In virtually all of the massage therapy schools around North America, there is very little focus on how to actually market your services to attract new clients and run a successful massage practice.As a business coach for massage therapists around the world, I find this to be a prominent weak link in the education of massage therapists and a major reason why so many of them struggle to succeed in private practice. Marketing and business development is a skill set that is absolutely imperative to have for any business owner. Your success in practice boils down to how well-developed this skill set is. Don’t get me wrong- having a passion for massage therapy and being very good at your work is also important.I have met many massage therapists, however, who are very bright, committed, and skilled healers but who are still struggling to build a successful private practice. This is entirely due to their lack of business and marketing acumen.If you can relate to this dilemma, please understand that it’s not your fault. The truth of the matter is that, unless you were formally taught marketing OR you have committed to learning this in the context of your current practice, you will find that marketing is a source of frustration, fear, burden, or resistance.My intention is to help you change this pattern. After all, if professions like massage therapy are going to evolve into a higher level of mainstream acceptance and success (this profession has come a LONG way already but there is certainly room for continued growth), then individual therapists like you need to step up, become leaders, and learn how to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset.Let’s cover some basic tips on how you can market your practice effective and authentically:1. Commit to the learning process ~ If you take the time to learn marketing, you will enjoy a distinct advantage over 95% of the massage therapists out there who are struggling to make it. I encourage you to read books by authors such as Seth Godin and Robert Kiyosaki. There are so many wonderful books and resources out there to help you improve your marketing skills.2. Surround yourself with like-minded practitioners, entrepreneurs, and people ~ It is very true that the 5 people you are around the most will speak volumes about your belief system, financial potential, and mindset. If you notice that your friends struggle financially, that they make excuses, that they blame others for their problems, that they cry poverty… it’s time to shift up your relationships and start attracting people that are a little higher developmentally than you may be, both financially and psychologically.It’s very difficult to renounce limiting beliefs and behaviors if we are surrounded by people reinforcing these low-vibrational qualities. Now, I don’t say this to sound cynical-it’s just what I have observed- but there is an epidemic of the poverty mentality in the massage therapy profession that likely begins on day one in massage school.After all, a lot of massage instructors are teaching because they could not get their own private practice going. As a result, they transfer their own limitations and poverty mindset onto the students by telling them how hard it is to make it in private practice, that it will take 5 years before you break even, that you shouldn’t expect to make more than $35,000 a year, that if you’re doing this for the money, you need to find a new career.These kinds of beliefs are running rampant through the profession. Is it any wonder why so many massage therapists struggle? They are at a disadvantage from day one when beliefs like this are instilled in them.As you ‘clean house’ of the people crying poverty in your life, do the same with any attachment to beliefs you may be holding onto that reflect lack, scarcity, or struggle. After all, how much can you really help your clients if you are stuck in fight or flight survival mode??3. Get a strong online presence ~ Let’s shift gears and talk about the internet. Did you know that there are potentially thousands of people searching for massage in your area? For example, I live just outside of Denver and have helped a few massage therapists in this area with their online marketing. There are right around 33,000 people typing in ‘massage Denver’ every month into Google alone!I mean, that is just insane! What this means is that you want to do everything humanly possible to position yourself in front of that massive audience. You want to have a beautiful website that perfectly captures the essence of your message and mission. Then, you want to do both on and off-page search engine optimization.This is one area where you don’t want to cut corners. If you are serious about generating new clients from the internet, invest in a highly professional website. You want nothing but quality and value shining off of your site. If the site looks cheap or like it was built by an amateur, it can actually work against you. Massage is one of those professions where the aesthetic component is so important. Image does matter and you want yours to be the best in your local area. Your website is the cornerstone of your professional image.4. Master the art of networking ~ If you are willing to get out in your community and have a lot of selling conversations with people, you will never have a problem generating enough clients. The willingness to network really comes down to your mindset. If you are excessively shy, insecure, or introverted, this is going to be very difficult for you initially and you will need to do some inner work to set the right foundation for this approach.But it is worth it! Networking remains the fastest way to grow a successful practice. You can join groups like BNI (Business Network International), the local Chamber of Commerce, or other lead groups in your area. You can attend after hours meeting, networking luncheons, or various community events that sponsor local businesses. These opportunities are plentiful in most areas; you just need to do the research and commit to attending one event a week if possible.5. Create a schedule for success ~ Most massage therapists work too hard and get paid too little. Your schedule is always a metaphor for your mind. If it is scattered and inconsistent, it means you are holding onto limiting beliefs. You aren’t valuing your work enough and you are likely giving your clients too much power in dictating how your schedule unfolds.Your schedule HAS to be on your terms or else you will burn out. I recommend building in one day a week for marketing your practice, reflecting on your goals and your vision, and rejuvenating yourself. This is so important for your long-term success. Create a schedule that energizes instead of drains you, that builds momentum instead of stagnation.I could go on, but I think this will give you a good framework upon which to get things moving for your practice. Good luck and keep me updated on your success!