WRITING A MARKETING PLAN
If you’ve done research on anything business related, you know how crucial marketing is. You can give the greatest massage in the world, but if no one knows your business exists, you’ll never be successful. You can’t just sit back and expect clients to come to you; you have to get out there and draw them in.
There’s social media, email marketing, websites, events, open houses…the list goes on and on. Where do you start?
Before you go diving into anything, you need a thorough marketing plan.
It’s one of the most important, yet overlooked parts of a business. It’s not enough to know you have to market and then randomly try this and that and see what happens.
It’s just like a shopping list when you go to buy groceries. What happens when you don’t bring a list? You’ll probably get some of what you needed, but you’ll also get distracted and throw a few things in the cart you might not, and before you know it you’ve spent more money than intended, and when you get home, will realize you’ve forgotten several things on your list and you’ll have to go back. Marketing is the same way. Without a plan in place, yes, you might do some great things that are quite successful, but you’ll also waste a lot of money on things that aren’t useful and let some things slide that can have the biggest impact on your business. Taking the time to write out a marketing plan will save you countless hours and dollars in the long run.
So how do you write out a marketing plan?
While there’s several components that make up a marketing plan, and it would take a full book to cover it all, there’s 5 basic steps to it.
#1 Do Your Research
Before you ever put pen to paper to start to piece it all together, you first need to do some research. Take your time in this stage. It will make things so much easier later on.
Answer the following…
WHO IS YOUR IDEAL CLIENT?
Figuring out your ideal client is crucial! Although every single client who comes through your doors probably won’t fit this description, this is who you’re talking to in your brand and in every marketing attempt.
Before you consider age, gender, income, and all those other demographics, answer this: What problem do you want to help your clients solve? That’s the ultimate thing you’re trying to pin down when deciding on your ideal client. For instance, you may be very specific and decide to specialize in a certain modality or population, like prenatal massage or athletes and focus on their pain points. Or you could be broader, and say you want to help ease people’s pain. That’s not nearly as specific, but it’s a great start. Then you can get more detailed and fine tune those demographics. For example, you may focus on 30-45 year old females who make at least $75k a year. How you speak to that person will be very different from the way you would speak to a geriatric population on a fixed income, if you decide that’s your ideal client. Getting specific about this will help you to convey the message of your solution in the most appealing way possible to the people you’ve chosen. Again, not everyone who comes to see you may fit this, but the vast majority will, and that is how you create a business you love.
Remember to do plenty of research on this to make sure your chosen demographics, with that specific problem, are prevalent enough in your area to sustain your business!
WHERE DO THEY DO BUSINESS?
Once you have a clear picture in your mind of who your ideal client is, it’s much easier to start to find the places they frequent. What businesses do they use regularly in your area (a local gym, coffee shop, restaurant, boutique, health shop, etc.). Get out into your town and visit these places. It will let you have some much more detailed insight into your client’s mind, but also allow you to network with the business owners (and that can be more helpful than anything!).
What are their prices like? Are they super cheap, a little on the high end, or somewhere in the middle? Take note so you can see what your ideal client is willing to pay for a certain quality of product or service. The constant bargain shoppers may not be ideal for you, or that may be exactly who you want.
Why do those people purchase from those businesses? Maybe because the owner is a local and they like supporting small businesses. Or maybe it’s because the customer service is just incredible. When you go visit it yourself, you’re much more likely to see the appeal that your ideal clients do, which you can then use to influence some aspects of your own business and marketing.
What sort of marketing is working for them? They may be a completely different industry, but if your ideal clients are the same, then see how they’re marketing. If they have a great social media presence with a lot of engagement, then obviously those ideal clients are on social media and enjoy engaging with that sort of business.
There are so many things you can learn from simply finding and visiting these businesses that can then influence, at least slightly, how you decide to market and do business going forward.
WHO IS YOUR COMPETITION?
Although I’m not a fan of labeling other therapists as competition, since there’s usually plenty of clients to go around and everyone delivers a different kind of massage; from just a simple business standpoint, yes, the other therapists in your area are competition. So learn all you can about them. What is their education and experience level? What kind of services do they offer? Who is their ideal client? What marketing efforts are they making? What is their establishment like? What is their branding like? What is their price point? Gather as much information as possible so that you know your competition well. You’ll need that moving forward.
