Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

I was complaining about my sore neck to a friend of mine who promptly recommended I try Thai massage and insisted I see his favorite masseuse, Bee. Since I am a fan of Thai cooking, I assumed I’d enjoy a Thai massage and was looking forward to a relaxing hour. Those of you who have experienced Thai massage are probably giggling as you read this because you already know what I recently learned; Thai massage is about as relaxing as a root canal and at least as painful. My excitement about the inexpensive procedure (an hour only set me back forty dollars) waned after meeting the infamous Bee, a tiny rotund woman with a big smile and firm handshake. I am not a huge man by any stretch of the imagination, but I could not see how a woman who was barely five feet tall was going to have the strength to deliver an effective massage. She led me back to a row of “rooms” separated by only a thin curtain—not as private as I expected, but I soon learned that this is not a “lie down on a table in your birthday suit” type of massage. Bee tossed me a pair of loose shorts and instructed me to lie down on a thin matt on the floor.

What followed was some of the most intense pressure and directed pain I have ever experienced…and I have been married for over twenty years. Bee was far from a weak woman and proceeded to dig her hands, elbows, knees and feet into every part of my body. I think I may have blacked out when she stood on my legs for what seemed like an eternity. At some point, I found myself practicing breathing exercises I remembered from my wife’s Lamaze class and praying for the hour to end. The only thing that kept me from shrieking aloud was the knowledge that my neighbor was just on the other side of a curtain and I didn’t want to frighten him. I could hear him groaning in what I imagine was agony on par with my own as I heard his masseuse giggle and exclaim, “No pain, no gain.” A philosophy Bee clearly shared as evidenced by her stifled giggle as I felt her foot came to rest on my neck.

Don’t get me wrong, Thai massage is not completely devoid of pleasure—there is pleasant back, neck and foot rubbing, soothing music and warm scented oil—it’s just that the moments of bliss are punctuated by pain that can only described as exquisite. After the hour was up, I got dressed and was greeted at the door with a bottle of water and a candy and sent on my way. I was in a bit of a daze afterwards so it took me a while to notice that I felt great. My tension was gone and I could move my head without wincing—after a couple of days, I was pain free and as good as new. So, even though it was not what I expected, Bee’s massage was exactly what I needed. And you can bet I’ll be making another appointment.

Which brings me to today’s marketing lesson—if you give your clients what they need, rather than what they think they want, you’ll have a customer for life. I know Bee does. In honor of my newfound need for Bee’s special brand of healing, today’s offering is the 5-Point Massager. I doubt it will cure all that ails you, but it will work in a pinch. Until next time remember, “Make a consumer want you, and you make a sale; make them need you and you make a customer.”