Hamish

Marketing Your Massage Business in Jackson Hole

This blog is about the adventures, trials, tribulations, emotions, pleasures, fears, frustrations and joys of starting a new out-call massage business in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The blog is written by T. Hamish Tear, one of the two owner / partners of Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole – which is then carried forward into the Social Media sphere by Rochelle Ganoe – the other owner / Partner.

Our most recent ‘test of faith’ in Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole has been to continue to commit funds to consistent, repeated advertising over long periods of time when this is quickly becoming a negative cash-flow situation. The big decision has been whether or not to continue with advertising in the Jackson Hole News and Guide (and now we are considering the Jackson Hole Daily News) – in addition to the various other advertising mediums we have going on at the moment – not to mention the ‘Big-Gulp’ of a whole new custom web site. From previous blog posts, readers may recall that those other advertising mediums are:

1) Rack Cards. These were published by Vista Print. We ordered 2,500 and they have been distributed around Jackson Hole by the brochure delivery company “Pony Express”. We are having them delivered to rack card locations in hotels and public places frequented by tourists all over Jackson. Rack cards have provided us with two inquiries and one sale over a period of three months.

2) Jackson Hole Attraction Menu. This map and calendar of events carries advertising within it and is distributed alongside rack cards and is also found in many hotel rooms and lobbies. This has brought in three inquiries so far and has resulted in one sale.

3) The Jackson Hole News and Guide. We started with a 1/4 page ad and are now running a slightly smaller ad. for six weeks – the total contract being for thirteen weeks. This has brought in one inquiry, which led to one sale.

Those are our current advertising efforts and on-going expenses. In the past we have also advertised in the half-off special section of JH Weekly (aka Planet Jackson Hole). Yes it seems steep and scary and the question is…do we have faith in Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole to keep it going with that kind of negative cash-flow? Fortunately, we have our contract massage work at Spring Creek Ranch, and at Sena Spa in Teton Village, and at Olga’s Day Spa at Snow King Resort to keep us going. Rochelle also has a handful of fairly regular local massage clients from the past couple of years that keep her cash coming as well – although those are well discounted prices.

But what we also have to thank for cash coming in – by far our most efficient advertising medium (although we’re still talking small numbers) is the internet – yes – our web site, its SEO and Rochelle’s SM work – are performing. Usually when the Massage Professionals phone rings it is a request for a massage from having been found on the internet. And those customers have been mostly un-phased by our basic one hour massage price of $130 – and they leave extremely generous gratuities. This is why we have decided to go for the big splash of having a new custom web site built for us. We consider that the previous web site, a free template web site that comes with membership of the American Bodywork and Massage Professionals, to be ‘adequate’ but no more because it is not a ‘responsive’ web site – and other reasons. (Although it is a really good place to start with a brand new massage business with little start-up capital – and it has already gained a very respectable organic Google placement.)

This blog Post will continue next week with details of how we have decided to construct our new web site, who we hired to do so and why – and how expenses being poured into the web site can be justified and balanced against or with those other advertising mediums in Jackson Hole.

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle.

When The Massage Room Door Closes

This blog is about new massage therapists (a couple) starting a new massage business in Jackson Hole, Wyoming…

Here it is again, and I don’t mind repeating it…I AM A NEW MASSAGE THERAPIST. In fact it’s sometimes embarrassing that I don’t have much to offer about myself when it comes down to describing my experience in the ‘about’ page on our web site. But, hey, I’m 57 years old. Circumstances have led me to the point of starting over and I’m doing my best. So far, in addition to 100 hours of Swedish massage instruction, what I have to offer my massage clients and the massage business, is ‘life’ experience – which means experience of people on a broad spectrum. It means I can empathize, listen, understand, be free of judgments or pre-conceived notions. It is also handy that since my teens I have considered myself to be an athlete – sometimes reaching into the realms of ‘endurance’. Working-out regularly has become a necessity and, with that, comes an understanding of the human physique and what it can tolerate…and what it can’t.

We are fortunate to be able to work as massage contractors at a few spas in the Jackson Hole area – this brings us in valued cash and experience as we plug away at starting our new business. The guests are in their robes in the reception area while the therapists ready the rooms. Water or tea is given, and intake forms are reviewed with the guests. Most times there’s small talk about the vacation so far, I always ask about how long they have been at this altitude (Jackson Hole is at 6,200 ft.), and I also ask about what they have been doing here so far. (People often overdo it – even whilst on vacation. Even though I disguise it as chit-chat, I get an idea if they’re golfers, tennis players, climbers; carry small kids about, what they do for a living (computer work?), and if they’re generally stressed or not. 85% of the time people are needing a massage because of upper back, neck and shoulders pain and stiffness – and that mostly derived from computer work or at least desk-sitting all day. At this juncture I am truly tempted to suggest that they change their lifestyles – but of course I have to hold back and simply do the best for them in the hour that they are with me.

