by Beth Shepard   Beth's profile on LinkedIn  

A Wellness Marketing Lesson

We recently took our teenagers to the Experience Music Project (EMP) in downtown Seattle. Classic rock artifacts aside, the big draw for us was the Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume exhibit. As space and sci-fi enthusiasts, we couldn’t resist the chance to see Obi-Wan Kenobi’s robes, Han Solo’s wardrobe, and Padmé’s wedding gown up close and personal.

As we clamored around C-3PO and R2-D2 (yes, the actual droids!) taking selfies, we were approached by a friendly man in a suit and tie wondering if he could ask us a few questions. Turns out it was Aidan Lang, General Director of the Seattle Opera. He and the Board were there to find out what brought families all the way into downtown to see the Star Wars exhibit — and what he could learn and apply to attract more parents and kids to Seattle Opera productions.

What followed was a terrific example of outreach and market research that wellness managers can adapt and use to promote programs more effectively:

  • Go where your target population gathers. Mr. Lang explained that because the Star Wars costume exhibit was proving so popular among their target demographic, he and the Board decided to walk over and see why.
  • Ask thoughtful, relevant questions. Not wanting to take much of our time, Mr. Lang was prepared and asked us 4 questions:

    • Do we frequently visit downtown attractions? (No.)
    • What brought us in to the EMP today, specifically? (Star Wars exhibit.)
    • What was it about this exhibit that made you get in the car and drive all the way up here today? (Star Wars has cross-generational appeal; the exhibit was something our entire family was excited about. The whole concept of being able to get so close to something we’ve enjoyed on screen sparked our senses of curiosity and delight — plus no school today.)
    • When you got here to the EMP, did you proceed directly to this exhibit first? (Yes! Because we couldn’t wait to see all this cool stuff.)
  • Be personable. Mr. Lang was kind enough to answer our questions too, chat a bit, and take a group picture for us. He made us feel he was genuinely interested in our family.

The brief exchange took around 5-6 minutes, but was so positive that we talked about the Seattle Opera on the way home and have taken the time to visit their website. Guess what? We found some upcoming productions we’d all love to go see… talk about marketing impact.

Instead of designing and promoting your workplace wellness program based on old ideas and assumptions, with a little effort you can gain valuable insights directly from the people you serve. A few questions to think about:

  • What places, programs, and services are your employees and their families naturally drawn to for fun, learning, entertainment, and recreation? Think beyond the traditional wellness arena, both workplace and community venues — after-work or lunchtime hangouts, voluntary in-service trainings, street fairs, horse tracks, race car tracks, ComiCon, library programs, museums, etc.
  • What specific questions could you ask them for insights on boosting your wellness program appeal?
  • What could you do to make a brief, personal interaction so positive that they walk away with a renewed interest in checking out your wellness offerings?

You and your team can gain more useful insights from a few hours of working the crowds than from a whole day of poring over online survey results. Both are important, but getting out there has the added benefit of helping you connect with the people you serve. And when it comes to knowing your workforce and promoting your program, nothing beats face-to-face, in real time.

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