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by OppGenetix

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in 2017-2018 that the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity in adults is 42.4% — an 11.9% increase compared to the CDC’s last survey on the subject from 1999-2000. Adult obesity is projected to increase in the United States, and with it, the competition for the weight loss industry.

The weight loss market is saturated with a lot of competitors, from household names like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, to multilevel marketing companies. The saturated market makes being able to really stand out from your local competitors important, and that’s where creating a weight loss marketing plan comes into play.

The goal of this playbook is to help weight loss businesses— whether they’re a clinic or sell products — target new clients despite the saturated market. There are plenty of strategies businesses can use no matter their size to acquire more clients and increase sales.

Current Statistics & Projected Growth

In 2019, the U.S. weight loss market grew to a record $78 billion, though this growth is projected to decline by 9% in 2020, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused drastic changes in consumer behavior. But even before the pandemic, certain parts of the weight loss market were already shifting. The body positivity and size inclusivity movements have pushed people away from diets and more toward living a healthier lifestyle.

This doesn’t mean people don’t want to lose weight — they do. But they want to do it without making extreme changes to their diets. They want to be successful the first time around, and if they aren’t, they will look to other weight loss options and programs.

 

Considerations for Weight Loss Marketing

Types of Weight Loss Services

Not all weight loss services and programs are the same, which means the audience will differ depending on the type of weight loss service.

 

Natural Weight Loss

Natural weight loss clinics are best marketed as a healthy lifestyle coaching program. In our experience, we’ve found that emphasizing that, along with customized exercise programs and meal plans, tends to drive the most success for finding new prospects. Focusing on using the right keywords is key with natural weight loss programs and clinics.

 

Medical Weight Loss

Medical weight loss clinics often attract people who have already tried a natural weight loss program and it didn’t work for them. This means you may want to try certain marketing channels that can take a prospect’s search history, behavior, and interests into account when targeting certain audiences.

These prospects are typically looking for a more drastic solution to keep the weight off, such as a very low calorie diet, which involves eating 800 calories or fewer to shed 1 to 3 pounds a week. In these kinds of diets, patients need regular medical supervision and monitoring.

 

Keto Diet Weight Loss

Keto, short for “ketogenic,” is a low-carb, high-fat diet. The goal of keto diets is to put the body into a state of ketosis, the metabolic state in which the body burns fat instead of glucose. Keto diets can help clients shed body fat, keep them feeling full, and promote the loss of water weight. Anyone can attempt the keto diet not only to get rid of body fat and to lose weight, but also for improving heart health and blood sugar levels.

 

Weight Loss Products

Weight loss products, such as pills, supplements, and specialized meals, may be included in a weight loss program or be sold as a separate service entirely. Note that some marketing channels’ policies do not allow certain weight loss products to be advertised. For example, Facebook prohibits the advertising of unsafe supplements, something the social media giant determines at “its sole discretion.”

 

Audience Considerations

A 2014 Google study found that consumers search more for fitness solutions than weight loss rather than a major change in diet. Though that is counter to what most experts say about healthy weight loss, which involves exercising and a healthier diet for the long term, it is what consumers are searching for.

This means digital weight loss marketing strategies should focus less on dieting and place more emphasis on living an active life, even if improving diets is part of your weight loss program. Dieting should not be the main part of your marketing strategy.

Focusing on fitness as a whole applies not only to advertising copy but also to the visuals used in ads. Dramatic before and after photos may seem like a great selling point, but in many cases, those results are not typical and will actually push prospects away. (Not to mention that certain ad publishers, like Facebook, ban dramatic weight loss before and after photos.) Use stock photos of people being active. The people in the images don’t have to be skinny (and they probably shouldn’t be too skinny, either — remember the 2019 holiday Peloton commercial?) or morbidly obese.

Remember: Prospects want to lose weight, but they want to lose weight and keep it off in a healthy, realistic way. Advertising relatable people and sharing their realistic weight loss stories is generally the best way to go.

 

Audience Personas

Creating audience (or buyer) personas can help put a face to an otherwise faceless audience. Audience personas are fictional representations based on data and knowledge you’ve gained from your clientele.

OppGenetix has created weight loss personas for clients using data from the top converting audiences and looked into the audience’s demographics and psychographics, such as:

 

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income
  • Education
  • Parental status
  • Ethnicity
  • Interests
  • What are they researching online?
  • Location
  • Where are they consuming?
  • How can we speak to them? 

