Ep 279 – Seasonal Marketing for your Practice

A green gift box wrapped in twine sitting atop a larger brown gift box.

The holiday season is right around the corner. That makes now a good time to start thinking about putting together a solid marketing plan. In this episode of The ABMP Podcast, Darren and Kristin talk about goals, groups, planning and promotion, when practitioners should begin their marketing initiatives, and whether price discounts are an effective seasonal-marketing strategy.

Author Images: 
Darren Buford, editor-in-chief of Massage & Bodywork magazine.
Kristin Coverly, director of professional education at ABMP.
Author Bio: 


Darren Buford is senior director of communications and editor-in-chief for ABMP. He is editor of Massage & Bodywork magazine and has worked for ABMP for 22 years, and been involved in journalism at the association, trade, and consumer levels for 24 years. He has served as board member and president of the Western Publishing Association, as well as board member for Association Media & Publishing. Contact him at editor@abmp.com.

Kristin Coverly, LMT is a massage therapist, educator, and the director of professional education at ABMP. She loves creating continuing education courses, events, and resources to support massage therapists and bodyworkers as they enhance their lives and practices. Contact her at ce@abmp.com.



Anatomy Trains: www.anatomytrains.com


Elements Massage: http://www.elementsmassage.com/abmp


Precision Neuromuscular Therapy: www.pnmt.org


Anatomy Trains is a global leader in online anatomy education and also provides in-classroom certification programs for structural integration in the US, Canada, Australia, Europe, Japan, and China, as well as fresh-tissue cadaver dissection labs and weekend courses. The work of Anatomy Trains originated with founder Tom Myers, who mapped the human body into 13 myofascial meridians in his original book, currently in its fourth edition and translated into 12 languages. The principles of Anatomy Trains are used by osteopaths, physical therapists, bodyworkers, massage therapists, personal trainers, yoga, Pilates, Gyrotonics, and other body-minded manual therapists and movement professionals. Anatomy Trains inspires these practitioners to work with holistic anatomy in treating system-wide patterns to provide improved client outcomes in terms of structure and function.    

Website: anatomytrains.com                     

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Founded by a massage therapist for massage therapists, the Elements Massage® brand is a network of independently owned and operated studios dedicated to changing lives--including yours!  The Elements Massage brand believes massage therapists deserve a supportive team, business and marketing resources, and the chance to learn as much as they want, so many Elements Massage studios offer and reimburse continuing education on an ongoing basis. It's no surprise Elements Massage therapist and client satisfaction leads the industry. That's because from day one, the brand has kept an unmatched commitment to deliver the best therapeutic massage experiences possible for both clients and massage therapists. Elements Massage studios expects the best. So should you. If this sounds like a fit, reach out. Studios are hiring! 

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Learn more at www.pnmt.org

Full Transcript: 

0:00:00.1 Kristin Coverly: Are you a massage therapist who loves to problem-solve? Do you see clients with challenging musculoskeletal issues? If so, then studying precision neuromuscular therapy will help to sharpen your decision-making skills and achieve better client outcomes. Our emphasis is on the problem solving process rather than the teaching of a singular technique or approach led by founder Douglas Nelson, each PNMT instructor is a busy clinician with decades of practical experience, visit pnmt.org to explore our offerings of live seminars, online courses, or the video resource library, the PNMT Portal, that's pnmt.org. 




0:00:57.3 Darren Buford: I'm Darren Buford. 


0:00:58.5 KC: And I'm Kristin Coverly. 


0:01:00.6 DB: And welcome to The ABMP Podcast, a podcast where we speak with the massage and bodywork profession. Our guest today is my co-host, Kristin Coverly. With the holidays fast approaching we thought this would be a good time to talk about gift certificates and holiday marketing plans, and since Kristin is an MT and has a degree in business, we thought we'd pick her brain today, so hello, Kristin. 


0:01:22.6 KC: Hello, Darren, I'm very excited to be here as your co-host and guest today, but more than that, I am really excited to talk about this topic holiday and event promotion strategies for all of our listeners, so I'm excited to dive right in. 


0:01:37.7 DB: Yeah, So Kristin, let's talk about seasonal marketing, why is now a good time to be thinking about putting together your holiday marketing plan?  


