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Promoting Wellness: Using Consumer Marketing to Drive Health Behavior Change

Those of us who’ve grown up marketing packaged goods know what it takes to develop a brand and deliver an effective plan to drive consumer interest and action.

With proper strategy work, strong creative execution and focused efforts, consumer attitudes and habits can be influenced, brand sales can rise, and entirely new markets can even be created.

So, given that we’re in the throes of a national healthcare crisis, with poor health behaviors leading to rising costs, how can we deploy consumer marketing to create a healthier population?

Well it’s not easy, but it can be done, with a new marketing model and a new type of client – the employer.

The Employer Wellness Challenge

Employers have a direct interest in the health of their workforce, both because of the medical benefits they pay and because they want a healthy and productive workforce. Recently, they have been putting increasing efforts toward promoting wellness. They are now at the early stage of adapting to a consumer marketing model and are beginning to apply many of the key principles of brand marketing.

Trying to build a healthier workforce is not a new idea – worksite wellness has been around for decades, but the traditional approaches to health promotion were often built around public health ideas and targeting higher cost employees through disease management programs.

But now wellness has gone mainstream, with some 90% of employers stating that they offer wellness to their workforce.

Many companies have already branded their wellness programs, and now it’s time to look at more sophisticated marketing techniques and actually begin “selling” wellness the way a marketer sells their brands.

The “Four Ps” of Wellness Marketing

Employers can benefit by taking a page from Marketing 101. The basic concept for marketing consumer goods is that the Four Ps – Product, Promotion, Price and Place – are the core components.

For wellness, we see a similar model – a set of key principles to help with a framework for engaging the entire workforce. We see the following Four Ps for wellness:

1. Purpose

It’s essential to have a high-level mission and clear set of well-defined objectives that incorporate the strategic objectives and the specific wellness aims and desired outcomes. Employers need to be willing to invest the time, energy and resources to attain these goals and be prepared to implement contingency plans if the numbers are falling short. They should apply the same business discipline to wellness that they use in running lines of business.

2. Process

Part of the overall thrust of health promotion programs is to move individuals along a spectrum toward better wellness. This will need to follow a sort of sequential path that can include “gating” or qualifying events and some aspects of triage to guide individuals into the right program areas and into experiences and interventions relevant to them.

We believe in an approach to wellness program processes similar to how W. Edwards Deming viewed production as a system. With multiple integrated and coordinated touch points and players, each needs to have a specific role within the process and be knowledgeable about their “place” and responsibilities and accountable for results.

3. Promotion

The industry has come a long way in improving communications planning around wellness programs, but there’s room for further progress. Just like an annual advertising schedule, a complete plan should reflect the entire calendar year; balance the need for building awareness and driving action; utilize the multiple forms of media available in a work environment; and leverage leadership and well-being champions to motivate participation.

A well-coordinated team of dedicated people and relevant outside resources are needed to pull off a smartly constructed, well-delivered promotional plan of action.

4. Performance

Until recently, the area of outcomes or performance has received far less attention than it warrants. Measurement is crucial for many reasons. Employers will want to know whether and when to amplify promotional levels if participation is below expectations. Keeping a close eye on the data is essential.

They’ll also want to track activity against their goals and keep management apprised of progress. Ultimately, they’ll need to provide a return-on-investment (ROI) analysis to reinforce the value and ensure support in the next year’s budget.

These “Four Ps” can help strengthen strategic focus and elevate delivery. Better strategies lead to better opportunities for positive and sustainable outcomes.

Wellness Engagement = Brand Loyalty

Marketing really has been a missing element for most wellness initiatives. While some clinical purists may not like the idea, it worked effectively for the prescription drug industry with the use of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising and it can also work for wellness.

If we think about what it takes to “make a sale” for goods and services that we buy on a regular or occasional basis, we can then begin to translate consumer marketing concepts as a way to improve wellness engagement.

A fundamental truth is that to get people to change their behavior, they need to move through their own process or “decision pathway.” This is true whether switching brands or adopting wellness. The expectation that by putting something out there that they “should” do doesn’t mean it will penetrate their awareness and drive action.

A basic premise about marketing is that effective campaigns move consumers through a process of “AIDA” – Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. Too often, employers and health plans try to drive action, before properly setting the stage and preparing the consumer with information and insight.

By building a smart, strategically-oriented communication plan, employers can begin by building Awareness using key messages – whether about health risks, or wellness, or fitness or whatever other main topic is relevant – building context is important.

