, have the service clear, the connecting numbers clear and large, check and use what works in your community, and get the materials distributed in as personal or reputable and as diversified a manner as possible. Each year, reevaluate. Repeat and update what works. Drop what doesn't. Try something new."
Velvet Durano is a licensed massage therapist residing in California. She uses a variety of promotional print materials such as brochures, personalized welcome cards, newsletters, and fliers. She utilizes a combination of pre-printed and custom designed materials.
Durano's Hands On brochure gives prospective clients an idea of what to expect, the services offered, fees, and how to contact Durano for more information. She often sets this brochure on counters at local coffee shops or businesses that know her. She says, "When people come to me for the first time, whether it's from a referral or from an ad, I give this brochure to them to take home so they know what else I offer and there are tips on what to do before, during and after the massage, drinking water being the most important." Many times clients call her the next day wanting to try out other services like Thai massage or the Hot Stone treatment because of what they read in the brochure. Over the years, the only changes to the brochure have been the images associated with the front cover, additions or deletions of services, and specials for major holidays. She likes the overall design although on occasion she does wish that it was professionally printed. She says, "But if it were preprinted I couldn't change the information on it when I need to without having to incur a lot of expense."
She usually gives specific preprinted brochures out to certain people whom she feels will benefit from the additional information. Results in disbursing these brochures to specific clients have been very good. In the beginning, she mailed them with her newsletters (with hardly any results). These days she only hands them out to clients before they leave. Durano says, "They actually like this better and I get to save on my brochures as well."
Durano states, "I do a lot of print promotions, as I cannot always be on the phone to call or reach clients. I guess I do more print promotions than anything else, as well as web site promotions which has really helped increase awareness about my business locally."
She uses an assortment of cards to keep in touch with clients. She sends out welcome cards to let clients know that she appreciates them choosing her as their massage therapist and also to encourage them to rebook within the next 3 weeks to receive a $5 discount (which most of them do). She likes thank-you cards. Durano admits, "The referral thank-you cards are a nice way for me to thank them as sometimes I get too busy to remember who they referred or I just plain forget." She also sends birthday cards with a special celebration discount and follow-up cards ("You're Busy" or "It's Been a While") with a $5 discount coupon for clients who haven't availed themselves of her services for a couple of months.
Her clients love the newsletters most of all. These quarterly publications contain relevant information about massage, current specials, stress and work related injuries, health tips, and the latest news.
It took her a while to get her promotional materials going. There were a lot of hits and misses in the beginning such as forgetting to include expiration dates on her discount materials. Durano suggests going with what you like and not forcing a mood or a color scheme you hate just because someone else thinks it's what works best. She says, "Though I'm still not perfect with my color schemes or layout selections, it's the return in the form of customer loyalty that is my ultimate gauge. Recently one of my clients referred two of his friends, not just for massage, but for web site design services because he liked the way I did my layouts as well as the way I did my own web site."
She uses CorelDraw, Adobe Photoshop, and Painter to create her brochures and fliers. Currently her newsletters are designed in CorelDraw although she is trying out Publisher. Durano says, "I took some advertising and public relations in college and so creating my own brochures serves as an outlet for my creativity. I also prefer making my own materials because my information changes all the time depending on the season or what I am trying to promote, so this allows me to only print out the exact number of materials I need at a time."
Carolyn Mudgette practices in Florida. She credits the use of color as the key element in her marketing materials. She uses bright colored card stock or paper for fliers, preprinted and perforated color business cards (rainbow theme), matching colored stationery, and color ink on newsletters and postcards.
Her postcards are colorful, attention getting, inexpensive reminder for her clients. "I want my clients to read my postcard before any other piece of mail, junk or otherwise." This goal has not changed although she changes postcards each time she sends them and keeps track of who gets them and if they respond. She designs the postcards in Print Shop. A tip she shares is that when using card stock which is a lot less expensive than pre-made post cards and thicker (which is good), invest in a top quality paper cutter and measure each cut. Mudgette states, "Postcards that I print out in color and cut on a paper cutter are the single most cost effective tool I have to gently remind my clients that it's time for a massage if they have gotten out of the 'habit.' I can send 100 postcards for $20 in postage and a few dollars worth of ink and card stock. One call back out of 100 postcards pays for my expenses. I also purposely handwrite the addresses on the postcards. People get enough junk mail. I want my clients to know I took the time to send the card myself." Some of Mudgette's clients have told her that they keep her postcards with their bills and put her in the budget.
