Episode 177

Aug 31, 2018

Got another massage therapist stealing your ideas and harshing your mellow? Here’s how to deal.

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Got another massage therapist stealing your ideas and harshing your mellow? Here’s how to deal.

Sponsored by: Gift Up! and The Jojoba Company.


Sponsor message This episode is sponsored by The Jojoba Company. I firmly believe that massage therapists should only be using the highest quality products, because our clients deserve it, and our own bodies deserve it. I’ve been using jojoba for years. Here’s why: Jojoba is nonallergenic; I can use it on any client and every client without fear of an allergic reaction. Jojoba is noncomedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores; so if you have a client that’s prone to acne or breakouts, jojoba is a great choice for them. It also won’t go rancid; it doesn’t contain triglycerides like many products; so it won’t go bad. This makes jojoba a great carrier for essential oils, too. And finally, jojoba won’t stain your 100% cotton sheets; so your linens will look better for longer. And since jojoba won’t go rancid, they’ll always smell fresh and clean. For more information and to get some jojoba, go to massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba. That’s massagebusinessblueprint.com/J-O-J-O-B-A.

Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I’m Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines And I am Allissa Haines.

MR Welcome. We’re your hosts. Glad to have you. Allissa, I hear it’s going to be 110 degrees today in your locale. Is that true?

AH Yes. It is so hot that today, on the first day of school, they had to change today to a half day to get the kids out of the buildings before it got really, really, really hot because it’s going to get so hot in these old school buildings that it’s dangerous. So all the kids got ready to go to their three-hour first day of school today.

MR [laughs] Seems like such a waste to go for just three hours.

AH I know it.

MR Why not just cancel the whole day?

AH I know. Upside is though —

MR I’m sure they have plenty of reasons.

AH Right? And you know what? The terror of having to go through another day of waiting for the first day of school, I think, was so intense around here that I’m kind of glad they just did the half day. And everyone will be home by noontime, and then I think we’re all just going to be in the pool all afternoon.

MR Why not, yeah.

AH It’s going to be 110 degrees. Well, the heat index with the humidity. How are you over there in Indy?

MR I’m doing great. It’s hot here but not as hot as it is for you. We’re at mid-80s, so I feel like I have nothing to complain about.

AH Sweet.

MR I’m sure I can find something to complain about, but I’m not going to.

AH I gotta say I’m so excited to be back doing our normal podcast routine. Because this summer we got a couple weeks ahead on episodes, and then we recorded at the Word Massage Festival, we did two episodes there. And now we’re back to our normal, being at our computers, remote recording. And I feel like I’m home.

MR Yeah.

AH I mean, literally I am home, but I feel home.

MR Well, the festival was so much fun, but yeah, it is nice to be back in the regular routine of things. By the way, before we forget, I am so excited to see our articles in the latest Massage and Bodywork.

AH Squee!

MR They look amazing. ABMP does a great job of taking our raw text and making it absolutely gorgeous in these articles in the magazine. So I’m really excited to see that.

AH ABMP’s Massage and Bodywork magazine. Aware winning and stuff. It’s phenomenal. The most recent issue’s available at their website, abmp.com. If you scroll down towards the bottom of the page, you’ll see where you can access the digital version online at no cost. It’s a pretty smooth publication. I feel really lucky to be in it. But yeah, the artwork on the cover and throughout the most recent issue is just stunning and Michael has a phenomenal feature article about niching. So if you’ve been ignoring all of our talk about specialization, Michael’s article really talks you through it in a way that’s a little less scary. In the upcoming month or two, in September, we’ll have a blog post on the ABMP website that’s me talking you through the scary stuff of niching. So yeah, check it out. It’s smooth looking. Michael’s feature is good.

MR Yours is not too shabby either.

AH The column that came out this month was all Is Your Business A Big Old Hot Mess? It was fun to write. So there’s that.

MR But enough about us. How about if we help you, dear listener?

AH Let’s help you.

MR Today, I was really — when I opened up our topics, I was really excited on this one because it sounds like a lot of fun and a lot of interesting stuff we could talk about here because I know this is happening to some of our members of our community right now. It’s how to deal with a business copycat.