0:01:46.8 KC: Well, as everybody knows, we're heading into the biggest bunching of national and religious holidays that fall in the calendar year, so we absolutely need to start thinking about it now, but what I'm excited to talk about today is not only thinking about the holidays that are coming in the next couple of months, but really sharing some strategies that our listeners and practitioners can apply to any holiday, any event, no matter where it falls on the calendar. So I created what I'm calling the GGPP strategy for today's conversation, so it's groups, goals, plan and promos, so we're gonna kinda walk ourselves through it, but really let's think broader than the next few months. So yes, absolutely we wanna talk about getting you prepped so that you can meet some goals by the end of the year, for sure, but let's also talk about events that you may not be celebrating with your clients and potential clients yet, that you could be so when your practice hits a certain anniversary, five years, 10 years, 15 years, are you celebrating that with your clients, do you have a great strategy in place to celebrate your client's birthdays? Do you look at all of those? If you look at the holiday a day calendar, there are about 50 things that are celebrated on every calendar day, and obviously not all of them apply, but say your practice has a lot of athletes that are runners... 


0:03:17.9 KC: Did you know June 7th is global running day? That's absolutely something that you could celebrate with your niche, with your group, so I want to talk today about strategies you can apply absolutely the next few months, but also any time of the year when you want to do something special, promote something special or celebrate your clients. 


0:03:39.1 DB: Okay, Kristin, let's start at the beginning, who should we be promoting to existing clients? Former clients?  


0:03:46.7 KC: Well, that starts with our first G Darren of our GGPP strategy. So that's our groups. So I want everyone to think about all of the different groups of people you could potentially be marketing to for any event or holiday, so obviously you've got your existing clients who might wanna buy something for themselves or for the people in their lives, you've got your client's family and friends who would buy something for your current client, maybe this is something bigger, you wanna take it to the next step, and you wanna bring in a lot of new clients through your promotion, that way you're really expanding your practice, that means you're gonna be marketing to the general public. And then don't forget, look around your geographic area, businesses can be clients too, and they buy gift cards, they can hire you to come do chair massage, so businesses can be clients and based on your goals, whatever goals we're setting, which is the next G that're gonna talk about next, you will be creating different strategies for each of these client groups, so it really varies, but know that you've got all these different groups you can work with, and you as the business owner who's creating this marketing plan and strategy, get to decide who you're talking to and how you're talking to them. 


0:05:02.4 DB: So Kristin, what are the goals of a holiday marketing campaign?  


0:05:06.4 KC: Well, that's again, where it gets to be really fun. I know I love marketing, so I'm a little bit of a marketing nerd, so I'm gonna say, Hey, it gets to be really fun when you can think about your goals, and I know someone listening might be like, Kristin, that is in no way fun... [laughter] that is not something I'm gonna enjoy, but I'm gonna encourage you to let yourself get excited about this, because again, as a small business owner and when you're on your own practice, you get to make these decisions. No one is telling you, you have to do this to promote this event that's coming up on the calendar, you have to do this to celebrate New Years with your clients, or to get this done, you get to decide what do I want for my practice? So maybe your goal is, I just wanna increase my gift card revenue, that's my goal, I wanna increase the number of packages I'm selling for my practice, that's my goal, maybe I wanna do both of those things, maybe there's a specific service or modality that I really want to promote, maybe I've got this whole new manual lymphatic drainage certification that I'm excited to try, but people don't know enough about it yet to book that modality, and so I need to talk to them, I need to use this event or holiday as an opportunity to communicate that and get people to try it. 


0:06:28.8 KC: Maybe my goal is to really boost the number of clients I have on my client roster, so I am gonna make a goal of getting X number of new clients by the event date. So really think about how can I make this personal? There is no universal event promotion law that says you have to have this as your goal, and this is what success means, you decide what your goal is, and you decide what success means, basically you're saying, what action do I want the people in these groups that we just spoke about to take, do I want my clients to buy gift cards for their friends? Do I want my clients, friends and family to buy a gift card for them? Do I want a new client to book a session? Really start thinking about what do I want? And it's gonna differ possibly based on the event or holiday you're talking about promoting, so say you're creating your Mother's Day promotional strategy. Well, that's gonna be a lot of people buying gift cards for mothers in their lives, right. Versus you are celebrating Global Running Day or this is my practice 10th anniversary. 


