Marketing Tactics for Medically-Supervised Weight Loss Programs
- Through researching marketing practices of medically supervised weight loss programs and the companies operating them, it was discovered that in general terms, the practices of these companies did not differ significantly from most modern digital marketing practices.
- When compared to natural or commercial diet programs however, the unique selling point typically leveraged by companies was that medically supervised weight loss programs were administered by physicians and healthcare professionals. These programs were proven to be more successful.
- There was also a stigma attached to medically supervised weight loss programs. Their treatments are generally seen as intensive, invasive, aimed at those with more severe weight loss requirements, and costly. Successful marketing campaigns that we found examples of sought to address these misconceptions and provide fact based evidence of their suitability for all potential target groups.
- We were able to find four examples of good marketing practices relating specifically to medically supervised weight loss programs; targeting specific audiences, utilizing healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, physicians etc.), promoting the benefits of medically supervised weight loss programs, and improving the knowledge of potential consumers. The majority of these practices focused on the type of content and messaging within advertisements that was provided to potential consumers.
- We also identified two examples of companies who had run successful marketing campaigns and detailed their strategies below. These incorporate some practices which are described in the 'Best Practices' section.
- Targeting Very Specific Audiences — Weight loss programs present challenges to consumers, because their success typically depends on altering often long-held habits, behavioral and lifestyle traits. They also need to fit in with the lifestyles of different user groups. For these reasons there are significant advantages which can be gained by targeting very specific audiences with both marketing content and the development of specific products. Medical weight loss clinics and programs tend to attract people who have tried natural weight loss programs and have not been successful, so there are benefits to be gained by targeting this particular audience, with their own range of targeted content and products.
- Utilize Healthcare Professionals — One of the most significant advantages of medically supervised weight loss programs is that healthcare professionals (doctors and nurses) are better placed to address obesity-related conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, post-menopausal hormone imbalance etc. than commercial diet chains. Doctors and nurses are amongst the most trusted of professions, and patients already have long-term relationships with their doctors and other healthcare professionals. A successful marketing strategy could utilize and potential work in partnership with healthcare professionals to help provide information and extend the reach of medically supervised weight loss programs, as well as making use of doctor's patient lists for marketing purposes.
- Promoting the Benefits of Medically Supervised Weight Loss Programs — Medically supervised weight loss programs are proven to be more effective than commercial and natural weight loss programs. They have the advantage of being able to combine detailed information about medical history, current health, and lifestyle with proven, sustainable weight loss strategies which are both safe, efficient and effective. A successful marketing strategy can incorporate this information, forming part of the key messaging in ads and content designed to catch the attention of those best suited to treatment.
- Improve the Knowledge of Consumers and Potential Candidates — Medically supervised weight-loss treatment can range from both non-invasive techniques such as special diets and exercise regimes, to slightly more invasive techniques such as surgeries. There are some indications that generally, people perceive that these treatments can be quite intensive, and only suited to those with severe weight loss requirements. Successful marketing campaigns have been able to increase awareness and understanding about the suitability of medically supervised weight-loss treatment towards different target audiences.
Real Life Examples and Case Studies
- Lindora, one of the largest medically supervised weight loss companies in the U.S., is unique in the weight loss space, due to its programs, which have their foundations in science and medical supervision. Medical staff work with patients, recording bio markers, providing nutritional information and recording progress frequently over an extended period.
- A recent campaign called 'For Anyone', consisting of television, radio and digital ads, aimed to promote the brand as being suitable for all, emphasizing their accessibility, affordability and effectiveness.
- The campaign sought to address what the company felt were a few main misconceptions, the first that people believed their programs were highly intensive, and that they were specifically for those who were morbidly obese. The campaign focuses on how effective their programs are at serving all types of patients, including those who wanted to lose both moderate and significant amounts of weight.
- Another misconception was the belief that Lindora's programs were expensive, and one of the key messages of the campaign was the focus on the recent launch of a new membership pricing initiative, which allows patients to participate in a weight loss or wellness program for as little as around $3 a day.
- Following on from Medicare's successful program to enable obese patients to undergo physician-supervised treatment for weight loss, a two-tiered marketing campaign was later announced, one campaign targeted at recruiting doctors to incorporate the program into their practices, and the other directly targeted consumers for treatment.
- The campaign for doctors was to consist of ads in medical publications, meanwhile consumers were shown ads consisting of content such as an illustration of an obese version of the Statue of Liberty, her torch replaced by an ice cream cone stacked with six scoops. Whereas other weight loss campaigns often promote endorsements by celebrities, the unique selling point of this campaign focused on the fact the program was administered by physicians.