SPA MARKETING: The Pregnancy Market

Gain a loyal following by marketing to the most fruitful demographic: new and expectant moms.

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When a woman is expecting her first child, wellness-enhancing and beautifying services at a trusted spa carry tremendous appeal. That’s why it’s crucial that spas take the time to fully understand and actively market to these clients.

“There are 16,000 pregnant moms entering the market every day in the United States,” reports Stacy Denney, founder/CEO of Belly Friendly, a prenatal training program for spas based in Corte Madera, California. “Couple that with the forward momentum of the national wellness movement, and the time is ripe to cultivate the pregnancy market.”

Moreover, pregnancy can be a “wonderful time to actually influence adult behavior,” notes Denney. It’s the time when a woman is changing habits—eating better, shopping organic and exercising—and so is ideal for introducing new ways to maximize wellness and keep stress levels in check. “If you treat a pregnant woman well during pregnancy, she may be yours for life,” she says.

Want to reach out to new and expectant moms in your area? DAYSPA checked in with some experts to compile eight easy marketing guidelines. Expect fertile results.

1. Make your spa a haven where new mothers feel safe and understood.

This sets you up to most optimally communicate that spa services are crucial at this time in her life. “Expectant moms are realizing that they need to take care of themselves more; everything from poor habits to stress can impact a baby’s growth,” says Denney. “Enhance these women’s sense of comfort and their spa experience by requiring therapists to obtain prenatal certification and continuing education.”

Once pre- and postnatal services are in place, promote them via signage in high-traffic areas (such as the front window, door or desk), emphasizing your number or types of prenatal services, years in business, therapists’ experience, awards, number of pregnant women served, etc.—to differentiate your business and generate consumer confidence. “To foster a pregnancy-friendly environment, all spa staff should understand the world of pregnant women—each trimester’s common aches and pains, as well as pregnancy myths, faux pas and resulting emotional states,” says Denney.

Ultimately, building trust is crucial to attracting and retaining these clients. “When moms trust your knowledge, service and skill, they market for you; it’s a referral-based community,” notes Patti Justice, owner of Blooming Pregnancy Spa & Imaging Center in Austin, Texas. “Know what you’re talking about, because these women can sniff out when you don’t!”

2. Watch your language.

Part of positioning your spa as a new-mom oasis involves speaking in these ladies’ lingo. Shannon Mouser, LMT, co-owner of Viva Day Spa in Austin, Texas, uses phrases such as “pain reduction,” “stress reduction” and “organic” in all menu descriptions and marketing collateral. Viva offers carefully named treatments, such as the Sweet Mama Facial Package (2 hrs./$149), focusing on hormonal skin issues such as pregnancy-related acne and hyperpigmentation; and the Pregnancy Massage (30-90min./$65-$135), which accounts for the special needs of a mother-to-be as her body changes during pregnancy. “These menu options speak not only to mothers-to-be, but also to fathers-to-be who are interested in reducing the stress of their partners’ pregnancies,” says Mouser.

Simply put, your language should emphasize ways in which your specialized services and products can ease and enhance the overall pregnancy experience. Get specific about how women can alleviate common symptoms of pregnancy-related ailments, such as sciatica or round ligament pain. “Using ‘pregnancy language’ shows that you know and understand what they’re going through,” Justice explains.

3. Offer education and empathy.

Expectant and new moms want to feel supported, safe and nurtured during what can be a tumultuous time. Make sure key staff members are equipped to educate guests about the benefits of pregnancy massage: reduced swelling, pain and stress; lowered cortisol levels; improved circulation and agility; and a healthier labor and delivery.

“Our No. 1 strategy is to inform new moms about pregnancy-related pain and stress, and how we can help them, so having a knowledgeable staff who can customize each woman’s service is essential for this market,” Mouser says.

Carol Cisneros, owner of Studio Cie, a Jon Ric Wellness Spa in Lakewood, California, adds that sensitivity to these clients’ body image issues is crucial: “Match the client with the right therapist, offer private changing areas, have front desk staff ensure the client she’ll be covered throughout the service, etc.,” she suggests. “Provide body pillows to make her more comfortable, and be prepared to tweak services, as each woman will have a different experience during pregnancy.”

4. Encourage the habit.

To turn these clients into regular visitors, Denney recommends offering a discount to first-time guests, a percentage off of a second service, and discounts around Mother’s Day, Pregnancy Awareness Month (May) and year-end holidays. At Viva, marketing gift ideas during Mother’s Day season—via social media promotions, media placement and special packages—has been particularly successful; the spa also markets itself as a resource for baby shower shopping. Cisneros gives new prenatal clients a voucher (usually $25 off), as well as a coupon for a complimentary foot treatment, to be used on their second visit.

