Venturing out on your own with a new massage business, or hoping to breathe new life into your established massage business? Whether you have a faithful client base or are still waiting for your first client, these tips will help you form a solid massage marketing plan for your business.

Of all the massage marketing ideas you may hear about, word of mouth is by far a massage therapist's strongest asset. Clients who have personally benefited from your healing touch are a natural advocate for your massage therapy practice.

People tend to accept opinions based on personal experience, particularly when those opinions are offered freely, with no underlying motives. Personal referrals from friends or family members—or even casual acquaintances—are more likely to generate a response than traditional advertising venues such as newspaper ads or fliers.

Loyal clients raving about your massage skills to their friends and family, resulting in an endless chain of referrals and new clients, is an inspiring vision, but in the meantime, what can you do to light the spark?

One way to spark referrals is to offer a special deal for clients who refer your massage services to a friend or family member. How does this work? Here's an example. If a new client books (and keeps) an appointment as the result of a referral, the client who made the referral receives a free massage session. If the new client re-books at the end of their first appointment, your regular client gets another incentive, such as hot stone massage.

Other rewards for referrals could include free add-on treatments such as foot massage, spa treatments, or aromatherapy. These add-ons encourage the client to sample other services you have to offer. If they enjoy it, they may even consider adding it to their regular massage sessions.

Another source of potential referrals is community involvement. Network with community members and local business owners, especially those who work with clients and customers that would benefit from therapeutic massage. Individuals who are prominent in the community can effectively market your business through word of mouth.

Chiropractors, fitness trainers, and physical therapists are key individuals to include in your network, but don't limit yourself to the obvious. Be creative. Include health food stores, specialty gift shops, bridal shops, and counseling centers. Focus on the type of clients you hope to attract. Do you specialize in pregnancy massage? Network with family planning centers and local health clinics. Sports massage? Partner with local gyms, yoga centers, and sports chiropractors. Massage for the elderly? Connect with home health care workers, senior centers, and nursing homes.

On the flip side, word of mouth can also work against you if your massage practice offers less than clients expect. The foundation of any massage business plan must include a professional atmosphere and relaxing environment. If you try to scrape by with threadbare sheets and oil-dotted walls or neglect to clean the restrooms, your clients will notice and tell their friends. Clients are more likely to become regulars if they perceive that you care about their health, their time, and their comfort.

While word of mouth is your core strategy for long-term clients, there are plenty of other massage marketing ideas that can give your appointment schedule a boost. Chair massage is one of the most effective. It's also an excellent introduction to massage therapy for potential clients. Chair massage allows clients to sample the power of healing touch before experimenting with the deeper benefits of full body massage.

Offer chair massage sessions at community and social events, health fairs, business expos, farmers markets, athletic events, country clubs, coffee houses, bookstores, or universities. Bring your appointment book to schedule office sessions on the spot for interested clients.

Some therapists offer chair massage for free as a marketing promotion, but clients looking for a handout are less likely to become regular clients. Most massage therapists charge one dollar per minute for seated massage. Individuals who are willing to pay for seated massage will be more willing to invest in your services for full body massage.

Business cards should also be an important part of your massage therapy business plan. Give extra business cards to friends and family members who are willing to refer your services. Keep a stack of business cards at the appointment desk, where clients can pick up a few on their way out if they know of people who may be interested in your services. Don't hesitate to pass out business cards on your own as well.

Building up your massage business takes planning and hard work, but the results are worth the effort. Your business and your clients will benefit from your efforts to reach individuals who can find hope and healing through massage therapy.

Author's Bio: 

Copyright 2009 OneTouch Massage. For professional quality massage tables and massage supplies at wholesale prices, visit OneTouch Massage at Free shipping on all products!

Learn more about massage marketing at the OneTouch Massage Blog.

Jesse K. Taylor is an SEO copywriter and blogger for OneTouch Massage, an innovative leader in the massage table industry. OneTouch Massage strives to satisfy the professional therapist and home user alike with quality craftsmanship, affordable pricing, and responsive customer service. OneTouch Massage invests 10% of your purchase back into the community through integrity-driven organizations that lend a helping hand to those in need. At OneTouch Massage, we help you touch the lives of those around you and the lives of your neighbors around the world.

Reprint Rights: Feel free to reprint this article, provided that the article is published in its entirety as written and includes the copyright section, author bio, and active URL links.