The decision to use paid advertising to promote your business can sometimes be a difficult one for nutrition-based professionals. Running a practice, especially in its infancy, can be a delicate juggling act between raising revenue by booking new clients, and managing growing expenses.
This often leaves many nutritionists and dietitians wondering if spending extra money to promote their services is worth it, and if so, how much money should they be spending per month. This article should hopefully shed some light on these issues, and give both new and seasoned practitioners in the nutrition industry advice on how to get the most bang for their advertising buck.
First things first: Understanding your ideal client
Marketing is just a fancy word for promoting your goods and services to an ideal client. Let’s break that down into its simplest parts;
Part 1 – Promoting your goods and services
Part 2 – An ideal client
Part 1 – Promoting your goods and services
Although this part should feel easy enough to answer, we encourage you to look deeper, and get to the root of how you’re really being of service in this world.
Many nutritionists and dietitians will say they offer coaching, meal planning, nutrition tips, advice on which groceries to buy, etc. All this true, but we would argue that you’re really in the business of transformation.
A nutrition-based professional’s true calling is helping to bridge a gap from where their clients currently are, to help them get to where they want to be. Thinking of your services from this vantage point will help you communicate them in a way that’s compelling.
Part 2 – The ideal client
While most nutrition-based professionals spend a majority of their efforts focusing on part 1, many fall short because they don’t put the necessary focus on part 2 (Painting a picture of who their ideal client should be).
In all marketing, whether it’s conventional, media, or digital, it’s crucial to dial in on who your ideal client is.
- What gender (if any) do they identify with?
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- What ‘roles’ do they probably hold in life? A busy executive is an obvious role, but so is a mother of two.
There was a time when these were the only questions people had to ask when constructing an ad campaign. For the most part, they’re still the 1st things many small practice owners/solopreneurs list when thinking of their ideal customer.
Unfortunately because of all the new privacy changes, and the sheer volume of content out there, people have to start thinking differently if they want to create effective ad campaigns out in the world that are both meaningful and get results. When trying to define who your true clients actually are, try framing a picture based on these questions;
- What problems are my ideal client going through that I help them with?
- How does my ideal customer feel before working with me? More importantly, how do I want them to feel after they use my services?
Take out a notepad, spreadsheet, or word doc and do a brain dump, asking yourself these questions. Try to write at least 3 items for part 1 and part 2. Sculpting a clear vision of who your avatar is, and the problems you solve for them will help you in every aspect of your business.
What platform should I be using?
Determining which platform to focus a paid ad campaign on can sometimes feel overwhelming. There are so many options out there, plus, regardless of if you’re a self-proclaimed tech wizard, or at times feel a bit technology-challenged, learning the in’s and out’s of any platform takes time and practice. A good rule of thumb for any digital marketing campaign, whether paid or organic, is to place yourself where you believe your customers hangout.
Instagram/Facebook are still great options to cast your services over a wide net of potential customers from different age groups and lifestyles, even with all the privacy changes. Google ads are definitely comprehensive and a great resource to promote your services on a bunch of different mediums, like search and Youtube. Tik Tok & Pinterest are great options as well. We recommend (especially for those new to running paid ads), to focus on one platform. Give yourself time to really understand, and even master it, before moving on to something else.
Each one will take some time to adapt to, depending on your ability to work with the software. As with all things, becoming skilled at running ads requires time and effort. Take notes of what you’re doing whenever possible, shrug off your learning curve like a grain of salt, and just get started.
How much to spend?
Many nutritionists, dietitians, small based business, and solopreneurs will tell you that they spend anywhere from 10-15% of their revenue on paid ads. This can be challenging, especially if you’ve fairly new, don’t have a lot of clients, or have a very limited budget to spend. When determining an initial budget that works for you, think of a number that will allow you to sleep peacefully at night. As a rule of thumb, particularly on Facebook/Instagram ads, you want to invest no less than $10/day on any given ad campaign.
What types of ads should I be running, and what should the ad copy look like?
Deciding the content of your ads is just as important as determining who your ideal client is. This part can get tricky for many people, especially if you don’t feel comfortable writing, filming, designing posts, or creating content. It’s usually the part of your process where a big wall forms, and creativity stops.
We go through it too when creating content, and the best way to break through the wall is to remind yourself that nothing ever starts off perfect. You have every opportunity to take all your ideas and keep refining them. Honestly sometimes it’s good to just start off with your worst ideas possible and just commit to taking action.