Resort guests can create an interesting dilemma because, mostly, the massage therapist only sees them ONCE. So what can you do? In normal massage practice when a massage therapist will see  clients regularly – it’s wise to use the first session or two just to get to know the client and their body type, their ‘condition’ and how they receive massage. It gives the massage therapist a chance to go in gently – exploratively, and then make a game plan for future massage sessions.

In the one-time-only massage business it’s a different story. The client usually wants one of three things – relaxation, soothing of specific aches and stiffness, or a combination of both. Often this is accompanied by a request for ‘deep tissue’ work. It is important to listen to the client’s wishes and, for the sake of a good tip, register that you will pay attention to those specific areas. However, I feel that it is also important to pay attention to the whole story – that the primary thing you can probably do for this guest is provide relaxation (without that – what’s the point?) – and the last thing I ever want to do to a one-time only guest is to hurt them – cause them to recoil, stiffen.

The guest has been heard – led to the treatment room, asked to disrobe (while I step out) and asked to (usually) lie face-down on the table…”And I’ll give a knock before I come back in…” I step outside, take some breaths. I replay what I have heard from the guest and void my mind of all else, preparing to do nothing other than give that guest the best of my attention, based on the information gleaned over just a few minutes of preamble, for the next sixty minutes.

I knock, get permission to enter, walk in, dim the lights even further, and the door closes behind me…

Be well,

Hamish & Rochelle

Learning As We Go

We are now into our eighth month since creating the LLC for Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole. This is only issue number 10 of this blog about our experiences so far – and yet I am already able to back-track, learn from my mistakes and assumptions – and share with readers.

Earlier this summer, when I started the Blog, I did so with reluctance – who wants to be a blogger? Who wants to spend any more time sitting in front of a computer (why many people come to us for massages these days)? Who would ever read this stuff  even if it could be found among the millions of blogs that now completely bung up the internet? In fact – I even wrote that the reason for writing the blog and including strong key words (for us they’d be massage, body work, deep tissue, Jackson Hole, Spa, and so on…) – has nothing to do with human beings actually reading the blog – but it’s all for search engine spiders / robots / crawlers that comb web sites and blogs looking for rich content.

Therefore, I admit, I wrote a load of drivel stuffed full of key words. I didn’t really care if the blog had form or consistency in style or in the way I set up the headers – because nobody would be reading it. You will notice I still don’t have a fancy header or any graphics and so far I have decided that images and lots of linking etc. is too time-consuming and a bit tiresome. After all – how many images of anything to do with massage are truly unique? And how relevant are fancy graphics when what I really need to spend my time on is writing the blog and getting the rich text in there?

But I was stunned to learn that people (so far other massage therapists) DO read this blog and have relevant, positive comments to make: Jen Ryan who is a life-long Jackson Hole and Star Valley massage therapist, and Yvonne Clapper of Massage by Yvonne in La Habra, CA, both commented on my recent blog post: Gaining Confidence as a (Male) Massage Therapist.

Jen and I work together at The Spa at Spring Creek Ranch in Jackson Hole. Again – I was completely taken-aback that somebody would read my blog and was grateful that I had put a little more care than usual into what I wrote. Jen loved it and was just generally very complimentary – most important to my confidence as a massage therapist and a startup business owner.. I made a note to myself that I need to pay more attention to this blog-writing thing.

Then Massage Professionals received an e-mail from Yvonne Clapper whose response to that same post about homophobia in the massage industry (not wishing to be massaged by a male therapist) is here: I really enjoyed reading this.  I’ll be sure to look you up if I’m ever in the area!  I am a massage therapist, but must admit I have a hard time relaxing when I receive treatment from a male therapist.  School helped with this tremendously, however, I still have insecurities when it comes down to it.  I agree 100% with your reasoning, but would like to add body image issues, and a history of abuse to your list of reasons.  Thank you for sharing! Thank you Yvonne this is a most useful and informative insight.

The learning curve in starting this new massage business in Jackson Hole is steep – at this very early stage I have already learned that not only are people reading this blog, but that their input is genuinely worthwhile.

In Massage Professionals JH Blog Post No. 11 I will describe how this blog, combined with Rochelle’s phenomenal job of keeping up with a strong Social Media campaign is helping to boost our position in the search engines.

Be Well,

Hamish and Rochelle