By Johanna Kirvesmaki, LAc
The field of wellness seems to be growing like bamboo these days. There’s no shortage of new wellness trends, products, or healing modalities. The number of holistic practitioners is growing, too–a sign that our society is putting more confidence in and value on the tried and true medicine of nature.
While this is a fantastic development, it can be a tricky one to navigate for hopeful wellness businesses. We want to encourage natural medicine, but we also want to be seen and heard in the ever-growing sea of holistic therapists. The good news is that it’s not really about competition at all – it’s about clear and authentic marketing.
As wellness practitioners ourselves, we understand that most of us didn’t receive much in the way of business training at our respective schools. We were learning the medicine, not marketing! But once outside academia’s comfortable walls, everything is business. So let’s start your marketing education now!
You Didn’t Go to School to be a Business Mogul
If you’re a holistic therapist (like an acupuncturist, chiropractor, nutritionist, naturopath, integrative medicine practitioner, massage therapist, bodyworker, etc.) it’s likely that you didn’t start down your chosen path because you thought it would be a great business move. Wellness practitioners typically come into this world because they themselves have had incredible experiences with the medicine or because they have a genuine yearning to help others thrive.
Your commitment to easing the suffering of others and making the world a better place is an amazing reason to be doing this work. In fact, if you didn’t have this drive you probably wouldn’t be so great at what you do. But the hard truth is that wanting to help people just isn’t enough to run a successful business.
Your Business Success = More People Getting Help
If there’s one belief we wish to instill in all the wellness businesses out there, it’s that your success directly translates to healthier, happier people. If you’re thriving in your business, you’re treating more patients, having better results, and spreading the message of holistic care further.
Success = Healthier People!
Unfortunately, good intentions alone don’t bring in patients. Practices that rely on providing good results and hoping for sustainable growth from word-of-mouth are often left teetering for survival in the long run. The best acupuncturist or naturopath in the world will be patient-less if no one knows they exist.
These days, the wellness industry is huge. You have to show up to be seen or heard.
To make a living, create financial freedom, grow your practice, help more people, and have a true impact, you have to get your message out to the people who need you most. This is called “marketing”.
What Marketing is… and Isn’t
After working with a variety of practitioners and holistic brands, we’ve found that most people don’t truly understand what marketing is. Many people feel negatively towards marketing or are worried they’ll come across as “sleazy” or “self-indulgent” if they invest in marketing. Nothing could be further from the truth! Let’s set the record straight about what marketing is and isn’t.
Marketing is education and communication. You have superpowers. For some, it might be the ability to squash anxiety with compassionate listening and some expert mindfulness exercises. For others it may be to completely revamp the environment of the gut with tailored diets to reverse IBS. Others can make pain disappear with a handful of well-placed pins. Whatever your superpower, marketing helps you educate the public about what you do, how you do it, and how to reach you. There are likely more people in your local area who need your services than you could possibly work with. But they won’t find you until you market yourself.
Marketing isn’t a bad word. Many of us have had icky experiences with sales and marketing. Perhaps you’re thinking of a time when you felt pressured to buy something or were annoyed by aggressive advertising techniques. These tactics are definitely not what we’re going for and, in fact, they aren’t really marketing!
Good marketing doesn’t feel slimy. Good marketing feels like educating, sharing, and connecting. You make yourself known to the people who are already looking for you. People have problems, you have solutions. Don’t hide and stall their healing–tell them!
Marketing is responsible. Marketing your business isn’t just for you–it’s for your patients too. The more successful you are in your business, the longer you will be able to run your practice and be there for the people who need you. If you’re enjoying a steady schedule, treating the conditions you love to work with, meeting clients you care about, and making the right amount of money to feel valued, you will enjoy your work more and provide better care.
Marketing is the most reliable way to ensure that your practice stays around for the long run. With a steady marketing plan, you’re exponentially more likely to create a practice or wellness business that is responsible and sustainable enough to provide exceptional care for your community.
Digital Marketing Must-Haves: The First Steps to a Thriving Wellness Business
Our world is increasingly digital. While it was possible to get by without a website or social media page a decade ago, it’s a bad business move today. Prospective clients rely upon perceived expertise, trust, and familiarity when deciding to book or purchase. Their first stop? Your website.
Unfortunately, an unprofessional website or unresponsive social media platform negatively reflects on your skills and your business. The remedy is a killer web presence and strategic digital marketing. Through the web, we can help your future clients experience the essence of your practice before they even make the first move.