AH Word! And it’s happened to me on a small scale. And it’s happened to a lot of people that I’ve talked to — really successful people, of course, over the past several years. Because when you get really successful, other people are going to copy you. Sometimes another business will straight-up copy your marketing and advertising techniques. You’ll get a banner, and they’ll get a banner. You post about a particular 5k, and they post about a particular 5k. They might be using similar graphics to you. You find that you send an email that’s happy spring, don’t forget Mother’s Day gift certificates, and you know that that person is subscribed to your email list, and then a week later they put out an email that’s got super similar text and the same kind of graphic also pushing their Mother’s Day gift certificates. Maybe you’re in a networking group and this other therapist has joined that networking group and they are stepping on a lot of your contacts in a smarmy kind of way or jokingly suggest that clients that are yours should go and try their massage. Bletch. And there’s a lot of ways this happens. There’s a lot of bits that we need to think through when we decide how and if to deal with a business copycat.

The first thing I would note is what is the intent here? Is this person really copying you? Is it obvious to others or is it something that only you would notice? If you don’t really know this person at all — and that’s really kind of the core of the intent question — do you know them? Did this person pick your brain? Did they call you when they started up their practice nearby and say “let’s have coffee” and then milk you for all your techniques and information about your practice, and then very clearly start copying your techniques? Or if you met with them and you shared information both ways, are they just using some of the resources that you gave them? Did you say oh, I love this website to find graphics. Did you say, oh, you should listen to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast because it could help you and they have a really great, whatever, podcast episode about xyz, working at a farmer’s market for example. So are they, in a friendly manner, using resources you pointed them to, or are they — do you think or do you have actual reason to believe — are they literally downloading graphics that you use on your website and in your social media and then posting them as their own on their website and their page? That’s going to tell you a lot of about intent.

Is someone using some tips you may have shared with them or did they milk you for ideas and they are straight up copying? If you, let’s say, have made connections with the local moms club, have they made a point to join that moms club and supersede you and your relationship with the leaders of that? If you’ve been teaching an infant massage class to that group forever and they know that, did they talk to the leadership of that group and say “I’d like to teach an infant massage group.” Frankly, even if they did do these very assertive things knowing that you are already using these techniques with any particular group, there’s not a rule against that. It’s classless. But are they just overzealous in their marketing, or are they really — pardon my French — trying to screw you.

When you see your business being copycatted, it’s super easy to get really hypersensitive about what’s happening. It’s very easy to interpret someone’s, what they think is, sharing an image or using an image in an innocent way, it’s very easy to see them as being predatory and copying your techniques. But it happens so I’m not trying — I want to validate. Sometimes it happens. It has happened to me with some new therapist who came in, a couple of chiropractors were like, oh, you should go talk to Allissa because she does good business. I met and talked to somebody and said here’s a couple of resources. But instead of building her own empire using those resources, she just straight up started copying stuff out of my emails and off of my social media and even approached one of my business connections. It’s sketchy. You really have to think through and maybe talk to somebody objective who knows the parties involved or just have a friend be like hey, can you look at this chick’s Facebook page and see if it looks like she’s just straight-up copying me? Get maybe an objective view and think it through. Do not do anything in the heat of the moment when you’re aggravated and angry. We’ll talk about what you can and maybe should or shouldn’t do in a moment after our halftime sponsor.

Michael, who’s our halftime sponsor today?

MR It’s our friends across the pond at giftUP.

AH Across the pond.

MR They are across the pond.

AH They are, but it’s a little pretentious to say it that way.

MR Oh, is it. Don’t they say across the pond?

AH They do. We do now. Anyhow, this episode is sponsored by our friends across the pond, giftUP.

Sponsor message giftUP allows you to sell your own digital gift cards and gift certificates on your website with no setup fee and no monthly fee. Built with massage therapists in mind, giftUP is easy to install on your website — you just put a little code in there and you get a button — and your Facebook page and easy for clients to use. Clients can email the gift certificate or print it out for in-person gifting, and it’s easy for you, the massage therapist, to redeem with your iPhone or Android app. Special offer for our podcast listeners, visit massagebusinessblueprint.com/giftup, G-I-F-T-U-P, to get the first 10 gift cards sold completely fee-free as well as no monthly cost ever. That’s massagebusinessblueprint.com/giftup from our friends across the pond.

AH So I’m going to take another sip here because I’ve got another mouthful to say. Did I mention it’s already —

MR Drink up. Hydrate, hydrate.

AH I know. It’s like 9 in the morning and it’s already 85/90 degrees outside. Anyhow, when you are dealing with a potential business copycatter, can you ignore it? For realz. The beauty of what we do as massage is that’s it a totally individual experience. No one else on the planet can give the massage that you give. So unless this person is actively recruiting your current clients, and even if they are, you can probably just ignore them. You can probably just ignore their behavior. It’s not like any of your clients, if they’re good clients and you’re a good therapist, they’re not going to go leave you for someone new who is being predatory. Where at the end of a 5k — let’s say you serve athletes and you’re at the end of a triathlon doing your thing, even if they’re — your client is not going to choose to go get a free massage from somebody else when they have a relationship with you. They want to be on your table at the end of their triathlon. So unless someone — even if someone is trying to poach your clients and your contacts, there’s an excellent chance you can just ignore them.

