You’ve listened to consultants who told you to search-optimize your content marketing, have a clear call to action, provide detailed answers to prospects’ questions, and provide top-quality sales and marketing collateral. So more is better, right? Read on…
It’s possible to have too much of a good thing. So when you’re putting together your online message, keep the following in mind:
1. If it doesn’t lead to action, it’s dead weight
Long, dense paragraphs about musculoskeletal mechanics may establish your expertise as a personal trainer, chiropractor, or kinesiologist; but short, plain English explanations do more to help your clients understand what’s going to happen when they visit your office.
2. But… don’t overdo it on the call to action
We know we can SAVE 15% IF WE ORDER NOW. But sometimes we don’t want to order now. Sometimes we want to think about things, work out a budget for our time and money, or just decide if today’s the day we commit to take a next step.
Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s OK to leave potential customers to make their own decision on their own time. Your marketing message helps create the need, and your sales material helps remove obstacles to fulfilling that need.
The gap between hearing your marketing message and reading your sales collateral may be days, weeks, even months. But you can’t force that process to accelerate.
Your call to action should do one thing: give your customer a baby step to take right now, and a big step to take if they’re ready to buy.
Once that nail is in the wood, don’t keep hammering it.
3. Don’t stuff your site or other digital content with buzzwords
Search engines are pretty sophisticated these days at telling so-called “link bait” sites from real content. Yes, you do want to mention weight loss if that’s the business you’re in. But adding a bunch of other terms or “keywords” just to attract passers-by doesn’t fool Google and it irritates real people who actually do land on your page looking for meaningful content.
I once worked for a division of a company who said they help customers “maximize their customer-facing strategic visioning potential.” What the heck does that mean? Who knows? Can you even tell what industry they’re in?
4. Get out of the way
Curling is a unique Olympic sport that to me highlights what sales and marketing is really all about. It’s basically shuffleboard on a sheet of ice, with one exception: after a large granite stone is shoved down the ice toward the goal, players skate in front of it and frantically sweep the ice. They’re brushing frost out of the way and keeping the surface as smooth as possible, so that nothing interferes with the stone’s glide towards the goal.
That’s what sales is about: moving ahead of the buying process and getting stuff out of the way. Concerns about price? Discuss membership options so it’s clear that multiple price points are available. Concerns about a bunch of hyper-fit people staring at the newbie? Use photos of real customers to show prospects that that 75% of your members are “everyday Joes and Janes.” And so forth.
In sales and marketing, many of us have a tendency to “sell past the close,” especially online, where we aren’t face-to-face with our customers and don’t know when they’ll act.
Put some time into thinking about why prospects might be thinking about putting off the decision, and give them information that reassures them that their concerns are legitimate, you’ve thought about them, too, and that they’re making the right decision at the right time.
Then stop talking.
5. Don’t overwhelm prospects with detail
Sometimes as health, fitness, and wellness professionals, in an effort to establish trust or not step over the line, we get a bit over-eager to disclose when our recommendations may and may not work, and the result is that we actually don’t guide our clients to do anything. We over-educate, flooding them with all the details, exceptions, and conditional results that they aren’t actually able to sort things out.
We all know that “individual results may vary.” Get your main message out (exercise program X might be good if you’re trying to improve your cardio capacity). Cover the noteworthy exceptions (but… if you’ve experienced chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, etc., see a doctor first).
Then kick back into Q&A mode for the rest of it. Use links to the detailed backup information so customers can read about the Maybes and the In Case Ofs IF they’re interested.
6. … but DO provide detail
Right detail, right place, and right time are the key concepts here.
The goal of each step in the sales and marketing process should be to take the NEXT step in the process.
The marketing concepts of “continuity” and “congruity” essentially mean that you should to break up your message into pieces, each of which does a specific job to get you to the next step.
The classic example is Ford’s tagline from a few years back: “Have you driven a Ford lately?” It was marketing genius because it provoked the reaction, “Why? Did something change?” It made people want to look at Ford’s sales collateral to find out what was new. And that’s when they find out more about which Ford is right for them and how to get one that suits their needs.
Wellness businesses have a tendency to:
- Assume people “know” what’s good for them and…
- Assume that they don’t want to do it for some reason, or lack motivation or self-discipline
What’s more likely to be true is that they’re busy, fearful of disappointment, burned by prior bad experiences, afraid of looking sillly, are getting conflicting information from multiple sources, and can’t tell your program or product apart from others.
The detail you provide should be primarily oriented toward addressing these and other obvious and recurring concerns:
- Vendor X says one thing and Vendor Y says another. I don’t believe either of them entirely—so what’s the truth?
- What if I go all-out with your program and have a heart attack?
- What if people see me and think I’m an idiot?
- What if people stare at my thunder thighs and laugh at the jiggle-fest up on the treadmill?
- Ack! I don’t know what all this equipment does!
- My doctor said ketosis is bad… but you’re telling me if I go low-carb I will go ketotic?! WTF?
- There’s so much I don’t know… where do I start?
- What will produce the best results, most quickly and consistently?
- I’m busy already. How am I going to find time to meet with a trainer?
- Do you speak Spanish?
- Have you ever worked with a diabetic client before?
- …and so on
These are the real questions people have, not “is exercise right for me?” or “tell me about the virtues of a paleo diet.”
7. Do your research
We know your business rides on its ability to reach the right customers reliably. The good news is that deciding who those people are and how to best reach them is a knowable thing.
For the online world, this presents special challenges. You can’t just go stand on the corner outside your club and count the number of middle-aged, overweight men that walk by.
You can look at Google Analytics for your website to determine what search terms led visitors to your site, what pages they click on most often and in what order, and how long they stay on each visited page. You can see how deeply and how frequently they search. You can see how long they stay on a page. Marketing automation tools like Marketo will track whether customers are downloading or copying and pasting content from your pages—a sign that they believe the content is important enough to save and read later.
If you have an active presence on social media, you can hang out where the types of customers you want are likely to be. Examples include sports, pregnancy, and diabetes peer support groups, and cycling and running forums. You can also follow topics tagged with specific interests, like #keto, #paleo, etc.
Then, pay attention to what folks are happy about, excited by, ticked off about and upset by. Social listening tools like Mention can expedite this process by monitoring social media threads, blogs, and more for specific phrases of interest to your business.
And of course, never forget to simply ask visitors as well as existing customers what they want from your business.
Once you’ve got that information, use that data and insight to help guide your sales and marketing strategy and tactics.
8. Dare to fail… repeatedly
No matter how much research you do, sooner or later you’re going to have to roll the dice. Are your best prospects body conscious women in their forties, or serenity-focused stressed-out moms? How can you tell the difference?
Marketing is an experiment. Broadly speaking, it rewards businesses with a clear picture of their own identity and bold, catchy messages that reinforce that identity. Very few businesses succeed who can only describe their customer as “a man or woman, age 25-55, concerned about health and fitness.” After all, that’s practically every adult human in your community!
So at some point, you have to decide to lead with one message and drop or de-prioritize the other.
If serenity isn’t doing it—perhaps because you’re losing business to the yoga studio down the street—you have to find out as quickly as possible, so you can pivot to a different focus. Maybe your studio’s better suited to emphasizing low-impact, safe, steady progress rather than echoing the other studio’s messages targeted to more athletic folks who love to push intensity.
When you win your prospect’s attention with a resonant message, they’ll want to know more.
They’ll click through to details, which gives you the power to address their most common concerns and remove obstacles to an ultimate purchase.