Are you marketing your massage therapy services to the right people? Marketing and building a massage clientele takes time, effort and money. So how can you increase your chances of targeting the right prospective customers who need and want your massage therapy services? One way to do this is to create a client persona.
What is a client persona? A client persona is a (semi) fictional character that reflects the qualities of the ideal clients that you want to target with your marketing. It is sometimes called a customer persona, buyer persona, or client avatar. An ideal client persona can help a massage therapy business identify and attract clients that are right for the business based on the types of massage, experience, strengths, and specialized skills that the therapist has to offer.
Every successful business has been able to determine who their product or service appeals to, and then refined their marketing campaigns to reach more of these people. Whether you are a therapist starting a new massage business, or are trying to build up your clientele at an existing practice, it is important to understand who your clients really are. So the question is, how well do you know your massage clients? If you’re like most massage business owners, it’s probably not as well as you should. Creating an ideal client persona can help with this.
A client persona can help you to attract clients that you really want to work with. For example, consider a massage therapist that goes through the time and effort to build their skills in a massage specialty such as sports massage, pregnancy massage, oncology massage, or manual lymphatic drainage. Your ideal client is someone who is interested in those services and would benefit from them. A client persona can help you target your ideal client with a focused and relevant marketing message. This post goes into detail about how you can create your own client persona, and why this is important for every massage business owner who is responsible for marketing and finding new clients, whether you specialize in a certain type of massage or special population, or if you just offer general massage services.
*Tip: While virtually every body can benefit from some form of massage or bodywork, not every body is right for your unique massage practice.
Why it’s important to create a massage client persona
A client persona is a vivid profile based on several real or imagined ideal clients that share specific characteristics. It is considered a marketing tool, and will help you focus your marketing and communication strategies on your clients’ needs. Creating a client persona will help you to precisely identify who your ideal massage client is, and create a marketing campaign that resonates with these prospective clients. It is important that your marketing messages speak very clearly and specifically to your target market. The objective is to enable more effective and personal communication with prospects who you really want as a client of your business. In fact, one reason that some massage businesses fail is because the therapist does not listen to or understand clients’ needs and expectations. *The more specific your niche and target market, the more useful a client persona will be. Most massage practices would benefit from creating 3 or 4 personas, so that each one can be very specific. In other words, create multiple personas when you target distinctly different markets. A good example is if your ideal clients include both golfers and pregnant women. While they may both have problems related to low back pain, their profiles and influence strategies will likely be very different.
An Ideal Client is someone that you love working with, who values and respects you and your practice. You feel energized when working with them. They increase your career satisfaction, and your dream practice would be filled with these people. Hopefully your ideal client will be someone who will needs your service over an extended period of time.
Having a good persona or two will be especially helpful once you begin regular written marketing efforts. This includes content marketing such as blogging, social media marketing, or advertising in various media. Thorough understanding of your ideal client(s) enables you to write your marketing or web content in a more personal way. This changes the feel or tone of your communication from writing to a general audience, to writing to an individual. It will also help you when coming up with a massage business name for your practice.
Let’s take a minute to define a couple of key marketing terms that are related to client persona which are helpful to know: target market and niche. A target market is a group of people whose needs and preferences match the products or services that a business offers. For example, the target market for a massage therapist who offers sports massage may include college athletes, weekend warriors, and fitness enthusiasts. A niche, is specialty that you offer to serve a specific target market. So using the same example, this massage therapist’s niche is sports massage. These terms are like two sides of the same coin.
Other reasons for a massage therapist to create a client persona
- Potential clients are more informed than ever, so creating a marketing message that resonates with them is important
- They are exposed to thousands of marketing messages per day, so yours needs to stand out
- In most communities, potential massage clients have several options to choose from, and customers examine their options carefully
- It helps you identify your client’s needs and wants, so that you can exceed them
- Having the right clients who value your services will reduce client no-shows
- To remind yourself that not everyone is your ideal client
- Some massage business owners chose to work with a marketing specialist to create more effective marketing materials. Having a written persona can make this process faster and therefore more affordable.
- It will help you with long-term growth of your practice. When you understand what your clients really want, you will know which new services or product lines will be well-received (profitable) before investing in them.
- Understand your new clients before you know them. An accurate persona does more than help you initially connect with new clients. It can help you build rapport while you’re getting to know the individual.
Creating a client persona is a good investment of your time. It will benefit you for years, or until you decide to work with a different target market. It should take about 1 hour total time using the free template linked to in this article. Taking the time to create a client persona and understand their clients’ needs is something that successful massage therapists routinely do.
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Creating a client persona can correct wrong assumptions
Researching your current clients during the client persona creation process will help you break through any incorrect assumptions you may have about your current massage clientele or target market.
For example, at first you may think that the core group of clients that you love working with, who keep coming to see you, like your massage business because you have low prices. This may be true. But there is also the possibility that your clients are not as price sensitive as you think. Maybe they actually feel guilty about paying you so little and wish you would raise your rates. For many clients, especially older adults who have had time to become financially secure, cost is not their primary consideration. These clients are often more concerned with other aspects such as convenience, ability to produce results, having a therapist who listens to them, and their overall experience. The research involved with creating a client persona will help you to understand your client motivations.
