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A B M P m e m b e r s e a r n F R E E C E a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / c e b y r e a d i n g M a s s a g e & B o d y w o r k m a g a z i n e 87 Other examples can be focused on specific conditions. For example, there are members of our community who focus exclusively on head and neck issues. This can encompass different target markets or specific issues like temporomandibular joint disorder, whiplash, or chronic headaches, but the common thread is the deep focus on head and neck issues. Specializing in a discipline can be effective because just about everyone loves to talk about their neck pain, headaches, leg pain, stiff joints, etc. We can't help but broadcast to others exactly what's causing our discomfort, and it's easy to see it in others. Let's say you focus your practice exclusively on treating migraines. Soon you will start to develop a reputation for being the "migraine whisperer." People will tell others about you and as soon as someone has a friend with a migraine they will insist that they have to go see you. You will create and center your marketing blog all around migraines and dealing with them. Your social media accounts will become a resource for migraine sufferers who are looking for relief. You will optimize your website so that it gets found when people in your area search for migraine remedies. This is just one example, but think of all the possibilities when you focus on a specific discipline. Perspective The third category you can use to specialize is perspective. This is sometimes a little more difficult to pull off, but it can often be the most fun. Your perspective is your opinion about the work you do. For a perspective to be effective as a specialization, it should be bold, unique, and potentially a little controversial. A strong perspective can differentiate your practice simply because it resonates with the people who think like you do. For example, a practitioner recently posed the possibility of working with people who have anxiety issues. In theory, this could be a target market or a discipline. However, it could work even better when developed as a perspective. Think about anxiety for a minute. Many people with this condition often feel isolated, embarrassed, weak, or ashamed. They feel like no one understands them and, as a result, they try to hide their anxiety and may live a life full of stress and shame. But what if you were to focus the brand messaging of your massage practice around the idea that anxiety is not something to be ashamed of, but rather dealt with openly and without judgment? What if your perspective was "no one should feel ashamed to struggle with anxiety" or "everyone with anxiety should have a space to feel safe and free from judgment"? How would this resonate with people who struggle with anxiety? Would it be a breath of fresh air? Would it attract people to your massage practice? Would they think "Finally … someone who gets me!"? Implementing Your Specialization Choosing any one of these categories can strongly differentiate your massage practice. Sometimes your specialization can span two (or even all three) of them. The point is to find what works for you and what aligns with your skills, energy, and passion. Choosing a specialization makes your marketing efforts much simpler. Once you choose your area of focus, decisions flow more easily. Your website is then designed around your specialty. When you blog, it's all about your niche. Your social media content is more focused. Your brand is well- targeted. Everything is pointed in the same direction. You also get better at speaking the language of your client. You learn to serve them better because you learn more from each and every one. This, in turn, gives you a stronger foundation for your marketing. Specializing can be scary, but some of the scariest things in business are the things that bring us the greatest reward. If you truly want to stand out and attract more of the right types of clients, choosing a specialty may be one of the best ways to get there. Michael Reynolds is a professional speaker and business consultant based in Indianapolis. He partners with Allissa Haines to create business and marketing resources for massage therapists at Choosing a specialization makes your marketing efforts much simpler. Once you choose your area of focus, decisions flow more easily.

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