Now, if you feel like someone is really moving in on your territory, what can you shift to make it so that this is not a competitive issue. Can you adjust your specialty a little bit so that there’s very little or no overlap with the people they see in your target clients? Again, we’ve talked about this so much lately and I know people are tired of hearing it, but specializing, niching, is a tool that makes it so there’s no such thing as competition. The beauty here is that most massage therapist are so afraid to specialize that just doing so is going to set you apart and eliminate competition for your in your area. If someone — let’s say you’ve even already specialized and you treat women with small children; you do prenatal and postpartum massage. Say there’s some other massage therapist around and they do lots of general work, but they also do prenatal massage. Can you adjust just a little bit? Can you really go all out and make one or two more connections with some kind of prenatal or postpartum support group and get one step beyond what this schmo trying to steal your niche is doing? Can you get really specific, take a little bit of training, and focus very specifically on women with high-risk pregnancies or women with multiples or women with anxiety and depression or women with a history of postpartum depression. What can you do to adjust your niche a little bit so that you’re a little more specific and there’s less overlap with your target clients and this other therapist’s target client? Again, the bonus here is that most people haven’t even nailed down their target clients, so you probably don’t even have to worry about that with someone else trying to move in on your turf.

I think also one of the things you can do is take a clean break-up approach. What I mean by this is, if you ever dated somebody and you break up and there’s that obsessive desire to follow their social media and see what they’re doing without you and get annoyed if they’re seeing somebody else really quick or whatever. I always say the best thing to do if you break up with somebody is to immediately disconnect. Take their number out of your phone, take their email out of your address book, unfollow and unfriend them on all social media so that you don’t have the option to be obsessed with contacting or stalking them. I think that’s a really effective approach for this kind of business copycatting because this will make you crazy.

If you notice it, I would guess you have felt the adrenaline rush of being obsessed by it, and then every time you post something, a couple days later you need to check their feeds to see if they’ve copied it, or you subscribe to their emails to see if they’re sending out emails like yours are. I say totally separate so that you cannot look at their stuff. Make sure you’re not following their business feeds, you’re not subscribed to any of their email stuff, disconnect if you’re connected to them on LinkedIn or whatever. Disconnect. Make sure none of your social media account are connected to theirs in any way. Don’t be afraid, if you need to, to block them from commenting on your feeds, but we’ll get to that in a second. Sorry, I jumped ahead. Set your digital world up so that you cannot see what’s going on with them. There’s not much you can do if you’re driving by their office on a regular basis and they’re copycatting your signs or your banners or whatever. But do your best to just not pay attention and to physically don’t follow any of their stuff and focus on yourself.

This is metaphorical too. Don’t let them get in your head. Don’t let them waste your time. You do not have any time that you need to be spending worrying about someone else’s business building. Put your head down, stay in your lane, focus on your business.

Now, if they’re doing stuff that is so obvious and unethical — I’m trying to think about a situation in which you would need to speak to someone. The only think I could think about is if you — maybe somebody in good faith contacted you and was like “I’m staring up my massage business near you, let’s be friends,” and you thought that this was totally genuine and met with them a few times and swapped some ideas, and they went off and poached the cyclist, the bicycle training group that you’ve been involved in for a while and you’ve been making connections in, and if it turns out they had a contact in there too and they went in and actively tried to poach a bunch of your clients from there, which, again, isn’t going to work. I really can’t think of a situation so obvious and unethical that you would need to speak to somebody to tell them to back the heck off. Michael, can you?

MR I’m trying to. It’s pretty rare that it’s that extreme, I think. Yeah, it’s hard to think of — your example is pretty good. If someone really does get that aggressive, then it’s so obvious that you probably can’t help but say something. And it’s going to be obvious to the people they’re trying to poach. Someone that obvious, that overt, people are going to smell that, and I think it’s going to work against them anyway.

AH Absolutely. I think it’s really important to remember no one can really steal clients from you. Clients do not belong to us. They might travel with us for a time and then move along. If you’re losing clients to another therapist, your problems are bigger than just that therapist; you need to rethink what’s going on in your business. But I can’t even say that I’ve ever heard of that happening. It’s a fear. I’m mentioning it because it’s a total fear like oh my God, this person is going to take all my clients and all my potential clients. That’s a normal thing to fear when something like this happens to you. But it’s probably not going to happen.

