Like any business, a natural therapy practice can benefit from a well-thought-out action plan. Here's an overview of the benefits of having a...
How To Grow Your Natural Therapy Business
Looking to grow your natural therapy business but not sure where to start? This blog shares everything you need to take your complementary therapy practice from side hustle to thriving business.
It is an exciting time to join the dynamic complementary therapies industry. There has been an increase in demand in Australia and globally for natural therapists as the range of industries seeking their skills continues to grow. This rise in popularity is leading to an expansion of the industry’s clientele, which is great news for you. But it poses this question: if more people are looking for complementary therapists than ever before, how do you make sure it’s your business they see first? Read on to find out.
Adopt a growth mindset
To expand your natural therapy practice, your mindset must expand in tandem. Whether you’re looking to grow your current practice or turn a hobby into a thriving business, it’s important to cultivate a growth mindset. Do this by applying the below business strategies:
Implement a fixed work schedule
To build a thriving natural therapies practice, it’s imperative to set specific work hours each week. Time is money, but time is also the most precious commodity you have.
Valuing your time reinforces your commitment to your business and ensures you maintain a healthy equilibrium between your work and personal life.
If you’re in the early stages of building your practice and your treatment books are yet to be filled, dedicate a day each week to work on your business. Prioritise tasks that will enhance and grow your business – such as marketing, researching ideas, writing content or hanging up posters – instead of clocking off early if you don’t have any client booked in that day.
Ensure your treatment sessions have a time limit
When you’re first starting out, it can be difficult to keep your treatments within the dedicated timeframe. A new masseuse may find it hard to complete a client intake form, assessment and massage in just one-hour, however setting time boundaries helps to instil a sense of value in your offerings. It also helps you to manage your schedule effectively, so that you don’t keep other clients waiting and so that you have a harmonious balance between work and life.
Charge what you are worth
Remember this: you are a qualified complementary therapist who has committed significant time and energy to the industry by undertaking extensive study and training. It’s important you value yourself and your services highly. At all costs, avoid undervaluing yourself which, simultaneously, undervalues the complementary therapies industry.
To ensure you’re charging accordingly, research natural therapists in your area who are offering a similar service to you. This helps to position your services competitively and fosters a pricing strategy that aligns with the market.
Develop a financial plan and budget
Creating a structured financial plan and budget may seem overwhelming at first, but doing so gives purpose to your business and sets realistic goals. Take control of your financial future by speaking to a financial planner, sign up to an online masterclass or attend a money seminar.
You need a plan that gets you excited in the short term and keeps motivated for the long term.
When it comes to creating a budget, start by calculating your monthly income then list your monthly expenses and determine costs for each expense. Be sure to set aside tax, superannuation and GST if required. Label each expense as either fixed or variable. Variable expenses are bills you cannot avoid such as rent, mortgage, utilities, insurance, debt repayments and food. Variable expenses tend to be more flexible such as a gym membership or dining out. Next, calculate the monthly average you spend on each expense then compare your income to your monthly expenses. If your expenses are higher than your income, you will need to adjust. Hopefully, you might have some income leftover which you can use to increase your savings. After you’ve created your budget, the next – and most important step – is to stick to it. Keep yourself accountable by setting reminders and goals with your bank, track your expenses or use a budgeting app.
Manage your cash flow
A steady cash flow is imperative for running a smooth and successful natural therapies practice. Use accounting tools such as Xero to automate this process. Adopting a strategic plan helps to maintain stability and ensures money has been put aside to pay for business expenses, tax purposes and GST if they applies. Victoria Devine from She’s On The Money says, “It sounds underrated, but if you can stay on top and maximise your cash flow you’re going to find everything easier when it comes to money.”
Maintain up-to-date client records
It’s important to keep accurate and organised client records. Doing so will help you to provide a personalised and efficient treatment and set a professional standard for your business. Tools such as Cliniko can help you to manage your schedule, treatment records, invoices and payments. Remember to start the way you want to finish. This will set your business up for success.
How to acquire and retain clients
Develop a strong online presence
The first step to marketing yourself as a therapist is to create a user-friendly website. It doesn’t need to have all the bells and whistles, but it should be mobile-friendly, load quickly and clearly communicate your offerings.
If you’re wondering what content to put on your website, ask yourself this: what makes you different? How does your business stand out from the crowd? What is your unique selling proposition (USP)? If you are a massage therapist, do you begin each treatment with a personalised essential oil? Do you offer a signature herbal tea post treatment? Perhaps you leave a little chocolate for your client. You don’t need to reveal those unique offerings online, but they provide a good starting point for digging deeper into what makes you stand out.
By creating a strong online presence, you’ll quickly establish yourself as a credible and trustworthy business. This same logic applies to social media, which we will touch on below.
Develop a marketing 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.
- What are your goals?
- Who is your target audience?
- What marketing channels do they use?
- How best can you target them?
- What is your USP?
- 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’ve expanded some of these topics below to take your complementary therapies business from “just ticking along” to “tick, tick, BOOM”.
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.
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.”
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
“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.
It’s crucial you inject authenticity into your social media communications. 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.
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Build a strong client base
Obtaining client referrals
Don’t assume your client will refer you, even if you’ve just given them the best treatment of their life. You may have completed your session, but your work hasn’t finished yet. Far from it.
