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START PADDLING! 1ST YEAR There's a lot going on during your first year as a therapist. You're figuring out the who, what, when, where, and why of your massage and bodywork practice. It's the perfect time to create a strong foundation for your practice and form good habits that will pay off throughout your career. Q. WHAT ARE THE KEY THINGS I SHOULD BE DOING TO MARKET MY PRACTICE? (A.K.A.: I'M PANICKING! HOW DO I GET CLIENTS?) KC: New therapists have a tendency to go one of two ways: either they do no marketing because they're nervous and don't know where to start, or they try to do everything at once and end up with a lot of half-finished projects. Do yourself (and your practice) a favor and focus on creating solid marketing strategies in these three areas first: an in-person marketing/ networking plan, a website, and a client referral program. In-person marketing/networking: This is the "meet people" part of the plan. Don't bank on randomly meeting potential clients; create opportunities to get out into the communities you choose to work with and let them know who you are and specifically what your practice has to offer them. Want to work with pregnant women? Speak to a Lamaze class about the benefits of prenatal work, give a demo, and offer a special incentive if they book a session on the spot. Also schedule networking opportunities with other business owners; try your local chamber of commerce. Website: Help people find your practice. The great news is people are looking for therapists online. The even better news? It's not as hard as you think it is to create an Internet presence. ABMP members can take advantage of the easy website builder tool that comes with membership and have a professionally designed website up and running in no time. Client referral program: It's OK to ask current clients, friends, and family to help you build your practice. Don't just wait for word-of-mouth referrals to happen. Ask people to refer new clients to your practice and reward them when they do. After you have these foundational marketing tools up and running, your next steps include email marketing and social media marketing. Taking each project one at a time so you're giving it the time and attention it needs to be done well will pay off in more effective marketing for your practice and less stress for you! Q. IS IT WORTH IT TO USE AN ONLINE SCHEDULING, CLIENT MANAGEMENT, AND BOOKKEEPING PROGRAM? IF SO, WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR? LS: I could rephrase this and ask, "Is it worth having easier ways for my clients to pay me?" My answer is YES. There are some technology- oriented developments that I don't always champion for massage therapists (worried that your website isn't at the top of the Google search? Don't.). But having a way for clients to book, rebook, and pay you is a no-brainer. You need to meet clients where they live, and I am willing to bet that most clients today regularly book, rebook, and pay for all types of services online. That's how we live—take advantage of it. There are a few different ways to get from A to B when it comes to client management and booking software— you could pay a monthly subscription fee regardless of usage, or you could sign up for a program that charges based on bookings. At ABMP, we partner with MassageBook. It includes an all-around balance of features, including some that only our members get for free. But there are a handful of other good programs out there, too. There is good feedback about programs on ABMP's Facebook page, and you can also post questions there to get a sense of what others recommend. 26 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k s e p t e m b e r / o c t o b e r 2 0 1 5

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