Local Marketing in the Weight Loss Industry

January 9, 2014 Gary Ritkes

weight loss management

Once again, the #1 resolution for the New Year is to lose weight -- apparently very few people actually ever succeed, so they tend to re-up every year.  This never-ending consumer obsession drives the North American Weight Loss & Obesity Management Market to be worth $139 billion by 2017, up from $104 billion in 2012.  

All brand marketers know that growing markets are comprised of high competition, typically coupled with aggressive marketing strategies.  So in this uber-competitive segment, how can Weight Loss service providers bring in and retain clients?

It all boils down to the two critical aspects of distributed marketing:

1.  The brand level marketing messages must be valuable, relevant and engaging, both to the local partners and the intended consumers.

Without utilizing creative messaging and valuable offers, the best weight loss solution in the world won’t connect with the audience.  Weight loss is an emotional need and that can be an easy way to tap into the guilt, shame, embarrassment or resolve to motivate users to engage.  

Brands should be very diligent in crafting the right tone and message to reach their targets, otherwise they will go to another provider.  Ask yourself, “what is your brand’s unique selling proposition? is it cost? results? do you have a guarantee? do you specialize in a certain methodology?”  Determining this position will make sure you hit your mark with your messaging.

2.  This messaging needs to easily customize with the local clinic’s data and deploy to their consumers, and across multiple marketing channels.

In the “old days” most consumers would rely on the yellow pages of the phone book to find local businesses for goods or services.  And its different for brands too -- print and traditional media (Radio and TV) advertising have seen their value decrease significantly in the past decade.

Today’s more brand-driven marketplace has given rise to the opportunity (and challenge!) of localizing brand messages to pull consumers into their neighborhood distribution points.  The only way to scale this “new marketing” is to customize and automate through the magic of data and technology.

Local Marketing Tactics for Weight Loss Clinics

There are two main types of local marketing a corporate level marketer can facilitate to help locations build stronger local customer bases.  Programs are designed to move customers along the buyer’s cycle (awareness, interest, and evaluation) and find customers where they are physically such as at their desktops, on their phones, or at their mailboxes, etc.

Type 1:  Discovery – Local Search, Local PPC, Direct Mail, and Social

“Discovery” is supplying a wide variety of information to be found which eventually will  generate awareness about the local weight loss clinics.

  • Local Search
    A brand marketer has to ensure that every local clinic appears organically on the first page of the search engine results pages (SERPs) for their respective markets.  That means when a potential customer types in “weight loss Houston” or “weight loss Pittsburgh” your clinics appear in the top, non-paid sections of the rankings.  You can read more on how to improve your local search rankings here.
  • Local PPC
    Implementing paid online campaigns guarantees that a business will be found on a SERP for specific search terms -- its just a matter of how much you want to spend to secure that real estate.  And there is significant evidence that paid search helps even when a business has good or first position in organic local search.   
  • Direct Mail & Other Offline Media
    A recent Jupiter Research survey of 2,322 adults discovered 67% of online consumer searches for businesses and their products / services were generated by offline messaging. That means print and other media still have significant impact in branding and driving sales. So don’t count these tactics out of your marketing plans.
    To hammer this point home, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reported in 2012 that response rates for direct mail were 4.4% for both B2B and B2C mailings, much higher than the industry would normally predict.  DMA also reported that envelope sized direct mail registered a response rate of 3.4% when mailed to a “house list” and a 1.28% response rate for a prospect list.  
  • Social Media & Review Management
    Another touchpoint to address the non-linear relationships consumers have with brands these days is social media and how it fuels word-of-mouth marketing. A recent study by Merchant Warehouse revealed that 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and 44% of consumers base their choice of what business to go to on text reviews.  If a potential customer is searching online for reviews of one of your local clinics, what will they find?

Type 2:  Retention ­– Triggered Marketing

Marketing isn’t just about capturing new clients, but also retaining current clients and or bringing back clients that have dropped off.  Remember, all those broken resolutions? Here’s how to get them back.

  • Triggered Communications
    Most often delivered via email, are those communications that resonate to a greater degree with consumers because they are personalized and triggered by relevant dates or customer behavior.  Triggered email communications consistently yield open and click-through rates twice that of regular email messaging.  That means corporate marketers that enable local weight loss clinics with triggered email marketing or direct mail are making available a powerful tool to retain clients and bring back past customers.  

Marketing Resource Management Puts the Pieces Together

Think about the complexity to carry out each technique listed above and you’ll quickly see that some of those processes are divided between corporate and local clinics.  If those hundreds of process are not embedded into rule-based software tools and centralized on a single platform, several fragmented technologies and a web of manual processes would need to be organized to mimic comprehensive marketing resource management (MRM).

A recent report by a Gleanster analyst put it this way, “Without MRM, marketing departments use disconnected systems and spreadsheets to build plans, set budgets, track projects, manage approvals, record costs, and store content.  This fragmentation has always made it difficult for marketers to share updated data and current marketing materials, to track and coordinate activities, and to standardize processes.”

How Does it All Add Up?

To succeed locally remember these key takeaways:

  1. Define your brand position and messaging -- know what you want to say and who to say it to.
  2. Be everywhere -- integrated, multi-channel marketing is the new norm.
  3. Make it personal -- consumers are more likely to respond if messages are local or unique to them.
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Learn how weight loss clinics can rise above their competition to reach the growing market of consumers interested in slimming down.

About the Author

Gary Ritkes

Gary Ritkes, President of SproutLoud, oversees all Business Development and Marketing for the company. Gary, a pioneer in the emerging vertical of Distributed Marketing Technology, is an industry leader and innovator with 20+ years experience in graphic communications and marketing strategy. Gary has been involved with SproutLoud since the inception of the company. Prior to joining SproutLoud, Gary was VP of Marketing for Rex Three, Inc., SproutLoud’s first and largest vendor among its network of providers. He has served many Fortune 1000 clients and worldwide advertising agencies in providing marketing technology direction and optimization. He was an original founder of U.S. based Earth Color Group and co-founder of Advanced Digital Services (ADS), which was sold in 1996 to publicly traded Katz Digital Technologies. He has served as a board member of the local chapter of the American Advertising Federation chapter and other national industry associations, including the DMA and AGA.

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