 

All of this information can be useful when considering what kind of content you should be putting in your ads and gives you a better idea of “who” your prospects are. 

 

Weight Loss Programs

Consultations

When persuading a prospect to get involved with a weight loss program or clinic, offering a free first consultation can go a long way. Consultations can help prospects get a better idea of what they can expect. They can see if your program is a good fit for them and their goals. Plus, it allows them to get answers for any questions they have for your weight loss program or clinic that weren’t answered on your website or over the phone. Be sure that your clinic is set up to deliver a great client experience, because this is the moment where you need to win the prospect over. They’ve already come a long ways down the marketing funnel, so make sure that the consultation is worth their time and money — and yours as well.

 

Telemedicine

Telemedicine, also referred to as telehealth, allows physicians and healthcare experts to assist and care for patients from a remote location. Telemedicine weight loss clinics can give patients, prospects, and clients, as well as the clinics themselves, the ability to check in more frequently, share their progress or missteps, and ensure they don’t miss an appointment or typical check-in. Depending on the kind of weight loss service you offer, you may find it easier to show clients how to do certain kinds of exercises or run a group exercise program by streaming it through a telemedicine platform.

Telemedicine can greatly extend your clinic’s reach since it goes beyond a physical address; it can increase your clientele (though it’s worth keeping in mind that telemedicine practice laws vary from state to state, so be sure to reference the American Telemedicine Association for more information). More patients or prospects can mean more revenue, which can let you expand your business or add more products or services.

 

Webinars & Seminars

Smart consumers are good consumers, so make sure your prospective clients know about what exactly your weight loss program or clinic brings to the table. Offering a webinar or seminar to educate prospects shows them that you know what you’re doing and can instill trust in those prospects. Open up a Q&A session after the event as well, so any questions that weren’t answered in the webinar or seminar can be asked.

For a prospect in the audience, that seminar or webinar might be what gets them to schedule a consultation and get involved in your weight loss program. Like a consultation, this is a make or break moment for prospects and your clinic, so you need to show them your best effort and work. Show them that you know what you do and what you’re talking about. Establish yourself as an expert in your field, even if you already are one. You don’t have to prove that to yourself, but you will have to persuade prospects.

 

Paid Weight Loss Channel Strategies

Paid Search Advertising

Paid search advertising is perfect for helping prospects interested in weight loss find your business online. Rather than putting out ads to find prospects, you can use search engines to help them find you. Paid search ads ensure you’re getting qualified traffic and leads. Plus, they are geographically targeted, which allow you to serve these ads only to people in certain locations who have searched for specific keywords. Making sure the right prospects see the right ads is key to efficiency and success.

Search ads are one type of paid search advertising. Search ads on Google or Bing look like search results and will be shown to prospects based on the keywords they’ve searched (as well as their physical location at the time of their search). Every time a prospect clicks on a search ad, the search engine will charge you a certain cost. The cost of a click is determined by how much you are willing to bid on a keyword. Higher bids usually place your text ad higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs), and some industries tend to have more expensive bids than others.

Search ads, when done correctly, can be very effective at getting prospects to become paying clients. As long as you know your target audience and the keywords they use to find your services, you’ll have no problem generating a steady flow of leads.

 

Display Advertising

Display advertising is another type of paid search strategy that involves placing image ads on websites based on a prospect’s search history, website visit history, or relevance of a web page’s content. These kinds of ads have a lot of different size options.

Display ads are perhaps most effective as a remarketing or contextual advertising tool. Remarketing refers to the process of bringing a prospect who has visited your website or landing page but did not take an action (i.e., going past the home page, filling out a form, checking out items in the shopping card) and left the page. Remarketing ads will then show up on other websites they visit, reminding prospects to go back to the website and to take some sort of action such as scheduling a weight loss consultation.

 

Social Media Advertising

Advertising weight loss programs on social media platforms like Facebook can be incredibly effective — as long as you’re doing it right. Weight loss is a more difficult industry to market on Facebook due to its stringent advertising policies. Weight loss ads in particular undergo more scrutiny, which scares off some weight loss advertisers and marketers. So on one hand, it takes better copywriting skills and use of creative imagery, but you’re also dealing with less competition.

