So you’ve taken the first step and learned a beginner’s level ashiatsu barefoot massage. Practice and feedback make perfect, so you’ve listened to your practice clients’ constructive criticism and have achieved a certain level of comfort in your barefoot bodywork. But how do you transition your clients to barefoot massage?
Many of us hate the thought of marketing ourselves because we hope that the public will somehow know how fantastic we are (because we put out good vibes, right?).
Maybe you’re worried that because you live in Podunksville that people will think you’re weird for using your feet to massage.
But in your heart and sole 😉 you know that barefoot massage is the best way to give your clients the deep tissue massage they need without hurting yourself. It’s the only way you’ll be able to successfully continue your massage practice for years to come.
Are you excited about the work? Clients will quickly absorb your enthusiasm! Here’s what Sara Newberry Clavenna had to say about her transition.
I went full on ashi all the time. My clients were mostly excited/intrigued which really fueled even more of my excitement. It really helped that I was super stoked before I went to the training.
Dawn Dotson had the same approach, saying she “started the hype” before she went to class proceeded to incorporate it with her clients right away. Importantly, she also “proceeded to get feedback. I spent a good 30 extra minutes on feedback and follow-up after each session.”
As an experienced massage therapist, Mariah Neeson did the same, “I simply told my clients we were doing a new thing and that was that.”
Importantly, they did not charge more for barefoot massage, because they had already figured out it was the key to caeer longevity.
When I learned barefoot massage, I was able to offer it at the chiropractor’s office where I worked part-time. Because Doc loved ashiatsu so much, he was fine with me only offering ashiatsu to the clients who needed deep tissue work.
With my first “Yes to Ashiatsu” marketing spiel, I explained the benefits of barefoot massage to my next client, who was 6’6″ and 260. He was a perfect candidate for ashiatsu.
It was a little too weird, he thought, so we proceeded with hands-on massage. (My note to self: work on marketing this!) When I got to the point of feeling pressure in my left pisiform (a recurring issue from deep tissue with hands), I asked him, “How’s the pressure?”
“Oh, you can go WAY deeper,” he responded.
“Not with my hands,” I explained. “But I can go significantly deeper with my feet!”
Saying “no” for the first time to hands-on massage is a very liberating experience, by the way.
So he tried it and loved it. And he sent in his wife to discover the art of barefoot massage too.
We massage therapists tend to work too deeply for our own bodies so we can give clients what they want, but by doing so, we are working to our detriment.
Lighten up with your hands, and only give deep tissue massage with your feet.
I’ve been known to brandish my elbows and tell clients how wicked they are.
It’s important to explain to your clients the benefits of barefoot massage over hands, too. If they want deep, we recommend you find out exactly how much deeper you are with your feet versus your hands. I used to even tell clients who were resistant to barefoot massage that they wouldn’t like my hands-on-my thumbs are elbows are pointy, and I will not go deep.
In fact, for years I thought I should charge more for hands-on massage, because it was harder for me to do (easier solution-took it off my massage menu!)
My “money back guarantee” was a clincher. I’d explain that if they tried ashiatsu and didn’t like it, that they could tell me anytime during the massage. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings, and I’d hop down off the table to continue with my hands.
Julie Gregory used the same reasoning as I, “I just told my clients that if they wanted deep tissue that it’d have to be ashiatsu. ”
Abigail Savage had another similar direct approach:
I used to say say (and still do) “heyyyyyyy, I bet this technique would feel AMAZING on your ______(whatever I was working on), can I step on the table and use my body weight and foot pressure to apply it?!” They’d say “yes!” And the rest would be HISTORY
In 15 years, I’ve not had one client ask for me to stop an ashiatsu session to trade it for hands-on.
Sharon Bryant in Decatur, AL, started talking it up to all of her clients before she took the class and told them that she was going to be integrating into all of her massages.
I was still small so it wasn’t a huge deal with my existing ones. And then the new ones didn’t know any difference. Now I have people call and ask if I do hands-on because barefoot Ashi is how I’m known.
Once clients try Ashiatsu, they don’t usually go back to deep tissue hands-on massage.
Putting down her foot to nail her niche, Jeni Spring (Co-Creative Force here at CBM) simply said “NO!” to hands-on massage.
If they didn’t want my feet, I didn’t want them. I referred away clients to other local hands-on massage therapists…I’ve always had a vision. I’ve always believed in this work. I know my strengths, my talents, and I know where my passion is: it’s in Barefoot Massage. I just literally had to put my foot down, be confident, and give people no other option!
Could it have been career suicide? Yes. But breaking yourself because you are working too deeply is a great way to kill your career too.
Donna Greenlee had an innovative approach. Right after she learned barefoot massage, she wanted to practice, practice, practice! She did demo appointments by donation, and then she donated all that money to a local domestic violence shelter.
The promotion was laced with “standing up” for this group. I got really good at ashi and we raised about $500 in a short period of time and because of the promotion from me and the shelter almost everyone in my small town got introduced to the massage where I stand on you. Three birds one stone. You have to limit how many of those demos you take on because you gotta make a living but there was a good balance in there.
While we don’t normally recommend charging for your practice ashiatsu sessions, this was a fantastic promotion to create awareness in the community and build Donna’s practice.
Get testimonials from clients onto your website! I know that before I even spend $12 on Amazon, I’m all about the reviews. I’ve had lots of clients tell me that my great reviews are one of the reasons they come in to try my ashiatsu deep tissue, even when they haven’t had it before!
Put a video of yourself doing ashiatsu on YouTube and make sure you share it on Facebook, your website, and other social media. Seeing is believing and is a great way to get your clients excited about your new skills!
Don’t give away the farm-we’re talking about creating a teaser! Make sure it’s short and sweet (20 seconds to a minute). Here’s ours-we used it as our header-with over 7300 views in about a month on our FB page.
Another proposition is to add on more time for the same price as an existing hour session. Create a 75- minute or 90-minute session but only charge for an hour. You can still do whatever you like to do in your hands-on massage and sprinkle in ashiatsu, or you can go for the gold and just give your clients free time.
You just have to get them to try it.
(That’s actually how a lot of my new clients end up getting a 90-minute session instead of what they think is the “normal” 60 minute time.)
Here’s the quickie bullet list of marketing ashiatsu:
1.👣 Share your enthusiasm!
2. 👣 Tell your clients the benefits of ashiatsu.
3. 👣 Show them with pictures or a chart or even a scale how much deeper you can go with your feet versus your thumbs, elbows, and hands.
4. 👣 Explain how the soft, round surface of your heel will feel much better than pointy thumbs and elbows.
5. 👣 Offer barefoot massage for a donation, which will benefit a local charity.
6. 👣 Add in extra time to a session for free.
7.👣 Use client testimonials on your website showing how amazing you are.
8. 👣 Create a short video and share it on social media and your website.
9. 👣 Offer a “money back guarantee”-switch back to hands-on if they don’t love ashiatsu.
10.👣 Just say “NO!” to deep tissue hands-on massage.
Ashiatsu therapists-what worked best for you? Newbies-what questions do you have about marketing your awesome new skills?
Leave a comment below!