Marketing: Health and fitness professionals you have permission
I just learned a secret that is preventing myself and other health professionals from helping more clients. It’s not a market problem. It’s not competitors getting in the way. It’s not even technology challenging us. It’s actually our beliefs. To be able to help more clients we need to get out of our own way and sell our business.
I went to a workshop with Paul Wright yesterday, an expert business coach for health and fitness professionals. This particular workshop was aimed at physiotherapists but applies equally to personal trainers and other health professionals.
We were there to learn about marketing. Paul used a catchy “message, market & media” mantra to structure our marketing discussion but actually I think the most value came from what we learned more about ourselves and beliefs. You see, it’s our beliefs about marketing that are the biggest barrier to us succeeding in marketing. Paul helped us all unravel each one.
I’m definitely not writing this from a perspective of perfection. In fact, I feel better about writing this article because I’m not perfect and have suffered from the same broken beliefs.
These were the biggest belief barriers:
- Marketing is a necessary evil
- I don’t have time to do marketing
- You’re either good at marketing or you’re not
These are all subjective views, not facts. They do indicate our priorities, our expectations and our confidence but we can change any belief once we know about it. Sometimes we feel like we need someone to give us “permission”.
Marketing is a necessary evil
One of the first observations I made was how many of us are almost hostile against marketing even though we need it. Many people don’t appreciate good marketing and instead see it as manipulative, untruthful and slightly dodgy.
Professionals in health and wellness space seem to have special distrust for marketing and I wonder if it’s because we genuinely care about people and almost view selling as something that is stealing from someone else.
I don’t have time to do marketing
Paul asked around the room how much time professionals were spending on marketing. Most of the room were owner-operator physiotherapists and most of the room were spending less than 2 hours a week on marketing.
Was this too little? Too much? Didn’t matter?
Well here’s the thing. A successful business is not determined by how full your appointment book is. Why would someone want to pay a premium for just one person’s work. That’s called an job and employee. When you stop working, you stop getting paid. There’s no upside there to buy because you’ll have fixed hours, fixed costs and fixed income (if you can’t boost revenue by boosting prices).
A business becomes attractive when there is more to buy than just the people. The upside comes from selling the promise that your business systems will provide a disproportionately large return to the buyer. Marketing is a critical system, especially because it’s hard to do well. People pay more for results that are hard to replicate.
So “not having time” is not a problem of time. We all have the same amount available to us, it’s a problem of priorities.
I’ve certainly been guilty of falling into this trap. The first step for me to get out of it was to really recognise the importance of marketing and to protect my marketing time. I realised time was also often code for “I don’t have any confidence in my ability as a marketer”…
You’re either good or you’re not
We go to events like Paul’s but then don’t apply those learnings. That’s often why we’re no good at marketing. We’re not trying hard enough or focusing on the learning vs just the outcome.Paul’s constantly trying things out and enjoying learning from failures.
It starts by getting the message right.
People buy emotionally, and justify logically
This was one of the most important takeaways from Paul. So often health and fitness practitioners get this mixed up and believe people buy based on logic vs emotion. It’s not the case and an example of the wrong focus is our overestimation of qualifications.
The more qualifications we have, the more of signal that we’re the best right? Wrong. Most customers don’t care how many qualifications we have, they just care whether we can solve their problem.
Qualifications, titles, awards certainly help with trust when they’re deciding whether we’re worth the risk and justifying the price, but that’s not why they’re buying. Still, so many physiotherpists, personal trainers, dietitians and health professionals crowd out the emotional triggers that make people pay attention for monotonous, logical reasons to buy.
As health professionals we have so much more to offer when we embrace marketing. When we see that marketing is a practice and the more we do it, the better we get. When we know that good marketing is emotional and pulls at the real reasons why people buy. And when we have a clear point of difference that people care about.
I know I’m back to the drawing board, how about you?