Taking Aim

Especially when you first start practicing or the economy takes a turn downward and consumers start talking about tightening their purse strings, reaching out to any and all prospective clients feels like a strong marketing approach. Getting people through the door of your practice can feel like security and success when times are uncertain—even when these people aren’t your ideal clients.
In today’s business climate, however, consumers are bombarded with marketing messages—in their email inboxes, on their social media pages, in the magazines they read, as they drive, listen to the radio—you get the idea. Couple this marketing fatigue with clients who have gotten savvier, and the true value of target marketing becomes apparent.
Developing a target market isn’t just about deciding what consumer demographics best suit your interests and talents—it’s also about learning how to reach the clients who you most want to work with. Read on and learn how you can both better understand who your best clients are, as well as how you can hone your marketing efforts to better reach them.

Narrowing Your Focus

Broadly speaking, target marketing is exactly what the name suggests: focusing your marketing efforts on a very specific audience or consumer demographic. In other words, defining and marketing to your ideal client.
Know who your ideal client is. No matter if you’ve been in business for 15 years or are just starting out, taking the time to really think about who your ideal clients are is the first step in starting to more effectively target your marketing to those consumers who you want to work with. “Everyone that has a business has clients they had a great time working with and clients that drained their energy,” explains Renee Shupe, owner of Redhead Business Solutions. The trick is truly understanding the needs of those clients you enjoy working with so you can better market to them.
“I often encourage my clients to get out a piece of paper and start writing a very detailed profi le of their ideal client,” Shupe says, adding that you can get creative with this process. “Look through magazines or draw a picture.” You’re going to want to include information such as gender, geographic location, age range, income and education level and the type(s) of work they do.
Once you have the basic information mapped out, go further and think about the lifestyle choices and habits of your ideal client, as well as what they value. “As you develop your profi le of your ideal client, you get a really, really clear idea of how to market and what will work and what won’t,” Shupe says. “Being consistent is important in marketing, so when you are really clear on who you are going to market to, you’ll know exactly what you need to do.”
Get clarity, market clearly. One of the greatest advantages of target marketing and taking the time to develop an ideal client profi le is the fact that truly understanding what your clients want will help you get very clear on how you need to market to them. “Whenever anyone is looking to make a purchasing decision, whether they’re looking for a new car or a massage therapist, they need clarity,” Shupe explains. “They want to know exactly what you have to offer them.”
Think of it this way: Your marketing should let your ideal clients know a few things about you and your practice in a way that is direct and easy to understand—mainly, that you truly appreciate why they are seeking massage therapy, how you can help them as a massage therapist and why your practice is the best option.
Assess your practice. When you’ve thoroughly fleshed out your ideal client, begin thinking of how your practice is currently set up, too, and what, if any, adjustments need to be made. Do you have all the skills you’ll need to reach out to the consumer demographic you’re interested in targeting? Is your pricing structure going to need to change at all? Will you need different equipment?
Also, don’t be afraid to look at the services you offer and pare down the number if and when doing so makes sense. “I always suggest offering only a few services that fit your ideal market,” adds Shupe. “Then, as you build your practice, ask your clients directly if there are any other services that they’d like to see offered.” On the other hand, too, look at any continuing education courses that might be benefi cial so you can incorporate techniques and new information to your practice that your target market might fi nd beneficial. This will be especially important if your target market is very focused, such as athletes or people who are dealing with chronic pain because of medical conditions.
The point of target marketing isn’t for you to rebuild your practice from the ground up—even if you decide to focus your efforts on clients that don’t currently make up the bulk of your business today. But you do need to make coming to your practice easy and effective, so keep in mind those things that compel these consumers to make purchasing decisions when considering your practice.
Marketing has changed over the years—that’s not news. Consumers have changed, too. With so many messages out there today in a variety of mediums, consumers are tired of being constantly sold to, which makes target marketing even more important and effective because you are reaching consumers who want and need your services in ways they most respond to.
When you think of your practice and who you’d like to spend your time working with, getting a clear picture of the clients you’d like to see walk through your door will also help you focus your marketing efforts, which will lead to a schedule full of clients who are loyal and invested in the benefi ts of massage therapy—and your practice.

Getting Clear on Your Marketing

Again, one of the greatest advantages of having a target demographic is how clear you can get on what marketing eff orts are worthwhile and what doesn’t—or likely won’t—work. For example, with the ideal client profile developed previously, you know your clients are busy, active women who use massage therapy for minor pain relief and stress relief. They research solutions before purchasing and aren’t afraid to pay for quality, but want to know why what you’re off ering will work.
Being very detailed about who your ideal client is gives you a great head start on creating marketing opportunities that will effectively reach them. The ideal client described above, for example, might respond best to some of the following marketing ideas:
Be where they are. If your ideal clients are busy but active and interested in taking care of themselves, make sure you and your practice have a presence in some of the diff erent places you’re likely to find these clients, such as your local gym or yoga studio. Or, get in touch with a local integrative care or health care facility where you know a physician sees people for minor repetitive motion problems. You might also consider contacting the human resources representative of local companies to see how you might help their employees better deal with stress. By being where they are, you’re able to market to them at a time when the potential value of massage will be almost immediately apparent and with consideration for their busy schedule.
Boil research down to the basics. Your target market is busy, but they also want to know that what you’re off ering will really help them. Find all the research you can on how massage therapy is eff ective for stress relief and pain relief and then m ake sure you can make the findings easily accessible. Can you sum up the important findings of a study in a few sentences? If asked by a potential client, can you briefl y explain how the research was conducted and why the results are important? Consider your client’s perspective, and then give them the information they are really going to want and need when making a purchasing decision. For more great information to share, visit our Client Education Resources.
Create a strong referral network. Especially for people who are busy, referrals can be a good source for finding the products and services they need. If you don’t already, consider setting up a strong referral program that rewards clients (like your ideal clients) for referring new business to your practice. Chances are that many of the clients who you consider ideal know other people just like them who would benefit from massage therapy, so make referring to your practice both easy and worthwhile.
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