This all relies upon a solid brand foundation and authentic design and marketing. We’ve found that business are most successful when they’re strong in these key areas:
- Authentic Brand and Message
A unique brand that reflects you, and your core message, with a clear, niche target audience.
- Professional, Captivating Website
A well-designed, professional website that fosters trust and positions you as the right choice for your chosen audience that is built to convert visitors into clients.
- Social Media and Newsletter Strategy
An effective and fun strategy that builds the know-like-trust factor, stays on brand, and keeps a healthy balance between value (75%) and offers (25%).
- Blogging and Content
Blogs, articles, e-books, and other digital content that build and support your expert status while also boosting SEO (key for helping clients to find you on the web).
- Signature Courses or Programs
A signature course that spreads your knowledge even further and creates a passive income stream. This is the next level in marketing your niche expertise: offering a 1-to-many course, increasing your reach, and multiplying your income.
The Soul of Your Marketing Strategy
As you start to brainstorm your brand and marketing plan, it helps to consider what the “soul” or “heart” of your strategy will be. Ask yourself: what is the deeper purpose for the work you do? What are your loftiest business goals (if time and money were no object)? How will you know when you’re experiencing success? These questions will help you focus in and create a marketing strategy that works for you—because everyone’s plan looks a little different.
While you’re brainstorming, be sure to include these key aspects into your plan as they will steer you away from sleazy sales copy or disjointed branding and lead you to a marketing plan that not only reflects but enhances your true brand.
As with most things in life, consistency is the key. Regular posts and blogs and an active digital presence shows your clients that this business is your passion and you’re willing to show up. This also solidifies your “know-like-trust” factor–often the key to landing a client’s first appointment or sale.
Be YOU! Authenticity is one of the main reasons the right client will choose you over someone else. When your marketing is authentic, clients feel it and gravitate towards you. This is what makes good marketing so different from sleazy sales.
- Uniqueness and Niche
There isn’t a soul reading this article who doesn’t have something unique to offer. If you don’t see your business or offerings as unique, dig a little deeper. What are your passions? What brought you to this medicine? What life experiences have shaped you? Who do you love to work with? What do clients love about you? What aspects of your personal life can you share to create more trust factor and connection?
One thing to consider when establishing and marketing your unique brand is creating a niche. A niche is your expertise, where you shine and doing the work that truly lights you up. Defining your niche is crucial for standing out, attracting the right clients to your business and building your business. When your website and social media marketing accurately reflect your niche, these perfect clients will feel like they’ve finally found someone who gets
- Quality and Value
A balance between fun and educational is always good, but the meat of your marketing needs to hold value and be of excellent quality. Show prospective clients that you really are an expert and make the time they spend getting to know your brand worthwhile.
We highly recommend creating programs to level up your brand quality. Programs instill a ton of confidence in you as a practitioner and give your clients a more well-rounded way to achieve their health goals. In addition to showing your clients that you are the real deal, these courses greatly expand your income and give you the platform to have a much larger impact. Programs could be in the form of wellness challenges, workshop courses, online courses, certification courses, membership programs, and more!
Research shows it takes an average of 7-8 touchpoints (or interactions with your content) for a client to act. These touchpoints build confidence and familiarity and lead to better, longer client relationships. Avoid trying out tons of different marketing ideas; develop a solid strategy and stick to it!
Get Comfortable with Marketing
If you’re new to marketing, this may all sound a bit overwhelming. Even if you’ve been working in your field and building your business for years, it’s normal to find business and marketing confusing or even uninteresting.
We’d like to invite you get more comfortable with the idea of marketing your business and take the first (simple!) step to starting your digital marketing plan: solidify your brand.
Who are you as a practitioner, mentor, and business? Determine your niche… then make it even more specialized. Brainstorm how you can use digital marketing to share your story, find the people who need you, and add value to your brand. List the ways that marketing your business will help others.
Knowing your brand and getting comfortable with the idea of marketing is the first step to creating a truly thriving practice or wellness business and growing your outreach. So, who will you be?
To figure out the next step for your wellness marketing strategy, get my free branding guide here:
Johanna Kirvesmaki, LAc, is a Pacific College of Health and Science graduate and the founder of Modern Wellness Design, a marketing agency for holistic and integrative wellness practitioners, entrepreneurs and clinics. The Modern Wellness team combines brand strategy, visual branding, website development, and design with digital marketing, social media and SEO to help wellness practitioners thrive and have the practice and lifestyle they’ve always dreamed of. Thanks to her amazing clients, she’s living out her passion for both wellness, design and entrepreneurship, all while helping practitioners help more people!