0:07:37.3 KC: I'm celebrating with my current group of clients, and I'm gonna do something special with them, so it really can vary based on the group and the event, what goals you're setting. But really think it through. What I like to always say is, you wanna be an active business owner, you wanna be the one that's making these decisions, you don't want to be reactive, you don't wanna be passive, you don't wanna just say, Well, I'm gonna put out one social media posts and we'll see what happens. You can, I'm not gonna advise that strategy, right, so I really want you to be active and get excited about getting clear on who you're talking to and what your goals are. 


0:08:21.4 DB: Kristin, what you're mentioning, would you be potentially marketing to all? Some campaigns would be to all of your clientele, and then you would be niching them specifically to the groups that you're classifying your clients together, and like you mentioned, if you had a group of runners or those who might fall into a specific category. 


0:08:43.0 KC: Absolutely, and it's really gonna be based on what it is that you're doing, so if you're celebrating New Years or you're celebrating one of the religious holidays that's coming up on the calendar, you really wanna create unique strategies and plans for each of those holidays with each of the groups. Let's take a short break to hear a word from our sponsors. 


0:09:03.9 KC: Anatomy Trains is delighted to invite you to our in-person fascial dissection workshop, October 10th through 14th, 2022. We're excited to be back in the lab with Anatomy Trains, author Tom Myers and master dissector Todd Garcia. In Todd's laboratory of Anatomical Enlightenment in Boulder, Colorado, join students from around the world and from all types of manual movement and fitness professions to explore the real human form, not the images you get from books. Visit anatomytrains.com for details. Hey, life-long learners, did you know that Elements Massage Studios are hiring and at the top of their list is curious massage therapists like you, Elements Massage Studios are all about improving the lives of everyone they touch for them, that includes giving you training and new skills, a supportive team and chances to grow a client list, if this sounds like it could be your new home, let them know we sent you by going to elementsmassage.com/abmp, that's elementsmassage.com/abmp. Let's get back to our conversation. 


0:10:18.3 DB: So Kristin, when should a practitioner start their marketing initiatives?  


0:10:21.6 KC: That's a great question, and I don't know if this is happening to you, but more and more, it feels like we go from Halloween to New Years in the blink of an eye... How did all that happen so fast? And this is a really compact time, and so that's sort of how time can warp, and so what I encourage people to do, we're moving into the P now of our GGPP strategy planning, is think about, Okay, we've got a holiday day, say we're celebrating New Year. How many weeks in advance do you wanna start marketing and telling people about the promotions that you've decided to do, is it six weeks in advance? Eight weeks in advance? Also thinking about if this is one of the holidays where people are buying gifts for each other, when are they doing that? If you wait until two weeks before the holiday to say, Hey, buy a gift card, most people not all, you're gonna get those last minute-rs and they'll be so grateful for you, but most people will already have made their gift giving plan, and so you're too late. So really think about it again, be that active business owner and think about the plan. 


0:11:30.1 KC: There are so many ways you can do this. I love still pen and paper, so I actually print out physical monthly calendar and I write it down, so I have my event or my holiday on the calendar, and then the week before, I say it's one week before, two weeks before, three weeks before, four weeks before, so I very easily visually can see where six weeks prior falls on the calendar, and of course, there are many digital options you can do with your digital calendars and do the same thing. And then I go through and I say, Here's what I'm gonna do this week, six weeks out, Here's what I'm gonna do five weeks out, Here's what I'm gonna do four weeks out, and so you really set in advance your plan because also you don't wanna say, Oh, I'm gonna mark it tomorrow, I haven't made any marketing collateral yet, I haven't done any design, I haven't come up with my language, but I think tomorrow is a great day to start. You wanna set yourself up for success, so create that plan in advance, and then weeks before your plan starts, start making the designs that you're gonna use on social media, start writing the text you're gonna use in your emails, and so really put some thoughtful strategy into that so you're not scrambling and doing everything last minute, I have a question for you as the client Darren and we're heading into the big religious holidays coming up, a lot of gift giving, how far in advance do you decide what you're buying for the people in your life?  


