9 Ways to Build a Thriving Practice in Challenging Economic Times

Are you tired of your business just surviving? Ready to unlock its full potential for success? Explore nine transformative strategies designed to help natural therapists thrive even in times of economic uncertainty.

We are, undoubtedly, living through challenging economic times. In a period marked by inflation, rising interest rates and an increased cost of living, you may have found yourself or your natural therapy business at a crossroads.

Economic trends can have a significant influence on the success of your natural therapy business. Whether you work part-time from home, run a busy practice with a full book of clients or somewhere in between, understanding the current economic landscape is crucial in either surviving or thriving through challenging times.

There’s a lot to explore in this blog but first, let’s look inward. Amidst the current economic challenges, how are you feeling? How is your business fairing? Do you have practices in place to remain resilient and flexible – both within your business and within yourself? Do you feel equipped to embrace adaptability and pivot your business if you need to? Or would you like some guidance?

Arming yourself with strategic insights and creative solutions is critical in ensuring your complementary therapy business withholds the stresses of the times.

In this blog, you’ll discover nine transformative strategies designed to help natural therapists not just survive but thrive in the face of economic uncertainty.

Tip 1: Understand the Current Economic Landscape

In Australia, all economic sectors continue to navigate unpredictability. This is the result of various factors, such as shifts in consumer buying patterns and changing market trends. However, amongst this uncertainty, there is some good news. Overall, Australia has experienced a rapid economic rebound, bouncing back from the tumultuous times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The natural therapy sector, in particular, shines in its demonstration of perseverance, resilience and adaptability.

Australia stands out among countries in its widespread use of complementary medicine, with 70% of the Australian population utilising some form of natural therapy annually.

In 2023, the revenue of the complementary medicine sector in Australia reached approximately AU$3.8 billion and is set to rise. According to the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Market Industry Forecast for 2021-2031, the global complementary and alternative medicine market size was valued at $102 billion in 2021. It is projected to reach $437.9 billion by 2031, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.6% from 2022 to 2031.

These results show that, despite the challenging economic times, people are still putting their health and wellness needs first. This is great news for complementary therapists as it indicates a strong and growing demand for their services. If you can position yourself to thrive in the face of challenges and uncertainties, you will be rewarded with an expanded client base, increased revenue and continue to make a positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

Tip 2: Be adaptable to change

“The strongest will is the will that knows how to bend.” ~ Alice Duer Miller

Over the past few years, there has been a significant shift in customer spending patterns, which has affected the market for goods and services related to natural therapy. As a natural therapist, it’s important to closely monitor these trends and adjust your marketing strategies accordingly.

For your business to thrive during challenging times, you must get familiar with a few economic terms, such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). The CPI measures the average change in prices over time for goods and services commonly purchased by households. For the December 2023 quarter, the CPI increased by 0.6%, and over the past 12 months, the CPI has risen by 4.1%. This rise in the CPI suggests that the overall cost of goods and services has increased.

Complementary therapists need to adapt to changes in the economy by being flexible and responsive. Considering the current landscape, you might need to adjust your pricing strategies to maintain the profitability of your natural therapy business. If you do decide to increase your prices, here are a few tips to gently inform your clients:

Provide plenty of notice: Give your clients ample time to adjust to the new pricing system by providing plenty of notice. This could be through email, a newsletter or in-person communication.

Emphasise value: When communicating the pricing increase, focus on the value the client will continue to receive from your services. By framing the price increase in terms of added value, clients are more likely to understand and accept the change.

Offer options or alternatives: Recognise that a price increase may not be feasible for all clients and offer alternatives to accommodate their needs. This could include flexible packages, payment plans, loyalty discounts or referral incentives. By being flexible, you demonstrate to your clients that you value their business and are willing to work together to find a solution that meets their budget.

Along with increasing your pricing strategies, you might also explore expanding your product offerings or improving your marketing initiatives, which we share more on below.

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Tip 3: Leverage Digital Marketing

The digital revolution is well and truly on our doorstep, having arrived in various stages over the past few decades. Today, more than ever before, technology is reshaping industries and disrupting traditional business models. Companies that invest in technology and innovation will be better positioned to stay ahead of the curve and take advantage of new opportunities.

Where does your business sit when it comes to adopting digital solutions and embracing innovation? What applications or services are you using?

