by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

Compete for Wellness Participants the Way Your Company Competes for Customers

Without knowing a thing about your organization’s business model, we’re confident that when it comes to acquiring customers, you don’t:


  • Wait for them to come to you
  • Pay them to use your services
  • Make it difficult to take advantage of your offerings
  • Tout unsubstantiated claims about your product or service

… not if you want to be in business long anyway.


Yet wellness programs in these same organizations are guilty of 1 or more (sometimes all) of the above and wonder why they’re struggling to boost participation. Sound familiar? Overcome it by acting like your marketing department.


If you think you’re the only game in town (that is, the company’s only wellness program), therefore you don’t need to compete for employee time and attention, you’re making a big mistake. With always-on social media, instant messaging, notifications, and texting, distractions are at an all-time high. Here’s how to cut through the noise:


  • Teach, then sell. Offer value in the form of useful information, tools, or time-savers before you ask for participation. Providing value engenders trust and trust begets commitment.
  • Own your social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest — whatever tools you use to stay connected with your most engaged followers, make it the best it can be. If you have time and resources to do only 1 channel really well, stop there. If it’s good, it will spread.
  • Make interacting with your wellness program drop-dead easy. Nothing is more frustrating than a poorly designed website that forces endless clicks to get what you want, or monstrous voice message trees that prevent you from talking to a real person until you’ve punched every number on the keypad.
  • Be real. Replace stock photography with participant photos. Eliminate the corporate jargon. Post 20-second staff bio videos. Tell stories about authentic individual and team successes, emphasizing emotion over stats. Share on-the-ground innovation and improvisation, not just the well orchestrated wellness portal.
  • Hire a personality. Find a local, credible health or fitness guru for a Q&A webinar, guest blog, promo video, or lunchtime lecture.
  • Charge them (GASP!) for premium services. It’s not about cost recovery, but rather perceived value. If you’ve invested in exceptional talent or other resources and your service is top shelf, people will not only pay, but they’ll also spread the word. And you’ll get a greater response next time.
  • Under-promise, over-deliver. Amazon and other online sellers have created a ratings-driven culture. If the product or service hasn’t earned at least 4 stars we’re likely to pass it over. So besides creating knock-your-socks-off programs, work to create appropriate expectations: This campaign won’t change your life forever, but it will help you live a little healthier to start the new year — and you’ll have some fun along the way.

Effective marketing isn’t about shouting louder or hyping your services. It’s about understanding interests and needs, then helping employees connect to the right resources at the right time in the right way — just as your company does when serving your customers.


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