Three Ways to Target Your Advertising

targeted-massage-advertisingThere are a thousand… no make that a million… ways to advertise your massage practice. But before you start advertising it’s important to understand exactly what you want to accomplish. In terms of outcome, there are three ways to target your advertising. Each one is increasingly effective and increasingly expensive.

1. Targeting for reach.

If you want to reach the broadest group of people you advertise for reach. This includes what we typically think of as “mass media”: Television, radio, newspapers and billboards. Your message goes out to a large number of people at a relatively low cost per impression, that is, a low cost for every set of eyeballs (or ears) that find your ad. But as you can guess, most people who see your ad are people who are not interested in what you are offering and who will likely never buy from you.

2. Targeting for demographics.

If you want to reach a certain group of people with certain characteristics, you’ll use media that targets demographics. These are typically niche publications (newspapers, magazines, newsletters) or websites. For example, if I want to reach people in the local community around my clinic, I may advertise in a community newspaper. Maybe I want to reach runners, pregnant women, HR professionals, or people who are HIV positive. There are resources that serve each of these populations and I can usually by advertising to get some exposure to these audiences. The cost per impression is higher, but you’re reaching more of the people who you want to reach.

3. Targeting for intent.

Lastly, I can target for intent. This is a newer form of advertising for which Google Adwords is a perfect example. If someone types “massage Toronto” into the Google search box, I can be relatively certain that they have the intent to get a massage in Toronto. If someone types, “headache relief” I can be pretty certain that they have a headache and are intending to find a solution for their problem. These people are most responsive to relevant advertising because they have “buying intent”, but you can expect to pay a lot more because these people, for the most part, have their wallets out already and are simply deciding to spend their money.

So when buying advertising, don’t just look at the total dollar figure, i.e. this cost $200 per month. Instead decide what your goals are and choose the most appropriate vehicle. Also be sure to track your response to each advertising vehicle, that is, the total sales you do as a result of a campaign. This will allow you to determine your return on investment for that medium and will allow you to focus on the ones that have the biggest payoff.


LinkedIn Resources

Facebook is making it increasingly difficult for businesses to network without paying to access users with ads. So my attention is increasingly turning to LinkedIn as the social networking site most likely to get you customers. It really is an untapped opportunity.

So I’m going to use this page to post various linked in resources as I come across them: Articles, videos, courses, and ebooks that can help you get the maximum benefit from this professional networking site.

A Quick Video Overview of LinkedIn (2 minutes)


This online course by Lewis Howes really opened my eyes to the potential of LinkedIn as a business-building tool. I took the original course over a year ago. He’s completely updated it and it is likely the most comprehensive resource for using LinkedIn to your advantage. Lessons are bite-sized and cover pretty much every aspect of using the site. It’s more information than you’ll ever need, but you can pick and choose the segments that are most relevant to you.
Check out LinkedInfluence

How to Get Ranked with LinkedIn

There will be over 5 billion searches done on LinkedIn in 2012. Most of these searches are for professionals like you. In addition, Google sees LinkedIn as an authority site and ranks both profiles and categories i.e. Miami massage therapists, high in the search engine results pages. How can you optimize your profile to show up in these searches?

Set Up Your LinkedIn Account the Right Way

Here’s an inexpensive little ebook (just $7 bucks) that takes new users through the process of opening an account and setting up a profile. It also introduces you to all the basic functions of the site, so you know how to navigate around and benefit from the site. It is written in a practical follow along style with lots of how to pictures, so have it open as you set up your profile and explore the site.
LinkedIn for Business Made Easy ebook

My Year in Review 2013

Every year I like to sit down to review the events of the past year and then plan out the upcoming year. It’s a fun and insightful exercise and I’d encourage you to write your own “Year in Review”.

It started with the release of the cover story “Your Best Year Ever: The 2013 Marketing Road Map”. If you didn’t use it for 2013, it will still work for 2014 and you can read the digital version online.



yir-facebookmarketingI thought I would start 2013 by taking a Facebook course by Amy Porter to get caught up on the latest developments and I invited people to take the course with me. I started the 31 Day Facebook Challenge as a book club of sorts and within a week, 800 people had signed up. It caught me off guard. I was so busy managing the Facebook group that I never even got through the course myself. Going through the course made it clear that therapists didn’t want to spend hours on Facebook every week, so at the end of it all I created a free guide called Facebook Marketing in Just 20 Minutes per Week. Feel free to download it and share it.

