I Can’t Put an Expiry Date on My Gift Certificates

Massage Gift Certificates and Gift CardsOne of my favorite ways to build a practice is through gift certificates. Gift certificates are referrals… that are paid! It was the number one way I’ve used to bring new clients through the door.

If you want some fantastic ideas for selling gift certificates through the holiday season (or anytime really), you can read a recent article I wrote for Massage & Bodywork Magazine here:

My $18,000 Mistake: How I Learned to Love Gift Certificates

Every time I write about gift certificates I invariably get a number of emails from therapists who inform me that I should have told my readers that you can’t put an expiry date on them. What I normally say is be aware of regulations around the sale of gift certificates because regulations are not consistent from country to country or State to State.

In some places an expiry date is okay and some places not. And then there are all sort of other rules that exist in various places around the sale of gift certificates.

I don’t have the time to outline the current laws for all 50 states in the USA or the 13 provinces and territories in Canada, but my friend Laura Allen has written an excellent article on the topic a couple of years ago and I’ll defer to her expertise:

Gift Certificates and Gift Cards By Laura Allen

For more specific details, here is a table showing regulations by state for the USA for gift certificates and gift cards. Use as a reference to determine the statutes around gift certificate expiration in your jurisdiction:

Massage Gift Certificate Laws by State

And if this information is helpful to you, please share this post on one of your social media sites. I’m sure others will find it helpful too. Just use one of the buttons on the right hand side of this page.

As well, if you are looking for some great looking gift certificates to have on hand for customers this Christmas, check out what’s available at BodyworkBiz:



Click here for details or to order now

Note: Because we’re getting very close to the holiday season, for fastest delivery I’d suggest that you go with the default template instead of using custom printing. We will likely be able to get them to your doorstep in a week, but at this busy holiday time we can’t guarantee delivery times.

My $18,000 Mistake

LoveGiftCertificatesMy latest article was just released in Massage & Bodywork Magazine. I originally titled the article “How to Sell 300 Gift Certificates”, but the editor changed it to the much better title of “How I Learned to Love Gift Certificates: My $18,000 Mistake.”

It’s not that I enjoy making $18,000 mistakes, but it does speak to a certain truth:

Experience is the best teacher, but the tuition is outrageously expensive!

I’ve learned that lesson long ago, which is why I make considerable investments in my education now. For example, I just invested $800 on an online course about doing webinars. I’ve done dozens of my own webinars and have produced hundreds through World Massage Conference. I believe I even hold the record for the most registrants for a massage webinar.  So why would I spend (some may say waste) $800 on a course about something I’m probably more knowledgeable about than anyone in the profession?

It’s because I’m done with making $18,000 mistakes. (And by the way, that’s not my most costly mistake; it’s just one of many.) I’d rather have that money in my pocket than see it go down the toilet as a lost opportunity. If I take just one idea from this webinar course and increase my sales by 1%, 3%, 5% or 10%, I’ve made my money back many times over with a lot less wasted time, energy and money, not to mention a lot less stress.

Taking a course that is going to help increase my sales is not an expense. It’s an investment. That’s the bottom line.

Having learned that lesson, I’m a little shocked and baffled when therapists tell me they’d rather learn how to market their practice on their own rather than spend $99 on a course that lays out the blueprint for you. It just doesn’t make sense.

As a recommendation for you, here are some of the most useful/popular courses at BodyworkBiz:

60 Clients in 60 Days

I see a lot of copycats of this program (“Five clients in 10 days”, “10 Clients in 30 Days”, etc.) online right now, so it must be good. This has got to be the easiest way to build your practice fast, but it has to be done right. Do it wrong and you’ll find yourself in one of those costly mistake situations. This strategy is perfect for therapists who have little money, but lots of open slots in their appointment book. It’s all laid out for you step-by-step and week by week. You can do the whole thing and move your practice to a whole new level in just 60 days. Get it here: http://bodyworkbiz.com/60days.php

Fill Your Practice 101

This gives you a broader strategic approach to building your practice. Perfect for someone who has a relatively healthy practice and who wants to solidify their position and be more effective than they already are. It’s a complete marketing education in one course. Every therapist should take this course early on in their career. Information here: http://bodyworkbiz.com/fill.php

Chair Massage Marketing 101

If you are interested in the least bit in doing chair massage, either as a business or to generate more clients for your practice, you must get this course. I pioneered chair massage in Canada and have done chair massage for the biggest corporations in Canada, including IBM, Dell, Kellloggs, Levi Strauss, every major bank, hospitals, most major law firms and hundreds more. This is the most comprehensive course on the topic you’ll find anywhere on earth: http://bodyworkbiz.com/101day.php

Over 20 years ago I didn’t have anyone to guide me when I started my practice. You get to benefit from the expensive “learning experiences” I’ve had. Instead of making $18,000 mistakes, invest in learning how to do it right from the start.

“Experience is the best teacher, but a fool will learn from no other.” ~Benjamin Franklin

Please share this post with your friends.

