By Coach Cary Bayer

Let me start this column off by saying that, as a longtime marketing and business coach for massage therapists, I’m going to provide you with an enlightened approach to your business card.  But, contrary to your possible expectations, I’m not going to tell you what words to put on it.  I’ll let graphic designers, who are far more capable of layout and graphics than I am, do that for you.  Instead, what I’m going to tell you is a way of using this little piece of ID that you’re not at all familiar with.  We’ll change that now.

Let’s look at a typical way in which you might give out your business card: namely at a social gathering like a party or a networking gathering.  You’ve been to many of these in the past, of course, and will continue to be at many of these in the future, as well.  At such festive occasions, you’ve given out your card, and often nothing whatsoever came out of it.  Why do you think that has been the case, not just for you, but for almost all massage therapists?  My answer is a simple one: It’s because of an incorrect use of the business card by most MTs.  So let’s look now at what a correct and enlightened use of such a card would like.

Let’s take a close look at our party scenario.  Imagine, for a moment, that you’re talking to some guy at the guacamole dip.  You’ve talked to him about what you do as a massage therapist, and he expresses interest in having the tension and pain taken out of his neck.  So what do you do?  You automatically give him your card.  In the past, nothing much has happened in such scenarios because the person you were talking to at a party knew how to get a hold of you, but you had no way of getting a hold of him.  Now that’s a problem for you.

If, for example, you’re a woman in her mid-40s or older—this may resonate emotionally for you in the deep recesses of your memory.  That’s because you may remember the days before the advent of cell phones, text messaging, and voicemail–when you may have sat beside the telephone, waiting for a certain guy, on whom you had a crush, to call you out for a date.  You felt the vulnerability of being reactive and disempowered.  So now I’d like to show you how to be proactive and empowered.

Instead of just reflexively pulling your card out of your purse, your handbag, or your wallet—like the knee that juts out when the doctor hits it with a hammer at your regular physical check-up exam—invoke a different cultural tradition than the one you’re currently familiar with in the United States.  I’m sure you know–and have probably uttered yourself–the old adage that goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  To that, I’d like to add a new one that you’ve never heard before and has probably never been uttered by anyone before—and that one goes, “When in America, do as the Japanese do.”   I can see that you’re scratching your head.

There’s a good reason for this new maxim, and that is because the Japanese have a wonderful tradition of trading business cards.  In other words, when a Japanese businessman or businesswoman gives a business card to someone else –whether that person is Japanese, American, or Roman–he expects to receive one in return from whomever he’s giving his card to.  So I say be like the Japanese.  Let’s go back now to the party scenario, and see yourself saying to the guy at the guacamole dip, “You know I could just give you my card like everybody else, but I much prefer the civilized way they do it in Japan.  Then explain the Japanese tradition to him the way I just did to you, and say to him, in other words, “I’ll give you my card and you give me yours.”

Then, if he seems interested in the kind of bodywork treatments that you provide, but isn’t yet interested enough to book a session, say to him “Think about if you’d like to get relief from that pain in your back, and if I haven’t heard back from you within a week, I can make your life easier and give you a call.  Would you like that?”  Most people say that such an arrangement is fine for them.

Most people lose cards, forget to make calls, and have cracks in their desks for things to fall between.  But now, instead of like that disempowered teenager you might have been a few decades ago waiting for a phone call, you can be an empowered adult therapist and call him.  I’m not saying he’s automatically going to become a client if you call, but I can tell you one thing based on your own experience: if you don’t, he probably won’t.   But what happens if you call him and he does become a client?  That sure would make the party you went to a heck of a lot more fruitful.

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Cary Bayer was keynote speaker at the AMTA national convention. Widely known as  Massage Marketing Coach, Cary is a Life Coach; CE provider licensed by NCBTMB and Florida Dept. of Health’s Board of Massage Therapy; and faculty member of Massage Business University, who writes for Massage Today, and AMTA publications in 16 states. His three dozen publications including the three-book Grow a Rich Massage Business series specifically for MTs, and 2 DVDs, one of which has been translated into Japanese.  He’s coached 300 MTs.  His 15 CE seminars and webinars—in particular, “Build a $100,000 a Year Massage Business”–are very popular among therapists.