Last year I pissed someone off at my regulatory board and that lead to an investigation for professional misconduct, so my year essentially started off with a grilling by a CMTO investigator. It’s ironic that I was charged with professional misconduct because I helped draft the standards of practice in the early 90’s. I’ve always been a strong vocal critic of our regulatory body and it’s not a great way to make friends. It was clear from communications that someone on the disciplinary committee was taking things way too personally. I got a stern talking to, but no charges were laid.

yir-seth in franceSeth left for three months for France for on a student exchange. It’s pretty gutsy for a 13-year old to want to go to a foreign country and live with a strange family for three months. But he thrived in his new environment and met his first girlfriend. I on the other hand just had a lot of separation anxiety.

But Seth absence made travel easier for me. Throughout the spring there were lots of trips to Boulder, Colorado, as well as the AMC School Rally in Atlanta and the actual American Massage Conference,  the Massage Envy Convention in Phoenix, AZ and my first trip to experience the energy vortexes in Sedona.

Eric, Scott and Melanie in Sedonayir-amc-atlantayir-annapolisyir-travelyir-artmoreyir-az

I did my first “Ignite” presentation called Education Revolution at the ABMP’s Schools Issues Forum in Annapolis, Maryland. Essentially your slides auto-advance every 15 seconds and you have exactly five minutes to present. I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous in my life than having to present in this format for my fellow educators. I was literally shaking in my boots. But once I got rolling I started to relax and I almost kept up to my slides as you’ll see towards the end of the video.


Much gratitude to David Palmer who changed my life so profoundly two decades ago with this crazy idea of “touch as a positive social value”. As a result of that meeting I pioneered chair massage in Canada in the early 90’s and started the first massage school specializing in chair massage. With everything going on in my life, I could no longer continue to manage the school effectively and so I closed the doors on that 20-year chapter of my life this spring. It’s sad that I can’t do everything in one life. Chair Massage Techniques DVDs are still available if you want to learn how to do chair massage effectively and I’ll continue to write on the subject and do the occasional workshop.


World Massage Conference rolled again in June and once again we had the largest event in the history of massage six years running.

By the time summer rolled around, I was somewhat burnt out. I basically hung out in Boulder recovering with my lovely girlfriend (who needed some recovery herself). I spent the summer studying education and created the plan for a beautiful online education platform. It’s a spectacular platform, but I don’t know if I’ll ever take the time to develop it. It was a good mental exercise nevertheless.

I celebrated my 50th birthday in Las Vegas with Anne. I like maturing, but ageing sucks. I never imagined I would get this old. I also never imagined that I’d be sitting below a stripper dressed (or half dressed) as a cowgirl, swinging blindfolded on a saddle high above me. That’s a liability suit waiting to happen.

In August, Seth’s exchange partner came from France to stay with us for three months. Samuel Duval is a beautiful soul and fully embraced anything we threw at him, from jumping off bridges, zip lining and indoor rock climbing, to videography, chiropractic and massage treatments. I was hoping that Samuel’s parents didn’t see the “Danger! No jumping off bridge” sign. We weren’t trying to kill him, I swear.

yir-bridge jumping

Samuel and Seth canoeing on Toronto islands A half mile zip line over the escarpment Kaya in Collingwood

yir-FaintingIssueBy the end of his visit he had become my second son and it was very sad to see him go back home.

The fall was busy with travel once again. Lots of trips to Boulder. A couple more articles for Massage and Bodywork magazine including Painless Price Increases, My $18,000 Mistake and the cover article for January 2014 on the fainting phenomenon that’s unique to chair massage, Chair Massage Fainting Mystery.

Eric takes a beating from Seth

I discovered kickboxing this fall. I’ve been a fight fan for years. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is the only sport I watch, so it’s about time I get into a gym and kick butt (or more likely get my butt kicked ~ this is what my son does to me in sparring). I know people don’t understand the alter ego to my normally loving, gentle and mild-mannered persona, but what can I say: Life is just one big paradox.



As the year is coming to an end, I’m finishing a large video production. These videos will be accessory materials for the 2nd Edition of Spa Bodywork textbook. It’s been a lot of fun and as usual a learning experience.

Anne and EricIt was with great sadness that Anne and I decided to end our relationship of almost four years. I love her deeply and it’s been a fantastic growing and learning experience. The reality of a long distance relationship, however, has been extremely challenging. We decided that it was best to pursue our futures independently in the places we seem to be tied to by both circumstance and choice. We love each other and plan to continue a lifelong friendship.

