Eight Marketing Plan Principles For Wellness Businesses

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Everyone’s got to market, whether you’re an individual wellness practitioner or a wellness business employing hundreds. Check your marketing activities against our eight guidelines.

1. Have you identified the marketing activities that best suit your business?

Look for “rifle shot” marketing activities that are highly likely to get exposure with your target customers.

For example, joint workshops between mind/body studios and natural food and beauty retailers often appeal to future customers for both businesses. If you want to target women, consider partnering with local clothing or jewelry retailers. If you manage a health club, sponsor groups in local walk-a-thons and other charity events and dress them in your logo t-shirts.

Avoid shotgun-style marketing activities that pepper everyone with a broad radius — for instance, most billboard, newspaper, radio, and TV advertising. Your customer is not Everyone. Sure, you may get a few prospects, but the effort and cost/prospect is usually high compared to other approaches.

Avoid “cheating off someone else’s exam.” Not every fitness business has the same “test”, and in simply copying what other businesses are doing, you’re getting answers to the wrong questions. Often their strategies were originally designed to reach a different target customer. Or they’re tailored around strengths (or weaknesses) that your business doesn’t have. For example, large health club chains primarily compete with seasonal price promotions. But a niche health club with loyal members shouldn’t blindly copy that practice.

If your marketing activities feel awkward, unnatural or forced, you’re probably copying methods that have worked for different businesses with different target customers and different strengths

2. Are your marketing activities true to the spirit of your business?

Ask yourself these quick questions:

Question Answer
Do you immediately adopt an artificially cheery tone of voice when a prospect calls? Y/N
Do you use “sales” terminology that you’re not comfortable with, rather than your normal vocabulary? Y/N
Do you say what you think you “should” say, even though it feels forced and unnatural? Y/N
Do you speak much more quickly than usual, not at your normal relaxed conversational pace? Y/N
Do you avoid talking about price or fees and hope the prospect doesn’t ask? Y/N
Are you so miserable in “sales mode” that you forget to write down the caller’s name and contact info? Y/N
Do you say your business relies on word-of-mouth marketing – but financial results are falling short? Y/N

Even one “yes” answer is a red flag.

Working with customers and clients energizes most of the wellness businesses and professionals we work with. They love customer interaction! Yet they dread sales and marketing, and as a result they under-market themselves. The key is to realize that sales and marketing ISN’T about manipulating people into doing something. It’s about reaching out to share how you can help change their lives for the better.

The right approach WON’T feel pushy. It’ll feel natural and authentic. In fact, it’s truly rewarding, because you’re reaching out simply to help people change their lives…not to manipulate them into doing something that isn’t right for them.

Start by assessing your team’s marketing style and marketing strengths. Then, play to your strengths. Avoid your weaknesses – don’t waste time trying to “fix” them.

Every business can — and MUST — find a marketing style that fits. If you’re stuck, give us a call. We’d be happy to chat with you about what might work better for you (and don’t worry – there won’t be a sales pitch!).

3. Have you identified specific groups of target customers you want to attract?

It’s like gambling. Successful gamblers advise that you learn the rules and odds for just one game. Then you can make informed decisions about how much to bet and when.

Choose a few target customer segments, and learn everything you can about them. Then you can make smart decisions about how to reach them. Highly targeted marketing efforts make it much easier to zero in on the best ways to reach those targets.

For example, if all you know is that you want to reach unfit people, it’s hard to decide where your marketing resources are best spent. You’ll probably dilute your effort and budget across multiple market segments (older adults, women, men, kids, college students, office workers, etc.) and multiple marketing approaches (newspaper ads, bus “wraps”, coupons, free trials, price promotions, health fairs, etc.).

But if you narrow your focus to families concerned about raising healthy kids, marketing through parent/teacher organizations and after-school tutoring businesses are excellent options. You could also reach out to private schools and home-schooling groups. And you could co-market with gymnastics schools, martial arts studios, and more. Providing services to after-school programs for low-income kids could garner publicity for your business while supporting your local community.

See how easy it is when you tighten your focus?

4. Has your team set marketing priorities for the next 3 to 6 months?

The first step: brainstorm marketing activities specifically for your business and target customer. It’s the SECOND step that’s really important: prioritize that list so that you and your team know what to focus on and what to back-burner. It’s better to get one project actually done than it is to start five projects and finish nothing!