Building a robust online presence is crucial for natural therapists. In today’s digital age, clients turn to the internet to find complementary services, read Google reviews, engage on social media or book appointments. It’s important your natural therapy business can be found online. Here are a few ways you can do this:

Create a strong online presence

You don’t need to have a fancy website that has been designed with all the bells and whistles, but you do need a digital footprint of some sort. AI website tools like Mixo can help you create a basic landing page in seconds whereas Relume can help you build comprehensive sitemaps and wireframes for a website in minutes. Design can help you design a logo, business card or social media template in an instant.

By developing a robust online presence, you’ll quickly establish yourself as a credible and trustworthy business. This same logic applies to social media, which we also touch on below.

Develop a plan

To successfully market yourself as a therapist, you need a plan – and a good one. Your plan should be based on a thorough understanding of your target audience, your competitors and current industry trends. Below you’ll find IICT’s list of key factors when it comes to marketing strategies for therapists.

Ask yourself:

  • What are your goals?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What marketing channels do they use?
  • How best can you target them?
  • What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

Next steps:

  • Create compelling and educational content
  • Showcase your expertise by collecting and publishing case studies, reviews and testimonials online
  • Use social media to engage with your community
  • Utilise email marketing
  • Determine an advertising budget and track metrics
  • Speak to other businesses in the area that might recommend your natural therapies practice
  • Hand out brochures, flyers and business cards
  • Regularly review and analyse your marketing plan and adapt when you need to

We have expanded on some of these points below:

Investigate your marketing channels

Marketing channels are systems that help you attract people and turn them into paying clients. Some avenues may be Google, the IICT Practitioner Directory, email advertising, social media, radio, the local paper, brochures, flyers and signage. First, discover your business’ most popular means of lead generation, then start working on your advertising strategies.

Advertising strategies

When it comes to impactful marketing strategies for therapists, we spoke to the experts at The Growth Activists. Find their top marketing tips for therapists below:

  • Search (SEO & Paid Ads) 

    Paul Graham-Dumbrell from The Growth Activists says “Increasing the visibility of your website in search engines involves a mix of strategies in search engine optimisation (SEO) and Google Ads (paid advertising).”

    When it comes to developing your SEO plan, focus on keywords related to your natural therapy services and the specific treatments or conditions you treat. Add these keywords organically throughout your website pages, from titles and headings to the body copy of your pages. It’s important to ensure your website content is informative, high-quality and authentic. It also needs to address your audience’s needs and questions.

    When building your Google Ads campaigns, your headlines and ad copy should be engaging and emphasise the unique benefits of your services. Paul says, “Ensure ad copy is consistent between ads and the landing page you direct users to. Be sure to use a clear call to action (CTA) to encourage engagement. Remember to add some A/B testing to fine-tune your ads and closely monitor how things are performing.”

  • Email Marketing Tips

    When it comes to email marketing, Paul explains that “Creating effective subject lines is crucial in email marketing. Keep them brief, ideally between three-to-seven words or around 40-60 characters as mobile users may only see a preview. Personalise your subject line with the recipient’s name whenever possible and communicate the value or benefit the recipient will receive from opening the email.”

    To create more targeted emails, segment your database into customer types and focus on personalisation and authenticity in your content. Content should include educational articles, success stories, exclusive offers and wellness tips tailored to your audience’s interests.

    Paul recommends email marketing tools like Mailchimp, Subject Line and HubSpot as they can assist you in creating campaigns. These tools offer user-friendly email

    templates and analytics, subject line testing and additional comprehensive marketing functionalities.

    Continuous refinement and testing based on performance metrics will be vital to improving the effectiveness of your email campaigns.

  • Social Media Marketing Tips

    “When it comes to creating social media for your natural therapy business, think about sharing engaging and educational content. People love learning, so look at topics like the benefits of your modality or simple wellness tips. Show behind-the-scenes glimpses of your clinic or introduce your therapists to keep it authentic,” Paul suggests.

    When creating ads, think of precision targeting. Use platform-specific audience-targeting tools to connect with customers who are genuinely interested in your offer. This includes location, demographics and customer interest targeting.

    Craft ads that highlight the benefits of the modalities you offer. Weave in success stories or testimonials with a clear call to action, such as guiding them to check out your website or encouraging them to sign up for a limited time offer. Be sure the next step is simple.

    “When building your ads, maintain a consistent visual style that aligns with your brand identity and use eye-catching imagery or high-quality photos that resonate with your customers. With copy, storytelling captions in a conversational, authentic tone will deepen audience connection,” Paul explains.

    You must inject authenticity into your social media communications and blog posts. Doing so helps you to stand out from the crowd, builds trust with your clientele and adds personality to your brand. People are also more likely to engage with your content if it comes from the heart, makes them laugh or offers something of value.

