In 2007, with the support of a silent investor, I accomplished my dream of opening a
wellness center in Manhattan. The designer space was the urban haven I’d fantasized
about for years, a major step up from the small room I’d formerly sublet part-time from
an elderly psychoanalyst.
However the transition from a compact business with little overhead, to one with ten
times the expenses, was not as easy as I expected, and in 2008 when the Global
Financial Crisis hit, I found myself in a depressingly deep dip.
My clients, considering the wellness services I provided to be a “luxury,” dropped away
like flies. Future funding promised by my investor evaporated, and I found myself facing
the imminent loss of everything I’d worked so hard to accomplish. It was dire times.
The “build it and they will come” approach clearly wasn’t working. My life had flip-
flopped from “dream” to “nightmare,” and I was hemorrhaging money that would soon
run out. I needed a new strategy, pronto.
Up until then, I’d had the attitude that “marketing” was something to be delegated or out-
sourced, similar to cleaning or plumbing. However from the depths of the dip I began to
realize that my presumptions about marketing were actually delusions. Largely thanks
to the influence of my now-husband, I realized that if I wanted my wellness center to
survive, I had to expand my identity and embrace being in the marketing business, in
my case, the “business of marketing wellness services.”
And so with everything on the line, I went for it. I became an avid student of direct-
response marketing, reading book after book. As soon as I learnt a principle, I’d put it
into action. I discovered I needed to get to know the needs, wants, fears, frustrations,
dreams and desires of my ideal clients. I needed to get into her head (firstly even
realizing this person was a “she” was a revelation.) I needed to understand the nuances
of her dilemma better than she even understood them herself, and then communicate
that back to her.
This became the focus of my time. Instead of managing my team–I’d sacked them all
by this point anyway!–my time was spent diving into the psychology of my prospective
clients and learning how to speak her language.
The skill of copywriting became my holy grail. I learned how to craft language that
communicated a tangible benefit to the reader, how to formulate an “irresistible offer,”
and how to make it compelling, thereby passing my ruthlessly-honest husband’s “snore
test.” Boring copy simply wasn’t going to fly.
I learned to be vulnerable, and speak openly about the ups and downs of my
journey with food, weight and emotional eating, and to be generous sharing my
knowledge for free. I learned that quality marketing is not sleazy or cheesy, but is
actually “compassionate communication”–something I could be proud to sign my name
If I could give you one piece of advice it would be…
Here’s my parting nugget of advice: No matter what business you’re in, to succeed you must be in the marketing business. If your chosen profession has been your true love, now embrace marketing as your mistress. Soon you’ll find yourself in a passionate menage-a-trois that delivers you all your fantasies and much, much more.
Jena la Flamme is a weight loss expert for women, the and founder of the Jena Wellness Center in NYC and the creator of Pleasurable Weight Loss™, as featured in Glamour and the Discovery Health Channel. For access to a free video training series on the “Secrets of Pleasurable Weight Loss” and other exclusive content, join Jena’s list and tribe at www.PleasurableWeightLoss.com. Connect with her on Twitter @JenalaFlamme and on Facebook.
Photo by lilie Mélo from france (week-end-pleasure) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons