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Friday, August 25, 2017


I am a certified Groupon geek. 
Using Groupon to build my practice fast has been the single best decision I’ve made for my business. 
But it was one I resisted. I’d heard that only cheap people use Groupon, that they just come in for the deal and never return, and that I’d get so booked with Groupon clients I wouldn’t have space for anyone else. What I hadn’t heard is that Groupon provides massive exposure for your practice in exchange for a highly discounted service, and when used strategically, can create rapid, sustainable growth.

In any marketing campaign, planning is the most critical step. 

Unfortunately, it’s often neglected or skipped entirely. I’ve identified five critical skills and tools to planning a successful Groupon campaign. Let’s take a look at what they are, why they’re important, and how they can make a Groupon deal work for you.

Before we begin any promotional activity for our practice, we need to be clear about what it is we want to accomplish. “Get more clients” is way too vague. How many more clients do you want? Take a look at the number of clients you average per week now and decide how many more you want to have on the books each week. So if you’re seeing 10 clients per week now and you want to be seeing 25, your goal is to attract 15 more clients per week.

Having a goal allows you to evaluate how effective your marketing strategy is because it can be easily measured. 

It also helps you set the monthly maximum for your Groupon deal. This limit not only determines how many vouchers can be sold per month; it’s the metric used for the algorithm that determines where your deal shows up on the Groupon website. High visibility will sell more vouchers to a more varied group of members. Lower visibility means your deal will only be seen by those searching for massage. The monthly maximum can be adjusted to sell more or less vouchers while your deal is active to give you the best results.

Who exactly are you trying to appeal to? It’s easy to fall into the “anyone who wants a massage” trap, but what’s going to really create growth and fulfillment in your practice is serving those who you are the best fit for. If you love and are really good at giving the most relaxing massage in your area, then you want to help people looking for that find you. They’re the ones who are going to enjoy what you offer, want to return, and tell others about you.

Massage is a popular item on Groupon, which can work to your advantage or against you. It’s become a go-to directory for those looking for a new massage therapist because they can try us out without breaking the bank. It can also make it harder for us to be seen among the numerous choices. A targeted description of your deal will set you apart from other massage therapists and make you resonate with those who want your unique skill set.

Once you get a new client, what do you do to inspire them to become a regular client? Aside from giving an extraordinary experience from beginning to end, clients may need a little financial incentive to visit frequently enough to get great results and stabilize your income. Having an enticing loyalty program, membership or discounted package will increase conversions dramatically. These types of incentives make frequent visits easier and keep your schedule fuller.  After all, isn’t the whole point of using Groupon in the first place to bring in more clients who will keep coming?

In my experience, offering a single session and a package of three in your deal gets more conversions in the long run because those who purchase a package are more interested in receiving massage frequently. Have an expiration date for your package (I use 90 days from date of activation) and stick with it. You can always offer to let them pay the difference for expired sessions (most likely they won’t, so those are free money). Use the pricing of your ongoing program (or special for returning Groupon customers) as a guide to price your deal (anything less than 70% of what they would pay for your discounted services is going to make converting them more challenging). You may not sell as many vouchers with a higher priced deal but you’ll retain more of the clients who buy them.

It’s human nature to seek immediate gratification. You will make some money from the sales of your vouchers, but using Groupon isn’t about making money from the deal itself. It’s about helping customers who want what you do find you. Getting them to come back is up to you.

Being successful with Groupon requires you to see it as way to attract more clients so you can then blow them away with your awesomeness. You won’t retain every Groupon client, but you most likely won’t retain every new client who hears about you from other sources either. Focus on those who do rebook rather than those who don’t. Keep the big picture of a full, thriving practice in mind. If you can’t get past the highly discounted rate you’ll receive from Groupon for your services, it’s not the tool for you.

If you’re already using online scheduling, I don’t have to tell you how much it streamlines the booking process. If you’re on the fence about trying it, I encourage you to take the leap. Bodywork Buddy offers a free trial period, so you have nothing to lose. Any concerns you have about optimizing your schedule or not having control will be minimized once you experience the freedom from phone, email and text tag you’ll have. It also provides an added convenience that many clients will appreciate, especially when you have an influx of new customers AND you’re busy working so aren’t available to answer the phone. I wouldn’t recommend doing a Groupon deal without it.

I’m not going to tell you that working with Groupon is all butterflies and moonbeams. It can be very challenging because you’re dealing with well-trained salespeople. It’s your responsibility to make the best decisions for your business and not let them steer you toward a deal that won’t serve you. But with a sound plan, it can be an unmatched option for growing your practice faster. Give some thought to what you want to achieve and create a strategy to support that BEFORE contacting Groupon. Then you’ll be prepared to negotiate a campaign that works for you and those who need you to reach their wellness goals.

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

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