Sell Without Selling: Gift Certificates

If you’ve tried to be a salesperson and it’s absolutely not you, don’t sweat it. There are ways to sell massage without really “selling”. Gift certificates play an important role in the sell-without-selling game plan.

I’m Not a Salesperson

When I was young, I had a sales job at a local equity theater. I stunk at sales calls. The only reason I wasn’t fired was because my boss liked me.

The best sellers had devised their own scripts, and some were 100% convinced that Mr. Jones on the other end of the line was making a huge mistake if he decided he wasn’t going to buy a subscription. That was definitely not how I thought.

Fast forward to today in my massage business: some things haven’t change. For instance, I don’t believe everyone’s highest health priority should necessarily be a massage.

But the one thing that did change for me was that I found ways to sell my service and market my business without feeling cheesy. Enter gift certificates.

This took too long to get: Selling isn't cheesy. How it's done can be. I have a choice. Click To Tweet

I Hated But Now Love GCs

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with gift certificates (GCs) over the years. I loved when the money came in, but I hated doing the massage long after the money had been spent. Maybe that’s why for the longest time I never had GCs in my office. When a client desperately wanted to purchase a GC from me, I would “borrow” (steal) one from my wife, Lisa. She kept plenty in her office:-)

A GC as Part of a Sales Approach

Lisa saw the value of GCs early on, but I didn’t until I moonlighted at a massage spa. Customers would swarm in around the holidays to purchase GCs. Not only did the massage spa sell a lot of GCs, some of those customers became clients.

Homing in on the idea that GCs sell themselves, here’s a way to use GCs in a sales approach:

Business situation: A new client comes in for an intro massage. You would like her to be a repeat client and/or refer someone to you.

Pitch:  You work on her. That is your sales pitch.

Close: She pays you at your desk. On the desk is a sign that reads: Gift Certificates Available.

As long as the sign is visible, why not let it do the talking for you?

Advertising Strategies with GCs

I also began to see how GCs could be used for advertising.

1. Do a Massage GC Raffle.

We frequently do demo massages at All Kinds of Fast (AKOF), a local running store. Recently, we co-sponsored their Holiday Lights run through our town. Besides bringing our hands to do free massages, we brought raffle items, including a massage gift certificate.

Of the 40 participants at the event, about 20 entered the massage raffle. A person who put her name in the massage raffle walked over to my table. She wanted some work done on her hip. Great! I worked on her, never mentioning anything about our business.

After I was done, she did the run. When she got back she walked over to the Massage Raffle jar and saw that it was filling up with raffle tickets. Then she came over to me and asked if I had a GC to buy. Why yes, I think I do. She bought two.

Here’s what else our massage GC raffle accomplished at the Holiday Lights Run event:

  1. It helped us get noticed at the event.
  2. It showed AKOF that we’re invested in our business relationship with them.
  3. It provided us with the opportunity to gain a client (recipient of the massage GC).

(By the way, our GCs are transferable—in case the person who won it, wants to gift it.)

There’s more. GCs can be a way to invest in a client.

2. Donate a GC to a Fundraiser/Charity. 

Some of my clients are involved with charities and fundraising. In the past, anti-GC Mark would begrudgingly donate a GC to his client’s charity if and only if the client asked for one. Now, pro-GC Mark asks the client before she asks him.

Why? From a business standpoint, I’m strengthening rapport with my client. Rapport goes a long way if a lot of your advertising is word-of-mouth.

Also, in my experience, more often than not, GCs won or purchased at a charity event (e.g., silent auction) are not redeemed.

Lastly, I have to admit, I feel a heck of a lot better not being Scrooge.

3. Apologize with a GC.

Have you missed an appointment with a client? Did the AC break on a 102 degree, mid-July day in the middle of a massage? Did car exhaust ever come into the massage room during a massage? These are some examples of when I’ve given a GC to client for problems that occurred on our end.

Some look at this as lost revenue. I see it as a saved reputation.

4. Say Thank You with a GC.

GCs are a great way to say thank you. “Thank you” is different than bartering. The thank you GC is offered with nothing expected in return.

For example, I gave a client a massage GC for promoting our business. She in turn gave it to her running coach as a gift. It doesn’t matter to me whether she uses it or her coach uses it. From the second I gave her the GC, I demonstrated that I was investing in our client-therapist relationship, and that’s what was important to me.

A GC = Your Hands On (The Client) Advertising

GCs are more than just a way to bring in quick cash. They are a business currency, and they represent your labor exchange. When redeemed, you are literally selling with your hands.

To have GCs as part of your sales and advertising toolkit, make sure you have signage that lets people know that you have GCs.  Also, make sure that you have GCs on hand whether you’re at a massage event or in your office. I carry GCs with me in my car—especially during the holidays.

To advertise your business using GCs, do a massage raffle, donate a GC to your client’s fundraiser or give one to someone as a thank you.

Remember the car exhaust in the massage room incident I had mentioned? I gave that person a massage GC for that smoky massage. She was very appreciative, has become a return client and talks us up around town.

You don’t have to give up on the idea of having your own business  because you’re not a salesperson NOR do you have to pretend you’re someone you’re not in order to sell massage. In upcoming articles, I’ll drill down on more ways to sell without selling.

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2 comments… add one
  • Nguyet Dec 24, 2016, 9:43 am

    Hi there Mark,
    Thank you for the gift certificate idea. I never thought of using GC’s in this way. I will now.

    By the way, I am not a sales person either. My frustration for not being a sales person is wanting clients to do multiple sessions to help them with their chronic pain. What do you do to educate the client that this is best for them to get results? I know I do not really talk much about the benefits of multiple sessions. I rather work on people who commit to a series of sessions then work with someone who is only interested in 1 off sessions. I prefer consistency and frequency to help them and to help myself have a full practice. What have you done to achieve your level of success other than wonderful techniques. Thank you.

    • Mark Liskey Dec 26, 2016, 9:08 am

      Hey Vikki,

      Thanks for the comments and questions. Regarding what I do to educate clients about getting the best results: After the massage session, I do a wrap-up with the client. In the wrap-up I explain my findings and show the client the key muscles that I think might be involved in his pain condition. (I love Travell and Simons Myofascial Manuals. The pictures are outstanding.) Then I ask if I can do a follow-up call in a couple of days to check in. During the conversation if the client seems to have benefited from the massage, he/she will usually ask me how frequent he/she should come in.

      That’s when I make my recommendation. I base my recommendations on the client’s response, my experience with other clients and any research that I can find that pertains to that particular situation. In this post, I talk about my post-massage follow-up steps:

      Regarding whether clients come in once a year, once a month or once a year. I’m fine with all scenarios. My goal is to find what works best for the client in terms of pain relief and her pocketbook. For me, the bottom line is that I don’t ultimately know what is best for the client in terms of pain relief (if you consider all the things a client can do to get pain relief). I view my role as someone who is helping the client figure it out. From a business standpoint this probably creates less repeat clients than a membership model. That means I always need to have my eye on bringing more clients in. That’s where hands-on advertising and paid advertising come in.

      I hope that helps. I have more articles on selling massage which you can find by using the search button. Also, feel free to contact me here or at when you have a question. Thanks!

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