Do we need to adapt our approach?
Source – Reflexions September 2022 – Written by Sally Earlam FMAR, BSc, PGCE (retired RGN)
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Many clients may have to decide what they feel they should and should not spend money on, so marketing is more critical now than it has been for over a decade. However, there are still plenty of potential clients, including those who will not be feeling the financial pinch and current clients who recognise the health benefits of reflexology. People will still be looking to spend money – but they will be more discerning with what they choose; they will want to shop smarter!
A book written by John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio, called ‘Spend Shift – How the post-crisis values revolution is changing the way we buy, sell and live’, was written after the great recession that ended in 2009. Still, we believe their findings remain true today. The book describes how consumers’ changed their spending patterns and how this created a long-term shift, and with the current cost of living crisis, we are likely to see people moving away from satisfying their wants and toward fulfilling their needs.
This recession left businesses thinking that it would have ended consumer spending, but the truth was that consumers were still spending, but their behaviour and choices had dramatically changed. This article will discuss the findings from their research in terms of the transition in consumer values so that we can consider how best to market in the current economic climate. So how do we ensure reflexology and our business remains or moves towards a ‘must have’ therapy?
Service, quality and long-term relationships
The findings showed that businesses were able to shift their approach, moving to an emphasis on service, quality and long-term relationships -things that should be key in our
businesses, but could they be
improved? Some of the essential
attributes that were found to be most important were (2):
- Kindness and empathy: up 391%
- Friendly: up 148%
- High-quality: up 124%
- Socially responsible: up 63%
Build a business based on ‘better rather than more’
We have seen so much dishonesty in our society recently that many feel despondent, so when people decide to spend their hard-earned money, they expect honesty and a relationship built on trust. Nobody likes to feel they are being manipulated or deceived.
The data showed that Spend Shifters most value sincerity, kindness and empathy; they look for that feel-good factor in every interaction they have with you. It is the experience they will appreciate and not the promises, so this is not about
reducing your prices but offering that little bit more.
Self-sufficiency is another theme; for example, people may not spend £50 on a birthday cake but would spend £50 on a cake-making class. People have become more interested in learning new skills so they can do more themselves.
Remember, first impressions count– and you have only 7 seconds to make a first impression. Within these 7 seconds of meeting, people will have a solid impression of who you are — and some research suggests a tenth of a second is all it takes to start determining traits such as trustworthiness (1). Once they have made their judgement, it is then very difficult to change their minds
So how do we make the most of these 7 seconds? :-
- Dress appropriately – be smart and clean – you will be judged on how you look before you even speak
- Greet each client with a genuinely warm smile as it sends the message that you are trustworthy and approachable
- Maintain good eye contact
- Speak slowly and clearly as it sends the message you are
articulate and intelligent
- Keep good posture, with your shoulders back, and your head held high, as this makes you appear and feel more confident.
- Don’t overpromise – aim to overperform. This can be a delicate balance of offering hope versus letting clients know that everybody responds differently to reflexology. Using anecdotes is one way of providing hope. For example, ‘I had a client with similar symptoms, and they found that reflexology helped’, balanced with letting them know that everyone responds differently and the only way for them to know what benefits they will get is to try it!
- Teach them a few hand reflexology techniques that they can use in-between treatments. This way, they will learn new skills to help maintain their wellbeing. Remember to put this onto your website, so potential new clients know there is also an element of self-
- Measure clients’ progress as a visual reminder of how they have benefitted from reflexology – this helps show how symptoms and general wellbeing have improved. Once symptoms ease, people
will forget how severe they were. Consider using a scale such as a Visual Analogue Scale and create a chart or graph showing their journey to help them see the health benefits they have received.
- Communicate with empathy, not sympathy. To best achieve this, listen with the intent to understand, as often people just want to be heard. It is important to be genuinely interested and ask
questions to let them know you have listened to their feelings. Be present and maintain good eye contact. Show genuine
appreciation and admiration and acknowledge their growth but do not offer unwanted advice and withhold any judgement.
- Offer exceptional service. Offer a follow-up call or email,
especially for new clients and ensure that every contact you have with the client is positive and makes them feel cared for.
- Consider occasional small, thoughtful gifts. This can include giving out one of our self-care cards or leaflet, a sample pot of your cream for them to use for hand reflexology etc. – get creative.
Consider the environment – people are willing to buy into this.
We have also seen an increase in the number of people concerned about the environment, with customers using the internet to search out eco-friendly businesses and purchasing goods and services from businesses that meet their standards.
People are living with less, yet they remain eager to find ways to spend with a purpose. You are probably considering the planet in many of your decisions, but are you telling people about what you are doing?
Develop a Green Policy. If you still need to do so, sign up and commit to being an AoR Eco-Friendly Therapist. You can download a badge for your website from the Members’ Area (Under downloads and then AoR logos for printed stationery) and link this to www.aor.org.uk/the-aor-eco-friendly-therapistbadge/ so they can read what your policies are.
Try and buy British products wherever possible.
Have the belief that ‘Everything will be alright.’
We need to rely on hope and optimism to help steer us through. The recession was seen to give people a gift of renewed determination and a source of energy to help people keep moving forwards, and we need to harness this. It is a time when priorities will shift, and we will need to become more creative and adaptable and reconnect to people and things that really matter. A community can be essential here, so remember you are not alone and surround yourself with those who bring you joy and understanding. As an AoR member, you are part of a supportive community, be this needing to talk to the AoR Advice Line, joining a local area group or joining in discussions on the closed Facebook community – remember you are not alone. We may need to learn to adapt and be a little more creative, but we can also use this time to re-evaluate priorities in our business and our own life.