Advertising Decision Time: Was I Wrong?

Last week, a client told me that a site where I had a free ad on was quite racy. I update my posting there every few months so that those searching for a massage there know that I’m still active, so this was news to me. Lo and behold, I found that the default search results are “pictures only” – um, since when did that become the #1 criteria for a massage therapist? And the majority of the photos were women with at worst a bikini on and at best a good cleavage shot. Honestly, stiletto knee-high boots and fishnets?? Oh, this did not bode well for the likes of me. So I searched for my ad by plugging in my zip code, and I didn’t even show up.

So I found out that MassageAnywhere had become a subscription site, but us unpaid “promotional members” grandfathered in from their free days will randomly show up in results. I thought about it … their annual subscription rate was fair, but then I thought about how little business I’d actually gotten from my ad there over the past 5 years v. how many obnoxious calls. I would often get a spurt of inappropriate inquiries that made me wonder where the site was advertising itself. I mean, when you get 2-3 calls a month on average from a particular advertising venue and suddenly you get 5 calls in a week for “pr0state massage”, you know it has something to do with the site’s advertising, not yours.

Now here’s the scariest new addition to the site: As a user from the client side, you can pay to become a “Friend” and maybe (but not guaranteed) get a Token for your donation that gives you “Unfettered Access” to provider profiles. I can’t begin to describe how shady and provocative that sounds.

So I wrote a pissy email to the folks at MassageAnywhere, explaining why I wouldn’t be upgrading to a paid membership and wasn’t sure I even wanted a free ad on their site. Their reply boiled down to “whatever” because obviously it was more lucrative to have lax rules. And then yesterday, I had two appointments with people who found me through that site and made a BIG chunk of change. Yes, despite preliminary conversations that started with me confirming that they’d read my rules, they both had an interest in “more than a massage”. One wasn’t at all pushy, though he texted me later to say he wished he’d tried, and the other claimed an enormous attraction to my personality as his reason for getting a bit het up (but in no way threatening). I am highly adept at sticking to my code of ethics without getting confrontational when someone attempts to push the envelope – I just give my wiseass side free rein, because it’s somehow face-saving for them while getting my point across exceptionally well.

So now I’m thinking that, if I got 2 appointments in one day from a posting that shows up at random rather than every time NYC is searched, I should reconsider my feelings about paying to advertise on this particular site. I mean, just yesterday I made enough to cover the subscription for 5 years. I’m now wondering if, despite its many drawbacks, MassageAnywhere now has a significant-enough presence on the web to take a chance. Or I could just stick with the freebie.

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5 Responses

  1. It seems to me there would be a ton more places to advertise than just a couple places online for NYC. Plus, I did a search for “massage therapists in nyc” and MassageAnywhere didn’t show up in the first 6 pages of google, and most everyone only clicks on the first page worth of searches. If I were you, I’d try to list myself on Yelp, any yellow pages online, directories (the free ones), and maybe think about starting your own website for your massage business. Just a thought. 🙂

    • Sure, there are lots of places, but most of them are pretty low-profile. I do have a website, but I’m a one-man band and don’t rank that high in search results. I started doing some search engine optimization, but got intimidated by the technical side of it. I’m on Citysearch, but they’re pay-per-click and really expensive (I tried it for 3 months) – not practical for a non-spa, so I just take potluck with my free listing. Yelp seems to be infested with unemployed 20-somethings who have nothing better to do than leave nasty reviews of people/services they’ve never tried. I’m thinking about revisiting that idea though.

      • Oh ok. Well good you know you’ve looked into SEO at least. That’s what I do for a living…learning more as I go. If I may ask, what is the URL for your website? I tried to find if you’ve posted it anywhere on here but couldn’t find it.

        To help make SEO a bit easier, you could check out LavaLinx.com. It’s a free system to help you manage your link exchanges, but also has a new idea of Social Bookmarking Exchange. It’s pretty easy to do and you can get lots of bookmarks from various profiles. Anyway, I’m not trying to sell you on it, even though it’s free lol, but just thought I’d suggest it if you were interested in furthering your SEO on your own. 🙂

  2. oh lol. you have too much fun! well i have a few thoughts. the goofiest one is maybe you should get a referral fee from somebody for finding these dudes some “added” services! the more serious one, and maybe you’ve tried this already, but is it possible that chiros in your neighborhood might bring in referrals?

  3. So as a person living near SF, are there other websites to find independent massage therapists? I used to get massages regularly in Philly but they are at least $100 here for 55 minutes which far exceeds my budget.

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