Massage and Bodywork Magazine for the Visually Impaired - Get Connected, Part 1

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September/October 2013 Issue

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Get Connected, Part 1

Let Technology Improve Your Practice

By Les Sweeney, NCTM, and Kristin Coverly, RMT
[Business Side]

Les Sweeney: Kristin, when you teach your ABMP BizFit workshops, what are attendees seeking guidance on?

Kristin Coverly: Everything related to successfully marketing their practices. But people are most curious about technology. Even though the “Using Technology to Market Your Practice” portion of the day might induce looks of panic, no one’s denying that we need to embrace technology to communicate with current clients and obtain new ones. 

LS: Aha! Just as I suspected. For a million years now, there has been a conventional wisdom in the massage community that massage and bodywork professionals are “low tech, high touch.” I think we are engaging in a self-fulfilling prophecy. I certainly hope that all professionals in this field are “high touch”—it would be tough to develop a successful career if you weren’t—but I want to challenge the assumption that all therapists are afraid of, or disinterested in using, technology. 

I can use a simple statistic to help illustrate this—more than half of our members renew their membership online, and more than 90 percent have an email address. In the general American public, one in five don’t even use the Internet (Pew Research Center, April 2012), so I don’t buy this narrative that has been perpetuated over the years that massage professionals are anti-technology.

KC: Right! I think the truth is that as a group we’re just coming a little late to the party; maybe because therapists don’t sit at a computer all day. Really, most of our workday is spent intentionally not sitting at a computer. We don’t need technology to excel at the hands-on portion of our work. 

But to do the marketing and business management portion of running a business, yes, we need to use technology, and many therapists and bodyworkers do. With a little knowledge and encouragement, I think more of us will start. When used correctly, technology can simplify our lives and our clients’ lives. It can be pretty fun to use, too. (No, I’m not kidding!)

LS: You make a very good distinction, Kristin. There’s a difference between being against something and not having great experience and confidence. That’s where we can come in. Let’s think about some resources therapists should adopt to help them better manage their lives and build their practices to boot.

One thing I say often is that professionals must meet their clients where they live—and that doesn’t just mean geographically. It means emotionally, intellectually, and perhaps most importantly, technologically. Relate to your clients and prospective clients on common ground—where you can comfortably make yourself fit into their default setting. The responsibility to adapt is yours, not theirs. If I live in a largely vegan community, but decide to open a steakhouse, I’m probably not going to succeed, and it’s not the community’s fault. It’s mine for not understanding the culture of my target market.

So, let’s proceed under the assumption that therapists are not afraid of embracing their inner geek, and that their target clients are like the typical American today—wired (or wireless!). Based on this, we’ll show three relatively easy solutions (for less than $100/month) that will enable you to better attract and retain clients, and we’ll be back with more next issue.

Spin Your Own Web
Your website is the technological equivalent of a first impression. Are you making a good impression? Are you making one at all? 

Most therapists who don’t have a website have resisted because of fear. It may feel like an overwhelmingly complex and difficult task that you need a tech degree to complete, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re an ABMP member, go to www.abmp.com and start using the incredibly easy-to-use (free!) website builder that comes with your membership. Templates, sample text, and ready-to-go pages are all created for you. You could have your website up and running in under an hour, even if you’ve never tried anything like this before. 

Tips:

•Make your website a digital extension of yourself and your practice. Choose colors, place images, and write heart-centered text that are true reflections of who you are as a therapist and human being.

•Get inspired by other websites—bodywork or other—and use that in your own way on your page.

•Have enough information about you, your practice, and what you offer for new clients to choose you and contact you.

•Keep current clients coming back by adding new and interesting information (like a blog, informative articles, etc.) often.

•Kick it up a notch and add photos, video, and links to your Facebook and Twitter pages if you use social media. 

Bottom line: members can have a simple, professional, easy-to-use website—for free—in under an hour. If you don’t do it, you’re not serious about building your practice.