Both large and small wellness businesses face this challenge. We’ve worked with businesses that have hundreds of millions in revenues and hundreds of employees…and they fall into the same trap of over-committing and under-delivering.

Remember, building your business is a journey, not a one-time event. Keep a list of possible marketing ideas so that good concepts don’t evaporate over time…but focus on just a couple, execute them thoroughly, and then move onto the next item on the prioritized list.

5. Are your marketing efforts tied to specific desired outcomes?

Feel-good statements like “We need more customers” rarely pay off. Detailed goals keep you honest about whether your marketing efforts are really making a difference to your business results.

You’ll be much likelier to achieve that goal if you:

  • Quantify it (“We want 100 more customers by year-end”) and
  • Break it down into smaller goals tied to specific dates.

For example, if you’re launching your first direct-mail campaign, identify the major steps you’ll have to complete and list the target date for each step to be complete. Develop an estimate of the time and money you’ll invest in this campaign.

Then identify the specific number of leads AND actual sales you expect this activity to generate.

For example: “We expect our direct mail campaign to produce 100 calls to the business and 50 new subscriptions to our newsletter. We expect 25 of these contacts to attend a free workshop within the next 90 days. Of the 25 workshop attendees, we expect 5 will buy a wellness coaching package within 30 days.”

If it’s the first time you’ve tried a certain marketing approach, you’ll have to guess at realistic goals. That’s fine – your guesses will improve once you analyze actual results.

Remember to measure your planned and actual cost per lead, subscriber, etc. so you can measure the return you got on your investment and compare it to alternative marketing approaches to see which benefited your business most.

6. Are you initiating marketing activities based on cash flow and growth plans?

We often work with clients who have literally never taken the initiative to develop new business. That’s OK – you can learn this skill just like the know-how you’ve accumulated on healthy living and wellness.

Here’s the problem. Only the most fortunate and mature businesses can really depend on word-of-mouth and referral business to provide most new customers. And even those businesses must actively nourish their existing customer relationships so that they continue to be a source of new business.

Everyone else — which includes most of our readers! — needs to take the initiative to grow their businesses. Beautiful facilities, superior websites, and well-laid-out brochures do not win new customers and clients. You’ve got to literally get in front of prospects — either in-person or online — to attract and hold their attention long enough to help them understand how you can improve their lives.

If you haven’t been actively marketing to grow your business, start by identifying your financial goals. How much revenue and profit should your business target this year?

Then, peel back the layers. In order to achieve those goals, how many customers or clients will you need? At what average price? Based on available staff, how many of those customers and clients can you serve in a day, week and month?

Then develop your marketing plans based on those parameters, using the guidelines in this article.

7. Are you following through on each marketing activity to completion?

Once you’ve prioritized a couple of marketing activities, avoid the temptation to start up another effort before completing the top-priority projects.

Follow each top-priority marketing initiative through to completion. Don’t let the “next great idea” distract you from doing a thorough job of implementing this one.

No marketing initiative is complete until you’ve analyzed the results. This step is critical in helping you adjust your future plans. We often see businesses persist in marketing efforts that produce poor results, simply because they haven’t stopped to assess what’s working and what’s not.

And sometimes, they know it’s not working, but they’re not sure what WOULD work… so they just keep soldiering on. If you’re feeling stuck, that’s a good time to reach out for ideas – your staff and customers, your advisory board, colleagues in other businesses or industries, or marketing experts in the wellness industry.

8. Do you track results and adjust your marketing activities accordingly?

It’s easy to confuse being busy with getting results. Let actual results guide how you allocate time and money to each marketing initiative. If a marketing activity doesn’t produce new customers, tweak your approach or stop the activity, even if you’re not sure what would work better.

For example, we’ve seen numerous wellness businesses that spend a sizable chunk of their marketing time and budget on health fairs. Yet health fairs are notoriously poor at producing potential customers for many of you.

If that’s true for your business, but you want to participate in health fairs anyway, that’s fine – just know that it’s community service, not marketing. You’ll still need to market to win new business, in order to pay for your community service efforts!

Typically, some marketing efforts will work really well and others appear dead on arrival. Assess both successes and failures to learn what works and what doesn’t. Tweak unsuccessful efforts based on what HAS worked before you decide to drop a particular marketing activity.