#2 Define Your Strategies
HOW CAN YOU BE DIFFERENT?
So you’ve gathered all that information about your competition, now you can use that to start building a strategy. Don’t get caught up in having to comply with the standard in your area. In fact, you want to stand out! If everyone offers the basic massage stuff, then maybe you should focus on promoting your other services, like cupping or Ashiatsu or Thai Massage or whatever.
WHAT WILL YOUR BRAND BE?
While I could write for days on this, I’ll keep it brief for now. A brand is basically the personality or theme of your business. It’s all about being consistent. The same style needs to be present in every aspect of your business. From your business cards and website to the design of your treatment room and how you write your newsletters or advertising copy. Everything needs to fit that brand.
WHAT WILL YOU CHARGE?
Unlike what many say, you’ll need to take into consideration your ideal client much more than your competition. If you followed through on your research, you’ll have a great idea of the pricing your clients are willing to pay. If they only want to pay the bare minimum, even for things they love, then you might need to charge less. If they’re willing to pay a premium price for better products or services, then you can charge more. Don’t think you have to stick with the price everyone else is charging, or undercut them to make yourself more appealing. That’s a quick way to drive yourself crazy and burn out. I charge double what most in my area do, but stay booked a year in advance. It’s all about your ideal client.
#3 Set Quantifiable Goals
When you are designing this plan, you want to include measurable marketing goals. For example, it may be that you want to get 1 new client every week for the next 6 weeks. Or it may be to rebook 75% of your clients. Whatever your goal is, make it measurable in some way. Each tactic (#4) will be based on these goals. You can update this portion regularly to keep expanding and growing at every turn.
#4 Outline Specific Tactics
Now that you’ve done your research, built a strategy, and set your goals, now you’ll need to go through each segment of that and decide on the tactic to achieve it. So how will you put those strategies into action? You’ve figured out where your clients are spending time and money, now how do you go there? If it’s a gym, maybe you offer to go in and work on their members. Or if it’s a local restaurant, you might ask to leave your cards. If it’s a retail shop, maybe you offer to help with a customer appreciation day and offer massage. If it’s social media, what plan can you put into place to build engagement? Whatever it may be, figure out what to do to get in front of those ideal clients.
Please be sure that when you’re outlining these tactics, it’s stuff that you’ll actually follow through with. If you absolutely hate doing chair massage and realistically, probably won’t set up, then figure out another option. Or go to the event but bring your table and offer some other techniques.
Aligning these tactics with your goals specifically will keep you working toward them every single day and week. What will you do each week to bring in that 1 new client? What will you say to each client as they leave to get that 75% rebooking rate? Design your tactics around the goals you’ve set so you’re constantly working toward them.
#5 Measure success
Keep track of each tactic and how successful it is. Remember those quantifiable goals you set? Are you reaching them? You’ll always want to ask where people heard about your business. If you’re putting several tactics into place, you may be getting clients from each of those, or just one or two. Taking note of what’s working and what’s not allows you to move forward knowing what is best for you and your business.
Also keep track of the financial side of your marketing efforts. It’s not just about getting that new client every week, or whatever. What gives you the best return on investment? If you’re spending $100 for an event, but only getting one, single-visit client, you’re losing money. If you get 1 regular client off that, you’re doing great! The lifetime value of that client greatly offsets the initial investment.
I can’t tell you what will definitely work for your business. No one can. If it was that easy, we could all follow some basic formula and be booked for life. What works for me, my area, and my clientele may not work for yours. It’s up to you to put yourself out there and test each tactic. Whether it’s networking events, social media, email marketing, chair massage gigs, or anything else you could try, it’s up to you to see what will actually deliver clients to your business.
Lastly, let me say that no matter how detailed and great your plan is, you have to be flexible. You know what they say about the best laid plans. You will need to regularly update and tweak this to take into account what you’ve done that has been successful or not, your local economy, changes within your business plan, new techniques you may learn, etc. This isn’t written in stone, but it will give you a great shopping list to keep you focused on the task at hand. It’s easy to get sidetracked or distracted by all the newest shiny things that some random “expert” says are going to be the secret formula for growing your business. Stay focused.
While this breakdown of a marketing plan may not be fully extensive, it will give you a great starting point to get more dedicated and serious about your marketing – and marketing is crucial to building your successful business.
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