The Worst Wellness Marketing Mistakes & Business Blunders

Here’s my laundry list of the most common marketing mistakes, flawed assumptions and bad decisions made by health and wellness businesses:

1. Updating our website’s too expensive and takes too much time

Like it or not, your website is the go-to place where potential customers learn about your services.

If it hasn’t been updated in a year (or two, or longer), what you’re really saying is “We can’t afford to let customers know we exist. We can’t spare the time to connect with potential customers.” And no, adding the Twitter and Facebook logos at the bottom of your home page doesn’t count as an update.

If you really don’t have the time or money, then it’s probably time to look at whether your business is truly viable.

Otherwise, create a clear strategy for what your site should say and do. Then, invite bids from site developers. Today’s websites are more affordable and easier to update than they’ve ever been, particularly when they’re built on top of a blog content-management platform like WordPress.

2. All we need’s Facebook and Twitter

So, so overrated for finding new clients and members.

3. Our search firm got us to the top of Google in three weeks!

At least, that’s what they’re telling you.

The real question is how many new site visitors you’re getting, and how many of them are responding to your call to action – signing up for your newsletter, watching a video, reading an article. And what it cost you to get those unique actions (divide what you paid your SEO consultant by the number of “next steps” visitors actually took).

4. We need (large number goes here) more customers in 30 days

Businesses who think this way are usually discounting themselves into an early grave. (See #8 below).

You can always buy more customers by dropping your prices. The important question is whether your business can make money at that price, and whether they’ll pay higher prices after that initial purchase.

5. Our services/programs are perfect for pretty much everyone

No, they really aren’t.

Your weight loss program is a home run for women with emotional eating problems. But that’s not every woman.

And what about guys? What works for them is usually quite different.

Not to mention cultural and ethnic differences, differences in what people are able and willing to pay, their receptiveness to online vs face-to-face programs, the unique concerns associated with a long list of chronic health conditions and on and on.

You can’t be everything to everybody.

6. We don’t want to focus on a niche, we can’t make enough money that way

Actually, it’s probably the only way you can make money. Different market segments have different needs. If you try to market to everyone, your message will be so generic that it doesn’t click with anyone.

Did I mention that you can’t be everything to everybody?

7. That looks great, but our name/logo should be bigger and at the top


8. That Groupon/daily deal campaign will get us tons of new clients!

Probably, but they’ll only visit once and you’ll lose money on them.

9. We would never use direct mail, email is all we need

Marketing is additive (not addictive). Sending one postcard, one email, and holding one public event is better than sending three emails. It’s more memorable and it gives you three different ways to catch a potential client’s eye.

Now, should you blindly send thousands of postcards to strangers? Certainly not.

More on postcard marketing and direct mail.

10. We’re going to stop using email, social media’s all we need

Social media – your blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. – are great for some things, wildly ineffective for others.

11. We desperately need more clients but we don’t want to change anything we’re doing

Well, I want world peace – but I don’t want to cancel my plans for this weekend.

If you want different results, you must change what you’re doing. You may need to overhaul your programs and services, raise or lower your pricing, target some customers and drop others, revisit your costs or rethink your marketing activities.

If you’re unhappy with your business results – but you’re pretty sure everything you’re doing is right – then your mindset will have to change first.

12. Building our own email list will take too long, we’ll just buy a list

Except that if you buy a list, it will be full of strangers who never heard of you and have zero interest in your services. Many will report your emails as spam and then you’ll have email delivery problems in the future.

 Here’s 50+ ways that your wellness business can build its own email lists.

13. We’ll do all our marketing ourselves (or have the admin/intern/virtual assistant do it)

And the guy who mows your lawn can probably fix your computer, too.

True, we all know how to write – but choosing the right words at the right time, in the right quantity, to influence and persuade people to buy your wellness services is a blend of art, science and experience.

Your virtual assistant may be a Microsoft Publisher or Photoshop whiz – that doesn’t mean they’re marketing strategy experts.

14. Let’s write some online reviews instead of waiting for customers to do it

Eek! First. It’s sleazy. Second. It nearly always sounds fake. Third. It’s much easier to get real customers to do it.

15. YouTube videos! Video postcards!

YouTube has lots of potential when it’s used intelligently as part of a coherent marketing strategy. But if it’s just standard exercise demos, or superficial nutrition or lifestyle tips, it’s not an effective marketing strategy.

And I’ve never seen a video postcard campaign that actually generated new customers.  Video has its place – usually, on your website, with links in newsletters or marketing emails or from social media. But just sending someone an email that literally says “Watch my video postcard!” is a dud.

16. Choosing a long business name/web address that can’t be easily shortened

This particular headache is very common among health and wellness businesses.

You end up with business names that are a mouthful for customers, email addresses that don’t fit on business cards, web addresses that are so long they’re hard to work with.

17. We just had another great idea!

That’s wonderful – because continually adding cool new stuff, improving what you’re already doing is truly a key to success.

Now, write it down, file that piece of paper and keep working on the stuff you already have in progress.

Jumping from one good idea to another – without ever bringing any of them to maturity – is not healthy for your business.

18. Our new improved program will save our business

I think it’s an occupational hazard. Health and wellness businesses are never done. They always see ways to improve the programs and services they offer clients.

That’s not a bad thing – unless it takes up all the oxygen in the room.

Many people think a great program or service is all it takes to succeed. But that’s really not true.

It’s just table stakes – it’s a necessary element, but it’s not all you need.

You’ve also got to be able to find paying customers for that program or service. And you’ve got to be able to deliver that service consistently with a price and cost structure that produce reliable profits.

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Leslie Nolen, Radial's president, is the nationally-known expert on the art and science of selling health and wellness.


  1. says

    So much great information. It’s really great to sort out the stuff that doesn’t work from the stuff that does. It gives me a clearer focus, and some hope.

  2. Thomas A. Todd says

    Leslie Nolan, you’re delivering the Tough Love most fitness/wellness operators need to hear. And act upon.

    Best of luck with this interesting industry. I hope to someday have a client who will understand and be willing to work with you. I know I could because you tell the truth. Thanks for this.

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