To help you move the needle, here are some themes you can touch upon;
- Brand awareness
- Promoting your business and the fact that you exist in the 1st place is a great starting off point.
- Problem & solution
- This is where all that time you spent creating your ideal client comes in handy. Talk about the many problems your clients are experiencing, with empathy of course. A great way to start off is asking questions. “Are you struggling with this..?” “Have you noticed that it’s very hard to do this..?”
- Inform & educate
- What insider tricks and tips can you provide that will be of use to your potential customers? The more you give away for free, the more people will want to work with you.
- Call to Action (CTA)
- This is where you invite people to do business with you. Start off by talking about your brand, or problem you solve, or feature of your business, then ask them to schedule a consultation, or fill out a form.
Keep in mind that, (especially with Facebook, Instagram, & Tik Tok) not every ad has to ask your customers to sign up like a CTA would. In fact, this is where many nutrition based professionals struggle with paid ads, because they always end it with an ‘ask’.
It’s completely ok, if not recommended, to run ads that only talk about your brand, or your solutions, or problems people are experiencing. Having a mixture of these, mixed in with a clear CTA ad will help you build trust with clients who are on the fence, or people scrolling social media who don’t want to be ‘sold’ anything.
What does my ad creative look like?
An ad creative is basically the flyer, post, or video that people see when your ad pops up on their search results or social media feed. In general, video ads ‘convert’ more than static ads (flyers, non-video posts) BUT, don’t write off static ads because they’re still powerful depending on their design and content.
If you’re working with video content, long form (30 seconds to 1 minute) and short form (15-20 seconds) content both have their benefits as well depending on the platform and what you want to convey. As a general rule of thumb, keep it under a minute.
ALSO, keep in mind that (at the date this article was published), Facebook, Instagram, Youtube & Tik Tok are investing more money in promoting short form content, especially if it’s being broadcast on any of those platform’s ‘reels’ sections.
Encapsulating all you do for your clients into 15-20 second clips is not as easy as it sounds, and can be just as difficult as writing a 2,000 article. Keep this in mind when designing your ads:
Your ad’s true purpose isn’t to get someone to sign up and be your lifelong customer.
Your ad should to 2 things:
- Get the viewer to stop scrolling and pay attention
- Get the viewer to click on it
This is usually when that wall we talked about earlier rises up again and all creativity gets put on pause. As a reminder, start off with your worst possible idea, post, video, or design. Dive in, make adjustments, create different versions, and just remember getting started was the hardest part.
Testing: The most important thing you should be doing with your ads
Lastly, the most important thing you should do with any paid ad campaign is also the thing that most nutritionists, dietitians, and small business owners never do: Test.
Testing is what really determines the success you’ll achieve. This is because what you’re really doing when you put an ad out into the world is receiving data. You’re trying to find out how many times your ad was viewed, how many times it was clicked, how many people viewed it, etc etc etc.
Testing used to be pretty straight-forward in the ‘old days’. You’d take the same ad or the same audience, duplicate it, and test one aspect of it to see which performed better. You could test a flyer with ‘this’ headline vs ‘that’ headline, or ‘this’ color vs ‘that’ color. Compare the two items for a few days, see which one did better, then put all your money into the better performing version.
Although these approaches still have their benefits, we also believe that it’s important to think broader, and test ‘angles’. Test a problem vs a problem, or a solution vs a problem, or a long video vs a short video on the same topic.
Thinking about testing from this viewpoint may give you insights on what your customers are really looking for, and help you create ads that address those wants and needs.
A good metric to constantly monitor is unique CTR. This is basically the percentage of people who saw your ad, and clicked on it. Regardless of what platform you use, determining your ad’s unique CTR will be easy. Most experts say to keep it above .99% – 1.5%, depending on which professional you’re talking to. Keep it above 2% and your ad’s doing well. Hit a sweet spot of 4% and your ad is golden.
Lastly, the important thing you should take away from this article is to just get started, and try. Throw your services out into the digital marketing world, learn from the data you receive, and then make changes. It’s not easy, but learning how to be a practitioner of paid ads will help you target new clients, get exposure, and grow your business in ways that word-of-mouth, organic, blogs, or conventional marketing can’t.
You can do it, and we’re rooting for your success!