Giving away free massage or massage done at a really reduced rate can bring up many issues for massage therapists. You have to take each situation and analyze what comes up for you around giving a free massage.
Free or group discounted massage can be a great way to build your massage business but so many massage therapists have been there, done that and have left feeling burned out or resentful of giving those massages.
I am sure you have been asked many times to come to some businesses office to do free chair massage for some event or give free chair massage at a health fair. You may also have been asked to donate gift certificates for charity or other events.
You may be working for someone who offers group discounts and you are the one who takes the cut in pay to give the massage.
All of these things around free massage are really a great way to look at your needs and boundaries around giving massage.
When you come from a place of lack and feel resentful for giving away free massage or low cost massage, it is probably not a good place to be in. It indicates that somewhere along the line, you gave in on your boundaries. It will show up in the massage you give and the words you say. Clients/potential clients will know the difference.
On the other hand, when you have the mindset that giving free massage is just a form of marketing and is a marketing expense and have a plan of follow up and are able to convert those massages into regular, paying clients, then you are on to something. Many are not able to do that successfully and that is also OK.
Just know that it is OK to ask for what you need and to say no when you need to and say yes when it fits your boundaries.
So if you really believe in a cause and want to give a few gift certificates, give them with all your heart. If you running a group discount deal, think of it as paying for a lead rather than giving away massage if you can get to that point. If you can’t, just don’t do it then.
People also don’t always like free. They do want to pay you. They may feel uncomfortable taking something for free if it isn’t associated with a cause or for a good reason. More often than not, free massage is usually not the way to go. Something always goes astray.
People that get free massage may only want free massage and they don’t really understand the value of massage. I am sure we have all seen that, but in some cases, free or low cost can work to build your business.
How to make Free work.
Free or reduced rates can actually work for you when you do it right. It will be a learning process to get it so it does work though.
One of the best ways is to offer a free 30 minute massage when they upgrade from a 30 min massage to an hour massage. That way they pay for something.
Give free massage to events when you truly believe in the cause. Make sure your financial needs and mindset are where they need to be to be able to give your best massage and not feel resentful. How do you change your mindset? It usually won’t happen overnight and it is usually a process. Just knowing that working for free is just a marketing tool and not just for the sake of giving something for free. Know your value.
To make free events work, you need to really hone your marketing message and learn to talk to people in a way that makes the conversation about them and their needs. Ask about them…what things they like to do and what kind of work they do. Ask what kind of pain they have and how does the pain affect their life? Did you give them a discount coupon or offer? Did you have flyers, business cards and other marketing material to hand out with your name on it? Did you give out free samples of something with your name on it? Did you give out pens or mugs or something with your name on it? Did you have a plan on how to engage people and get them interested?
The follow up is also important. Did you get their contact information so you can follow up with them? Did you send them an email that was unique to the story they told you or information they gave you when you talked to them? If you did free chair massage, you should have a simple intake form that collects that information (and also protects you from liability in case something went wrong). Use that to connect with people again.
Create a plan and keep revising your message and keep doing fairs or free events until you figure out how to make it work.
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