How much should you pay to have a ____ designed?

Here’s a question that I often get asked and that I often ask myself: How much should I pay to have a ________ designed? You fill in the blank: business card, logo, website, graphic, etc.

I have someone that does design for me on staff full time now, but in the past I would go online when I need something done like a logo and look around for prices and would find just a crazy range to choose from. I would be paralyzed wondering what options to choose and wondering what I would get for my money… because it’s like a haircut: you don’t really know until the damage is done.

Just recently however I came across a great blog post on Graphic Design: What’s a Good Designer Worth These Days?.

There are no definitive answers, but the author, a designer, gives some good practical advice and some general price ranges so at least you know you are in the ballpark.

The average hourly fee for a graphic designer according to a national Canadian survey is $73/hr for general graphic design  $83/hr for brand strategy (logos, identity pieces), and  $76/hr for web design.

What’s that translate to in terms of various types of design jobs? Here’s a summary from the author:

Logo design
Good range:$900 to $3,000
Bare minimum: $300 to $800

Business card design
Good range: $350 to $1500
Bare Minimum: $100

Brochure design
Good range: $400 to $1800
Bare Minimum: $200

Book cover design
Good range: $500 to $2500
Bare Minimum: $200

Website design
Good range: $1000 to $10,000+
Bare Minimum: $400


One More Last Minute Massage Gift Certificate Promotion

There are a lot of last minute Christmas shoppers and massage gift certificates make an easy to buy gift. Last week I gave you a simple way to promote your massage gift certificates on Facebook, but email may be even more effective.

Here’s an email sent out by Lara Clement, a BodyworkBiz subscriber who graciously gave me permission to share. (You can click the image to see it at full size.) It’s a great example of the kind of promotional email you can send to sell more last minute gift certificates.

Lara is a Canadian massage therapist working out of Edmonton, Alberta and I’m looking forward to hearing about her results from this email.

If you thought this was a good example of a gift certificate promotion, please Like on Facebook or share with a friend.

How to Launch a Last Minute Gift Certificate Promotion…

If you’ve been following the BodyworkBiz ezine over the past few weeks, you know I have massage gift certificates on my mind. They are by far one of the best ways to grow your practice. How many dozens have you sold this season?

If you haven’t sold many, there is still an opportunity to promote them through Facebook. It uses Facebook’s paid options to spread your reach, but it’s super inexpensive. Here’s how to make that work. But before we begin…

You’ll need to have a Facebook Fan Page to do this. The more Fans you have the more effective it will be.

Ideally, you want to set up a page on your website where someone can pay for their gift certificate purchase. You can have them call you or drop in to purchase, but that will decrease your response rate dramatically.

Okay. With that said, let’s do it…

1. Post on your Fan Page, but instead of posting a Status Update like you normally do, you are going to post a photo to announce gift certifcates. Why? Photos get noticed. Posts with photos get 53% more Likes and 104% more comments than regular posts. That translates to more sharing, more interaction and more eyeballs. If you don’t have a photo, you can download this one (it’s the ideal size for posting).

2. Add a description to the photo with a link to your purchase page. This message will be about finding a perfect last minute gift. For example,

“Still need some last minutes gifts and stocking stuffers. Everyone loves massage. Purchase your gift certificates here: [link to the page on your site where they can purchase]”

When you add your link be sure to use “http://” at the front of your link so it becomes clickable.

3. Click the Promote button on your post.Take a look at your post and you’ll see a “Promote” button in the bottom right hand corner.

4. Fill out the drop down box. Choose to promote to “People who like your Page and their friends”. This will give you the widest reach and target people who are just like your current clients and who are most likely to buy from you.

Choose how much you are willing to pay. It likely won’t cost you more than $20. You’ll be prompted to enter your payment method if you don’t already have that set up.

What happens now? Your post will now show up in the News Feeds of your Fans. This seldom happens unless your Fans are very engaged with your Page, but promoting this way guarantees it will show up in their Feed in desktop systems and mobile. Here’s an example of a Promoted Post in someone’s Newsfeed. You’ll see that the word “Sponsored” at the bottom (hardly noticeable) indicates that the Post has been promoted.

When people Like, Share or Comment on the post, their Friends will see it too. You will have reached thousands of Facebook users in your area for less than $20 bucks.

This is the simplest way to advertise on Facebook. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

If you need more ideas for selling gift certificates, get the Sell More Gift Certificates e-course at BodyworkBiz.com where you’ll also find beautiful full color gift certificates.

Time for Your Massage Gift Certificate Promotion

I’d highly suggest you do a special gift certificate promotion at least once a year. Here is one that I used every December to sell hundreds of gift certificates. I’ve heard of a number of therapists using a similar type of strategy technique with some phenomenal results.

Around holiday time I send each client a number of gift certificates with a covering letter. The letter explains that I am going to make holiday gift shopping extremely easy. For their convenience, I’ve enclosed a number of gift certificates.

To purchase them, all they need to do is call the office for an authorization number that they must print on the certificate.