The ice storm in Toronto was a dramatic way to finish off the year. The park across from the street from me was like a crystal forest. Nature is both beautiful, but devastating. There were hydro lines down everywhere in my neighborhood, but I never lost power.

ice strom 1

ice storm 4

ice storm 2

ice storm 3

What’s ahead for 2014? I’m not sure. I feel at crossroads in many ways and planning for the new year will be a challenge. Whatever happens, I’ll be embracing whatever life brings and do my best to live my life fully and with passion and I hope you’ll join me for the ride.

Creating a Massage Business Name

Looking to create a massage business name? Looking to find a domain name for your existing business?

Here’s a little search and brainstorming tool to help you with the process.

Enter a couple words and it looks for domains and domain variations, gives you some synonyms, points you to other sites that rank for those words and checks to see if the social media usernames are available for those words:

massage business name generator

What’s the Role of a Massage Regulatory Board?

rubber stamp marked with regulationThis is the third in a series of posts to stimulate discussion on some of the bigger political issues in the massage profession. Feel free to join the conversation. Check out Who Owns Massage and the Massage Therapy Trademark posts.

Most states are regulated for massage therapy. In Canada three provinces are regulated and the remaining provinces are typically self-regulated by massage associations. The profession is self-regulated in Australia. In Europe, for the most part there is no regulation of massage and massage therapy doesn’t quite exist as a profession as it does in North America.

Why should massage be regulated?

Here are a few thoughts from some massage therapists I’ve pulled randomly off the web:

  • “Regulation would enforce standards and would set the scene for a respectable, professional therapist who could afford to stake his/her reputation in the field and make a decent living from it.”
  • “[Regulation] helps accessibility and I do want massage therapy to be part of the world.”
  • “…a level of assurance of quality of what the public will receive, as well as enhancing the confidence of third-party insurers.”

A quick tour of the web shows that therapists have a wide range of ideas as to what a regulatory body will do for them. For many, regulation seems like the holy grail for the profession, believing that regulation will serve them well on a variety of fronts. Common refrains are that regulatory bodies will:

  • increase standards
  • ensure continuing education
  • improve accessibility
  • help separate us from prostitution
  • pave the way for third party insurance coverage
  • bring us more respect as a profession
  • etc.

But here’s the problem…

…regulatory bodies are not formed to support massage therapists or the massage profession. These organizations are set up for one purpose only:

Public protection.

A regulatory board or college works for the public. Their mission is to ensure that the public is not put at unnecessary risk. So don’t expect them to tend to your needs as a massage professional.

It is massage associations that serve massage therapists. Associations work in the interests of the massage profession.

Since the needs of the public aren’t always in alignment with the needs of therapists, regulatory bodies have competing interests with massage associations in many respects. Once you understand the roles of each type of organization you can set your expectations accordingly.

Many therapists feel that regulatory bodies are an attempt for the government to make money off our backs. But in fact, they take resources away from other important areas and, at least in Canada, are revenue neutral (meaning they can only make enough money to cover their costs).

Regulating a profession takes resources. So states and provinces are not willing to go that route unless there is a significant danger to the public or unless there is enough noise from constituents that would cause politicians to believe it may have an impact on their re-election. (How cynical of me. My bad.)

For example, though there are lobbying efforts from within Quebec to establish a government-sanctioned regulatory body, the government is resistant as it sees its role as public protection and sees no demonstrated need. The Office of the Professions of Quebec has stated, “The Ministry for Education considers that massage does not represent any danger to the public.”

On a side note… The truth is that massage is relatively low risk. There are almost no documented cases of harm from massage in the medical databases and we’ve yet to see a successful court case that proves any significant harm. Massage insurance rates are low compared to many other paramedical professions simply because of the low claim rates.

I remember speaking to a massage therapist who was working as a lobbyist for massage regulation in one Canadian province who was clearly frustrated at the lack of progress. “I wish a massage therapist would hurt someone really badly,” she pined. “If there was a death involved, that would be great.”

Of course, she was only half joking, but the fact was that she had been working on the issue for years and could not pull up enough evidence to demonstrate enough risk for harm to get the provincial government to budge.

If you want to be supported as a massage professional or as a profession, it’s vitally important that you support massage associations. They provide you with much more than insurance. They provide a wide range of resources to help you be successful in your career, work to educate the public and lobby governments to ensure your needs are met. Don’t expect your regulatory agency to do that.

I’m a member of the Associated Massage and Bodywork Professionals (ABMP) and first signed up with them maybe ten years ago. I’m consistently impressed at the amount they invest to support us as therapists and to support the profession as a whole. As an educator, I’m amazed by what they’ve done to raise teacher standards (quietly and without seeking the recognition they deserve. I’d highly recommend you take a look at what they offer:

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) has also done a great deal to help the profession and has a large government relations team.

