Building Authority and Credibility as a Referral Tool

Michelle Burns
October 16, 2013

Having been a massage therapist for many years with a large and successful practice, I am now faced with the job of sharing the tools that led to that success with students and I sometimes find it challenging to put into words what I knew intuitively.  When I found the article “Building Your Authority and Credibility by Stephanie Beck in the October 2013 issue of Massage Today, I was intrigued, as it immediately resonated with many of my business practices and philosophies.

So many massage therapists practicing complain about they are having trouble getting new clients.  They take more classes, add more letters and certifications after their name, and don’t understand why people aren’t flocking to sign up for sessions.  The question in many massage therapist’s minds seem to be “Don’t all these techniques and certifications make me an authority?” and, as Stephanie points out in her article, no, not in the client’s mind.

So, what does constitute authority to clients?  According to Stephanie, and my own experience, the thing most clients are looking for is someone who knows what they need and can help them find the best solution to their problems.  It is the therapist who knows who their client is and what can best serve them.  It is the therapist who is an advocate and an educator, not the therapist that is trying to sell them on a service or a technique.  It is the therapist that can engage the  interest of the client by listening and problem solving, by providing information and by addressing the concerns of the client.

Stephanie points out clients or prospective clients usually have 4 questions they want answered:

  • Does this person understand my problem?
  • Are they qualified to solve my problem?
  • Is my situation unique and/or will this work for me?
  • What is my risk to find out more?

Too many massage practitioners are more focused on what they know (techniques, skills, anatomy) than on what information will answer the client’s questions and needs. It isn’t enough to just list or recite your training to show how qualified you are as a therapist, because that doesn’t really answer the client’s question.  What is effective is to discuss your solution for the problem and provide proof of the effectiveness of that solution, whether that is testimonials or studies or success stories from other therapists.  The key is to let the client know that you can help them and how, and that others have been helped the same way.  This is what establishes authority and credibility in their eyes.

Building authority provides a built in referral market to build your practice.  It is a process and takes practice, but pays big dividends in creating a successful business.  I know it was one of the best tools that helped me and I am grateful to Stephanie for putting into words what I knew intuitively.

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