Want more tips?

If you are seeking additional business growth tips and insights, consider joining IICT. As a member, you’ll gain access to a range of valuable tools including our top AI tools, marketing tips, eBooks, videos and other resources tailored to help expand your complementary therapy business.

Tip 4: Diversify Revenue Streams

As a natural therapist, there are a lot of opportunities to diversify revenue streams to mitigate your economic risk – you just have to think outside the box. It’s important, however, to always keep the client in mind. For example, you could elevate your client’s wellness journey by collaborating with other practitioners on bundled sessions, which in turn, generates revenue, stability and consistency. For example, you could offer:

Modality packages: If you or a colleague practices multiple modalities such as massage therapy, acupuncture and aromatherapy, you could create a modality package that includes a combination of these sessions.

Tiered pricing: You could offer clients tiered pricing structures to diversify and increase your revenue. This could look like:

  • A basic bundle with a set number of sessions at a lower price point.
  • A standard bundle with additional sessions or perks at a slightly higher price.
  • A premium bundle with the most sessions and exclusive benefits at the highest price.

By offering tiered pricing, clients can choose the package that aligns best with their goals and budget.

Frequency-based bundles: You could also encourage regular attendance and commitment by offering your client bundles based on frequency. For example, offer a monthly membership bundle that includes a set number of sessions each month at a discounted rate. You could also offer a quarterly or yearly package. This approach not only incentivises clients to prioritise their wellness but also ensures consistent revenue for your natural therapy business.

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Tip 5: Foster Strong Relationships with Clients

Your clients are the backbone of your business. It’s important to build their trust and offer exceptional customer service daily – but especially during challenging economic times. Here are a few ways you can transform your customer service from “just okay” to “simply outstanding”.

Delight and surprise your clients

Delight your clients with a surprise before, during or after their treatment. It could be a simple herbal foot soak before their massage treatment, a personalised essential oil blend

for the diffuser, a silk eye mask scented with their favourite oil or chocolate left on their robe after the treatment.

Send an email post-treatment

After a client’s appointment, send a personalised follow-up email to check in on how they are feeling. Express gratitude for their visit and invite them to reach out if they have any follow-up questions. You could even share a helpful resource such as a guided meditation.

Share social proof

Sharing a well-documented case study provides tangible evidence of the positive impact your session had on a client. This not only builds trust and credibility, but it also demonstrates your level of expertise. Potential clients are more likely to connect with a case study that mirrors their own health challenges or goals.

Celebrate your client’s milestones

As a natural therapist, celebrating your clients’ special moments can deepen your connection and show your appreciation for their loyalty and support. Here are some ways you can celebrate your clients’ birthdays and anniversaries:

  • Personalised wellness packages: Create personalised wellness packages tailored to each client’s needs and preferences. Include a combination of holistic treatments such as massage therapy, aromatherapy sessions and energy healing.
  • Special discounts or offers: Offer exclusive discounts or special offers to clients on their birthdays or anniversaries. This could include discounted sessions, complimentary upgrades or bundled packages to encourage them to indulge in self-care and wellness.
  • Customised gifts or goodie bags: Surprise clients with customised gifts or goodie bags filled with natural wellness products such as essential oils, herbal teas, bath salts, wellness journals, energy-clearing tools, crystals or skincare items.
  • Virtual wellness workshops or events: Host virtual wellness workshops or events focused on topics of interest to your clients, such as stress management, mindfulness practices or holistic nutrition. Invite them to participate in interactive sessions and learn new ways to enhance their wellbeing.
  • Handwritten gratitude cards or letters: Send handwritten gratitude cards or letters to clients on their birthdays or anniversaries expressing your appreciation for their support and trust in your services.
  • Social media shoutouts: Recognise and celebrate your clients’ birthdays and anniversaries on your social media channels by sharing heartfelt messages or testimonials.

Encourage your followers to join in the celebration and leave their well wishes for the client.

Tip 6: Invest in Yourself

“To keep the body in good health is a duty … otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” ~ Buddha

Investing in yourself is essential for building a thriving business, as your wellbeing directly impacts your success. If you are feeling physically or emotionally unwell, it can manifest in your business operations, client interactions and overall productivity. Taking care of yourself ensures you are in the best possible state to manage the demands of a business – this rings especially true when navigating economic uncertainty. Your health is an invaluable asset that directly contributes to the sustainability and growth of your business so be sure to put yourself first.