I’ve also been a member of the National Health Practitioners of Canada. (NHPC). I believe they are Canada’s largest massage association. Like the ABMP in the United States, they embrace a broad spectrum of massage and bodywork professionals.

To sum up, it’s important to recognize the role of regulatory bodies is to protect the public. It’s not their role to support you as a therapist or the massage profession in general. Use that knowledge to temper your expectations of these organizations.

Any thoughts or comments? I’d love to hear them and you can have your voice heard in the comments section below. I appreciate passion, but please remember to be civil and respectful.

Free eBook: Facebook Marketing in 20 Minutes a Week

A beginner’s guide for those who don’t have time to waste on Facebook

With over a billion people on Facebook you know it’s important for your business. But if you may not be interested in learning everything there is to know about Facebook. And even if you did you likely don’t have hours of free time every day to be using it, especially when the payoff for your time seems so uncertain.

This no-nonsense guide will lead you through six things you must absolutely do to set up your Facebook Page and will outline a simple Facebook marketing strategy that you can do in only 20 minutes a week or less.

Updates in the Professional Misconduct Investigation

I was surprised last September when I received an investigation report from our provincial regulatory body, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. I was being investigated for  professional misconduct. Quite ironic given that I was involved in helping write the Standards of Practice when we became licensed as a profession under the RHPA in the early 90’s.

You can read the original post and follow the thread of events if you are interested. This investigation should never have happened and I wanted to be transparent to give people a backdoor view of what actually happens… because with about 2% of Ontario therapists being investigated each year it could just as easily happen to you.

In any case, here’s an update for those following. I was called in for an interview with an investigator. She was pleasant, efficient, and knowledgeable. She knew the legislation well and was able to answer most of the procedural questions I had.

She had a list of 11 questions that the investigation committee wanted answers to before deliberating my case. I was co-operative, open, and completely transparent. Although my answers can be used as evidence in a disciplinary hearing, the investigator would not allow me audio record our conversation. It was “against the advice of our lawyer” she told me. When I pressed for an explanation, I was told that it is too expensive to get transcribed. Seriously? If they wanted to save money, they should never have started the investigation.  And besides, I’m the one that pays for it through my fees to the regulatory board.

So I answered the questions and she took notes for her report to the Disciplinary Committee. Today’s meeting really turned out to be a non-event and almost not worth reporting. Sorry for the sad lack of drama.

What happens from here? The CMTO will either request more information from me, close the case, or schedule a disciplinary hearing. It could be several months before I hear anything again.

If this case continues to a hearing it would be a travesty and would certainly warrant an investigation of the Colleges procedures and the motivations of both the registrar and the members of the investigative committee.

Before I hear back from the College I will set up a meeting with the Head of Investigations and get further clarification on the College procedures to determine how this happened, why it happened in the way it did and see if there are ways of preventing unwarranted investigations from happening in the first place to spare others going through this experience.

Eric Brown 2012: My Year in Review

It’s fun to look back at the year on a personal and professional level and think about all that’s happened. Here are some highlights from 2012 for me…

The year started with a Caribbean family cruise as my brother celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary and my parents their 60th wedding anniversary. The highlights were cave tubing (about 30 minutes in an underground river) and watching my 80 year old mother ziplining.

After getting back I went right back to work as I produced the video for Anne Williams’ newly released book Massage Mastery: From Student to Professional published by Lippencott. (Good work, honey. You just gave birth to a five year old baby.) The challenge was to shoot the video in an all white environment. Thanks to Natali and Yasmin at NYB Media, we were able to pull it off. I think the end result looks great. Take a look:

I did lots of travelling this year and went to the ABMP Schools Issues Forum and the American Massage Conference in San Diego, California where I got to interview some of my favorite educators and industry people, like Tina Allen, Leslie Young, Erik Dalton, David Palmer, Ruthie Hardee, David Kent, Bruce Baltz and many more.

I rediscovered roller skating (old school) and Seth, Stacey and I went skating for charity with the West End Wayward roller derby chicks to be followed by some regular visits to Scooters, complete with disco music and lights.

I was pretty much consumed with World Massage Conference through May and June. It keeps getting bigger and 2012 was the biggest year yet. We had over 15,000 paid participants this year and over 50 presenters from around the world. I had no idea what I was getting into five years ago when Scott Dartnall and I thought up the idea during a little road trip.