Interest can be created through additional communications, colleague discussions, testimonials, etc., and that can begin to prepare people’s mindsets.

Desire can be stimulated through incentives, special offers, penalties and an array of tactics that will ultimately lead to Action, which is the first major hoop of sustainable engagement.

The important point is that pushing Action too early can fizzle, so set the stage with an AIDA that honors the decision pathway.

Making the Sale

Consumer marketing can help to “convince the buyer” that we have something of interest that has value to them. Of course, with wellness, we’re not asking them to pay, and in fact frequently offer them cash or rewards if they do take part. We see the following five areas as essential to “making the sale:”

1. Identify the clear benefits. We all know the rational reasons why it is good to participate in wellness programs, but employers don’t always do an effective job at framing the relevant consumer benefits that would appeal to the various consumer segments.

2. Serve up the story. This requires more than a series of e-mails or flyers. A complete communications campaign that mixes mass-market campaigns with targeted messaging is needed to deliver key story flow designed to get attention and build interest.

3. Make the sale. Awareness must translate to action. Incentives can help, but there also needs to be intrinsic receptivity to the offer, and sufficient frequency of message to move the market.

4. Reinforce the buying decision. Avoid the “trier-rejecter” pattern. Employers need to find ways to strengthen conviction through direct messages, web portal postings, wellness champion support, peer influence, and pats on the back from coaches or clinicians

5. Reward them over the long term. Health behavior change is difficult and part of a lifelong journey. Employers can design approaches to build financial or benefit-oriented advantages for individuals that have made the right choices and done the hard work to overcome challenges to create new and improved healthy lifestyles.

This perspective just scratches the surface to touch on the opportunities that lie ahead. When we consider that individual lifestyle and health behavior choices contribute to about 75% of our nation’s healthcare bill, one might think that this is the most important marketing job of all.

There’s a lot to do to get it right, but the good news is that there is a “living lab” of successful consumer brand stories to tap, and an employer market motivated to get it right and deliver the most important sale of all – a healthier nation.

4 Green Promotional Products That Say “We Care”

Green promotional products are a statement, and they’re also becoming very much part of the promotional merchandising landscape in terms of market share. Very strong demand is coming from business for real green promotional materials of all types. Many businesses are themselves strongly committed to green products, and insist on eco-friendly promotional materials.

The green profile issue is definitely affecting promotional products. Some businesses and their clients just won’t look at any promotional items which aren’t certified fully green. They also view very negatively any products which are obviously not environmentally friendly. This is a consistent market trend, and has expanded dramatically in recent years.

Custom green promotional products

A custom green promotional product needs to be well placed in terms of the audience. The green products are effective promotion of corporate or personal values, but they also work best on recipients who are inclined to be responsive to them.

One advantage of the this marketing approach is that it sends a very strong message. Customized products require more planning than the more conventional variety, but they can also be easily managed in terms of branding.

Corporate green promotional products

This is an area in which sensitivity in terms of promotional products is a primary consideration. Corporate green promotional initiatives can be very effective, and are also well positioned for establishing or reinforcing a market profile in terms of corporate image. They’re particularly useful in making a green policy statement.

In practice, green products are very popular in Australia. They represent cultural values, particularly when associated with local green industry products. The green products are also a strong positive in terms of supporting local manufacturers of these products, another good effect.

Solar products

Solar promotion products are the epitome of a truly green promotional idea. There are some excellent solar products on the market and they definitely qualify as high impact promotional methods. As promotional merchandise, solar products also equate to high value as useful long term promotional methods.

Low carbon footprint products

The sheer variety of low carbon footprint products is a particularly important consideration when selecting a promotional package or range.

These are a few examples of the very large range of green promotional options:

  • Recycled goods: A huge range of recycled consumer goods, particularly paper and plastics.
  • Sustainable goods: Bamboo memory sticks, jute bags, magnetic energy torches, water powered clocks,
  • Gadgets: Shower timers, computer power savers, solar powered universal chargers.
  • Packaging: Fabric satchels, carry bags, pet carrier bags, briefcase bags and shopping bags.

As you can see, the range is extensive, and there’s also a lot of new technology and new takes on old technology. Green promotional products are a combination of direct material and personal values and functionality. This is the archetypal profile of the best promotional items.

12 Inexpensive Retail Promotional Ideas!

We all need ideas. A few of these ideas may be new or old to you, but you might just find something you can use anyway. One thing for sure is that ll of them have worked and we all need ideas, even if some of them may have gotten lost in the shuffle. Sometimes you can take an old idea and give it a new spin. So.. here they are!

