It seems every year around this time I find myself busy with the idea of Holiday promotions. People are out buying for the ones they love, and I have, what I consider to be, a valuable service to offer. From a marketing perspective, the holidays are a prime time to encourage clients to share my services with their friends and family. I always look forward to the months after the holidays, as those with gift certificates begin booking appointments.

I think the main reason I have been so successful at marketing my services to holiday shoppers is because I really enjoy network building and I have confidence in my work.

Interestingly enough, it took me years to have the same success in marketing retail products. A few years ago, a colleague mentioned his surprise that I didn't have a larger selection of items for clients to purchase. I realized that I was hesitant to sell retail. I wanted to understand from where my trepidation came. After some introspection, I came to understand that I did not have the same confidence in the products I stocked as I did in the services I provided.

Knowing I was missing out on an opportunity to help clients find quality products (and for me to increase my revenue) I decided to reevaluate the standards I used when it came to retail. The result was a set of guidelines I use when it comes to choosing, promoting and selling products. These "rules" have been very helpful and have certainly resulted in an increase in retail sales, but more important, they have assisted me in maintaining my focus on client's needs.

This is what I came up with; I hope you find it helpful.

I need to know why I am offering a product

I need to believe in the products I sell as much as I believe in the services I offer. I think this is a must for successful retail sales. Clients trust me to have their best interests at heart. It is a disservice for me to promote products that aren't effective. There's a plethora of wonderful products that help clients with self-care (candles, hot packs, ice packs, massage tools, lotions, and specialty spa products). It is my job to recommend products that serve the client's individual interests and needs.

I must be knowledgeable about the products I offer

I should know the benefits and contraindications of products I sell. It would be irresponsible of me to send a client home with a hot pack without teaching the client the proper way to use it. By providing appropriate recommendations and educating clients in their use, I can facilitate clients in attaining their desired self-care needs.

I must be mindful when promoting products

If a client is vulnerable (such as when they are on the table) they may purchase a product they don't need and could feel tricked as a result. This shouldn't limit my ability to offer retail products - I just need to do so mindfully. It is essential to my integrity that I only recommend products that will benefit clients and that I do so at times that are appropriate.

It is important that I understand the legality of retail sales

I need to be aware of state laws and scope of practice limitations related to product sales. For example, in most cases, it is outside of a massage therapist's scope of practice to prescribe or promote nutritional supplements. I need to know local requirements such as how to obtain a wholesaler's license or pay quarterly sales tax. And it is vital that I maintain accurate records of all transactions.