People are loyal to their therapists. They come to you, they give you their money, they’re on your schedule because they like you. If you feel like you’re still starting up and trying to fill your schedule and someone is stealing the massage spotlight in your town, you need to refocus your spotlight. Again, adjust your niche, create a niche if you haven’t done that yet.

Anywho, know that, like Michael said, people are going to smell the smarmy and the gross and the unethical on someone who is doing this to you, especially if they’re being really obvious about it. They will burn themselves out. Someone who does this, intentionally or not, is going to burn themselves out. Either hey, they’ll be really successful at it, they’ll fill the book and they can’t take anymore new clients anyway, or they’re just going to be done pretty quick. Because if they’re dumb enough to be copying someone else’s marketing techniques as if it’s going to work the same for them, they’re probably pretty dumb about other business stuff too, and they’re going to go under and end up working for someone else sooner rather than later.

And the final thought there, and I just want to point out, that at some point or another, we probably all been that copycat to one degree or another. Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, but be mindful of your own stuff. Especially — it can be scary and you can start making decisions from a place of fear if you’re working in a saturated market and you see a few other massage therapists do thing that seem to work really well. One, that doesn’t mean they’re going to work for you really well, but be mindful of being creative enough to not copycat anyone else and to not take advantage of any other business owner’s generosity in mentorship and see how that goes for you.

That’s all I got Michael. What do you think?

MR I agree. I’m in total agreement with everything you said. I lean toward the ignoring it end of things just because you’re right you can drive yourself crazy. And like you said, flattering. If someone really is copying you, it means you probably are on the right track. I would also take that as a little bit of a compliment as long as they’re not going too far with it.

AH It’s funny because I’ve had this happen more in the marketing world than I have in the massage world. I’ve had a few problems with some massage therapists in my local area. I was a little bit ahead of the curve in website and email marketing when I started, so I did pretty good building my practice in a fair amount of time. And I definitely saw that when I started doing a few things, some other massage therapists did too. But they always kind of did them halfway so nothing really ever came of it. It annoyed the crap out of me. But really where this has happened to me most is in the marketing world. There’s a handful of people who just straight up — I’ve found our blog posts and some of my old blog posts, especially, printed on other people’s websites as if it was their own stuff, and people try to create businesses much like ours. There are tons of business like ours that are great that do different things. There’s also a handful of small copycats that are smalltime. And that’s okay. It used to make me crazy. So-and-so’s doing this and it’s just like the thing we did. Now I just go oh, my God, why would I even give a crap. Even in this marketing world, the things we do are specific to our target client, which is much different from everybody else’s. Once you get over that, you get so much of your life back.

MR Here’s the thing. Don’t forget that it’s pretty easy to copy the tactics that you see on the surface, but it’s much more difficult to copy the inspiration and the soul and the strategy behind it. That’s almost impossible to copy.

AH Word.

MR That should hopefully reassure those of you who are maybe dealing with a copycat that yeah, the tactics are out there. They’re obvious to everybody. Anybody can google stuff and figure out tactics. But the essence of what makes you successful is unique to you.

AH There you go, people. I did all that babbling so Michael could come up with the smartest thing to say at the very end.

MR [Laughs]

AH Thank you, Michael.

MR I’m channeling Yoda, which happens never often at all, but every now and then.

AH 20 minutes of me babbling so Michael could bring in the McNugget of brilliance.

MR You basically served it up so I pretended to look good. It’s a team effort, we’ll say. I love it. I know a lot of our premium members and our listeners are dealing — not a lot, but some are dealing with this right now. I think it speaks to how successful our members and community really are. They’re doing great work and so people are bound to copy them.

AH I feel the same way.

MR Right on.

AH Go us.

MR All right. We’ll wrap it up there.

AH Please do.

MR [laughs] Are we just done? Stick a fork in it. Thanks, everyone, for joining us. We appreciate you being with us today. Don’t forget our website is massagebusinessblueprint.com. You can find us there, a lot of free resources there as well as our premium member community which is growing every single day, little by little. We’re excited for all the new members we’re getting. If you have a question or a topic or anything you want to give us a shout about, you can email us at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. And we do read every email and respond to pretty much all of them as well. We like to have a conversation with you and hear your thoughts. So give us a shout. Thanks again for joining us. We will see you next time.

AH Bye.