Get Acquainted Sale: Find out through your local government where you can get a list of the newest residents and invite them once a quarter or so by invitation to a special event. You could call it a “get acquainted sale, and offer a special discount and hors d’oeuvres. Don’t forget to get their e-mails and any other contact information from them.

Hold a joint promotion with another businesses, or retailer; possibly even a restaurant. You can offer their products at a discount, or possibly a free meal with the purchase of a meal, in return for a purchase at your store. The other business could do the same.

Work on creating a few ads over the summer for the next school year designed to go into the school newspapers in your area. You might even offer a donation to some school fundraiser in return for each sale. Students are customers of tomorrow and if you have products that appeal to them now, promote you and your store to them today.

Begin building a following for a Surprise Special of the Week on a regular day of the week. Avoid advertising any specific products, but work regularly to build the concept via signage and handouts. Make it a special discount, with the idea of getting customers to start thinking of your store each week on that day-just to find out what you might have. On the actual day, post a large banner featuring “Surprise Special of the Week, Available TODAY!

Offer a free lesson or class on make-up, scrapbooking, sewing, hair styling, gardening, or a home improvement task or even how to get more effective use out of a product or product line you are selling. The options are limited only by your imagination. When customers get to learn how to get the best use out of your products they’re more likely to buy more and also become more connected to your business.

Have an Attention Getting Character: Find out what would be involved to have a special sports team mascot or other costumed character to draw attention to your store on a special weekend. At a minimum, use your e-mail list and create a flyer to hand out to customers in order to promote the event. This is a lot more successful if you do it at a store that has a lot of traffic driving or walking by your store.

More Window Advertising: With all the vacant retail space out there, take advantage of the empty windows by approaching landlords in nearby locations to allow you to create a window display in an empty shop window. The landlord benefits by having a better looking store window with activity and you win by having another free advertising vehicle. Just don’t agree to pay them for the priviledge.

Offer lunch at your store once a month, if you’re in an area with lots of offices within walking distance. The idea is that each month on the same day, you make it easy for potential customers to shop your store while eating lunch. You can offer finger sandwiches, chips and a cold drink. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just regular. Again, advertise your event continuously over a long period of time to build the habit with customers. Advertise with in-store signage, a banner and fliers at the front desk. Put the banner up a day or two in advance of the day to remind shoppers.

Consider a FREE offer on after sales service – cleaning or maintenance of the purchased product at your store.

Advertise In Unusual And Creative Locations. Advertising on the websites of other businesses, on service station videos, in restrooms and even on park benches are all good possibilities. One business pays to fill city potholes and then has its logo painted on the potholes with the city’s blessing. You can also advertise in the poster area or on the seats of bus stops. Don’t forget that advertising on the outside of the bus will get your business viewed by a lot of potential customers on a daily basis, whether they take the bus or not. You don’t even have to like buses! Just make sure these are your target customers.

As an Example:

In and around Louisville, KY (headquarters of KFC), Kentucky Fried Chicken is filling in potholes faster than you can say “Finger Licken’ Good.” As part of a new marketing campaign, KFC receives the right to brand and label potholes with a stencil that says “Re-freshed by KFC.” This idea is working for them on a couple of fronts. (1) The city gets many of its potholes filled and paid for. (2) KFC is getting some great advertising on roads and highways every day. Talk about traffic! (3) KFC gets some great PR and goodwill by taking care of potholes for previously aggravated drivers. Imagine the mileage a special drink could get out of the term, “refreshed by.”

Sale Today? Check The Temperature!

Offer a Standard Sale Offering That Comes & Goes With The Temperature That You Promote All Summer. Promote it on any recordings for calls on hold. Promote it with handouts all summer. Promote it on banners and in your window. Pronote it on your tweets, facebook and your website. But do it with consistency over time! Do what you ask?

Promote the fact that on any day when the temperature is above __XXX degrees__(you decide) all merchandise will be ____% off. You can also limit it to a particular type of merchandise such as shorts for apparel stores. Do this with enough regularity over time and sales will build as customers will begin to remember and seek you out on those hot days. You can do the same thing in the winter too!

Business Card & Books: I’ve seen this one used in my own local bookstore. In this case, the business takes their business cards and places them in every book that relates to their business. Obviously a computer repair business might put one in every book on the shelf in the library or bookstore about computers. Talk about target marketing. Wow! And it’s cheap too.

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