The entire summer was spent in Boulder with my sweetheart, Anne Williams. I arrived the week that Anne got an evacuation notice because of the severe fires that were ravaging Colorado. This is the view of the mountains from Anne’s porch and they were afraid that the fire would come down over the ridge into her town.

We never take pictures so I have nothing to show. I did weights for the first time in years and pretty much exercised twice a day for the entire summer. I don’t have any pictures, but I looked good naked.

We did some climbing, but weren’t nearly as ambitious as last year. Seth got to climb the epic Bastille crack. I was in awe, but he thought it was too easy. See if you can spot him in this video. Maybe I’ll do this climb next summer.

     In August I was inducted into the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the World Massage Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. Got to hang out in the pool for two days with some of my favorite people and have a chat with Judith Aston who won the Lifetime Achievement award.

August was the “31 blog posts in 31 days” challenge, started by Kellie Wise. To generate some excitement I offered to give anyone who completed the challenge a “Bad Ass Blogger” trophy. I was amazed at the number of people who joined the challenge and the quality of work that was produced. I ended up buying a truckload of trophies to send off to the winners.

In September Anne and I took our first real vacation together, visiting Montreal and Quebec. Great little hotels, nice bathtubs, charming environs, amaaaaaazing food. As always, no pictures to speak of. One day we’ll learn to bring a camera with us and take some shots. These cities are very dear to my heart and soul and I’m glad I got to share them with someone I love so much.


Lots of travelling again through October with trips to the AMTA Convention and the Canadian Massage Conference.

Adnan Shareef, my webmaster for the last six years had a baby boy, just weeks before the conference. Congratulations to him and his lovely wife.

And then of course, the fall World Massage Conference event. After five years, we are finally getting it together. I remember the first year doing about 60 live broadcasts from speakers around the world in six days straight. The idea of a webinar, let alone a virtual conference, was entirely new, so we were making it all up as we went along. We had 20-hour days as we feverishly tried to get it all together without blowing something up. We’ve got it all down to 18 hour workdays now and the extra two hours of sleep is heavenly. Having virtual hosts also helped take some of the load off our shoulders. It was great to have Felicia Brown, Laura Allen, Cliff Korn, Ryan “Massage Nerd” Hoyme, Drew Freedman and Kevin Cunningham helping out on the air.

A big thanks to my World Massage Conference partners Scott Dartnall, Melanie Hayden and our administrative goddess Marla Gold. Also thanks to the worker bees behind the scenes: webmaster Adnan Shareef and our assistants Bryan Gales and Mira Lou Rossit.

It’s December already and my feature story for Massage and Bodywork Magazine was just released. This is not the first time I’ve been featured on the cover of a national magazine, but it’s still exciting when it happens. This particular article lays out a month-by-month “success roadmap” for massage therapists for 2013 because 2013 is just around the corner.

December is always a relatively quiet month for me: A time for reflection. I look back and wonder where the year went. It all goes so fast.

But it’s also a month for planning life’s new adventures as I look ahead to the possibilities for what the new year could bring.

What’s in the works? Here are a few things I’m working on…

  • I’ve been more or less been keeping Thermal Palms a secret for the past five years and this will be the year when I officially launch this fantastic alternative to hot stone massage in a big way.
  • I’ve avoided writing any books for two decades. So this year I plan to release a Chair Massage textbook through Pearson Publishing and self-publish two additional marketing books.
  • I did the 31 blog posts in 31 days challenge this year. In 2013 I’m going to aim to produce 200 videos in 200 days. I’m in the process of setting up a small home studio now in preparation.
  • After a two year teaching hiatus, I’ll be back to teaching chair massage workshops in Canada and developing a teaching team to help me out.
  • And I’m working what I think is a brilliant online learning platform that will incorporate the best practices in education along with elements that make video games so addictive. It’s mapped out and we’ve started the programming side of things. We’ll see how that all rolls out.

Of course it goes without saying that I’ll be doing some travel, climbing in Boulder and generally having lots of fun with my friends and family. My 13 year old son will be going to France on a three month exchange program starting February, so I’ll have a little less responsibility on the home-front and will take advantage of those extra hours for various adventures.

I’d encourage you to dedicate some time before the end of the year to visualize and map out your life for 2013. What do you plan to move your business forward this year? Waht adventures can you have? What would you love to do that you’ve always put off? What makes your life yummy and how can you incorporate more of that to make your life even yummier? Why not make 2013 your best year ever?

I’d like to send you a heartfelt thank you for your support over the past year and I wish you all good things for the coming year. I’ll continue my commitment to support you and the profession and look forward to the journey with you.

All the best,

Eric Brown, Grand Massage Poobah