Massage therapists have reason to celebrate being alive at this particular moment in time.
While the social media digital landscape might seem overwhelming at times, the opportunities to share your brand with large audiences have never been greater. And you don’t have to break the bank to do it. Understanding these tools, making smart choices and staying consistent are the keys to branding your massage therapy practice on a shoestring budget.
What is branding and why is it important?
Branding is essentially the reputation of you and your business. It includes all aspects of your business and how it is portrayed to your community and your potential clients: your image, ideas, personality, logo, photos, design aesthetic, style of speech and wording. All of that should reflect the kind of massage practitioner that you are.
So the quesiton is, why do branding and your reputation matter? Well, great branding is going to get you more business. Sloppy branding could potentially hurt your business and your reputation. As massage therapists, establishing trust with your community and clients is very important. We’ve all thought about this from the client perspective: You meet someone, shake hands, and then you take your clothes off and let a perfect stranger massage your body. There’s a high level of trust needed to feel comfortable with that transaction. The professionalism and consistency in your website, your logo and imagery, your Facebook presence…all of those things count toward establishing a great brand, and thus a higher level of trust.
Great branding will help you get recognized and garner more trust in your community, which leads to more business. And that’s what we all want.
Creating a Strong Brand
Your business must be online, at least a little bit. If you’re like many independent massage therapists, you may be your own marketing department. In which case, you automatically have a limited tool set. You have limited time, money and knowledge about marketing and the digital landscape.
But creating a strong brand doesn’t necessarily mean hiring a marketing agency, using every social media platform, and spending half your time on marketing activities. What it does take is prioritizing the most effective ways of branding your business. Focus on building a strong brand with these 3 tools. We won’t stop there, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Begin with the basics: Facebook Page, LinkedIn profile, and Website
Facebook – This one is a no-brainer. Facebook is the biggest social media platform and most people, if they’re online at all, are on Facebook. Now you may already have a Facebook profile, but do you have a Facebook Page? Make sure you create a business page for your practice, because Facebook frowns on individuals using their profiles for business purposes. You can find more tips about setting up your Facebook Page in this guide.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn can be used to connect with clients, referral partners, medical professionals, and more. It can also be a great research tool with thousands of groups available for you to ask questions in and communicate with peers. There are several good reasons to get active on LinkedIn, including finding referral relationships and new clients in the business world. Is LinkedIn as fun and interesting as Facebook? Of course not. However, we think growing your business is fun and that’s one of the reasons we’re big fans of LinkedIn.
Website – Your website is important to your brand because it serves as the hub. All of your important business information is here — your contact information, your services and fees, your logo, and any personal information you want to include about yourself, as well. Bonus points for online scheduling and payments. If you don’t already have a website, you can create a free website with Massamio. Simply create a profile and enter as much detailed information as you can to fully flesh out your profile and website. Here’s an example of what it looks like:
The website has your credentials, photo, a prominent call-to-action for the user to “View Availability & Book Now” and details about your treatments, philosophy, training, and more. If you want to include blogging and advanced features, you can get a nice website through WordPress or SquareSpace for free or fairly cheap.
There’s much MUCH more that can be said about building a strong online presence for your business and using social media marketing. So, to really dig deeper on this one, download “The Massage Therapist’s Ultimate Guide to Social Media”.
What’s “Your Thing”
So far, these three tools are free (or fairly inexpensive if you’re talking about a more advanced website) and they are the top three places on the web where your efforts are best focused. Don’t bite off more than you can chew by worrying about all of the things you could be doing (Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, etc). Start with the basics and get really GOOD at creating a strong brand.
Those are “places” to be. But what about the other stuff? How do you create a brand, how do you find a voice, how do you get known for your thing, do you need a logo or image that defines your brand?
One good exercise is to have your friends, clients, associates describe you or your brand in “just three words.” You can do it too, find three words that describe yourself. What adjectives come to your clients minds when they think of your services, your personality, your treaments and business practices?
Kind, Peaceful, Focused.
Thoughtful, Engaged, Determined.
Funny, Inspiring, Healing.
Once you’ve gathered a good list of words, figure out what your “thing” is. Are there descriptive words that you identify with that you can start using intentionally in your brand? Maybe you always include the words Healing, Focused, and Inspired in your messaging (on your website, your Facebook and LinkedIn “About” sections, as themes for your social media posts). Your modalities and treatments are important to your brand, but so are the specific words you choose to describe yourself. Those are the things that people connect with on a powerful, emotional level. This exercise might even influence the aesthetics of your logo, color schemes, and design of your branding.
So, what’s your “thing”?
Beyond Business Cards
Online activities are one thing, but you still have to think about paper and other physical elements of your brand, like business cards and signs. There are so many possibilities for coordinating your business card with other marketing swag. We loved this idea from a massage therapist in Olympia, Washington. She said “I posted business cards on my neighborhood bulletin boards and participated in all the neighborhood functions. I always wore T-shirts made from Vistaprint.com that match my business card. The front had the services I offered and my name, the back had the business name. Neighbors always asked about it.”
Zazzle is another stellar online service where you can create your own business cards, labels office supplies, and other products like t-shirts and calendars.
When you’re marketing on a budget the best thing to do is “keep it clean, simple, and tasteful!” And–this so important–be consistent!
Which takes us nicely to our example o’ the day.
Example: Allissa Haines
Allissa uses a consistent theme, logo, color scheme and layout for all of her branding: email templates, website banner, business card, sign on her office. All of it!
Why? The key, she says, is “No matter where a client finds me, no matter how long they go between appointments, or how much time passes from when they first stumble upon my existence to when they make their first appointment, they always see the logo and my name and know they’ve got the right girl.”
Tip: “Keep it simple and resist the urge to get fancy.”
This is a very simple graphic design that anyone could do on a shoestring budget.
Real people trust real people. You need a professional headshot that looks like you, but the best version of you. Not a casual shot of you, drinking a glass of wine, with your friend cut out of the picture. Remember you want to build trust and credibility. Professional photography is a huge trust factor on the web. Get a nice headshot and use it consistently in your branding–your business card, website, social media profiles, etc.
Now, I realize you are on a shoestring budget here. So, what to do if you can’t afford a professional studio photographer?
It seems like everyone is an amateur photographer these days. Do you know someone who has a good camera and takes pictures as a hobby or side-business? They can probably make a decent headshot for you if you keep it simple, use natural lighting and a plain background.
Or, you could do some trading with a pro and offer a couple of massage treatments in return for a photo shoot. Here is where it pays to know a lot of people in your business networking circles.
In all of your branding, the key is consistency. You may not have the flashiest design or the most glamorous treatment space, but you can control the quality and consistency of your image, your reputation, and your brand by making smart, budget-friendly choices.
What are your tips or lessons learned about massage therapy marketing and branding on a shoestring budget? Share your wisdom, questions, and comments below!
Much of this content was adapted from our Online Marketing for Massage Therapists video modules by Allissa Haines (a free resource for massage therapy schools), and our Business Networking for Massage Therapists email course that is available for free to the public.