Strategic marketing expert Noah Fleming says “The most important work you do is done after the first sale is made. The bulk of your efforts should be in the care and nurture of your clients.” It’s important to have a referral process in place once your client leaves your clinic. Perhaps it’s a check-in call or message the following day. Maybe it’s an email a few days later offering recovery or treatment tips. Providing ongoing support fosters loyalty and encourages repeat client. It is possible to have quality and quantity – you just have to play your referral cards right.
When it comes to asking for a referral, IICT suggests investigating the big three “Ws”: who, why and when.
Identify who you’d like to be referred to and by. You want quality clients who are going to visit your clinic, so do some research. Does your current client have a circle of friends or colleagues that might benefit from your services? Is there anyone else in their family that would enjoy your skills?
It’s important to check your internal compass when it comes to referrals. The end goal is to generate more business but the reason why you’re initiating first contact should not be self-serving. Check in with your client and genuinely see how they are going post treatment. Perhaps you can add value to your client by sending them some treatment resources.
When it feels appropriate, ask about a referral. Once you’ve contacted the potential client, thank the client who gave you the referral and let them know how it went.
The timing of asking for a referral is important. If a client has just done business with you for the first time, it might be too soon to ask for a referral. However, if you have someone who has been working with you for a long period, it’s time to ask them for a referral. You’ve most likely established a professional relationship with this client, so gently lean on that.
Here’s a simple way this could play out: next time your client expresses gratitude for the service you’ve provided by saying “thank you”, reply with “It’s my greatest pleasure. Do you have anyone else who might benefit from the same value I provided you? If so, I’d love for you to introduce me.”
It might take a little practice at first but if someone values your services, it should be a no-brainer for them when it comes to referring you. You just have to ask.
If you have a referral program in place, be sure to share it with your clients. It could look like this: each time a client successfully refers someone, and they book with you, the client receives $10 off their next treatment or a discount on a package of five treatments. If your referral program offers incentives, more clients are likely to jump on board.
If you approach referrals neutrally, the bookings will come naturally. Trust the process and trust your offerings.
The importance of Google or Facebook reviews
Reviews on Google or Facebook carry significant weight. They can heavily influence the decision-making process of a potential client and determine if your service will provide them something of value.
Positive reviews offer social proof, build trust, relatability and credibility. Negative reviews give light to areas where your business might need work.
Wondering how to ask your client to leave a review – and how to ensure it’s a positive one? Use IICT’s PAIR UP method:
Offer an outstanding and memorable service to your client. Clients are more inclined to leave positive reviews when they’re feeling satisfied.
Ask for a review when the treatment is still fresh in the client’s mind. Streamline this process to make it as simple as possible. Provide clear instructions, direct links or survey questions.
This isn’t a necessary step but attractive offers and discounts for clients who leave positive reviews, whether it be $10 off their next treatment or a free eBook download, can incentivise action.
It’s good practice to engage with the reviews you receive, both positive and negative. Doing so strengthens the relationship with your clientele, builds trust, shares your humanness and, if it’s a negative review, offers valuable insight into the areas of your business that need improving.
Be sure to share any positive reviews you receive on your social media accounts. Use editing tools like Canva to make an aesthetically pleasing post, then shout it loud and share it wide. This will encourage more reviews and showcase your commitment to your natural therapies business.
Promoting your Google listing increases visibility in search results and enhances your credibility. Keeping your Google listing up to date with essential information like contact details, business hours, website and directions will provide a better experience for potential clients.
Tread carefully with AI
AI for content creation
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a powerful tool and is increasing in popularity – and for good reason. However, to reap the benefits of AI, you must approach it with care and consideration.
AI content creation tools are great for generating ideas and article structures however it’s imperative that the final content you publish, whether it be on your website or on socials, reads and sounds like human-written content.
AI content tools are rapidly developing yet they still lack the creativity, emotional intelligence and understanding of nuance that makes content shine. It’s important to always consider the human factor when it comes to AI. Remember, your goal is to engage a human to book your services – the best way to do this is by revealing your own humanness. This makes you relatable, builds trust and adds personality.
There is, however, one major caveat you must be aware of. The content AI tools such as ChatGPT generates is essentially copied from other articles that already exist on the internet.
Relying solely on AI removes originality and personality from your work. It adds to the sea of sameness and won’t stand out and get you noticed.
ChatGPT or alternative AI tools might also be negatively impacting your search ranking on Google. Josh Blyskal, the Associate Marketing Technical Manager at HubSpot, says “Now, more than ever, the value of content hinges on the authenticity of its creator and the underlying value, meaning, story and perspective of the content they’re creating”.
The last thing you want is Google determining that the content you’ve created is unoriginal or lacking expertise. If you’re publishing high-quality content that is helpful, original and relevant, it will be rewarded by Google. This means it should be picked up by the Google algorithm and ranked favourably.
Obtain complementary therapies insurance
It’s essential that your natural therapies business has a current insurance policy.
- 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.
Join a professional membership body
Gaining membership with an independent professional body like IICT provides comprehensive membership plans, access to competitively priced insurance and a global community for complementary therapists. With international recognition of over 1,100 modalities, resources on how to grow your business and an impressive referral program, IICT is your one-stop shop for everything complementary therapists need to thrive.
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.