The web’s great and all that – but local wellness marketing’s about more than the Internet!
Your physical presence in your local community is a huge asset, and one your marketing plan should capitalize on with the following OFFLINE activities:
1) free events
At least quarterly, and depending on your specific wellness business, more often. Most of our clients do a great job of selling their programs and services–once they connect with a potential client. So the challenge is how to get more potential clients in the door so you can work your magic on them.
Well-designed free events are a great way to do this. By well-designed I mean: you develop an appropriate event concept specifically designed to achieve a marketing goal. “Meet and greet” is not enough. Your plan includes specific actions for attracting attendees. You also have a specific plan for what you’ll do at the event to help identify the likeliest potential clients. And you have a specific plan for how you’ll gather leads and nurture them until they’re ready to buy.
Your business should choose a local initiative and jump in with both feet. Say you run a fitness business or health coaching program that targets fairly sedentary people. Connect with a group like the local American Diabetes Association to offer free couch-to-5K training on the weekends as a lead-in to the annual Step Out events held around the country. Partner with a local (not a nationa chain!) running shoe store. Connect with the diabetes centers at local hospitals.
Do you work with cancer survivors? Develop a free program for low-income clients in partnership with local healthcare providers and hospital systems. This initiative works well with #6, as well.
3) direct mail
Direct mail conveys instant credibility and increases awareness (our direct mail guide for wellness businesses here). Make sure you get the call to action right. Direct mail’s not about making an instant sale. It’s about increasing awareness and extending a call to action that inspires the recipient to join your email list and/or visit your facility under extremely welcoming, non-threatening, low-pressure conditions.
What we usually find with client direct mail projects is that discount coupons are usually a bad idea, but event invitations, especially if free snacks are involved, are often very effective.
4) point-of-sale marketing
Many if not most brick-and-mortar fitness, nutrition and wellness businesses have large display windows–often floor to ceiling–and the ability to display temporary in-ground banners or sidewalk banners.
Take advantage of these capabilities.
Very few of you wear an identical outfit every day of the week. And if you know you have an important customer meeting, you dress for it, right? Yet many of you do nothing with your display windows! They sit there, ignored, year after year.
Display windows frame your business. Walk outside and look into your business through the window. Would it interest a potential client? Hint: a mostly bare desk with a disorderly pile of flyers is offputting. Are there posters or merchandise displays that should be front and center, visible through the window? Would a big flipchart visible from the sidewalk, where you update an interesting factoid every day, catch the eye of a potential client?
What if you put a recipe of the week on a big poster in your front window and had a stack of printed copies visible with a note encouraging people to walk in and pick one up?
5) Branded merchandise
Don’t just slap your logo on a pen or a water bottle. Totally forgettable.
Develop unique and memorable concepts – like an annual limited-edition t-shirt with a great design, or a series of inexpensive magnets with unique slogans specific to your business – and do everything you can to get them into the hands of folks in your community.
The whole idea is to spread the word–to catch people’s eye and make them laugh, think twice, tell someone else. So think big. A magnet with a unique and eye-catching concept costs pennies. Your goal should be to buy, say, five or ten thousand of these items and give every single one of them away before the end of the year.
6) Local print media
Think for a minute about the natural cycles for your business AND those outreach activities I mentioned above. Say you run a sports conditioning business and you actively support Movember’s prostate, testicular cancer and mental health awareness for men.
You can bet your local paper’s Lifestyle section will run articles in November on these topics. So a couple of months in advance, give the section editor and/or reports a heads-up about some of the great stories among your clientele and community outreach activities (#2 above) that connect all these themes – fitness, cancer recovery and awareness, etc.
7) In-kind donations
Your store managers probably get asked all the time to contribute prizes to charity auctions and similar events. Instead of saying “no” reflexively or just handing over a gift certificate in a plain envelope, develop a custom prize just for these events and package it dramatically so that it makes a real impression. Choose the prize carefully so that it 1) increases the likelihood of redemption and 2) helps convert the winner into a paying customer.
We’ve come up with several concepts in this area for clients and it’s a big difference-maker that can get people talking about your business.