Consent Preferences

March 12, 2024

How do you market preventative health care in a way that gets buyers?

I'm Vicky Shilling

A wellness business mentor, podcast host, author and I help you start and grow a successful wellness business.

My magic is in being able to break down the practical and strategic parts of business building, coupled with helping you cultivate a mindset that supports those actions to get the outcomes you desire.

Strategy + Beliefs =
Business Prosperity


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At the end of the first week of running my Let’s Release programme for the first time as a live round we had a Q&A. Let’s Release is all about helping health and wellness practitioners ‘release’ aka launch their products and offers into the world, in a way that feels good – fully supported with a structure and mindset work over 6 weeks.

We had some great questions at the session and one of them really stood out for me as it opened up a whole discussion I think is so valuable in the world of health marketing:

How do you market preventative health care in a way that gets people buying?

Let me put this into context.

As part of Let’s Release all the participants are encouraged to do a live webinar to draw in an audience and show what they’re capable of doing and teaching people who sign up to work with them.

This is very standard practice in the world of online business. Free webinars are a way to grow your mailing list and build quick know/like/trust factors with an audience who get to see and hear your enthusiasm, passion and expert knowledge on the chosen topic you’ve decided to present about.

At the end of the webinar the idea is you ‘upsell’ your offer to the attendees, as the way for them to keep working with you and get help and support implementing some of what you’ve told them in your webinar.

Now, to make this method of getting sign-ups for your programme really effective you want to have a super compelling webinar title. Something that makes people go “YES! I need to know about that!”

If your webinar is really juicy, if the title is really attractive and speaks clearly to your ideal clients, then they are more likely to sign up. Which means they are more likely to watch your free webinar, get to know you, see what you offer and buy from you.

Simple, right?!

So the logical question is: how do we pick the best webinar title and topic? The one that is going to get people to click and attend?

Classic online marketing advice tells us this: choose a topic for your webinar that draws on the ideal customer’s biggest problem or greatest desire, and turn that into a webinar title.

For example:

  • If your ideal client is menopausal and they’re struggling with hot flushes right now (problem), your webinar would be: How to stop hot flushes and get back to feeling yourself again (desire).
  • If your ideal client is suffering with lower back pain (problem), your webinar would be: How to stop lower back pain and move with ease (desire).
  • If your ideal client is trying to get pregnant right now and feeling overwhelmed (problem), your webinar would be: How to become your most fertile self (desire) in a world of advice overwhelm.

Do you see the formula?

As I said, this is classic marketing and business advice. This is based on a simple premise: We can’t sell people something they don’t think they want or need.

Therefore getting clear and marketing to our ideal customers’ problems (perceived or real, it’s important to identify what they think is the issue), and/or their desired reality (the life, body, mind or relationship they aspire to have) is the way to motivate them to buy.

But. We have a problem.

Many of you want to attract in people to do work with you which is preventative i.e. currently they don’t actually have major issues, like back pain or hot flushes or any serious symptoms, but they could have in the long-term if they don’t start making changes now.

What you know is they will really benefit from is taking small, simple actions now that could help them avoid serious symptoms or issues that could otherwise arise later down the line.

For example:

You know if your ideal customer made small adjustments to how much exercise they do now, then they’ll feel stronger and healthier into old age, rather than potentially ending up in a chronic condition where they are immobile.

You know if they tweaked their lifestyle just a little bit now, then they’d have a better chance of getting pregnant, rather than waiting until they’re potentially having to knock on the door of the IVF Clinic desperate for help after years of trying.

You know if they changed their approach to dieting now, then they’d have a healthier relationship with food for themselves and their family for the rest of their lives, without it potentially turning into an obsession so huge it consumes all their waking thoughts.

But that’s not as sexy is it? It’s not as compelling. It’s not the thing that they’re looking for. There’s a chance it could all be fine (note that I use ‘potentially’ in the examples above) so why bother changing habits if they might just get away with it and be fine the rest of their lives?

Humans, flawed as we are, are driven by our immediate desires or concerns. We’re actually pretty terrible at doing little things that are good for us in the long-term (I see it in business all the time!).

We like fast results and immediate improvements and things that answer our problems right now. Not in a few months or years’ time. So a preventative message can feel really exhausting to be one we are trying to pitch to what feels like totally deaf ears.

One option to market preventative health interventions we did discuss on the call was how we could use those typical marketing tactics to make what we’re selling seem like a really compelling offer. And that was to really amp up the problem so that our audience take notice.

For example:

  • If you don’t sort out your relationship with food you’ll end up with a horrendous eating disorder or dead
  • If you don’t start doing some exercise in your 40s then you’re going to be wheelchair bound and trapped at home in your older age
  • Come to my webinar to learn how to avoid being totally infertile, childless and miserable for the rest of your life

I’m obviously exaggerating for effect here, but this is basically the written equivalent of a skin-care brand showing wrinkled, sagging, ageing skin, or showing someone morbidly obese struggling to move around their own house, or those horrific pictures of tar filled lungs now found on cigarette packets. It’s highlighting the risks of not paying attention and making changes, in order to compel someone to take action and buy your offer.

But I’m sure you are having the same reaction we all did on the call when you look at this list.

This is not what we want to do in our marketing. It feels totally unethical and horrible to sell in this way and scaremonger or put the fear into the very people we are trying to help.

