Tuesday night I sent out one of my usual “Last minute appointment” emails to my list of 178 clients. I had three open appointments listed for specific times I wanted to fill on Friday (you can see the email here.) I didn’t offer a discount, I just announced available appointments. By noontime on Wednesday (as I’m writing this) I had filled the earlier two appointments, had another client email to schedule for Thursday, and turned away two others who didn’t respond fast enough.
This pleases me. Partly because I’ll have an extra $240 (or more) in my deposit this week. Also because it means I’ve built a solid foundation and I’ve figured out the most cost-effective and efficient ways to reach my clients.
But it hasn’t always been this way.
Eight years ago this month I got my start interning at a chiropractic office. I didn’t have a computer. My email was a @juno address. I eventually got a great website, but couldn’t make any changes to it without my designer’s help. I fumbled with wording for the site, for my printed brochures, and in emails. I just kept trying until I got it right.
When I started sending out these types of emails in January of 2009, I didn’t get a great response. My list consisted of 80-ish clients. Most didn’t have smartphones, so email was still cumbersome. I persisted (partly because I didn’t know what else to do) and sent the email every week when I had appointments to fill. Most of the time I offered $5 or $10 off the appointments to sweeten the deal. After a few months, the responses increased. Clients would mention the emails when they came in, saying, “I like those emails, they remind me to schedule, even if I can’t make one of those times.” Eventually, my schedule got much busier, and I didn’t need to send them weekly. Nowadays I send out one or two a month.
What’s my point?
I spend a fair amount of time talking to new massage therapists (or experienced MT’s who just need a boot in their marketing arse.) I can tell you that very few marketing techniques reap immediate avalanches of clients. Marketing, especially massage marketing, is a marathon, not a sprint. We must work to gain people’s trust. Sometimes a potential client needs to hear about me from two friends, check out my website, and follow my Facebook page for a few months before they finally feel comfortable making an appointment. Or a person needs to meet me at a community event, get on my email list and read all the archives of my blog before they buy a gift certificate for Mother’s Day.
But eventually, it happens. You’ll notice your schedule gets fuller. You’ll see your efforts result in more response. You’ll move into maintenance mode (which is a pretty sweet place to be). Not everyone has the patience for this, you’ll see many of your peers throw their hands in the air proclaiming, “You can’t make a living in massage!” after just a year or two in practice.
They are wrong
Business building is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for slackers or unimaginative, stuck-in-their-routine sheep. We mst be creative, excited, and open to new ideas and changing technology. (Also, it helps to be really, really good at massage.)
So keep on keeping on, my friends. And know that you’re sowing the seeds of a really great business, and a truly amazing career.
Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net