Working through your assumptions about client motivations and preferences will help you to attract more new clients, get more massage referrals, lose fewer clients, and run a more efficient and profitable massage practice.
A client persona makes your other marketing strategies more effective
Having an accurate massage client persona can help a massage business owner with other inbound and outbound marketing strategies. Inbound marketing focuses on having useful and relevant content available for ideal customers that come to you. For example, having a blog that you regularly update with content written with your ideal client in mind. You can use your client persona to help determine topics that appeal to your readers. Social media content is also part of an inbound marketing strategy. As is identifying keywords in your search engine strategy that your ideal clients are likely to use when searching for a local massage therapist.
An outbound marketing strategy could use the client persona to assist in the creation of relevant emails or a direct mail campaign. This will help create content that grabs your reader’s attention quickly and connect with them to generate interest. As you can imagine, the better you understand your target market, the more likely you will be to write a message that gets his or her attention quickly.
Using a client persona when writing your marketing communications is like thinking about your close friend and maybe even looking at a picture when writing a message to him or her. Your message will end up being more relevant, and will connect more with your intended reader.
Keep 1 or 2 of your client personas in mind when creating your marketing content, and your message will resonate more with your prospects as they read them.
So now that I’ve rambled on about all the reasons why you should create an ideal client persona for your own massage practice, let’s look at how to actually create a client persona.
Key components of a client persona
- Demographics: age, gender, occupation, income, education, etc.
- Hobbies and interests
- Health goals related to massage
- Current health or life challenges
- What strategies are they currently using? Are they making progress?
- Family and personal network
- Values and beliefs about massage, complementary healthcare and related topics
- Objections to massage that these potential clients may have
- How did he/she hear about you, and what/who influences their decision to receive massage?
You will find a more thorough list of components on the template. Select the ones that are important to you. Feel free to add other items that are relevant to your practice.
Massage Ideal Client Persona Template (free PDF download)
Researching and writing your client persona
The research process to create your persona(s) can reveal unexpected results. It may turn out that the primary factors that motivated your ideal client to come to you initially wasn’t what you originally thought. It would also be useful to talk to a couple of people who you thought were ideal clients, who only saw you once. Find out if there is some aspect of your practice/service that could be inadvertently driving your people away.
Be sure to update it periodically, as you learn more about your ideal clients and what motivates them. Make sure that any updates reflect new information, or the evolving nature of your practice. Simply applying good listening and observation skills will, over time, reveal new insights about what influences your clients and what attracts them to you and your massage practice.
You will likely uncover a few new insights about your ideal clients every week through the course of working with them and communicating with them. People like talking about themselves and they feel important when listened to. So most clients will be willing to answer your questions (no interrogation or focus groups needed).
Tips to make a great client persona
- Keep it very specific. A persona is a profile of a specific (fictitious) person. It obviously won’t exactly correlate with every prospective client. In fact, it won’t be a 100% accurate description of any one client. As long as it has captures many of the qualities of your ideal client. The more detailed, the better. Create 2 or 3 personas to help you make them more specific, so that you’re not giving ranges for the descriptors (age 34, not 30-40)
- Make it as real as possible. After reading it, you should feel like this is a real person who could walk through your door at any time. It should sound like the profile of a real person when you read it.
- It can be a little like playing detective. The process of buying something or choosing a service provider is an emotional decision. What I mean is that people tend to make their decision based on how they feel about something, then back up that decision with logic (cognitive rationalizing). This can make uncovering the reasons behind customers’ decision to come to our practice difficult, because they may not know.
- Name your persona. Athlete Annie. Chronic Pain Larry. Make your persona usable and practical. This helps to bring your fictional persona to life.
If you’re just starting your practice, you may need to do some educated guessing to first form your persona. But if you do have some actual ideal clients, then it’s best to ignore your assumptions and biases and use actual input from these clients.
If you have several clients who you would consider “ideal” for your practice, you can base your persona real information from these people. You can survey your clients formally or just informally ask them. You can give survey cards to your ideal clients with 3-5 questions that don’t often come up in casual conversation. Most people will be happy to help you grow your practice, especially after you’ve worked with them a few times by now and have build up some rapport.
Example client persona for a massage practice
Refining your client persona
Use the client’s wording or preferred terms. If you find out that your ideal client tends to use the word “bodywork” when they talk about why they came in, then you may do better to use this term instead of, or in addition to “massage” in your advertising and on your website.
Same thing with alternative vs. complementary health, spa/office/studio, pain vs. soreness. It seems subtle, but using your client’s preferred terms will make them feel like you really understand what they need and want. Knowing what terms your client uses when searching for a solution to their problem will also increase the likelihood that they will find you when searching on the Internet.
One final idea is to find out what else your target market is into, as these things are opportunities for marketing and for teaming up with people in those industries. For example, several of your clients in the recreational athlete market that you serve may also interested in working with a personal trainer. So get to know a personal trainer that you would like to refer clients to and receive referrals from.