Did you know that one of IICT’s key benefits is renewing your membership and insurance without updating your Continued Education Requirements (CPD) or first aid certification? We do, however, highly encourage further education, certifications and training that can contribute to professional growth and enhance the quality of your services. This could look like:

  • Advanced course and trainings
  • Workshops and seminars
  • Online courses and webinars
  • Specialised training programs
  • Peer learning and mentorship
  • IICT membership benefits and resources such as access to discounted training courses, educational materials, professional development opportunities and more.

It’s important to choose IICT-approved courses and training. Look out for IICT’s training provider seals, logos and certificates.

Tip 7: Collaborate with Other Businesses and Practitioners

Forming partnerships with like-minded businesses and practitioners will enhance your wellness network and boost your revenue. Here are some ways you can leverage joint ventures with complementary services and products:

Offer holistic healing packages: Collaborate with yoga studios, nutritionists or mindfulness coaches to create holistic healing packages that offer a combination of services such as massage therapy, yoga sessions, nutritional counselling and meditation classes. These packages provide clients with a comprehensive approach to wellness and promote overall well-being.

Hold wellness events and workshops: Partner with local wellness practitioners and businesses to host wellness events and workshops focused on topics such as stress management, holistic nutrition, mindfulness practices and more. These collaborative events offer clients an opportunity to learn new skills, connect with like-minded individuals and explore different aspects of wellness.

Explore retail partnerships: Team up with herbalists, naturopaths, natural skincare brands and aromatherapists to offer clients high-quality natural products that complement your services.

Establish referral networks: Establish referral networks with other wellness practitioners and businesses in your area to exchange referrals and cross-promote each other’s services.

During economic uncertainty, you must find your people. We frequently hear from our members that once they joined IICT, they felt a sense of belonging and community. Joining IICT is like being welcomed into a big family. At IICT, 10,500+ members spanning 39 countries are united by a shared vision to help people heal worldwide – what a community to be a part of!

Tip 8: Ensure Operational Efficiency

It’s important to repair all leaky buckets in your natural therapy business. To do this successfully, you will need a strategic approach to improve operational efficiency, reduce costs and utilise resources. A few ways you can do this are:

Leverage technology for administrative tasks

Regardless of whether you are working alone or running a busy clinic, it’s imperative to leverage technology for administrative tasks such as:

Hire a virtual assistant (VA)

Your business can offer you many things – a deep sense of purpose, empowerment, creative fulfillment and a way to make an impact in the world. Sometimes, however, growing a business can leave you feeling exhausted, stressed and time poor. If you relate to some of those feelings, it might be time to hire a virtual assistant (VA).

While you may believe you’re cutting costs by doing everything yourself, like marketing, social media, accounting and treating, the truth is, you’re limiting your business’s growth potential.

Entrusting tasks, particularly those beyond your expertise, allows you to concentrate on expansion and strategy. Hiring a VA for your complementary therapy business can deliver numerous benefits, such as helping you to streamline operations, manage your time, offer support, increase your online presence, engage with clients and so much more.

At IICT, we have successfully implemented virtual assistants for many years and have strong working relationships with all our VA’s – they too are a big part of the IICT family. If you’re ready to hire a VA, get in touch with wrkpod – they’re the best in the business.

Tip 9: Protect Yourself and Your Business

Your natural therapies business must have a current insurance policy – this is especially important during challenging economic times. An IICT membership can offer you:

  • Professional Indemnity Insurance protects you against a loss that may result from a negligent act, error, omission or malpractice that arises out of your professional capacity as a complementary therapist.
  • Public Liability Insurance provides cover for bodily injury or property damage to a third party that occurs while conducting your professional activities.
  • Products Liability covers any products that you have specifically manufactured, materially altered or formulated in the course of your modality.
  • Unlimited Retroactive Cover covers you for your past practices if you have had continuous Professional Indemnity cover.

To access insurance products such as Indemnity and Liability Insurance and Professional Liability Cover, you are required to have an IICT membership. With international recognition of over 1,100 modalities, an incredible suite of member-only resources, tips for growing your business and an impressive referral program, IICT is for a thriving complementary therapy business. Get in touch with our friendly team today.


Article written by: Kate Duncan, IICT

About the Author:




Kate is Head of Content and Marketing at IICT and has been a prominent voice in the wellness industry for over a decade. Kate’s experience as the editor of two Australian health and wellness magazines offers a wealth of insights into the natural health space, which she now shares with IICT. Kate has extensively studied Yoga, Ayurveda and Massage Therapy.

When she’s not working, you’ll find Kate treasuring moments with her son, surfing one of Byron Bay’s beautiful breaks or spending time in nature with her family.


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