Massage & Bodywork

January/February 2011

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visit SUCCESSFUL PROMOTIONS WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK The key to being successful at marketing is to plan your strategy—before spending money—by defining the audience you want to promote your business to, the message you want to send, and how you're going to get the word out. Implementing a specific promotion is most often an all-out advertising effort to bring in new clients. A promotion can also be directed at your existing clients in the interest of getting them to return and to refer new people. One example: offer your existing clients the opportunity to bring a friend for free, with the stipulation that it must be someone who has never been to your business before and that they must live in the area. It won't bring you any new business to give this promotion to the cousin who is visiting from out of state. GROUPON One promotional phenomenon that has taken off on the Internet is Groupon ( Businesses of all types sign on with Groupon and discount their services or products 50 percent, on average. Groupon features one business per day in a city and is currently available in about 150 larger cities. Unfortunately, the service is not yet available in small towns, although if you live in the suburbs of a metropolitan area, it may still pay off. Many people who work in cities live, shop, and get services in outlying areas. Subscribers receive an email every morning offering the opportunity to purchase a coupon from a local business at a steeply discounted price. The featured business and Groupon agree on a minimum number of customers who have to buy. The customer's credit card is not charged until the minimum is met. The business owner is not paying out any money up front—Groupon keeps half the face value of the coupons sold, charges the credit card processing fees to the business owner, and pays the owner the rest in equal installments over a period of three months. The Groupon website is filled with success stories that in many cases exceeded the business owner's expectations. In fact, Groupon will no longer feature a massage therapy or other private practice as the main deal of the day, due to the fact that so many practitioners were overwhelmed with the number of people who bought into the promotions. After Groupon received numerous complaints about people not being able to get in for an appointment, in some markets they have limited private practitioners to a "Side Deal." Subscribers have to click on a link in the daily email to reach this offer, but instead of being featured for 24 hours like the main coupon, Side Deals may be offered for two to four days. Susan and Shane Epperly, massage therapists from Austin, Texas, were featured through the site last year. Groupon emailed the Epperly's discount offer to 35,000 people in the area. "We sold 500 $35 vouchers by 4:00 p.m. on the day we were featured," Susan says. "One of the things that has been so great about the new clients that we were able to attract is the fact that, while they are mostly professionals, they are all from different industries and professions, so this has allowed us to diversify our clientele." David Turner, a therapist in Charlotte, North Carolina, had such a massive response to his Groupon offer that it facilitated moving into a bigger office and hiring another therapist. He sold 764 Groupons, and three months later, 256 had been redeemed. Like the Epperly's, Turner's offer was limited to new clients. At the $29 sale price, he is actually taking in $13.75 for an hour of massage—but again—feels it was definitely worth it due to all the new clientele. Another perk: just like gift certificates, there will be a certain amount of vouchers that will never be redeemed (between 15–20 percent, based on reports from other businesses that have used them), which ultimately will bring your profit margin back up. Kenny Lyons of Louisville, Kentucky, signed on with Groupon and took advantage of the fact that you can limit the number sold. He capped his number at 200, which quickly sold out. His offer was one hour of massage for $35; he says 14 percent of the people who have redeemed the vouchers rebooked on the first visit. HOW TO DISCOUNT WITHOUT GOING BROKE If you're going to discount your services, you have to take several things into consideration. Of course you want clients to feel like they're earn CE hours at your convenience: abmp's online education center, 23

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