Justice has found that bundling specific services and products according to each trimester is the best tactic for expectant mothers. “They feel they’re getting a great deal, so they actually tend to spend more on the day they come in,” she says. “Massage with pedicure is a super popular offering; during summer we bundle it with a product that offers legs a cooling sensation, and in the winter we package it with an aromatherapy heated neck wrap.” Justice also offers products and services to help aspiring mothers conceive, such as specific supplements and the spa’s unique Preconception Massage (50 min./$69), which works to increase pelvic blood supply. “When I attract them early in the process, they’re appreciative and eager to continue with services designed for each trimester, and the postpartum phase.”

She adds that spa owners might consider designating a special “pregnancy section” in the retail area, featuring chemical-free products that are designed to make pregnancy easier, such as stretch mark creams and nursing tanks.

5. Host special programs and events.

Cisneros’ Studio Cie offers an infant and toddler massage course instructing new mothers in three beneficial modalities. Women can start the class (available in private or group settings) a few weeks after giving birth, and fathers often join too, bonding the entire family.

Cisneros continues to attract families with a yearly “kiddie spa day” during which children receive free mini-treatments, face painting and glitter tattoos. “We decorate the space and provide healthy snacks, and it exposes parents to the therapeutic benefits of the spa—especially for kids with ADD, ADHD or autism,” she says.

6. Cross-promote with other businesses in your community.

“Start with prenatal fitness and pregnancy retail outlets, and OB-GYNs,” Denney suggests. “Other great partners may include those who aren’t necessarily pregnancy-focused but who could nonetheless benefit from potential business.”

Cisneros cross-markets services with an acupuncturist who comes into her spa to give wellness seminars. Justice works with a “mommy hangout/daycare” in the area, and advises promoting your spa “anywhere you know that new, local moms will be shopping.”

Mouser tends to cross-market with OB-GYNs who subscribe to a holistic approach (including one who works with a midwife), as these professionals are quick to recommend massage as part of a healthy pregnancy lifestyle. She also works with a local prenatal acupuncture clinic and distributes flyers in maternity stores. As a result, Viva was named one of 2012’s best massage studios for mothers-to-be by the Austin Birth Awards—which did much to foster brand awareness among the maternal community.

When working with OB-GYNs, trust is essential, so focus first on building that working relationship. “The integrity of what we offer is critical with OB-GYNs,” says Michael Hazel, director of operations at New York City’s YeloSpa. “So we emphasize our passion for helping people, as well as our prenatal-certified therapists’ experience. When they see and experience the level of service we provide, they feel confident in referring patients to us, and this trust and word of mouth are the keys to success.”

7. Mom-ify your online presence.

Use the web to get the word out about your pregnancy services. Ensure your online channels reflect the appropriate professional, educational and nurturing environment, and make your site as informative about pregnancy and prenatal wellness as possible.

“Fine-tune your website to ensure that, once a pregnant mom has visited your site, she’s sold,” says Denney. “It’s also important to utilize Facebook and Twitter. Develop a plan three months at a time and be sure to include contests, photos, videos, do-it-yourself spa treatments, lists, etc.”

Justice held a “HO HO HOliday Belly Photo Contest” last year that invited pregnant clients to post images of their decorated bellies to Facebook to win votes for free spa services. Mouser advertises throughout the cybersphere by using Google AdWords such as “mother,” “mom-to-be” and “pregnancy.” Cisneros employs a combination of Yelp, Twitter and Facebook (alongside traditional newsletters and in-house marketing) to spread the word about her spa’s pregnancy focus.

8. Keep new mothers on the appointment books.

After your client gives birth, you want her to continue to frequent your spa, so offer postpartum services and ensure her you’re ready to accommodate her changing needs. “With so much time spent breastfeeding or holding a child, women require different treatment—massage focused on the neck and shoulders, for example,” explains Justice. “There are massage modalities that can help alleviate postpartum depression, and acupuncture can soothe women before, during and after pregnancy.” Thanks to her spa’s attention to detail, Justice reports a 50% rate of post-birth return business.

At Viva, pregnancy is considered a gateway client opportunity. “Once women experience the benefits of regular massage, they tend to become long-term clients. And with the stressful challenges and busy schedules of new motherhood, they need it,” explains Mouser. “Women tell me that after they have their baby, they feel like they need massage even more!”

According to Denney, more than 60% of moms continue to visit the same spa post-pregnancy. So simply getting pregnant clients in the door can be a worthwhile investment in their—and your spa’s—long-term health.

Tracy Morin is a writer and editor based in Oxford, Mississippi.