The Truth Fairy: Myths Wellness Leaders Accept Instead of Changing

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As wellness business leaders, how honest are we — really — about how well our business model works? And how willing are we to change it?

Take a look at these “sweet little lies” we tell ourselves when we don’t want to adapt — and what we can do instead.

1. Customers don’t want to make a change.

Maybe what’s not working is the way in which we engage with customers who do want to change. Do you really know what’s inside the mind of Heavyset Hank and why he wants to lose 50 pounds? Or do we assume he’s been unmotivated and lazy, and only got interested in fitness when his doctor told him he was heading for a heart attack?

We could all stand to do a better job of listening to our customers.

2. Customers just don’t understand what they need to do to change.

Maybe. But with all the online resources on health, wellness, and fitness, it’s doubtful.

What’s more likely is that they DO understand what they need to do, but they’re facing psychological or logistical obstacles in making that change. Knowing, for instance, that they need to work out, but not able to find time to do it. Knowing that “cardio is good” but having a hard time getting around the idea of a “lifelong journey to fitness.” Facing issues of how to turn a vague sense of motivation into action.

The interplay between motivation, emotion, body image, time management, and all the issues that stop people from making progress toward fitness is vastly more complex, and require more of your attention, than just assuming customers are too dumb to get in out of the rain.

Basing your business model on this assumption that customers are lazy, unmotivated, or stupid is a dangerous gamble, and one that poisons your thinking. It also turns your inspirational spirit into lectures and rants, and turns people away from your business.

3. We just need to advertise more.

After all, if $6000 worth of ineffective advertising isn’t doing the job, maybe $12,000 worth will, right?

More often, what we see is a lack of focus on the core message and values of the business, which may or may not be the same as your personal values.

Your business isn’t built around aphorisms like “the gym is good for you”, “yoga is inner peace”, “paleo / raw / whatever is healthy.” You know this — because you can’t produce profits simply trying to convince people to eat raw food, de-stress, or work out. You have to connect customer motivation to some tangible benefit of doing business with you.  You can’t do it in just one step, or just one document. Every bit of communication you do needs to revolve around your business’s core message.

The core message is almost always customer-centered, not business centered or even lifestyle centered. It may be the way in which your knowledge of healthy eating and your existing customers’ experiences reinforce potential customers’ self-image of someone who’s made her life better by making the change. It may be something high-concept and edgy like “join the badass strongman club”, which reveals what you’re really about, creates a sense of urgency, and an emotional pull. It needs to be easy to understand and instantly create resonance (a “they get me” feeling). It must create a feeling that by signing up with your business, customers have taken the important first step to a whole exciting world of life improvements, and an exciting step they’re willing to share with others.

If you’re not doing this with your message and values, you’re just paying to talk.

4. We just need to spend more time on social media.

You probably do, but not for the reasons you may think. And it’s not as simple as just getting an account so you can post ads.

People on social media quickly form “affinity groups”, loose club-like organizations of common interest. Whether or not that occurs on Facebook groups, your business’s FB page, Reddit, Instagram, or somewhere else has nothing to do with the medium and everything to do with social dynamics.

It’s true that in order for your wellness business to connect with people, you need to go where those people are. But if all you do when you get there is advertise and post content you picked up somewhere else, you’re wasting their time and quite possibly YOUR money (especially if you pay for Facebook ads).

Better to join a group that already wants what you have, listen for a while to the conversation, and join in when you can actually answer a question.

5. We just need to send out more emails.

Take a look at your current email subscriptions (you ARE using email marketing software, right?). Has there been a significant dropoff? If so, it might be that readers aren’t identifying with what’s in your newsletter.

If your emails aren’t clicking with customers (and they’re not clicking in your emails), you need to change either your content, your format, your frequency, your tone, or some other factor to address the dropoff BEFORE redoubling your efforts to get emails in front of more eyeballs.

6. Our pricing / business model is right.

Before you run off to drop prices, think about what this means. If prospects balk at the idea of paying your suggested price for products or services, one of several things may be wrong:

  • Customers don’t see the value in what they’re paying for
  • Customers are willing to pay a reasonable price, but don’t understand how your pricing model (including subscriptions, bundling, day-rates, etc.) helps THEM.
  • Customers see SOME value in your prices but don’t understand the rationale
  • Customers wonder how anyone could make money at your price

Pricing is about more than recovering your costs, or about what the market will bear. It’s about establishing a sense in the eyes of your customer that “of course these products / services are worth what I’m paying.” If your prospect’s still asking himself questions (and especially if he’s not asking you), then you’ve still got homework to do on pricing.

Sometimes your price is just fine, but in the words of a cost-club member friend of mine, “nobody needs that many boxes of Cheerios at once.” Think about whether your annual, 6-month, or 3-month membership makes sense to on-again, off-again customers, or if there’s a better way to keep them coming back and keep them happy about it.

Then look at how good a job your business does of attracting and keeping customers. Because if that’s not working, then your business model isn’t right.

7. Our content / products / programs are right.

Not if people in your market aren’t buying them.

There’s a small possibility that you’ve got the perfect fitness product or program, but that your business model does a poor job of telling people about it, getting them to convert, and keeping them coming back. If so, you’re your own worst enemy. Get out of the way of that golden goose and let it lay those magic eggs.

More often, though, there’s something “off” about a company’s wellness products or services in the eyes of the customer. Maybe it’s the right product but the wrong demographic. Maybe it’s the right product but the wrong time economically to be selling high-end services. Maybe your club is family friendly, but most of your members don’t have kids and would rather have an extra yoga room.

Be ready, willing, and even enthusiastic (come on, I know you can!) about changing what doesn’t work. You may have spent thousands of dollars on facilities improvements, only to find that no one uses those facilities. If so, think about how they can be repurposed to an end that benefits your wellness business’s bottom line.

Or you can just leave the truth under the pillow and hope for the best.