How To Stay Ahead Of Your Competition

Learn how to cut through in a flooded natural therapies market.

According to Complementary Medicines Australia, more than 70% of Australians use complementary medicines and natural therapies. With over 20,000 Australian businesses in the complementary therapies industry alone, maintaining a competitive edge is essential to the long-term success of your business.

Your clients trust you with their health and wellbeing; it is your responsibility to offer an amazing service and up-to-date treatments. Doing so reassures your clients that they are receiving the best possible care. It also fosters loyalty and increases their desire to refer you, which ultimately grows your client base.

So, how do you gain a competitive advantage and convert one-time clients into loyalists? Read on.

By leveraging the following strategies, you can ensure your natural therapies business not only survives but thrives in the competitive marketplace.


Research, research, research

If you’re a massage therapist, there are likely to be two or twenty-two other massage therapists in your local area. The same goes for yoga practitioners. In the highly competitive field of complementary therapies, understanding your market is crucial for staying ahead of the competition.

Get to know your market with:

Online surveys – Simple tools like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey can help you to garner valuable insights from your target audience. Simply tailor your questions to understand your client’s preferences, needs and pain points.

Social media – Utilise platforms like Instagram and Facebook as they can provide insights into what your competitors are doing and how customers are responding.

Competitor websites – Regularly review your competitors’ websites and customer reviews on platforms such as Google Reviews, Yelp or Facebook. Take note of what customers appreciate or where they find gaps.

By employing these simple techniques, you can tailor your services to meet evolving client demands, ensuring trust and enabling growth.


Competitor research and analysis

By understanding your business’ strengths and weaknesses, you can accurately identify what sets you and your services apart in a sea of sameness. A strong identity can help you achieve that competitive advantage and convert one-off clients into loyal fans.

You must find your noteworthy niche to ensure your natural therapy business has differentiation from the outset. To do so, it’s important to come back to your “why”.

Ask yourself: 

    • Why does my natural therapy business exist?
    • Who is my ideal client, and what unique needs do they have?
    • What specific outcomes or benefits do my clients seek from my services?

Strong complementary therapy businesses have a purpose, vision, mission and core values. Once you have a clear understanding of your why, you can use this information to guide every decision you make for your business.

Conducting a SWOT analysis will help you uncover your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats:

  1. Strengths: Identify what you do well and leverage these to differentiate your services. For example, if you have trained in multiple modalities, highlight your expertise in your marketing materials.
  2. Weaknesses: Recognise areas where you need improvement and develop strategies to address them. If you lack an online booking system, investing in one could enhance convenience for clients.
  3. Opportunities: Spot emerging trends and untapped markets to expand your services. A growing interest in telehealth could be an opportunity to offer virtual consultations.
  4. Threats: Understand potential challenges and develop contingency plans to mitigate them. Increased competition or regulatory changes could threaten your business, so stay informed and adaptable.


Understanding market trends

In a competitive market, being aware of and adopting emerging trends can give you a significant edge over competitors. It allows you to attract customers who are looking for the latest and most effective natural therapies. Below you’ll find three ways to explore market trends.

  1. Customer feedback: Regularly gather feedback from your clients through surveys, social media and direct interactions. It’s important to ask open-ended questions to gather insights that quantitative data might miss.
  2. Industry news: Subscribe to industry newsletters, join relevant forums and participate in webinars to keep on the pulse of the latest natural therapy trends. Follow thought leaders or inspirational therapists on social media, participate in discussions and stay informed.
  3. Trend analysis: Stay updated with industry reports and market research publications. Websites like IBISWorld and Statista offer comprehensive market data. Identify emerging trends such as new therapeutic techniques or shifts in consumer preferences towards sustainability.


Setting benchmarks for success  

The International Institute for Complementary Therapists (IICT) plays a significant role in setting benchmarks and standards within the dynamic complementary therapy field.

As a business owner, it’s important to set your benchmarks against the natural therapy industry standard. Doing so will help you measure performance, identify areas for improvement, expand operational efficiency, set meaningful goals and manage risks effectively.

Obtaining a membership with a professional industry body like IICT will offer you:

Professional standards: IICT encourages and promotes high professional standards for complementary therapists. This includes ethical practices, competence in therapy techniques (by meeting our minimum training requirements for individual modalities) and adherence to professional codes of conduct.

Training and education: IICT requires members to have completed professional training programs or certifications in their respective therapies which meet our minimum training requirements. By setting these educational benchmarks, IICT ensures that therapists have the necessary knowledge and skills to provide safe and effective treatments.

Ethical guidelines: IICT establishes ethical guidelines that members must adhere to, promoting integrity, honesty and accountability in their interactions with clients and colleagues.

Recognition: Membership with IICT serves as a form of recognition for therapists. It signifies that their training has met certain criteria and standards set by a respected international organisation in conjunction with the latest industry standards. This enhances credibility and trustworthiness among clients.

Representation: IICT represents the interests of complementary therapists on a global scale, elevating the recognition and acceptance of complementary therapies in the healthcare industry. 

Community: IICT provides a platform for therapists to connect, collaborate and share knowledge with peers worldwide. This fosters a sense of community and support among therapists, while also promoting best practices and innovation within the field.


Is it time for a business health check-up?  

Regular business health check-ups are essential as they help to identify and address any problems you might have before they escalate. So, where you should begin when conducting your first health check-up? With your finances. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How do your finances currently align with your overall business goals? 
  2. What is the health and efficiency of your financial procedures?
  3. What is your net cash flow position? 

