When I suggest using Groupon to massage therapists, the response is seldom positive. Overall, it has earned a poor reputation within our industry, which is why I chose not to try it when I opened my current practice in 2013. But after a few months, and not getting enough clients fast enough with more traditional marketing methods, I took the plunge. It turned out to be the best decision I could have made. What I learned is that like any tool, there’s a right way and a wrong way to use Groupon. It all starts with a clear understanding of your goals and a commitment to being successful.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GROUPON?
Our thoughts and beliefs have more influence on our success than the tools and techniques we use. Anything we do to market our practice will work given enough time, effort, and passion. Groupon speeds up this process by bringing in more new clients faster.
The amount of money you’ll be making per massage with Groupon is about 25% of your regular fee. This was my biggest resistance to trying it because I knew the massage I gave was worth more than that. What I came to understand is that I was trading a highly discounted service for massive exposure I could never get on my own, and all those new clients allowed me to hone my treatment technique and sales skills quickly with little risk.
Using a rep versus creating your own deal will give you more options. Your deal will look and read better, you’ll be able to tailor the details to your satisfaction, and you can negotiate if you choose. The intimidating part about using a rep is working with a well-trained sales person who makes more money if Groupon does. Having a firm plan before contacting them and sticking to it will yield the best outcome.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH?
Obviously, we want a full practice. But what does that mean for you? How many clients do you want to be serving per week? Not only does having a measurable goal let you evaluate your progress, it gives you an idea of where to set your monthly maximum.
Your monthly maximum not only limits the number of vouchers that can be sold, it also determines where your deal shows up on the Groupon site. If it’s lower, you’ll only show up in a search for massage or in the Beauty and Spas category. If it’s higher, it will be visible in the default list on the home page. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so decide what you can realistically handle and start there.
WHO DO YOU WANT TO ATTRACT?
You may think that using words like “customized” and “individual needs” are enough to set you apart. Actually, most massage businesses, from franchises to independents, describe their services this way. To really stand out, use the description to explain what you’ll be doing during their massage and what the results will be.
Use the ABOUT… section to tell people who you serve best and why. This helps clients self-identify as an ideal client for you (the same goes for that page on your website). What clients want to know about us is what we can do for them. Being too general will bring in more people who aren’t the best fit, which will make converting them into regular clients more difficult.
HOW WILL IT BENEFIT YOU MOST?
Offering only basic, 60-minute (or one hour) massages is the way to go. This gives you the opportunity to upgrade those clients to a longer service if your schedule allows or add on whatever enhancements you offer. That extra spending goes directly to you instead of splitting it with Groupon. Having the option of a single massage and a package of three will increase your conversions because those who purchase a package are more likely to be looking for a therapist they can see on a regular basis. Decline any repurchase options in the fine print and limit sales to one per person.
Groupon is a marketing tool that is most effective to jump start new practices or to provide a boost when things get slow. I wouldn’t recommend it as an ongoing strategy. For one, seeing so many one-time, discount-motivated clients can get draining. But the most important reason is that if you’re not retaining enough clients from Groupon to grow your practice, there’s probably something you need to fix. Groupon does ask for reviews, so use those as a guide and make adjustments as needed. Besides getting lots of deal seekers, accommodating an influx of new clients while being available for your current clients is another common challenge. We’ll explore that next.
Cath Cox has been a licensed massage therapist in Colorado since 1999 and is the creator of the Booked and Busy in 90 Days System™. Her mission is to heal the world by inspiring independent massage therapists to build thriving practices of their own so they can work authentically for as long as they desire. She currently provides Ashiatsu barefoot deep tissue massage exclusively in her private practice. You can learn more about Cath and her journey at her Booked and Busy site.