Her major goal for her newsletters is supporting a prosperous and thriving practice and part of this entails letting people know what events she participates in and where they can find her. She also wants people to enjoy her newsletters so she strives to include something humorous as well as writing a short story of her own. Mudgette says, "People who read my newsletters recognize that I am a dedicated and caring professional and want to support me in my endeavor which enhances their well-being and health a definite win-win." She offers the following tips: spend the extra money for paper that is coated on both sides when using colored ink; save money by printing with black ink and use color paper; reduce mailing costs by handing out as many newsletters in person as you can. People like the personal attention. She uses Microsoft Word to create her newsletters and frequently uses "text boxes" so she can easily line things up just the way she wants. She also uses clip art and "Let my creativity flow."
In terms of display ads, she says, "I wanted to get the most bang for my buck with this type of marketing." Knowing that a person has to see your name a number of times before they remember it and even more before they call you, she wanted a venue where people would look for her ads to see what she was going to do next. She placed four ads in each issue of a local monthly paper called The Chronicle (changing the ads each time) and was listed in the Calendar of Events every time she did chair massage. The monthly cost for this marketing was equivalent to less than two massages. Her name was all over the place.
Her marketing efforts have netted great results. She became recognizable and her business grew quickly. She no longer does extensive advertising. It stopped making sense to advertise when consistently faced with a waiting list. She hasn't placed an ad other than a small Yellow Page ad in two years. The Chronicle ads were so successful in terms of recognition that more than a year after she stopped advertising people would still tell her that they love her ad.
Mudgette still effectively utilizes her print materials, "A couple of weeks ago, my schedule looked a little bare so I sent out about 30 postcards, and from the one mailing I have scheduled six appointments!"
You can create very attractive print materials on a computer, particularly if you purchase paper products that are specifically designed for desktop publishing. You can find hundreds of full-color brochure paper complete with matching business card stock, letterhead, envelopes, postcards and even labels. These paper companies also provide specialty papers to be used for newsletters, certificates, greeting cards, note cards, fliers, and signs (see Resources at the end of the article). These paper products provide an opportunity for you to experiment without a huge outlay of money. Although my basic stationery was designed by a graphic artist and commercially printed, I often use these paper products for special announcements and direct mailings.
The first step in designing your promotional materials (whether you are ultimately the one to do the design or if you plan to hire a graphic artist) is to look at all the samples you've collected over the years and identify what you like and dislike. Pay particular attention to the style, tone, and artwork. Next, determine the content and choose an appropriate image for your target market(s) that matches your other print materials. Then design the piece. Durano states, "Some design programs have templates with pre-arranged color schemes, font selections, and layouts, so most of the time it really isn't that difficult to create customized materials. I think the most difficult task is writing out your content so that it appears cohesive and easy to read and understand."
My own experience in preparing printed materials leads me to recommend leaving it to the experts by hiring a graphic artist to do the job at least the initial design that can be stored on computer and easily adapted. If you are concerned about the cost, find an artist who is willing to barter services. I also suggest you purchase a high-quality layout program (see Resources). While word-processing programs are great tools for many written applications (e.g., letters, memos), they don't provide the necessary features that make your promotional materials look polished and professional.
Many massage therapists utilize preprinted brochures, greeting cards, and gift certificates. The bright side is that someone else has invested the time and money to design an effective, attractive, informational marketing tool. Often the cost is significantly less than if you were to design and print your own. The problem is that they aren't personalized. You are the most important aspect of your practice and your marketing materials need to reflect that. You can overcome the impersonal nature by inserting a panel with your specific information into preprinted brochures and putting coordinated labels onto cards, certificates and the backs of brochures.
Other practitioners design their basic brochures and purchase preprinted brochures that describe in detail the adjunct services they offer or history of their profession. You can obtain preprinted brochures through the AMTA or independent vendors (see Resources).
Whether you design your own printed promotional materials or elect to utilize the services of a graphic artist, follow these tips for reducing your print material costs:
|Microsoft Word||Microsoft Corporation|
|PageMaker||Adobe Systems, Inc.|
|Photoshop||Adobe Systems, Inc.|
|American Massage Therapy Association||847-864-0123|
|Information For People, Inc.||800-754-9790|
|InfoSalon Newsletter Service||800-717-2566|
|Quill Desktop Publishing Supplies||800-982-3400|
|Logic Arts Corporation, Idea Links||800-272-7377|