Troubleshoot Your Health, Wellness and Healthcare Product Problems

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Figuring out why no one’s registering for your weight loss or diabetes management program can be tricky. Everyone’s first thought is to lower the price — when that’s almost never the root cause of your problems.

This list helps you identify potential problem areas in your health-related product, service or program.

1. Your product is incomplete

Health and wellness is, by its nature, multidimensional. If you’re offering only one piece of a solution rather than a comprehensive program, that may be the problem.

For instance, a solution that focuses on short term weight loss but lacks elements of empowerment and long-term sustainability pf results may lead customers to feel something is missing, or to blame you for the failure of the program to succeed for them.

2. You vastly overestimate the benefit of your product

I saw a corporate wellness startup that wanted to sell prepackaged healthy living tips. Their content was incredibly lightweight and all their customers got in the “package” was a short PDF document with one tip per page. Yes, the pages looked pretty – but no way employers were going to pay several hundred dollars for each package.

Another variation on this problem is leaving it up to your customer to demonstrate, document, prove the benefit of your product. Whether it’s a corporation or individual you’re selling to, a good bit of anxiety accompanies the period between buying the product or service and seeing the benefit. If all you have is your Broccoli Breakfast program and your convictions that broccoli is good for you, then you’re basically leaving it up to your customers to survive on hope until they see results. Much better if you have testimonials, “proof sheets”, and hard data results to share.

3. You’re offering a ”me-too” product in a crowded market

For several years it seemed like every day brought another phone call from a wannabe online wellness entrepreneur. What was their Big Idea? Online fitness and diet tracking.  Because, you know, NO ONE has ever done THAT before.

If you actually have unique insights into what’s wrong with current solutions, and specific ideas for doing it much better than it’s ever been done – definitely go for it. Otherwise, don’t bother.

4. Your product reflects your preconceptions vs your customer’s reality

Oh boy, this one is a hot button for me. We have talked to so many businesses over the years who want to sell healthy lifestyle coaching to people who either have Type 2 diabetes or are at risk for it.

But they themselves have no personal or professional experience with Type 2. They just know that a lot of people have it, so it must be a great business opportunity. Nothing wrong with that logic, but if you lack experience in an area, you have to do your homework and get folks on your team who DO have that expertise.

Instead, they rely on preconceptions and biases that conflict with their target customer’s reality. For example, they assume everyone with Type 2 is sedentary. Or overeats. Or lacks self-discipline. Or doesn’t understand basic nutrition information. And on and on.

The truth is far more nuanced, which means diabetes coaching programs must be, too.

5. Your product gets great feedback, but is invisible

Patients love your wellness center’s fibromyalgia support program, so you thought you didn’t need to “market” – you could just rely on word-of-mouth.

Not true. Just saying “we will grow through word of mouth” is not the same as having an actual word-of-mouth marketing plan.

Yes, word-of-mouth DOES need a marketing plan. Every product push, no matter how informal, needs a structured marketing plan. It can be the kind of thing you write down on a paper restaurant napkin, but you need a plan.

Even if your plan is to rely on just a couple of marketing channels — say, social and online reviews — or you plan to include PPC advertising, direct mail, direct sales and inbound telemarketing, you still need a formal marketing plan, because success in each of these channels requires a whole bunch of detailed work to actually bring new clients in.

Without that plan — and methodical, consistent execution — your truly valuable product will remain unknown.

6. Your product gets great feedback, but you rely exclusively on organic search

We’ve worked with several B2B technology clients who were frustrated by slow customer growth.

In each case, they were investing heavily in website search optimization and content marketing focused on filling the long-term “top” of the sales funnel. Nothing wrong with that, except that they spent almost no time or money on sales and marketing activities which engaged one customer at a time and actually moved prospects to the later stages of the sales funnel where deals get closed.

In all cases, these businesses were targeting markets where a healthy dose of PPC advertising and direct mail were affordable no-brainers and would undoubtedly boost sales faster than just adding more site content in hopes of improving their organic search ranking when someone happened to search for their kind of product.

Worse, some of them were adding the WORST type of site content: generic articles and “stuffed” keywords, which made them, in Google’s eyes, indistinguishable from link farms or other spam.

Successful health and wellness websites connect specific, high-search-value keywords with information about your products as well as landing pages that remove sales obstacles and keep the process moving.

7. Your product gets lackluster feedback, but you think it’s great

These businesses make me sad.

One of the first questions we ask prospective clients is “What does your customer feedback look like?”