Facebook’s ad policies encourage businesses to make better and more effective ads, and its audience targeting tools are powerful. For weight loss clinics, Facebook’s behavior- and interest-based audience targeting tools can find prospects who have “liked” a number of weight loss programs, clinics, and diets, and as a result, may have participated in programs in the past.

Plus, Facebook offers a lot of advertisement types and options, making it one of the best weight loss marketing channels out there.

 

YouTube Advertising

In the weight loss industry, visuals matter, and one of the best ways to use visuals is through the medium of video. YouTube advertising can allow you to harness the power of video by creating ads that will pull in weight loss prospects.

Like Facebook ads, YouTube ads offer more audience targeting tools and options compared to paid search. You can reach prospects based on their interactions with your videos (remarketing), raise brand awareness by reaching audiences with strong interests in weight loss, or even finding in-market audiences who are in the process of researching products and considering going all-in for a weight loss service or product like the ones your clinic offers.

If you’re going to run a YouTube ad campaign, you need to have high-quality footage to use. This may mean outsourcing with a local studio who is capable of filming high-quality footage and editing it if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.

If creating a 30-second-long commercial is not an option for your business, there are also non-video options. You can have in-video banner ads at the bottom of the video, or even have ads placed within certain spots on YouTube.

 

Organic Weight Loss Channel Strategies

SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy with the goal to increase a website’s organic search rankings for valuable keywords. When done properly, SEO can help your weight loss clinic’s website steadily grow qualified traffic over time, which will result in more leads.

A strong SEO strategy usually tackles all 4 aspects of SEO:

 

1. Technical SEO

If you want your weight loss clinic or service to rank high on Google or Bing, then you need a website that’s both fast and easy to use on mobile devices. If your clinic’s website is slow and is difficult to use on mobile, then it may be time to redesign the website. There are a lot of design considerations to make, but ideally, you should keep it simple. Simple sites load quickly and look clean and professional — the way you want your site to look to attract new patients.

Depending on how your weight loss site is structured, there may also be site architecture optimizations that need to be made. This allows search engines access pages more easily, which can help your website get indexed and ultimately rank better for more keywords.

 

2. Local SEO

Unless your weight loss clinic is a national brand or franchise that has locations all across the country, you need to have your business rank high in local search results. Whenever someone searches for “weight loss programs” or “weight loss programs near me,” the search engine will use the searcher’s location to determine where the nearest weight loss programs are. If your weight loss program is nowhere to be found on the first page of local results, then it’s time to change that.

Creating a Google My Business page and ensuring you’ve either claimed or have made other relevant business listings in local directories can alleviate that issue and make sure your business is easy to find.

 

3. On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is no longer about stuffing a page with keywords you want to rank for. Search engines can “read” more like people can, which means it’s not the best idea to repeat the same keyword 25 different times — in fact, it can work against you.

This means you have to create in-depth content about subjects related to your weight loss program and prove to the world you are an expert in what you do: helping people lose weight.

 

4. Off-Page SEO

Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful forms of marketing, and this is what off-page SEO comes down to: link building, social media shares, and positive reviews. When other websites link back to your site (or people share your social media content), search engines view this as a signal that your website has good information. The more links that point back, the better, because search engines will push you up higher in the rankings.

 

Content Marketing

Content marketing is essentially a more specific on-page SEO strategy. This means crafting relevant, in-depth content that provides value to your target audience and not keyword stuffing a page. Write for real people, not search engines, and research what keywords are going to be helpful for clients and prospects and for higher rankings on Google. But it’s more than that. Content marketing involves planning and creating a content calendar and figuring out a distribution and publishing strategy. It goes beyond blogging, too — it can include social media, images (photos or infographics), videos, podcasts, and so on.

With content marketing, you need a consistent voice and brand that shows who you are and what you’re doing, regardless of medium. Having a disconnect between any of these things will turn people off, so it’s important to be consistent in everything you do.

 

Social Media Management

Having an organic social media presence is important, and not just because having a business page or account allows you to create ads. It can be one more place for improving your local SEO, where you can have your current address and phone numbers. Also, some social media sites allow patients and clients to leave reviews.

You can also communicate weight loss clinic-related updates (i.e., announcing new services or hours, introducing a new staff member, sharing a patient’s story with their permission, etc.) or share your latest blog post. Essentially, you can share any content that’s relevant to your clinic and patients.