0:12:57.5 DB: That's a really good question I'm more of a traditionalist, and what I mean by that is, I don't think too much about it until probably that week of Thanksgiving, to me, that is just kind of baked into my brain that one holiday ends and the next begins, and I actually like the more finite line between those two things. Otherwise, I feel like I'm blending the holidays and they don't feel special, so for me, I'm gonna think I'm really gonna dial it up probably the first weekend after the Thursday Thanksgiving, which is the traditional Black Friday weekend. 


0:13:32.0 KC: Right. But for that to happen, be successful, someone would need to start talking to you about that either at that time or a little before... 


0:13:39.9 DB: That's right, that would be perfect. 


0:13:40.4 KC: So that would be on your head. Yes. 


0:13:41.9 DB: That's right. 


0:13:43.2 KC: Yeah, and not waiting until just before... So again, it's really about creating that calendar, however you do it, if you use Canva, which is an online program where you can create designs, it makes... They make it so easy, there's free and paid versions to make beautiful social media website, email visuals, they also have... If you do Canva Pro, which is the paid version, they have a content planner, so you can use that, you can do it like I do it, old school. You can create your own, so it doesn't have to cost a lot of money, but whatever way that you choose to do it, create your plan so that you're communicating to people and clients like Darren when they need to hear that message, when they're starting to make those decisions. Now, we also have people, I have people in my life who start buying gifts in June for December holiday, right, so it's like you're not gonna get everybody. And there will be the last minute people, so you do wanna have some promotions scheduled for the week of the event as well, so again, if we're talking about it, one of the holidays coming up, or we're talking about Mother's Day, whatever it is, you wanna have that whole marketing tale from beginning to right up to the event date. 


0:14:54.3 DB: I totally agree, and the reason I wanna mention that is there's that initial planning or the thought in your head that you might have for the gifts you want, but then as you get closer... And I don't know if this affects other people the same way, but for me, I start to think, Did I get so and so enough, right? Especially when I get really, really close. And so that's why marketing in that last week, week and a half is so critical because I'm gonna lump on and make sure that I've got a really special set of gifts or whatever it is for X number of people, and perhaps I would have forgotten about it. If the marketing campaign had already tailed off too soon. 


0:15:29.0 KC: Right, and if the first time you were seeing anything at all regarding the marketing campaign, it's not as solidified in your head as if you've seen it a few times and you're like, Oh yeah, that did seem interesting, I'm gonna take action now, people need to see things a few times before they take action, typically. 


0:15:47.0 DB: Absolutely. So Kristin, let me ask you, how do you do this? Are you talking about in person at the conclusion of a session through your email database, texting, a scheduling app, social media. Can you tell me a little bit about that?  


0:16:01.8 KC: I was gonna say capital Y? Yes. To all the above. Yes, and, as we do in improv, yes, and, so we want to really think about having a robust strategy as far as promo. So now we're in the second P of our GGPP plan, we're in promos, so we've made our plan, we have our groups and our goals, and now we have to decide like, Okay, what are these things like how am I communicating with these different groups to get them to take action to meet my goals, I... Okay, on my plan, I'm supposed to do something this week and social media, what do I do? Now what? Right, so really take a look at all of your options. So everything from website, of course, look at your website messaging, have you updated your website messaging and your online scheduling messaging to match your goals?  


0:16:48.3 KC: So if your goal is to really ramp up your gift card revenue, are you really promoting that, is that front and center on your website for your current clients to see, but also if you are pulling in the general public or your client's friends and family, is it easy for them to take action, or do they have to hunt around to find the button that says Buy a Gift Card, like make it easy, put that front and center, you're already hopefully sending your emails on a monthly, at least basis to your clients is again, whatever it is that you're promoting, your packages, your gift cards, buying gifts for others, is that right up front, front and center emails, you wanna do texting if your clients communicate by text, which most do now, don't we all communicate by text? Make sure you've got some texts on your promotion plan as well. 


