Are you attracting the massage clients you really want to work with? If not, it may be because your marketing communication is not focused on the right target market. A client persona can help you target your ideal client with a focused and relevant marketing message.
Creating relevant marketing and web content that connects with your prospective clients is critical for growing a successful massage practice. This is why creating a client persona is important.
What is a client persona?
A client persona is a (semi) fictional character that reflects the qualities of the ideal clients you want to target with your marketing.
An Ideal Client is someone that you love working with, who values and respects you and your practice. You feel energized when working with them. They increase your career satisfaction, and your dream practice would be filled with these people. Hopefully your ideal client will be someone who will need your service over an extended period of time.
The persona is a vivid profile based on several of these real or imagined ideal clients that share specific characteristics. It is a useful tool that is also known as a customer persona or a buyer persona. And it will help you focus your marketing and communication strategies on your clients’ needs.
The objective is to enable more effective and personal communication with prospects who you really want target. It will help you to connect with your tribe.
Why it’s important to create a client persona
Creating personas helps you to precisely identify who your ideal client is. People are more informed than ever, and are weighing their options carefully. So it is important that your marketing messages speak very clearly and specifically to your target market.
Having a good persona or two will be especially helpful once you begin regular written marketing efforts. This includes content marketing such as blogging, social media marketing, or advertising in various media.
The more specific your niche and target market, the more useful a client persona will be. Most massage practices would benefit from creating 3 or 4 personas, so that each one can be very specific.
In other words, create multiple personas when you target distinctly different markets. A good example is if your ideal clients include both golfers and pregnant women. While they may both have problems related to low back pain, their profiles and influence strategies will likely be very different.
Thorough understanding of your ideal client(s) enables you to write your marketing or web content in a more personal way. This changes the feel or tone of your communication from writing to a general audience, to writing to an individual.
Other reasons to create a persona:
- It helps you identify your client’s needs and wants, so that you can exceed them.
- To remind yourself that not everyone is your client.
- Some massage therapists chose to work with a copywriter to create more effective marketing materials. Having a written persona can make this process faster and therefore more affordable.
- It will help you with long-term growth of your practice. When you understand what your clients really want, you will know which new services or product lines will be well-received (profitable) before investing in them.
- Understand your new clients before you know them. An accurate persona does more than help you initially connect with new clients. It can help you build rapport while you’re getting to know the individual.
The persona creation process is a good investment of your time. It will benefit you for years, or until you decide to work with a different target market. It should take about 1 hour total time using my free template below.
Correct any assumptions you had about your clients
Researching your current clients during the creation process will help you break through any assumptions you may have about your target market.
For example, at first you may think that the core group of clients that you love working with, who keep coming to see you, come because you have low prices. This could be true. Or maybe you’re struggling to get started and money is tight, so it effects your personal decisions and you think that cost is other people’s primary consideration too. That was my faulty thinking process when first starting out.
Perhaps in reality they come to you because you are the only therapist around that listens to their complaints and adjusts your treatment accordingly. Maybe they actually feel guilty about paying you so little and wish you would raise your rates. Do a little research to understand your client motivations.
Work through these assumptions to come up with real reasons, and you will be able to better meet your current client’s needs. In the process you will also attract more new clients, lose fewer clients, and run a more efficient and profitable practice.
A persona is useful for inbound and outbound marketing strategies
Inbound marketing focuses on having useful and relevant content available for ideal customers that come to you. For example, having a blog that you regularly update with content written with your
ideal client in mind. Use your client persona to help determine topics that appeal to your readers.
Social media content is also part of an inbound marketing strategy. As is identifying keywords in your search engine strategy that your ideal clients are likely to use when searching for a massage therapist.
Outbound marketing strategy could use the persona to assist in the creation of relevant emails or brochures. This will help create content that grabs your reader’s attention quickly and connect with them to generate interest. As you can imagine, the better you understand your target market, the more likely you will be to write a message that gets his or her attention quickly.
Using a persona when writing your marketing communications is like thinking about your close friend and maybe even looking at a picture when writing a message to him or her. Your message will end up being more relevant, and will connect more with your intended reader.
