Despite the undeniable importance of marketing for any business hoping to succeed, many holistic health and wellness coaches and practitioners have a peculiar antipathy to it.
In connecting with holistic health practitioners, from sound healers and ayurvedic practitioners to counsellors and fertility coaches, there’s a pervasive aversion and negativity towards marketing and social media. Physicians experience the same thing.
Like the household chore, we dislike doing (cleaning the bathroom, anyone?), it’s avoided until it’s begrudgingly completed.
I went through this myself circa 2011. Before pursuing a writing career, I taught yoga briefly after completing my teacher training. Blogging was big, and Instagram was taking off, but you could be successful through word of mouth and in-person yoga communities. Until you couldn’t. Or at least not as well. But back then, I didn’t have the knowledge I have now, and I struggled to get myself out there, and my lack of success mirrored this.
I understand the yearning for that seamless flow of clients and prosperity without the hassle of marketing. So, like in all good holistic health practices, we look at the root cause when there’s a symptom.
What’s behind the negative feelings towards marketing for sole proprietors in the holistic health industry, and how can they overcome it?
The Additional Responsibilities Burden
It’s incredible how holistic health practitioners handle multiple roles within their business; operations, finance, client service, and product development, with a full plate at home. Adding marketing and social media to the mix can feel overwhelming and burdensome, with the initial complexity and time-consuming nature of marketing tasks forcing our creative edges that we need more time to meet, contributing to the resistance.
Solution: Prioritise the marketing tasks you enjoy (if any), then budget so you can outsource the rest to marketing pros or freelancers. This lets you focus on client services, and your marketing doesn’t fall away.
Lack of Marketing Education
Although certification courses and programs equip practitioners with the necessary skills, they focus on technical and specialised knowledge rather than successful business fundamentals. Independent practitioners often launch into business without a solid grasp of essential marketing strategies and techniques. When they realise what’s involved, this knowledge gap only intensifies the animosity towards marketing, piling onto the overwhelm of running a business.
Solution: Invest in marketing webinars, courses and workshops that teach in a way that applies to the holistic health space. Over time your skills and confidence will soar, and you might even enjoy building your brand and sharing your voice in the world.
Historical Success without Marketing
In the early days of some businesses, word-of-mouth and connections in the local community were enough to bring in clients, sometimes without even a flyer drop or poster on the noticeboard. But as digital platforms and social media changed the terrain, trying to fit into this new way of marketing created obligation, frustration and resistance.
Solution: Even if word-of-mouth bakes plenty of dough for you initially, resist being complacent and get yourself out there consistently (not necessarily frequently) in other ways alongside it while the pressure is off. I burned myself not doing this. Early in my freelance writing business, I had regular work through several agencies until they went in-house. Meanwhile, I wasn’t marketing myself or maintaining an online presence. Don’t let this happen to you. Find the right mix of traditional and digital strategies that work for your specific industry and client base, and keep at it even when times are good (a waitlist of clients is fabulous if they’re happy to be patient).
Fear and Shame
Keeping up with the ever-evolving algorithms, producing captivating content regularly, being seen and maintaining an online persona is different from what you signed up for and sometimes feels exhausting. Shame plays a role too. As Tad from Marketing for Hippies concludes in this article, “Marketing can feel bad not because it’s shameful but because we are ashamed of it”. There’s nothing shameful about spruiking yourself to make a living, friends.
Solution: Start small and do one or two social media platforms. Try, watch and learn from industry peers in online communities or networking groups. Overcoming the fears and giving less fucks what people think truly helps and keeping in mind that those on the sidelines dishing criticism often aren’t doing the things themselves. Practice and time are your friend, and remember that no one, I mean NO ONE, views or analyses your content as much as you do.
“Shift the Way You Feel About Marketing by Evolving Your Understanding Of It”
Budget constraints are challenging, particularly in the initial phases of a venture. Investing in marketing is crucial, but prioritising it among other equally important expenses is not easy. Understandably, some business owners abstain from marketing, believing their product or service will organically draw in clients. But a strategic marketing plan can help you reach a wider audience and connect with individuals seeking the benefits of your holistic health offering.
Many people are hesitant to market because of the misconception it’s expensive. Still, you can do great things with social media and digital marketing at little to low cost (and its impacts are measurable) compared to some traditional marketing.
Solution: Create a strategic marketing budget. Organic social media engagement, email newsletters, and partnerships are cost-effective starters. As your business expands slowly, you can increase your marketing spend if needed.
Commitment and Consistency
Marketing is a continuous and evolving endeavour. Creating a solid brand presence, connecting with your ideal audience, and attracting clients requires dedication and commitment to a marketing strategy. After re-starting my business in 2022, I am in the thick of this myself.
- Reframe marketing from a chore to a valuable personal and business growth opportunity.
- Create a marketing plan and a calendar for content and practical activities to ensure frequent content creation and interaction.
- Embrace paid versions of scheduling tools and automation to keep track and be consistent.
Marketing success in the digital age
Success today in the fiercely competitive digital marketplace means even the smallest one-person operation needs to embrace marketing, invest in education or outsourcing, and set goals to work towards.
While marketing and social media may make some holistic health practitioners cringe initially, remember that you ultimately provide invaluable services. The goal isn’t necessarily reducing difficulty but getting results from your sustained and strategic efforts. It doesn’t get easier. You get better.
Want to write like this?
Interested in writing thoughtful, informative blogs over short social media content that will get people to your website to book you, but you aren’t sure where to start? Download The Blogging Breakthrough: A guide for holistic health practitioners to brainstorm, research, structure, and write standout blogs as core content.