Here are a few more ways you can assess the vitality of your business:   

    • Regular audits of your customer feedback and operational processes can reveal issues that might otherwise go unnoticed.
    • Regular assessments of your long-term goals and KPIs will help you stay focused and make necessary adjustments to support growth.
    • After each treatment, ask your clients to rate their experience and provide suggestions for improvement. This could be in-person or via email after the treatment.
    • Engage with your audience on social media using polls to gather quick insights.
    • Reach out to clients directly for their feedback. This could be with a personalised call or email and shows you value their input and are committed to improving your services.


You must stay flexible

As a natural therapist in a competitive landscape, you must have a flexible mindset and be able to pivot quickly if need be. As your business grows, you may discover new opportunities, trends or more efficient ways of operating. It’s imperative you quickly adopt market changes, client feedback or new business strategies. Doing so keeps you and your business relevant – and in a saturated marketplace, you need to stay ahead of the curve.

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Investing in tech

Some brands thrive in the digital space and others continue to grow in the real world. It can often be hard to figure out where you should invest to ensure your business’ survival.

However, if you really want to elevate your business growth and adopt a competitive edge, implementing a CRM system such as HubSpot or Salesforce will take your business to the next level. CRM systems keep all client information in one place, making it easy to manage appointments, send personalised emails and improve your customer service.


How to use video marketing to find your clients   

Sharing videos is one of the best ways to attract new clients. Videos allow you to showcase the magic behind your treatments and methods, helping potential clients understand why they need your healing hands.

People crave authentic connection. They want to see who is behind the business, the account, and the following. Videos help you to communicate your passion for complementary therapies directly with your ideal client.


Not sure what video content to create?

There’s so much you can share! Create educational content about your offerings, the benefits of natural therapies and wellness tips. Doing so positions you as an expert and builds trust with your audience.

Showcasing client testimonials or case studies helps you to build trust and credibility within the complementary therapy space. Positive testimonials can influence potential clients’ decision-making and reassure them of the quality of your services.

You could also provide demonstrations of your treatments to give potential clients a glimpse of what to expect. You might demonstrate how to use certain massage techniques, acupressure points, and facialist tools like gua sha or facial rollers. Of course, it’s important you always stay within your scope of practice.

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Why should you add a video to your website? 

Videos capture attention more effectively than text or copy. They also increase the time visitors spend on your website which can lead to higher conversion rates and more bookings.

Videos can also improve your search engine ranking (SEO), making it easier for potential clients to find you. Be sure to optimise your video content with relevant keywords and descriptions such as massage therapy, natural therapy or healing.

Using live streaming to engage with your audience in real time, answer questions and provide valuable insights about your natural therapy practice is a great way to gain momentum across social media. Live streams create a sense of immediacy and authenticity – which will hopefully entice the viewer to book your services immediately.


Is it time to partner up? 

As a natural therapist, who do you have in your corner? Forge partnerships with businesses that complement natural therapies, such as health food shops, fitness or yoga studios or wellness retreats. These partnerships can lead to cross-promotional opportunities and referrals. Plus, the more times a potential client sees your branding, the better.

Depending on how large your local area is, there’s likely anywhere between one and one hundred of the following healthcare professionals:

    • Doctors or dentists
    • Optometrists
    • Chiropractors
    • Physiotherapists
    • Nutritionist or dietitian
    • Naturopath
    • Psychologists or psychiatrists
    • Occupational therapists
    • Dermatologists
    • Gastroenterologists
    • Geriatricians
    • Allergists

Establishing connections with these healthcare professionals can lead to improved credibility, increased referrals and collaborative care for mutual clients. Simply visit the above businesses and ask to leave your business card, some fliers or posters.


Leverage online networking platforms

Join relevant online groups such as IICT’s Members-only Facebook group, IICT’s Business Mastermind Facebook group or Natural Therapy Facebook groups. Doing so connects you with like-minded professionals and potential partners. Be sure to engage in discussions, share valuable content or insights, ask questions or create pools. All of this helps you to build your network and get your name out there.

LinkedIn is also a great tool for networking with industry peers and exploring partnership opportunities.


Never stop learning

A successful complementary therapist will always be learning. By regularly attending workshops, webinars, trainings and courses, you’ll enhance your skillset, stay up to date with the latest industry research and further develop your confidence as a dynamic complementary therapist.


Staying up to date

Subscribing to industry newsletters helps you to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to emerging therapies, trends or industry news. Being informed allows you to anticipate changes and adapt your strategies accordingly. When it comes to having a competitive edge in the complementary therapy space, you must have your finger on the pulse.


Join a professional body like IICT

A natural therapy membership from a professional industry body like IICT provides you with access to valuable resources, networking opportunities and industry news.

With more than 10,800 members, international recognition of over 1,100 modalities, no CPD/CPE reporting required, industry-specific business growth resources and tips and an impressive referral program, IICT is the natural choice for complementary therapists.

An IICT membership also offers you access to comprehensive insurance coverage, such as:

    • Professional Indemnity Insurance. This 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. This provides cover for bodily injury or property damage to a third party that occurs while conducting your professional activities.
    • Products Liability. This covers any products that you have specifically manufactured, materially altered or formulated in the course of your modality.
    • Unlimited Retroactive Cover. This covers you for your past practices if you have had continuous Professional Indemnity cover.

Get in touch with IICT today

If you’d like to join IICT and elevate your natural therapy business, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch with our friendly team or call +61 2 5629 7777 on Monday to Friday, 10am – 4pm AEDT.


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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