Health and wellness entrepreneurs often have mixed feelings about marketing.
As a professional trained in the specialty of behavior change science to support people in reaching their health and wellness goals, the “business side” of running your office and programming can seem disconnected from your mission.
Often health and wellness professionals want to spend most of their time working with their clients, not thinking about the ins and outs of their business. At the same time, however, they know that effective business strategies, including implementing a marketing plan, are essential to their business’s vitality.
At AFPA, it is our mission to provide you with the best education possible to become a top-tier coach. At the same time, we aim to provide you with insight and tools that will help you build and run a successful health and wellness business that stands apart from the competition.
This article provides you with an overview of six industry-specific marketing dos and don’ts.
The Business of Health and Wellness
Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur?
If the answer to that question is yes, then you already know that matching business skills with your health and wellness knowledge is essential to be able to live off your profession.
If the answer is no, we encourage you to ask yourself why. Perhaps you consider yourself a healthcare provider, where meeting with clients is just part of the job description; many dentists and physicians who run their own clinics, for example, may not consider themselves entrepreneurs, either.
Or, perhaps you know that business skills are important to running a successful health and wellness coaching business, but you just don’t feel like you can call yourself an entrepreneur.
We’ve got news for you—whether you have one hundred clients and a suite of programs or have just completed your coaching program and have yet to land your first client, you are an entrepreneur. If being your own boss, managing your own clients, and creating your own programs is part of your vision for the future, you are an entrepreneur.
Why Marketing Is Important for Health and Wellness Professionals and Entrepreneurs
Now that we’ve established that health and wellness professionals who want to be their own boss are entrepreneurs, it’s important to focus energy on the business side of putting your skills and knowledge to practice.
Clients give rhyme and reason to your profession—wanting to be a positive force in their lives is what drives most health and wellness professionals to get certified. At the same time, offering your valuable services in exchange for money is what will allow your business to thrive.
But, to get the clients for whom your services will be of value and whose money will keep your business going, they need to know about you. A marketing strategy is a suite of tools and tactics that, when strung together, will let your target audience know about who you are, what you offer, and how your services can make their lives better.
The how of marketing, however, is constantly changing based on the trends, market size, competition, new technology, and countless other factors. Additionally, marketing strategies often change between industries. This is why industry-specific marketing tactics are so important.
3 Marketing Dos for the Health and Wellness Industry
Put a Face to Your Brand
On an individual level, health and wellness is an extremely intimate experience. When a person has recognized they will benefit from professional support to make changes in health behaviors, manage illnesses, navigate the health system, or implement strategies to promote sustainable and realistic health practices, they seek support from someone they trust.
For the same reasons people tend to seek out individual physicians rather than medical companies for specialized care, your clients will be more likely to seek out you and your services if you put a face to your name.
Don’t be shy telling your clients about who you are, why coaching is important to you, and what makes you different from the competition.
Be consistent through different marketing channels, including social media, so potential leads feel like they can get to know you before they decide to seek out your services.
Over time, by putting a face, experience, and personality to the brand, your potential clients will feel more inclined to trust you.
Focus on Differentiation and Quality, Rather Than on Price
In general, there are three ways you can compete in any market: price, quality, and differentiation.
In the health and wellness field, it is generally recommended to avoid competing based on price and instead compete based on either quality or differentiation of your services. Companies that base their marketing strategy on competing by price are those that feel their product has no added value over the competition, or at least not enough added value to compete. For example, companies that manufacture generic products compete based on price—they offer the same average quality as the competition on a wide variety of household products at a lower price.
Your services are not like generic household products—they are unique, personalized services that can be part of radical changes in your clients’ health and wellness. Your clients want to know that the investment will be worthwhile, and many are willing to spend more if you can ensure the quality of your services or how your services are unlike the rest.
Be Consistent Across Marketing Channels
In medium to large businesses, it isn’t uncommon to feel like there are multiple people with several, sometimes even conflicting, viewpoints speaking to the audience at once. When this happens, it reflects a lack of a consistent voice, tone, and values. This can not only confuse clients but also make them feel misled.
If one voice spoke to them in the newsletter that finally convinced them to click through to your site, and then they find it sounds like a completely different business as they read your page, you’ll likely lose them as a lead.
For the good of your brand and business, it is ideal that you invest the time in making your voice, tone, and messages clear before you launch a marketing strategy. If you hire out services, make sure they are willing and able to be consistent with that brand.
3 Marketing Don'ts for the Health and Wellness Industry
Don’t Follow Health Trends for the Sake of “Catching On”
There is nothing wrong with using your social media channels to participate in fun, trending challenges that are consistent with your voice.
The trends you shouldn’t follow are fad diets, fasts, and potentially damaging wellness practices that are popularized through the internet.
The health, wellness, and fitness industries are flooded with passing fads and trends that have a wave of popularity and then lose traction. Additionally, many of these practices have limited to no evidence to support their supposed role in promoting health.
It can be tempting to want to become an expert in a health and wellness fad in order to ride the wave and boost your income. However, fads, by definition, are passing. Once the fad has passed, so will your success.
Instead, focus your business model and accompanying marketing strategy on firm philosophies and evidence-based approaches. While it is normal and expected that you would make an effort to update your strategies over time, it is important that you have solid values that will guide your strategies moving forward.
Don’t Go Over Budget
Marketing takes money. Fortunately, with effective digital marketing strategies, there are several ways to spend a little money with a great reward. At the same time, the seemingly endless tools and services that can help to boost your marketing efforts can seem tempting to try out.
Establish a realistic marketing budget and do not go over it. As you see what works and have a stronger sense of how your business can grow, you can re-evaluate your marketing budget. However, you don’t want to go into debt for a marketing strategy only to learn the cost per new client was four or five times over what you projected.
In terms of marketing your personalized services, set a budget based on your bandwidth. How many new clients are you able to take on? If the answer is anywhere under twenty, using mass advertising techniques and investing thousands of dollars is not a good idea.
However, if you have a digital product, like an e-book or an app, you don’t have the time limitations that you have with personalized services. Consider the differences in marketing investment based on time requirements on your company’s part once a sale is made.
Don’t Become Passive (Learn from the Tortoise and the Hare)
Marketing, like all business activities, needs regular attention and updates. If you have recently run a successful marketing campaign—go and celebrate and take that much-deserved break! But don’t become passive.
Remember the fable about the tortoise and the hare? The hare, which is naturally much faster than the tortoise, decided to compete in a race. The hare, which was way ahead of the tortoise early on, decided to take a nap. As the hare snoozed, the tortoise passed him and won the race.
While, of course, there is no “race,” per se, in the health and wellness industry, becoming comfortable with your current perceived success could be the enemy of your future success.
Continue to do your research, monitor your programs and marketing campaigns, and stay up-to-date with trends. Keep in mind—you don’t need to do this all yourself! To avoid burnout, consider setting aside money in your budget for a freelance market researcher, content creator, or virtual assistant as needed (even if it’s just a few hours a week).
As a health and wellness professional running your own business, marketing is an important part of your business’s vitality. Marketing is how your clients learn about who you are, what you do, what makes you different, and how you can make their lives better. Marketing strategies and tactics usually change based on the industry.
In the health and wellness industry market, DO compete based on differentiation or quality rather than price; put a face to your brand; and have a consistent voice, tone, and message across marketing channels. DON’T market based on health fads, go over budget or become passive.