Sometimes, people say “Oh, they love us!” and show us quotes like these:

“Great day of classes, thanks”

“Good stuff, keep it up”

What do these quotes really mean? “This day was a waste of time and I will not recommend this program to anyone I know. Thank God it’s finally over and I can get out of here.”

These remind us of those humorous job recommendations that say things like “you’ll be lucky to get Bob to work for you.” (Yeah, right… you’ll be lucky to get him to work at all.)

People who love your product nearly always have a LOT to say about it. They tell you specifically what was so great about it, especially compared to other experiences or their expectations, and how it’s going to improve their lives.

A two-or three word comment is nothing more than a glittering generality. It says basically nothing, which tells you they were completely underwhelmed. They just want to write down something so they can leave without awkwardness.

8. You’ve productized your personal success, so it only fits people just like you

We see this most commonly with first-time entrepreneurs, and it’s usually related to overcoming a personal challenge like obesity, disordered eating, or a chronic health issue.

Some people believe that whatever worked for them is the right answer for everyone else, too.

The reality is that whatever worked for you is right for other people – but only the ones that are just like you. You can’t fix all Type 2 diabetics just because you fixed yourself. You can’t fix every person with Crohn’s just because you figured out what works for you. And so on.

Your success depends on your insight into your own experience so you can spot the prospects that are most like you.

Ten years ago, one of our clients marketed their high-end weight loss program to all overweight women within their trade area and planned to start marketing to guys, too. Over time, they realized that their target customer wasn’t the entire overweight world – it was actually women who 1) had struggled with excess weight for a long time and 2) also had certain chronic women’s health issues that had not previously been successfully managed.

Guess what? This was the exact description of the founder’s personal experience, which inspired the program’s creation.  They had literally nothing to say to guys or post-menopausal women, so they stopped trying to target them.They could have saved literally hundreds of thousands of dollars if they had realized this sooner.

9. Your product works for one customer segment, so you expanded it to another

The most common example we see is assuming that a health and wellness program that works really well for women is equally perfect for men, and vice versa. Odds are, it isn’t.

Under Armour made this mistake when they launched their first women’s line. They used the notorious “pink it and shrink it” strategy and women hated their products. Next time around, they developed women’s products from the ground-up rather than simply ordering tiny sizes of men’s products, in pink.

If you plan to grow by introducing your product to a completely new market segment that you have no hands-experience with, use test markets and pilot programs to test your assumptions before you make big investments.

Be prepared to make major program modifications AND stay open to the possibility that this new segment may simply turn out to be a lousy fit for your particular product.

10. Your product solves a problem no one actually has

I saw a newly-invented “glucose necklace” for diabetic athletes the other day because “few diabetics know about glucose gel.”

This just isn’t true. Glucose gels and many other forms of portable, compact sugar are extremely familiar to most folks with Type 1 diabetes.

I think the only person who didn’t know about gels was the guy who invented the necklace.

11. Your product handles only the easy parts of a solution, not the hard parts

Unfortunately, many employee wellness programs fall into this category.

Lunch-n-learns telling people to use small plates and take the stairs — easy.

Disease management programs that actually understand and help remove individual obstacles to better health outcomes – hard.

Another example: I have seen multiple “innovators” launch crowdfunded or even VC-funded medicine bottles that sounds an alarm to remind people to take their meds.

Why is this ineffective? Because there are many, many well-understood reasons that people do not take medicine as prescribed. Simply forgetting is a comparatively tiny piece of the puzzle, and there are already MANY ways to solve that problem. What we actually need are better answers for all those other reasons people don’t take meds!

12. Your marketing is decorative, but the content is weak or generic

Pretty marketing materials don’t sell your products, no matter what your artistic friend or graphic designer tells you.

Words sell. That’s probably why one of the most common requests we hear from new clients is “Help us redo our marketing stuff, it looks great, but we’re not getting any new business.”

If you’ve got big beautiful images – but very few actual words – you’re not giving them much to respond TO.

Folks don’t need a lot of words when they’re deciding which of two items to order off a restaurant menu.

But most folks do quite a bit of thinking and considering before they make a meaningful health or wellness purchase. Give them plenty of information — well-presented, so it’s easily digestible — to help them make the right choice.

13. Your marketing is too conceptual

If prospects can’t figure out what exactly you’re selling, you probably won’t sell much of it.

We see this most often with mind/body businesses. The very nature of these programs is often intangible, so it’s especially important to communicate clearly.

Is it classes? A multi-week program? Individual coaching? What exactly will the program phases cover? What concrete benefits will participants realize?

To put it another way: what is the sound of a marketing plan failing?