0:17:38.0 KC: Social media, this is where you're deciding which groups are you really promoting to, or you wanna communicate with your current clients, absolutely. Social media, do your own posts, if you are trying to pull in new clients, then you're gonna wanna look at some of the paid social media advertising options, and they actually make it pretty easy. It can feel intimidating, but they want you to try out these paid ads, and so they make it a very easy process, so explore that if you've never done it before, explore it. That's all digital, and we wanna take advantage of every single digital option we have to communicate with people. However, we also have people coming into our physical space, so let's make sure they're getting that message as well, so think about your in-office materials. Do you have a sign on the wall with a QR code? Again, making it easy, do you have something they an take with them? A little card or brochure, especially if one of the groups you wanna market to is your client's friends and family, make it really easy for your clients to tell their friends and family that this is what they want as a gift. They want a gift card as a gift. 


0:18:45.0 KC: I used to do what was called hint hint, so it had a cute little card they could take with them that said, hint hint, this is what I'd like. This is the gift, looking for a gift? Hint, hint this is what I want. So give them something they can take with them and give to someone in their life. Also, send your clients an email they can forward to someone in their life that has all the information about hint hint, here's how you buy a card. Think about... Now, this is going back, we were cyclical, right? In the past, before all of our digital communication options, we did a lot of mailing USPS, for those of you who don't know, it's something you put in the mail with a stamp and it gets to the in person Tom, I know it's out of the loop now, but that's coming back because now people are getting overwhelmed by all of the digital communication and the emails they get, and now they're appreciating something in the mail again, so think about maybe those businesses was one of our potential groups, maybe you want to market to the businesses in your area for them to buy gift cards for their employees or to hire you to come do chair massage during this busy holiday time, tried a mailing to the local area businesses. 


0:19:56.0 KC: So really think about each of these groups you're marketing to, how would they like to be communicated to and with, and then how can you do that? So really think about, think it through, again, being that active business owner who's making a really thoughtful plan, and think about to your budget, a lot of these options we've talked about are free, free options to communicate with people, and a few of them are paid, set your budget and then make smart choices within that, and it can get really fun to think about, Oh, how can I communicate with people, what do I want my social media post to look like? And again, again, if that's not your strong point, use a software like Canva or something that can make it very easy for you to create beautiful looking promotions without having to have a lot of stress, which can happen. So again, set yourself up for success there, but try to have a varied promotional calendar, so that you're communicating in different ways with different groups, so that something hits and it gets them to take action. 


0:21:04.5 DB: I love your hint hint cards. This is so perfect [laughter] Alright Kristin final question, should there be specials attached during this time, like a price discount, or is it just a reminder to get on the gift list early?  


0:21:19.0 KC: That's a really great question Darren, and it's gonna be up to each of the individual business owners to make that decision to see what's gonna meet their goals, and the way I always talk about it when I'm teaching these marketing strategies for our massage and body work community is, it's really up to you. I have had practitioners never give a discount and be wildly successful, I've had other practitioners who use discounts periodically to spur action, and they're wildly successful and happy, so there's no golden rule as far as that goes, it's really up to you and what you're comfortable offering, what you think will get people to take action and what leads towards meeting your goals that you've set for this event or holiday promotion strategy. 


0:22:05.5 DB: Kristin, before we bring the podcast to a close today, is there anything you want to let the listeners know about?  


0:22:10.8 KC: Absolutely. First of all, thank you for letting me talk about the GGPP plan that was so fun, but also something fun that's coming up and speaking of events, I am working right now I'm putting together The ABMP CE Summit on Limp, it is a free event for everyone in the profession includes three hours of CE, it's an online event on Tuesday, October 25th, please learn more and register today at abmp.com/summit, hope to see you online. 


0:22:38.5 DB: I wanna thank our guest today, Kristin Coverly. ABMP members find sample gift certificates for use on abmp.com and the marketing center, there you'll find gift certificates for birthdays, congratulations, thank yous, Valentine's Day. And yes, the holidays. Thanks, Kristin. 


0:22:55.3 KC: Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about something I absolutely love. And listeners, good luck with your holiday event strategies. I hope they're successful, and I hope you have fun doing it as well. 




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