An Apple iPad A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

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Wait! Come back! This entry has absolutely nothing to do with getting your 5-9 daily servings of fruits & veggies!

Speaking of apples, though… It’s hard to imagine these days that thecompany seemed doomed in the late 1990s. Their biggest mistake? Introducing lots of new products — most mediocre and uninspired — just the opposite of what worked so well for them when they first introduced Apple personal computers in the early ’80s. By the late 1990s, the question wasn’t IF Apple would crash and burn, but WHEN.

Apple did something most businesses don’t have the guts to do. Around 1997, when the situation was truly dire, they swung for the fences, and at the same time, killed off literally dozens of mediocre, loser products. They refocused on only four products.

I wish more wellness businesses would acquire the same laser-like focus.

We talked with a fitness center recently whose flat financials disappointed its owners. This business has great demographics. It should be extremely profitable. But it was clear as we talked with them that they’ve fallen into the trap that Apple fell into. They try everything. They succeed at nothing.

They never met a customer or a product/service idea that they didn’t like. College students on break? Young single professionals? Stay-at-home moms? Seniors? Serious lifters? You get the idea. Spinning? They’ve got it. Senior programs? Yep. Tanning? Of course. Full-service cafe? Definitely. Don’t forget supplements! Sport courts, wet areas, the list goes on and on. If it’s available, they’ve got it.

Yet, without a focus on the customer they know how to serve best, they serve no one particularly well. The cafe has cafeteria-style decor — the seniors like it, but the younger customers avoid it. Tanning? Not much family appeal. College kids on break? A definite turn-off for the regulars. Court sports, the pool and sauna? Only a few members use them. Supplements? Not in this upscale community.

Now they think they’ve found a new silver bullet — equipment for body-composition and metabolic rate testing.

Stop the madness!

Why don’t wellness businesses take the Apple approach? As an industry, we tend to recycle the same stuff over and over again. We turn something that should be fun, exciting and personally satisfying into a boring, painfully educational, guilt-ridden, heard-it-all-before, cover-your-ears-so-you-don’t have-to-listen experience.

Instead of institutionalizing the same-old, same-old products and services, retire some of them before customers are sick of them. Then introduce new ones with some fanfare. Don’t drain every ounce of customer interest out of something. Rotate it in and out with other programs or services.

For example, if you’re a nutritional retailer, emphasize different products throughout the year by linking them to health and community observances. On National Osteoporosis Day, feature bone health supplements. During May and June, typical wedding months, bring the anti-stress supplements to the forefront.

In a health club, rotate your programs throughout the year. Spinning for a few months, then kick-boxing for a few months. Indoor programs during winter, outdoor programs when the weather’s better.

Last, Apple excels at turning its product announcements into events.

As a industry, we can learn a lot here. Make a fuss about new products and services. Promoting the anti-stress supplements for brides and grooms? Dress an employee in a rented gown or tux and send them out to the sidewalk to meet and greet. Featuring bone health supplements? What a great opportunity to tie in to Halloween themes!

Bottom line: avoid distraction — focus on what you’re good at — and make it exciting for your customers.

It won’t hurt a bit.