Friday, March 27, 2009

Painful and Inconvenient

There is an emergency situation in marketing right now: what worked before will not work now.

Customers have undergone a significant shift in the past three months: they feel as if they shouldn't spend any money unless it's on something that is extremely painful or inconvenient to them. I have seen this especially in the field of health and wellness.

For example, people who used to see an acupuncturist to help with energy and illness prevention have been cutting back on their visits. People who used to see a therapist to resolve an unpleasant past start to feel as if the work they are doing is a luxury, not a necessity. People who were working with a trainer are buying hand weights to avoid the luxury of a trainer.

Such attitudes are completely natural, and perhaps even necessary, but it leaves small business owners in a lurch.

Now is not the time for subtle marketing or "one size fits all" messages. Now, more than ever, you have to hone in on the things that are extremely painful and inconvenient to your target audience. This means that long-term health and wellness won't sell in this environment; you need to have something specific that solves a real problem today.

Don't worry - this doesn't mean you need to resort to fake hype. You just need to look at the clients who are still coming to you as regularly as they were before January. What is their greatest pain?

For example, Jane, a therapist, helps clients manage anxiety. In the past, that was enough of a marketing pitch. Now, she is noticing that people don't feel that is reason enough to spend the money on her services. Instead, she needs to hone in on the pain and inconvenience that is a result of their anxiety right now. For example, they are lashing out at co-workers and have been reprimanded and told to improve their performance. Jane needs to address this painful and inconvenient symptoms of her clients' anxiety in her marketing rather than assuming that her clients will see the connection by themselves.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Clients need justification to spend money on health and wellness right now, so be sure the address the painful and inconvenient symptoms that are affecting them today.

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