Nine Questions To Ensure A Successful Marketing Plan For Your Wellness Business

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1) What did your wellness business learn last year?

Review last year’s marketing plan

What worked? Do more of that.

What didn’t? Don’t do that again.

Where were you ridiculously optimistic? What steps did you leave out?

Where were the surprises?

Sounds so basic, yet most wellness businesses skip this step. In fact, the larger your business, the likelier you’re overlooking this critical feedback and learning opportunity.

2) What’s your “big idea” for next year?

Decide what your primary emphasis will be for the upcoming year.

For a client whose clinic offers medically-supervised weight loss programs, their marketing theme for 2011 blends “healthcare plus self-care.”

One of our nutrition clients is using an “eat your colors” theme as the organizing principle for next year’s marketing activities.

3) What will your key marketing messages be?

What are the 3 – 5 key points that you want potential customers to hear about your wellness business?

One of our health club clients wants potential customers to know that there are “no dumb questions.”

And “the confidence to count on yourself” is one of the key messages for a wellness center client.

4) What will your marketing objectives be?

Identify top 2 – 3 marketing objectives

Be crystal-clear about your goals.

Do you want 20 more corporate customers?

2000 more newsletter subscribers?

Or a 85% renewal rate?

Or perhaps your goal is the successful launch of a new wellness program in June.

5) How will you balance your marketing strategies?

Three levels of marketing strategy exist, as this example illustrates:

  • Brand awareness – Ford is a car and truck company
  • Product ads – Ford’s F250 pickup has super-duty features and benefits
  • Special offers – Get a free leather upgrade when you buy before 12/31/XX

Your objectives drive the right mix of strategies for your wellness business:

For example, special offers make sense for renewals, but won’t work as well to attract corporate customers.

Brand awareness is a great way to build an email list with folks who have a real affinity for your wellness programs and services – but if you’re trying to launch a new product, special offers and product ads work better than brand awareness.

6) How will you mix your use of online and offline channels?

Different people get information through different channels. Most wellness businesses need to use multiple channels, both online and offline, not just one or the other.

The biggest mistake: relying exclusively on social media. Busy adults loaded up with personal and work commitments simply don’t immerse themselves in Twitter and Facebook, guys.

Online channels include online customer reviews, email marketing, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and pay-per-click advertising. Most wellness businesses will see a significantly greater benefit from online customer reviews and email marketing than from social media.

Offline channels include word-of-mouth, print advertising (flyers, newspapers, etc.), public events and publicity activities.

7) What’s a realistic timeline?

Now, put it all on a timeline. A realistic timeline, not an optimistic timeline, please, because this is where the rubber meets the road.

Build in lead time – time to get graphic design done, time to get content written, time to get content uploaded or printed, time to mail and of course time throughout that entire process for discussion, review, feedback and revision.

If you’re launching a new program, build in time to fully develop all the program materials. Include time to walk through the detailed operational aspects. For example, if you plan to sell online, you need time to establish your e-commerce platform.

Look for overly long “quiet periods” where nothing’s happening. And consider the natural rhythms of your business – seasonal cycles, holiday cycles, and so on.

8) Are you overrelying on discounts?

Look at your planned activities. How many depend on discounted pricing?

If the answer is “most or all” you’re headed in the wrong direction.

9) Does your marketing plan have these flaws?

  • Some businesses have only one thing to say – and that’s all they say. Over and over and over. You increase the impact and recall of your marketing messages when you vary your message and how you deliver it.
  • Some businesses are as quiet as mice. They send a single email about a new program. Or distribute flyers the week before it begins. Then they’re disappointed when nobody signs up. Duh! Hardly anyone knew it existed. Marketing is cumulative. It’s not a “one-and-done” activity. You increase impact and recall when your business KEEPS communicating.
  • Some wellness businesses can’t decide who they are. This month’s marketing message is “Get ready for bikini season!” Next month, they want to work with obese folks with chronic health conditions. Guess what? These are not the same audiences. They require completely different marketing strategies.

In a nutshell:

The success of your marketing plan depends on complementary and consistent messages, delivered through different channels, multiple times throughout the year.