Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Massage Marketing or Client Loyalty...Is your focus in the right place?

Client loyalty is one of the most important aspects of a successful practice. Too often, however, we focus most of our attention on how to acquire new clients. While it is a necessity to get new customers, it is vital to long-term success to nourish the relationships you already have.

A focus on client loyalty will sustain your practice for many years to come.

Statistics show that loyal clients are apt to buy and pay more, creating a steady cash flow. They also are more likely to refer business in your direction, thus saving you marketing costs. On top of that, their referrals are more credible for potential new clients because they “trust” the referrer. Your regular clients are more likely to forgive your errors and often will become helpful in providing you guidance for improvement. Lastly, it is just more economical to have clients return than to pay sometimes ten times as much to acquire new ones. When you are building your marketing plan, be sure to include strategies for turning clients into “apostles”, not just acquiring new ones.

Here are some ideas to consider when making plans to increase client loyalty

First and most important…you must establish trust with your client. Trust for massage clients can look like any of the following; timeliness, respect for boundaries, privacy, fulfilling appropriate requests, professional appearance, check-ins about pressure, knowledgeable answers, respect for yourself, proper draping, temperature of hands and room, just to name a few. You must meet these minimum requirements to begin to establish trust. To deepen trust you consistently deliver on the above and begin to explore meeting unique needs and finding ways to demonstrate appreciation. To the extent that 75 percent of buying decisions are based on emotion, there is no substitute for relationship building. In short, you must always excel at customer service, communication and problem correction. When you are consistent and thorough with these elements loyalty behaviors will develop.

Here are other ways in which you can encourage loyalty from your clients

Improve communication channels by developing a database of client information: This does not have to be difficult and can even be as simple as keeping written information sheets on all your clients (for those without computers). To make re-contact easier, I would recommend setting up a worksheet file on a computer in a program like Excel. If you work within a business, they might even have client database programs you can use. Plan on keeping all your clients contact information as well as notes for follow-up. You can then plan a re-contact program that can include newsletters, general information or win-back offers. There are also programs online that assist you with electronic communication. We use a company called Constant Contact. Be proactive in reaching out to former clients to encourage their return.

Another way loyalty benefits you is that loyal clients have a tendency to spend more when they visit. This one should be approached with caution. Your intent is to continue to highly satisfy your client, not sell them things they do not need. Your client trusts your recommendations and you should not hesitate to educate them on services or products you offer that will meet their needs or desires. For example, if you have a regular client that books a 60 minute massage and always requests aromatherapy, recommend they purchase some for their home (This if for those who carry products). For those who do not sell product you can recommend in advance an additional 15 minutes of aromatherapy and foot or cranial work at the end of their regular session. You get the idea. Also, remember to rebook them before they leave.

Plan occasional “Surprise and Delight” promotions for your regular clients. As a reward for their loyalty, create something special. It does not have to be expensive, maybe a birthday card, free sample sized product or a thoughtful note. The idea is to draw their attention to the fact that you acknowledge their business and appreciate it.

In closing, there are many ways to encourage repeat visits. Be creative and personalize ideas to meet your client’s needs. Be authentic in your expressions and your clients will know you care. It can be very easy to build relationships that will benefit both parties for years to come.

1 comment:

CranioBrian said...

I agree. I believe Relationship Marketing to be the most effective marketing for us in the bodywork field. The majority of new clients come from word-of-mouth referrals from my 'core' group of clients. I don't really market anymore ... I cultivate relationships. I stay in contact with current and previous clients in a very 'non-marketing' way.

Just the other day I saw a client who hasn't seen me in 2 years. She hasn't had any bodywork in that time. But, when she was ready to start getting sessions again, I was the only person she contacted. If I hadn't kept in contact with her I doubt she would have called me. She drives in from out of town and I have relocated since I last saw her. If I hadn't built and maintained a relationship over those 2 years she probably wouldn't have called me first.

Joe Girard, the #1 salesperson in Guinness World Record Books, mastered relationship marketing to achieve this award. He sold automobiles from 1963 to 1977 ... an average of 6 per day over that period of time. A total of 13,001 cars all sold at retail. His record remains unbroken.

Check out his story! It demonstrates the power of relationship marketing.