Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Holiday Massage - for your dreams of independence

 First published in December 2010 in Sparkings

All of us in creative gigs think about starting our own thing.  For your holiday gift here is some logical inspiration from a very smart lady who started hers.
I really wanted a massage. I Googled what I wanted and where I wanted it: massage, williamsburg.  Guess what came up?  Yes – a business called Massage Williamsburg owns most of the top organic results including several review sites. I searched no further.  It must be one of the only massage businesses not called Tranquil Touch or the like.
The mastermind behind this is Rachel Beider LMT.  “I put all my effort into being found by people who are looking for what we do rather than trying to find people who aren’t looking,” she told me.
Rachel had studied at SVA and run a photographer’s studio.  But she didn’t like the ups and downs of project work.  Escaping to the Far East – she discovered massage in Thailand and turned out to have a real knack for it.  She applied online to train at the Swedish Institute in New York and hurried back.
Rachel’s research told her that 40% of Americans have had a massage and people who get it regularly have 8 a year. She realized that the 80,000 inhabitants of Williamsburg, Brooklyn were under-served.
She landed a job at a spa. “There was all day Enya – and I had to use oils that I knew contained carcinogens.  I wanted my own practice, with my own oils and my own music and my own clients. One day I walked past a physical therapy practice.  They had empty rooms and no massage therapist.   I said: ‘2 days a week I’ll work on your clients and you let me use the space. I have always liked trading – it is very helpful.”
She traded massages for haircuts and personal training.  Hairdressers talk to their customers, and gym clients are all sore! “I handed them a card I’d made from a VistaPrint template: the most expensive marketing I have ever done!”  This effort produced more referrals than she could handle – she added therapists. 
SEO fascinates Rachel.  Focusing on massage places that came up top in searches, she added her business to the same directories and review sites they were in, boosting her own page rank.
And so on. It’s all very logical.  She got the skills.  She did the research.  She traded work for space and for referrals.  And she made full and intelligent use of the free online search and marketing tools to make sure that when people are looking for her, they will find her. 
Happy Holidays and all the best for making your dreams come true in 2011.

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