Keep 1 or 2 of your client personas in mind when creating your marketing content, and your message will resonate more with your prospects as they read them.
So now that I’ve rambled on about all the reasons why you need to do this, let’s look at what goes into a persona and make one…
Key components of a persona
- Demographics: age, gender, occupation, income, education
- Hobbies and interests
- Health goals related to massage
- Current health or life challenges
- What strategies are they currently using? Are they making progress?
- Family and personal network
- Values and beliefs about massage, complementary healthcare and related topics
- Objections to massage that these potential clients may have
- How did he/she hear about you, and what/who influences their decision to receive massage?
You will find a more thorough list of components on the template. Select the ones that are important to you. Feel free to add other items that are relevant to your practice.
Researching and writing
The research process to create your persona(s) can reveal unexpected results. It may turn out that the primary factors that motivated your ideal client to come to you initially wasn’t what you originally thought.
It would also be useful to talk to a couple of people who you thought were ideal clients, who only saw you once. Find out if there is some aspect of your practice/service that could be inadvertently driving your people away.
Update it periodically, as you learn more about your ideal clients and what motivates them. Also update to reflect new information, or evolving nature of your practice. Simply applying good listening and observation skills will, over time reveal new insights about what influences your clients and what attracts them to you and your practice.
You will likely uncover a few new insights about your ideal clients every week through the course of working with them and communicating with them. People like talking about themselves and feel important when listened to. No interrogation or focus groups needed.
Tips to make a great client persona
- Keep it very specific. A persona is a profile of a specific (fictitious) person. It obviously won’t exactly correlate with every prospective client. In fact, it won’t be a 100% accurate description of any one client. As long as it has captures many of the qualities of your ideal client. The more detailed, the better. Create 2 or 3 personas to help you make them more specific, so that you’re not giving ranges for the descriptors (age 34, not 30-40)
- Make it as real as possible. After reading it, you should feel like this is a real person who could walk through your door at any time. It should sound like the profile of a real person when you read it.
- It can be a little like playing detective. The process of buying something or choosing a service provider is an emotional decision. What I mean is that people tend to make their decision based on how they feel about something, then back up that decision with logic (cognitive rationalizing). This can make uncovering the reasons behind customers’ decision to come to our practice difficult, because they may not know.
- Name your persona. Athlete Annie. Chronic Pain Larry. Make your persona usable and practical. This helps to bring your fictional persona to life.
If you’re just starting your practice, you may need to do some educated guessing to first form your persona. But if you do have some actual ideal clients, then ignore your assumptions and biases and use actual input from these clients.
If you have several clients who you would consider “ideal” for your practice, you can base your persona real information from these people. You can survey your clients formally or just informally ask them.
You can give feedback cards to your ideal clients with 3-5 questions that don’t often come up in casual conversation. Most people will be happy to help you grow your practice, especially after you’ve worked with them a few times by now and have build up some rapport.
Here is an example persona for a massage practice:
Additional ways to use your client persona
Use the client’s wording or terms. If you find out that your ideal client tends to use the word “bodywork” when they talk about why they came in, then you may do better to use this term instead of, or in addition to “massage” in your advertising and on your website.
Same thing with alternative vs. complementary health, spa/office/studio, pain vs. soreness. It seems subtle, but using your client’s preferred terms will make them feel like you really understand what they need and want. Knowing what terms your client uses when searching for a solution to their problem will also increase the likelihood that they will find you when searching on the internet.
You can also look at any particular segment of your clientele that you don’t particularly want to continue working with, to find out what is attracting them to your practice. And then stop doing that.
Find out what else your target market is into, as these things are opportunities for marketing and for teaming up with people in those industries. For example, several of your clients in the recreational athlete market that you serve may also interested in working with a trainer. So get to know a personal trainer that you refer to and receive referrals from.
Your turn to create a massage client persona
Download the free PDF template below, to create your client persona.
Is there anything else that you think should be in the persona that would help a MT connect with new or prospective clients? Please comment below.