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Bodywork Buddy Blog

Bodywork Buddy: business management software for the solo therapist that keeps you organized and makes tax time a breeze.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Truth in Your Marketing {Guest Post by Erin Howk}

We're all marketing ourselves every day, whether we think we are or not.




It seems there are some conflicting arguments out there over which is the correct, honest, or better way to use marketing terms to sell our services. No matter what setting you are in, you are selling your massage services to someone and need to have specific language to attract the kind of clients you want to sell to. The fallacy here, is that one way is more 'honest' than another way (assuming you are not lying about the services that you provide and committing fraud, but that's a different problem). Some feel using flowery, emotional words that do not describe accurately how massage techniques are performed are a disservice to the industry, instead a technical approach would be more desirable.  However, you are not being more honest by using technical terms, you are being specific to a different target market; those who value a clinical approach and gravitate toward that language.



The purpose of marketing is to find specific people who want what you sell
and convince them to
buy it from you.





The key here is the finding the people you want to sell to, and to do that you manipulate your words and descriptions of your product to appeal to that group.  One of the arguments in the massage community is over the term “Deep Tissue Massage” used as modality.  This term is a vague descriptor and not a specific protocol, and some feel that it should not be used to describe massage or that it “is just a marketing term”.  It's been suggested therapists should use the term Deep Pressure instead because it is a more honest description of what you're selling… but this is not true. Deep Pressure is also ‘just a marketing term’ and is no more honest or accurate description of massage.


It is equally misleading to describe something as Deep Pressure Massage to refer to pressing really hard to achieve therapeutic effect on tissues closer to the skeleton. In massage, deep refers to the location of tissue, and not the strength at which you are pressing. It isn't exactly accurate to describe a unit of force as ‘deep' either. It's much more accurate to describe this type massage as Deep Tissue Massage, because you are targeting the deep tissues of the body.  However, the public thinks you must use heavy or maximum pressure to reach the deep tissue, which is where this description becomes problematic. There are several protocols out there that achieve therapeutic effect on deep tissue without using maximum pressure. You can see that the description of Deep Tissue Massage has an inaccurate association with the amount of force, but that the public wants what you are trying to describe when you say it, so some find useful to use that term in marketing.




Photography's main
purpose in marketing
is to sell a feeling.










A “real picture” of a massage may not be what your clients want to see.


Some take issue with the photography used to market massage as being inaccurate and overly fake. Photography's main purpose in marketing is to sell a feeling. They are an impressionistic representation of your services, as opposed to a literal one. Their purpose is to tell your client "This could be you, you could feel as relaxed as this person, here in this picture". The photo does not have to look exactly what your massage space looks like, it does not have to depict what a massage session looks like in real life, and last of all it can look pretty. Pretty sells.



If you want to increase business,
the right words can make a difference.


Sounds like everything is just a big pack of lies, doesn't it? Until there is a universal definition of massage modalities that cannot be disputed, all types of massage are "just marketing". And really, marketing terms and photos can be pretty powerful. If you want to increase business, the right words can make a difference. Marketing is less about pristine truth, and more about a quick glimpse of what awaits them when they walk through the door. It's true, there is terrible photography out there. The lighting is terrible, the aperture is off, they didn't even consider the rule of thirds... There are people who use marketing to mislead, but you are not that person. There is something to be said for truth in advertising, but that doesn't preclude you from conveying a feeling.  If you have access to a good photographer and want pictures of your space, go for it… but don’t expect it to be free. As a photographer, their business is just as hard as ours to get people to pay for their hard work. However, if you need to use a free photograph, or inexpensive one and it has candles and flowers in it, that’s okay. If it gets your client in the door asking to feel like that picture made her imagine she would feel underneath your talented hands, and you can provide that, then you've reached your ideal client. She's not going to care if there aren't any flowers by her face.





There is something to be said for truth in advertising, but that doesn't preclude you from conveying a feeling.





Erin Howk BS, BCTMB
Thank you to my photography instructors for teaching me to edit in frame.

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