So if preventative health care is not sexy, hard to get humans to focus on and traditional marketing tactics make us feel queasy, how do we promote the benefits of working with us?

Here are a few ideas:

Sell the solution

Instead of focusing heavily on the pain point or problem that your ideal clients have (or could have down the line), focus instead in your messaging and content on the solution. The outcome. What it’s like on the other side if they do work with you and make changes.

Instead of needing to scare or highlight how it could go wrong, bring to the fore what happens when it goes right.

Talk more about:

  • The way they’ll be able to show up for their kids
  • The way that cooking will become easy and fun
  • The way going out for a meal with friends becomes enjoyable again
  • The life that is available when their brain space is freed up
  • The incredible walks and life adventures they can experience 
  • The clothes they can buy and look great in
  • The way they can make space to have a cup of tea and journal every day
  • The opportunities they feel able to step into now they’re pain-free

This can be a trickier way of marketing because for some of your ideal customers, they’ll see content like this and think “that’s nice for you, but it’s not available to me.” But know that if you are consistent with this message and can draw them into conversations and show them you’re talking to them, and that these outcomes are possible, they’ll slowly but surely start to believe you.

This method can work really well if you yourself are an example of what is possible. If you’ve been on the journey yourself.

I know that idea of using your own story makes many practitioners feel uncomfortable. But the truth is, rather than listening to all the clever science and advice you’re giving, quite often people are watching how you yourself live, breathe, move, prioritise, cherish your children, make time for yourself, prep your food and live a symptom-free life.

If you keep role modelling to them what is possible, they will see it can be available to them too and feel ready to invest in someone they trust who’s been there and walked the path you’re going to put them on.

Acknowledge the sliding scale

In my book Just Start Now I talk about the sliding scale that we and our customers are on (I’ve written more about it in this blog post on how to find clients that say “hell yes!” to working with you).

At the far end of the sliding scale there are people that, simply put, will never buy from you. They will never ever stray from their fixed beliefs of what they need for their health, what they’re willing to do and what they believe about themselves, their bodies and the world.

There will be a mum who just won’t ever put herself first

There will be a person who will slip into Type 2 Diabetes

There will be people who never eat vegetables in their lives

And yes that is desperately sad and yes I know you really want to help them. But you cannot help people that do not want to be helped. It’s a total fool’s errand to keep chasing and marketing to people like this. All the preventative health messaging in the world will never penetrate their minds.

What you need to focus on instead is the people who are open to change and are actively seeking out someone like you who can help them, inspire them and support them in getting the life and health they desire.

They’ll still have doubts and wobbles, yes. But they’re pretty much ready to invest already if you can just explain to them clearly the benefits of working with you.

Accept it’s a long game

When thinking about this topic of marketing preventative health I spoke to a friend who works in Public Health in the Republic of Ireland.

What she told me from a Public Health perspective really resonated with me in how I advocate marketing a wellness business. She’d prefer to remain anonymous and I’ve paraphrased what she said, but the gist was this:

“Prevention is a long game. Our role in Public Health is keeping people as healthy and well as long as possible and encouraging them to take steps to make that happen.

Humans love immediate reward and aren’t always the best at delayed gratification. There isn’t an immediately reward to getting your 5-a-day, compared with, for example, getting your knee stitched up if you’ve had a bad fall which is the messaging of other parts of the Public Health system.

For me with prevention it’s helping clients to see why they should be taking an action or building a habit, identifying the motivation. They’re not always easy motivations to remember, like at 6pm on a Friday when you don’t want to go to the gym, or at the checkout when you want the chocolate and not the apple. But our role in Public Health is trying to encourage not just long lives but healthy long lives.”

This brilliantly ties together two points: firstly that the emphasis even at a national messaging level is on the outcome and highlighting the benefits, the why of making changes now.

And secondly an underlying point to all of my work: this is a long game.

If you are genuinely in this work for a life-time then accepting that the way you market might just take a little bit longer to finally land and shift people shouldn’t be such a turn-off. We’ve got many many years ahead of us to refine this and get good at making it compelling.

Naturally too we have to remember that people invest in businesses and brands that they trust and that show us consistently over a length of time. Not just flash-in-the-pan pop-ups, one single sexy webinar title or a gut-wrenching headline that made them feel they should sign up to an offer.

Yes of course I see you. You don’t really want to wait any longer. You’d like to start seeing some money fairly soon for all your hard-work and to justify all that expensive learning you’ve just done – I hear that a lot!

But isn’t it better to build a solid, reputation marketing in a really ethical, sustainable, outcome driven way? Rather than trying to shoe-horn the dodgy online business practices of selling fast onto an industry that isn’t suited to quick-win solutions?

And hey, there are people out there ready to buy now and if you put the message out there, they could buy from you immediately. That is still possible, they do exist and your content could be absolutely on-point for what they need in this moment. But if you don’t share your message and talk about what you do, then you’ll never know if they’re out there watching.

What do you think? Do you find it hard to market what you do if it doesn’t address an immediate ‘pain point’ or problem? What have you found works well to compel people to buy?

Let’s Release is now a self-paced 6 week programme delivered in 10 minute daily videos to take you step-by-step through a launch of your offer.

Access the course now and get your services out in the world with a full marketing plan 👇🏼

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