Five Things Wellness Business Leaders Should Never Do

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Stupid Pet Tricks, for leaders of health, fitness and wellness businesses.  For the love of Pete, don’t do this stuff. You’re just shooting your business in the foot.

1. Copy someone else’s website

We’ve talked with so many clients who are very insightful about what’s wrong with other wellness businesses. They’ll point out, for example, that traditional wellness businesses intimidate the out-of-shape, overwhelm potential customers with too much information, use baffling jargon, promote dubious advice, and so on.

Yet when they develop a website, they spend most of their time looking at other sites — for businesses that are guilty of the very sins they’re determined to avoid in their own companies!  For example, they’ll point to a typical health club site that emphasizes low, low, low! prices when their wellness center uses a completely different sales strategy.

Stick to your own knitting. Set clear goals for your site and create both a site design and site content specifically tied to those goals. Ignore what others are doing. Most of the time it’s probably not working very well, anyway.

Your site should speak in your team’s voice. It’s fine to review other sites to gain an understanding of what makes them effective (and what drives away potential business). But you’ll never rise above if you just emulate what others are doing.

2. Copy someone else’s newsletter

Do we, as an industry, really need another health club newsletter that sends out generic fitness tips and the occasional healthy (but flavorless)recipe? We don’t think so.

The newsletters that actually interest potential or current customers are written by real people who are extremely familiar with what YOUR specific customers care about. They include stories and pictures of your business and your customers and your community, not stock graphics and canned articles or advice. And they sound like normal people wrote them – not professional marketers.

3. Spend wildly on printed marketing materials

Have you ever spent thousands on an elaborate marketing piece? Maybe a multi-page brochure with fancy die-cut treatments, on high-end paper with special binding?

What evidence do you have that it actually enhanced your business results? Probably very little. If you show it to people and ask them what they think, they’ll tell you it’s gorgeous. And it probably is.

Here’s the rub, though. Folks are likelier to buy wellness services and programs based on word of mouth, low-key testimonial advertising, free public seminars, and other highly-trusted forms of relationship marketing.

Flashy and/or text-intensive brochures with minimal branding and an understated or altogether missing call-to-action are usually less effective. Many people just aren’t readers – and even those who do read are too short on time to invest much effort in a long brochure.  And glitzy graphics don’t translate to a buying decision.

If you do use elaborate sales materials, make sure you’re using them only on qualified prospects — not on cold calls or initial contacts with unqualified prospects. You’re unlikely to convert enough of those initial contacts into paying customers to justify the investment that early in the selling process.

4. Use business planning software

We hate these products. That’s a big change — in the beginning, we recommended them. But what we’ve seen over and over is that they do a great job of generating financials, and a lousy job of helping you think through a practical business strategy.

You spend lots of time answering the same questions over and over again…and they’re often questions that you know, in your heart, you don’t really understand. You feel super-productive when you finally print out your plan…yet you still have doubts about what you’ve created.

Instead, start with our ten-question business plan.

If you can answer these in detail, without resorting to vague statements like “Obesity is a national problem, therefore employers will buy our program”, you’ll be 90% done on your business plan.  After you’ve answered them, go back to your planning software and create your staffing plan and financial statements.

5. Forget why they’re special

Most of our clients are extremely articulate about why their business is special — what makes it different and sets them apart, why customers choose them over competitors.

Yet those wonderful insights vanish when they start thinking about sales and marketing. Suddenly they can only speak marketing gobbledygook, and the points they make are irrelevant to customers.

For example, we’ve seen hundreds of marketing pieces that list fitness and personal training certifications of fitness center employees. Yet they fail to mention that the trainers are physical therapists, nurses, or dietitians – credentials that are much more meaningful to most potential customers.

And instead of mentioning, for example, that all of their professionals have overcome weight challenges themselves, they fall back on meaningless marketing fluff: “We have an elite world-class team of highly qualified, experienced, and caring professionals.”