Do They Like Massage, or WANT to Like Massage?

I am posting this from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Annual Legislative Summit in Philadelphia. I love Philadelphia (born and raised a half hour south of here), and the NCSL is a fun meeting. ABMP is participating as an exhibitor for the 15th consecutive year, as am I. It’s a solid opportunity to make contact with state legislators and their staff “off-line,” and to get them to better understand the legislative views of massage and bodywork professionals.

Part of the drill for us is to introduce legislators to massage through complimentary chair massage. We’ve had some terrific members from the Philadelphia area volunteer and provide chair massage for elected officials. You should be proud of your peers; they are excellent examples of the profession.

Staffing the exhibit hall is always an interesting study in sociology. From my years of participating, I have seen members of the general public fall into three categories: 1) regular massage users; 2) wannabe massage users and 3) people afraid of massage.

Regular massage users are easy to spot; they come up to you and start explaining what their therapist does, and how the airplane/pillow/hotel bed has messed up their neck/back/shoulder. People afraid of massage make their intentions known either by 1) briskly walking by the massage chairs or 2) accompanying a spouse or colleague, and when asked if they are interested in receiving a massage, act surprised/concerned that you would ask them. “Me? Nooo,” is a typical response, followed by “Me? Noooo,” is a typical response. You are foolish to even ask. Why would you think I have any discernible weaknesses? Of course I wouldn’t indulge in such an activity. From a business perspective, you should write these people off.

The wannabe massage consumers are the interesting cases; whether at the NCSL exhibit or in your practice, these people possess potential. By definition, they don’t get massage. But they LIKE massage. At our booth, we hear, “Oooohhhh, I love massage. I got one here last year.” They love it so much they got a free chair massage a year ago! But are they posers, or opportunities? To me, if they can actually state they LIKE massage, then they are in play. This person I can convert to a client. They will likely start as an infrequent client, but over time you can build that interest.

We see 100+ people at our exhibit booth each day for three days. And they all fall in to one of the two categories (people who don’t like or are afraid of massage don’t spend much time at our booth). Where do see your potential clients? Can you divide them into these two categories?

When it comes to developing your practice, you only have two objectives—1) Get ‘em and 2) keep ‘em.

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