Face(book) It

Many therapists have come around to the fact that websites are pretty much required these days, but still resist the idea of using social media. The term social media encompasses a lot of different mediums—Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and on and on. For the sake of easing in, let’s focus on the most popular and, therefore, most likely to have more possibilities for interaction with current and potential clients—Facebook. If you’re already familiar with Facebook for personal use and are ready to dive in and create a page for your business, skip ahead to the tips. New to the whole idea of Facebook? Keep reading. 

If you haven’t immersed yourself in the world of Facebook at all (and a large percentage of therapists out there haven’t), your first step is discovery. Don’t start with a business page. Get online and sign up for a free personal-user account. Look around, take an online tutorial, connect with some friends and relatives (you know someone on Facebook—there are 1.1 billion users), ask a friend who uses it to give you a tour, learn how to post a photo, and share someone else’s post. Get as familiar with how it works as you can; once you’re familiar with it, the fear dissipates and the excitement (or begrudging acceptance) creeps in. 

Tips:

•Don’t mix business with pleasure. Once you have your personal profile up and running, create a separate page for your business.

•Start with weekly posts. More would be better, but too often can be too much. Try to find your Goldilocks balance. There’s a lot of educational and interesting massage, bodywork, and [insert a topic interesting to your clients here] content already out there that you can share from other Facebook pages and websites (www.facebook.com/ABMPpage is a good place to start). It’s easy to do and makes for quick posts. Don’t forget, though, that your clients want to hear from you in your own voice. Post your own thoughts, inspirations, and weekly session openings, too.

•Schedule those interesting posts. New social media users run into trouble when they don’t create a structured plan. If you leave it up to randomly posting when you get to it, it’ll probably slip through the cracks. 

•Sleuth out the best time to post. Think about your clients and when it’s most likely they’ll be online. If you work with a lot of moms, during the day when the kids are at school is better than at night during homework and bedtimes. If the majority of your clients are business folks, then evening is best. Try posting at different times of day and different days of the week, and do your own little research study.

•Build a crowd. Actively ask your clients, family, and friends to “like” your business page. Add a Facebook “like” button to your main website, include links to your business page in your emails, and use Facebook’s “invite” feature to invite your current friends and people in your email address book. 

•Let yourself enjoy it. Here’s the thing: therapists like helping people. If used well, Facebook can be an incredibly easy way to get really helpful and valuable information out to your client community. Make it your mission to see social media as an opportunity and not a duty, and your attitude shift just might surprise you!

Get Smart

More than just a brilliant TV show from the ’60s (“Missed it by that much”), “get smart” is a great motto for therapists. It means start using your smartphone for more than just playing Words with Friends. Did you know that 56 percent of Americans own a smartphone? There are a lot of ways your smartphone can help you run your business just that much smarter. Here are two:

Smartphone Card Reader

This is one of the newer technology tools that some MTs are slow to come around to. Why? They don’t know how easy they are to use, and often think the fees are much higher than they actually are. Not all clients pay with a credit or debit card, but the ones who do are grateful to be able to, and when a check-payer forgets a checkbook, it’s a great backup payment option. You plug an attachment into your phone, download an app, pay a small percentage-per-transaction fee, and the money is deposited directly into your checking account. Done.

Text Messages 

The majority of your clients might prefer text messages to phone calls for making appointments and session reminders. Eighty percent of cell phone users use their phone for text messaging (and, in our unscientific poll, 100 percent of teenagers). If you’re not text-ready yet, now’s the time to jump on board and meet your clients’ needs. You might find you prefer it, too.

Until Next Time

We’ve given you some easy ways to use technology to keep your current clients happy and attract some new ones. Your homework is to get comfortable and have fun with these. We’ll be back with a few more next time. 

Les Sweeney is ABMP’s president and resident blogger. Contact him at les@abmp.com and read his blog on www.abmp.com. Kristin Coverly, kristin@abmp.com, is an ABMP education facilitator who teaches workshops for therapists and instructors across the country. Both are massage therapists with business degrees who care about you and your practice. Want more? Check out their ABMP BizFit video tips on www.abmptv.com. 

To read this article in our digital issue, click here.



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