Deluding Yourself About Qualified Fitness and Wellness Prospects?

prospect chat

Are you killing time with strangers…or selling to qualified fitness, nutrition and wellness prospects? Check your list of prospects against these five questions:

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What Does It Mean When Your Wellness Customer Says…?

Everyone says they never lose customers.

Then they add, “Well, only when they don’t have time or can’t afford our programs.”

Listen, if your wellness business is hitting home runs with your customers, they will FIND the time and they will FIND the money, nine times out of ten.

Very few people who buy wellness programs and services suddenly lose the ability to make any discretionary purchases at all.

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The Seven Top Competitive Strategies For Health & Wellness Businesses

Are you totally clear on how your wellness business will successfully compete?

Or do you mostly try not to think about it?

You’ve got seven competitive alternatives to choose from:

1) Toe to toe

You think your wellness programs are unique – and then you find out that your competition looks just like your business – same services, same prices, same target customer, same sales and marketing strategies.

Happens a lot. We’re good at convincing ourselves that we’re special – and then we find out that customers think we’re just like everyone else. Or that other businesses can easily copy what we’re doing.

Oops.

The health club or yoga studio with the deepest pockets will outlast their competitors. Unless you’ve got the deepest pockets, a better choice: shift to one of the competitive strategies described below.

Example: all the yoga and Pilates studios that close within the first year, outgunned by a bigger studio.

2) Overwhelming force

Focus on your single greatest competitive advantage.

Is there a particular type of problem that you solve better than anyone else? Or maybe your business has a gift for marketing – it could sell ice cream to Eskimos. Or perhaps your gift is hiring staff who really connect with people.

Whatever it is, center everything – EVERYTHING – you do around capitalizing on that advantage.

Example: Amazon started selling books. Now it sells everything. What’s their competitive advantage? Technology designed to cross-sell and upsell.

Zappos started out selling shoes. Now it sells everything, too. What’s their competitive advantage? Amazing and personal service.

Notice how both companies sell “everything” – yet their competitive advantages are completely different.

3) Strength in numbers

Don’t go it alone. Seek out strategic partnership and collaboration opportunities. Those might be with related health and wellness businesses – or with businesses outside this industry that have strengths your business can capitalize on.

Example: You sell a healthy lifestyle program for employees. You partner with benefits and employment consulting firms to reach more companies. You partner with orthopedic practices to make a healthy-weight program available to patients.

These guidelines will help you pick and choose the right strategic partnerships and structure a successful relationship.

4) Go upmarket

Provide incredibly appealing health and wellness programs and services to folks with money to spend, and price accordingly.

Example:

Keep in mind: everything you do should support this strategy. Discounts? Nope. Well-paid carefully chosen staff? Yep.

(These tips will help you think about the value customers actually see in your programs, and this discussion of how bottom-line-driven price increases will actually help you head down this path.)

5) Go downmarket

Drop your prices. Cut costs to the bone.

Example: Planet Fitness. Basic cardio – no Stairmasters, no AMT, no group exercise. Basic free weights and selectorized equipment. Exercise mats – falling apart. Lighting – dim. Price – cheap.

There’s no shame in being the low-price leader in your community – IF you have the cost structure to match!

6) Against all odds

Focus on an underserved niche, specialize in a tightly-defined niche, zero in on a newly emerging need, or sell through a channel that’s new in your sector.

Example: the first company that thought of selling 15 – and 30-minute chair massages…in airports!

Two gotchas:

It’s truly rare to find something that no one else is doing. If you think that’s you, the odds are good that you just haven’t looked hard enough.

Many wellness businesses think their Big Idea is unique. In reality, they’re yet another me-too business, selling the same stuff with the same marketing strategies as everyone else.

7) Have your cake and eat it too

Create programs and services that offer different levels of value – at different prices, with different cost structures.

Example: Offer an entry-level group weight loss program for $50/month. Offer the same program – plus individualized counseling and other high-value services – for $100/month.

Traps to watch for:

  • A low-end program that provides too much value won’t make money because your costs will outstrip your revenues.
  • A high-end program that provides too little value won’t make money because people won’t buy it.

Finally – if your business has reached a dead end – know when to say “enough is enough” and move onto something new.

 How To Create A Competitive Comparison Checklist For Your Health & Wellness Business

Celeste got strong directions from her doctor last week: “I really want you to make some lifestyle changes – or you’ll have to start medication.”

After checking into alternatives, she’s decided that she wants to find an organized program to help her make changes.

But which one? The program at a local health club, one offered by a hospital, or a program offered by a wellness center?

