Ten Tips For Smart Decisions Under Fire – Part 2

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What’s Job #1 for the leader of a wellness business? Making decisions.

That requires you to figure out what needs to be decided….gather information…reach a conclusion…and get feedback on the eventual results.

It’s simple…if you avoid the decision traps that lurk at every step.

These gotchas are common mistakes that managers at every level and in every business typically make.

Missed Part 1? Read Decision Traps #1 through #5.

6) The “Stalling” Trap

Carola is a holistic health practitioner with an array of fascinating interests and capabilities ranging from bodhran (Irish drum) performances to healing through aromatherapy. She earns her income from several sources: nomadic yoga instructor, personal chef, and self-actualization workshops.

She’s determined to find the perfect business idea that combines all of her interests. Meanwhile, she’s exhausted by a work schedule that sends her on 100-mile round trips to conduct seminars and commits nearly every evening to a yoga class.

Our advice: it may or may not be possible to find the Perfect Business Idea. But you sure can’t do it when you’re wiped out and yanked from pillar to post on a daily basis. Carola’s had several interesting ideas that combined most – though not all – of her interests. We think it would be smart to pick one of those and start making moves towards the future she wants.

Perfection rarely arrives overnight in a neatly wrapped package. And a prolonged search for perfection is often just decision avoidance.

7) The “Ignoring Results” Trap

We created a growth plan for a healthcare not-for-profit association last year. They came to us because their previous attempts to grow membership had fizzled badly.

Why? Well, their previous marketing initiative centered around a consumer-oriented newsletter with headlines like “School’s In: Flu Vaccines Great For Kids” – old and uninteresting news for their professional membership. Moreover, they offered few membership benefits – no professional publication, no conference, no professional networking.

Now, you never know what’s going to work until you try it. But this situation had existed for several years. Smart business leaders pay attention to the results of their decisions so that they can tweak what’s not working. Sure, try the consumer-oriented newsletter. You never know – maybe these health professionals don’t have time to skim the health headlines on CNN. But after a few months or a year, when it’s clearly not attracting members, move on to something different. Check your results before you continue investing time and money and what you’ve always done. Data is your friend.

8) The “Conventional Wisdom” Trap

We had about thirty sole proprietors in a marketing workshop—medical massage therapists, personal trainers, nutrition coaches and the like.

When we asked folks to name their key marketing strategy, 24 people said “my website.”

True, the web offers lots of marketing opportunities. But that doesn’t make it the right strategy for everyone.

The best way for most of these folks to win clients is through local networking with other healthcare practitioners and related businesses.

Should they have a website? Yes. Should they also engage in local offline marketing? Absolutely. Frankly, events like free seminars plus local media exposure will probably win them far more business than their website ever will.

Are some of your business initiatives important “because everyone knows you should do it this way?”

9) The “Similarity” Trap

When you’re hiring employers or vendors, most of us will unconsciously tend to prefer people who seem similar to us. Closely related to this is the tendency to think that the best employees or suppliers are those who demographically resemble our target customer.

We recently worked with a health club and personal training business whose marketing firm did mediocre work that produced extremely low response rates both online and offline. But our clients loved the people who ran the marketing firm because they shared an interest in healthy lifestyles. Great – you can all run the Turkey Trot together. Meanwhile, pick your suppliers based on capabilities and results, not hobbies!

We’ve also worked with numerous weight management businesses who insisted that only women employees would be capable of helping women customers. Yet we’ve seen many, many real-life situations where guys were extremely effective in helping women reach healthy weights. It’s not the gender that matters – it’s the temperament and approach.

Avoid this trap by creating a list of selection criteria. When you find yourself veering away from a candidate, ask yourself if you’re falling into the similarity trap.

10) The “Comfort Zone” Trap

Many fitness and wellness centers are up to the same old marketing tricks they used years ago: a printed newsletter, a few postcard mailings, and the occasional refer-a-friend promo.

They don’t know anything about website, email or search marketing. And they’re not all that interested in finding out. It’s much easier to go through the motions, to do what you always do in October, say.

Of course, the problem with this approach is that other businesses are forward-thinking. They’re experimenting with new ideas and finding more and better ways to reach potential customers and to strengthen their relationship with existing customers.

That breeze you felt wasn’t the wind…it was competitors breathing down your neck.

If everything you do feels warm and fuzzy, you’re probably squarely in the middle of the “Comfort Zone” trap.

The lesson: smart business decisions don’t always feel comfortable.

Missed Part 1? Read Decision Traps #1 through #5.