If you want a surge of new clients into your office, then offer these certificates at a significant discount on the condition that they are given to people that have not seen you before. If you decide to do this I’d suggest your print the terms and conditions right on the gift certificates: “For first time clients only. Limit of one gift certificate per client.”

In exchange for a deeply discounted price, the expiry date is shortened to the end of February. Why? I would explain to clients that as with most businesses, January and February are typically slower months and normally we would need to put money into advertising to fill our appointment books. We would prefer to spend the money we would normally use for advertising on our clients and this is a way for us to do that.

If our clients purchased the certificates on their next visit instead of calling in for an authorization code, we would also give them our deluxe certificates instead of the low quality ones that went out with the letter.

If they wanted to purchase certificates for existing clients or without conditions, we offered them a 10% discount and extended the expiry date.

I first heard of a similar type of promotion being done by a renowned clinic in Los Angeles. At the time, the clinic had a base of 5,000 clients (largely upscale) and reportedly sold 5,000 certificates in the six weeks around Christmas.

Their offer was a little simpler than mine. And that really is preferable. It seems as though you can never make things simple enough.

As a cost savings measure, when you are mailing out large numbers of gift certificates in this kind of promotion, it is best to have some cheaply printed instead of using the more expensive ones. That way you can also custom print your conditions or authorization number space right on the certificate. One year I printed up about 3,000 two-color gift certificates on glossy card stock for about ten cents per piece at my local printer.

My suggestion when doing gift certificate promotions is to sell a smaller time frame (i.e. offer a half hour massage gift instead of an hour) simply because it’s less expensive. There’s much less resistance to spending $30 compared to $60, for example. So you’ll find that you sell more. If your client wants to buy a longer massage, that’s great, but you can always upsell to a larger time frame to the user when it’s redeemed.

Put an upgrade offer right on the certificate. For example, offer to upgrade from 30 minutes to an hour for only $30 more. Print this right on the bottom of the gift certificate: “This massage can be upgraded to a full hour for only $30.”

Consistently we found that 80% of people paid for the upgrade! Why did so many upgrade? From the recipient’s perspective, they were paying only $30 for a $70 massage. What a deal!

So think about what gift certificate promotion you can do as the holidays approach. Christmas season will be your highest gift sale period, so that would be the one to focus on. However, it’s getting down to crunch time, so you may not have time to initiate this type of promotion.

At the very least, take your gift certificates out of your drawer, dust them off, display them on your reception desk and ask clients if they’d like to purchase a massage for anyone for Christmas. It’s super simple and… clients will buy them!

Take care,

Eric Brown, Grand Massage Poobah


Need more gift certificate ideas?

Then pick up the “Sell Gift Certificates” guide at BodyworkBiz. It’s only $39 and will give you tips for selling hundreds of gift certificates each year. I’ll send the first ten people who buy the course a mixed pack of 20 beautiful full color gift certificates from BodyworkBiz (normally $45) for free. I’ll pick out a variety of certificates that are available on the site, so you can check them out firsthand.

Pick up the “Sell Gift Certificates” guide now and I’ll get your little bonus package of gift certificates in the mail right away.


Note: Offer available for residents of USA and Canada only.

Birthday Gift Certificates

Here’s another tip from one of the Massage Marketing Tips subscribers…

When a new client comes for the first session, I have them complete a health in-take form. On that form is place where the client records his/her birth date. I keep a notebook organized chronologically according to clients’ birthdays. When a new client comes to me, I record his/her birthday.

I then mail out a birthday card close to their birthday. In that birthday card is a gift certificate for a free 30-minute massage session, which can be upgraded if the client so chooses. I include a note in the certificate that explains that they can use the gift certificate themselves, or they can pass it on to someone they care to reward or pamper.

When a client calls to redeem the 30-minute gift certificate I ask them if they would like to upgrade the session for a 45-minute session or a full hour session. Upgrading from 30 minutes to 45 minutes is a $10.00 charge and upgrading to a full hour is a $20 charge.

Out of the new clients that get the birthday gift certificate, approximately 30 to 40% return to me to redeem it. About 75 to 80% who return choose to upgrade their certificate, and in most cases the choice is to upgrade to a full hour session. Once a client becomes an established client I send a $10 discount coupon to them with their birthday and also a $10 discount coupon with a Christmas card during the holiday season.

I have found that these gift certificates help to either bring in new clients and keep clients returning for massage therapy. It’s a simple thing to do, but it does work!!

Generously contributed by: Ken R Page, LMT, Spartanburg, SC

This massage business tip originally appeared in the 260 Tips to Build Your Massage Business e-course at BodyworkBiz.

5 Ways to Profit from Non-Profits

Massage Marketing Tips Newsletter, March 26, 2010

Working with charities can be a fantastic way to build your business quickly and is a true a win-win situation for everyone.

There are so many ways to work with charities. I’ve given five ideas below to stimulate your thinking.

If you have worked with charities to get new clients, I’d love to hear your story.

Go to the comments section below and tell me what’s worked for you.

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