Your competitive comparison checklist is the tool that helps her decide.

Here’s how to create a competitive checklist for your health and wellness business, followed by a real-world checklist example:

1) Identify your top competitors

Identify the top three to five likeliest, most realistic competitors to your service, product or program.

For example, is Bally (very low rates, high sales pressure, “meat market” image) really a likely competitor for Life Time Fitness (family-oriented, less sales pressure, much higher rates)?  Or is the YMCA a more realistic competitor? How about Curves? How about buying a do-it-yourself weight-loss book or joining a healthy lifestyles program at church, or at the local hospital-affiliated wellness center?

And if you have a multidisciplinary program that addresses, say, exercise, nutrition and stress, then your competitors may primarily just focus on one of those elements.  That’s okay. Go ahead and include them – as long as they really are your likeliest, most realistic competitors.

2) Identify key differentiators

Differentiators are the elements that distinguish competitors from each other.  Put another way, they’re the competitive advantages possessed by each business.

As you’re identifying differentiators or competitive advantages for your wellness business, consider all of the following categories:

Best-suited for

Examples: highly-motivated people who like to set their own goals, friendly people who like to be part of a group, folks with flexible schedules, people who are concerned about safety, people who like to know “why” in addition to “how” or “what”, those who have tried everything, and so on

Your wellness approach or philosophy

Examples: self-care, medically-based, evidence-based, alternative, a blend of conventional medicine and Eastern philosophy, less is more, “give your all”, you can always do better

Style or temperament

Examples: non-competitive, competitive, medically-oriented, integrative, formal, casual learning environment, high-energy, measurable results, supportive, laidback

Customer service

Examples: Open 24 hours, online renewal, credit cards, auto bank draft, friendly people, ample parking, accessible location, evening appointments, cancel anytime

Programs, services, products

Examples: race training groups, one-on-one weight loss program, personalized diabetes health coaching, warm water therapy pool, peer support, confidential health risk assessment, Silver Sneakers group fitness, supplements, family memberships, telephone/email coaching

Nature of  program

Examples: structured group program with weekly goals, individualized program that’s different for everyone, jumpstart-style program, “booster” or restart-style program, do-it-yourself

Variety, including different program levels or sequences

Examples: Beginner vs advanced, hatha, kundalini, power and hot yoga, selectorized and free weights, 30 different seminars, 40 different instructors

Duration

Examples: 12-month program, one-time class, 30-day membership

Quantity

Examples: 100+ cardio stations, 30000 square-foot fitness floor, 30 sessions available every week

Know-how

Examples: specific life & professional experience, credentials, philosophical and spiritual perspectives, certified trainers, licensed therapists

Quality

Examples: Typical client comments. Also: no frills, sparkling clean, medically-based, ELG 25-mph high-speed treadmills, sustainably-harvested hardwood floors, board-certified

Risk

Examples: guarantee, 7-day membership, 30-day trial, free intro class, full refund, BBB membership, Angies List reports

Price

Examples: specific price ($49/month), price range ($125 – $250), starting price ($99 and up), or visual indicators: $, $$, $$$

Do:

  • Name names, if your competitors are obvious and well-known. If the competition is diffuse and fragmented, just give the general category (“Diet Books”) with a few examples (“like South Beach Diet or The Mediterranean Diet”).
  • Be picky. Include only the elements that truly set your business apart from competitors.
  • Stay objective. Customers won’t bother to talk to your competitors if they feel like you’ve done their homework for them.
  • Compare prices, especially if it’s to your advantage. Your options include using: actual prices ($125/visit). Or use a range ($45 – 65/month or $99 and up) to avoid unnecessary sticker shock and reduce the need for frequent updates as prices change. Another option: a visual comparison, as we did in the sample checklist below.

Don’t:

  • Make your list exhaustive. Pick just the items that matter most to potential clients. Save the full feature list for your service description.
  • Skew it relentlessly in favor of your product. A self-serving comparison throws your integrity into question. Plus, you want to those customers who’ll stick around for the long term.
  • Choose a ridiculous “straw man” as one of your competitive alternatives – an option that almost no one finds appealing. Subsisting entirely on apples and walnuts is certainly an alternative, but it’s not one most people seriously consider.
  • 3) Create your final chart

    Once you’ve completed a draft comparison chart, distill it down to 2 – 3 competitors in addition to your business – so four total.

    And distill the number of comparative features down to no more than 5 – 7 really critical differentiators.

    Is it hard to tell which differentiators matter most? Go back to your customer feedback and let it be your guide.

Competitive comparison checklist for health and wellness businesses