You can also communicate with prospects easily on some of these social media platforms over private or direct messages, which can be more appealing to prospects who aren’t fond of making phone calls.

Managing a social media account for our weight loss clinic also gives you pretty solid data about who your prospects are, as well as when your posts are most effective and what kind of content attracts the most prospects.

 

Referrals & Reviews

Reviews and referrals are both word-of-mouth marketing strategies that are highly effective. Encouraging current clients to leave reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other platforms is entirely to your weight loss clinic’s benefit. Search engines will recognize that your business has positive reviews and can bump you up on the SERPs.

Reviews and testimonials can also be used in other marketing strategies as well. For example, you could use client testimonials (with their permission) in paid social ads or film a client’s testimonial for a YouTube ad. People generally trust reviewers, particularly when researching a weight loss program, service, or product.

 

Weight Loss Ad Strategies

Traditional Ad Channels

Radio & Video Advertising

Local radio and TV spots are both options for advertising weight loss programs, though the latter may be expensive depending on when you want your commercial to air and on what channel. Not to mention you need high-quality footage and professional editors for any form of TV commercials.

Radio commercials require solid recordings and some knowledge of audio editing, but it’s not nearly as time-consuming as TV commercials are for getting the quality you should have. Certain radio stations have certain audiences as well, so keep that in mind when deciding which station should air your commercial.

 

Newspaper Ads & Press Releases

Though they may not be doing the best in terms of sales, newspapers do accept advertisements and in some cases, press releases.

The cost of a print newspaper ad depends on a few metrics: location and circulation, size, color, frequency, and the day of the week the ad will be published. Local ads tend to be much more affordable than a national ad and are read by local subscribers who live in the area.

If you live in a smaller town with a small paper, you may consider sending in a press release in advance and requesting the publisher to print the press release in the paper. Press releases are free, but be sure to give your local newspaper some time in advance. Sending in a press release on the day of an event or some announcement often means that your press release won’t get published, so if you go down this route, be sure to be prepared ahead of time. Some newspapers may even publish press releases on their website, too, which can be easily shared on your weight loss clinic’s social media pages.

 

Deals & Promotions

Offering special deals and/or promotions can get prospects through your weight loss clinic’s doors and help them decide whether or not your program is the best option for them.

This could be a free consultation or free trial, a contest for a discounted program, a raffle or drawing for anyone who’s left a review, and so on. Get creative with what you can offer prospects to entice them to start your weight loss program.

 

Compliance

As with any kind of marketing or advertising strategy, make sure you are in compliance with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as well as the marketing channels you’re using. The FTC has an entire webpage (FTC.gov/WeightLoss) dedicated to educating consumers about weight loss programs and products. This webpage is not only a good resource for consumers, but also for those marketing in the weight loss industry.

 

Weight Loss Clinic Case Studies

Lifelong Metabolic Center

Lifelong Metabolic Center, located in Naperville, Illinois, is an emerging natural weight loss clinic. Naperville is a highly competitive space for weight loss clinics, where quick fix weight loss solutions and fads tend to beat out more effective, professionally operated weight loss clinics.

Lifelong Metabolic Center needed to establish credibility, gain visibility, and generate high-quality leads in the most efficient manner possible.  They decided to partner with OppGenetix, a marketing agency with a history of marketing in the weight loss industry. OppGenetix created a holistic marketing program that included paid search and paid social elements.

The results:

  • 40+ leads per month
  • 35% increase in number of new patients per month
  • 80% lift in revenue

 

Elite Medical & Wellness Center

Elite Medical & Wellness Center, a premier anti-aging clinic in Port Orange, Florida, offers its patients prescription and medical weight loss programs. With some assistance from OppGenetix’s paid search, social, and SEO plans for weight loss marketing, the clinic has seen more leads and more weight loss patients as a result.

The results:

  • 1 lead per day average

 

Strengthen Your Weight Loss Marketing Strategy

There’s a lot that goes into an effective weight loss marketing program, and this playbook is simply a starting-off point.

For more in-depth weight loss marketing strategies, contact OppGenetix, an established digital marketing agency that has helped weight loss clinics and programs succeed online so they can succeed offline.

OppGenetix Team
About OppGenetix Team
The Ultimate Weight Loss Marketing Playbook