Marketing is one of those things that lands on health and wellness professionals "list of least favourite activities" or the "too hard basket".
It can feel like such a "hit and miss" activity and, frankly, like just a waste of time. After all if you had wanted to be a marketer you would have enrolled in marketing school. Right?
You might feel frustrated and disappointed with the results from your marketing activities. Or, perhaps you are starting out in your own and you want to avoid the biggest mistakes.
If either of the statements above resonate, you will find this article helpful.
#1 Casting the net too wide
Casting a wide net may seem to be the logical thing to do when you want to build your practice. However by doing so you're missing an opportunity to distinguish yourself from the ever increasing competition.
In Larry Kim's words "be a unicorn in a sea of donkeys"
Savvy wellpreneurs go "deep and narrow. In other words they find a very specific audience and target them only.
So let's say you are a sports physiotherapist. You're well versed in other things, but sports related injuries and ailments is what you specialise in. Now if you want to take that even further you might decide to specifically work with long distance or ultra marathon runners. So that is what you (want to) become known for.
The benefits of going deep and narrow are many.
- It is easier to position yourself as the "go to expert".
- Your message becomes laser focused on your specific audience and will therefore resonate much better
- Consumers of health services are prepared to pay a premium for the services of someone who is specialises in a particular area.
- It become much easier for people to refer their friends to you
- By going ultra specific you can expect to generate a higher return on your marketing budget
So the problem with casting a wide is that your customers are going to have a difficult time finding you. You are positioning yourself as a generalist. As a result your website copy and other online content (eg social media pages) fail to resonate with anyone in particular.
Here's an example. I'm a woman in my fifties with a goal of running a marathon. Given my age, chances are that I will experience some (hopefully minor) training injuries. One day I see link to an online article that contains injury prevention tips for people in their fifties who plan on running their first marathon.
Would I be clicking on that article to read it? You bet I would. It is like that article was written with me in mind. I feel heard.
Would the article be a generic "sports injury prevention" piece, the chances I would have clicked through would be minimal.
See what I mean. Zeroing in on your ideal client is a smart thing to so (even though it may feel counter intuitive).
Solution: Who, What Where, How
Ask yourself the question "Who do I want to help?"
Take a notebook or a sheet of paper and jot down your thoughts. This exercise really benefits from you being very specific.
So rather than saying I want to help women with weight loss, consider what else is going on in their life. For example are they post pregnancy or are they peri-menopausal? The message would obviously be very different for these two groups. So really spend some time on this until you start to form a clear picture of this person.
Now consider what this person's primary pain point is and describe it in detail. Yes being overweight is a pain point but think about underlying consequences of this pain point. For example they might be experiencing feelings of worthlessness or perhaps they are struggling with low energy. Again go deep.
An important part of successfully marketing your health services online is to know where your ideal clients spend their time. For example someone who has been considering a weightloss program might following Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation on Facebook or she might be following pages and sites related to diets, weight plans and the like.
Finally, how you are you in a position to assist them? What is that you offer or could offer.
With any of these questions, at this stage there are no right or wrong answers. Just write down what comes to mind and think of it as a brainstorming exercise.
Now, when have some notes for each of the questions, put your notepad away and come back to it in a day or so.
#2 Not having a customer attraction strategy
The second biggest health marketing mistake I see health practitioners make is to rely entirely on referrers and offline channels to build their businesses.
While for a nutritionist, doing the occasional workshop on "how to create healthy lunch box options" at your child's primary school is great idea, such activities can be expensive and time consuming. Ultimately there's a limit to how many times you can do this.
The fact is that today's health consumer's first port of call is often a search engine. Alternatively they may go to their social pages and ask their community for recommendations.
They are time poor and many simply prefer to do their research online instead of trotting off to school to to attend a seminar or workshop.
Consequently, today's consumer is in the driver's seat. They are:
- self directed
- pro-actively involved in their health
- well informed
- digitally savvy
and importantly they know that they have choice.
Their choice is in fact increasing by the day. The health coaching space is a crowded one. According to new data released by ICF there are currently 53,300 coaches. That is a significant increase from 2011 when there were 47,500 part-time and full-time coaches worldwide.
If you wish to attract and convert customers in the digital space, it is paramount that you understand how health consumers shop for your services.
The customer's journey has a number of stages that can be summed up as shown in the image below:
Image Source: Flashpoint Marketing
During the awareness stage the buyer is only just becoming aware that they may have a need. However they might not exactly know what that need is. For example, during the awareness stage a health consumer might be using a search engine to look up symptoms of a problem they are experiencing.
Typically their search queries might start with how to, what is, best way etc.
During the consideration stage the person has a better defined idea of what their actual problem is and is actively researching various ways in which they can solve it. During this stage they will reach a view of what the best approach is and they might come up with a short list of vendors or brands that they think can help them.
The final stage of the buyers journey will revisit their short list and will start gathering the information they need to make their final decision. So during this stage they might be interesting in finding out information relating to:
- side effects
- case studies
- consumer reviews
The average consumer consults more than 10 sources of information before they make a purchase decision.
The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities for providers of wellness services to play an active and helpful role throughout the buyer's journey. Armed with the information you gathered in the first exercise (above: who, what, where, how), you will be in a good position to create a strategy around this.
Begin by considering each of the three stages that your ideal health buyer is likely to go through before they reach a purchase decision. Then ask yourself, "what answers are they looking for or what information do they need at each stage".
Write the queries you can expect for each stage down in your notepad.
Once you have gathered that information, take a look at the circles of the buyers journey diagram above and consider the forms of content you may want to produce that would assist the buyer in their decision-making. For example someone who is in the awareness stage might be looking for tips sheets or eBooks while someone who is a bit further along might be ready to register for a webinar. Or perhaps they would like to read a case study.
Now list some content ideas for each of each stage of the buyers journey in your notepad.
Congratulations you now have the very solid beginnings of your content strategy and marketing system for your practice.
If you have read this far you might like to read my article on how to grow and market your health practice online. and discover how you can built these things into a complete healthcare practitioners marketing strategy.