Tuesday 14 August 2018

Marketing People

Michael O'Brien - Marketing manager, Motivation Weight Management

Michael O'Brien
Michael O'Brien

The weight-loss industry in Ireland is growing all the time and with 27 clinics around the country, employing more than 100 staff,  Motivation Weight Management is one of the largest weight-loss consultancy businesses. Marketing manager Michael O’Brien outlines to John McGee the challenges and opportunities he faces as a marketer.

Describe your role with the company

As marketing manager, I look after all the day-to-day marketing activities and support the local and regional activities of our head office-managed clinics and those clinics that operate under a franchise agreement.

As small as our island is, we still have very distinct regional variances so I work with local clinics to tailor messages but never stray from our core USP which is: “It’s not what you eat, it’s why.” Basically, the key to weight-loss management is behavioural and I ensure that always remains front and centre. We soft-launched an online store back in May to service those locations that are not within easy reach of our clinic network and, so far, it’s exceeded our initial expectations.

How big is the weight-loss industry in Ireland?

The World Health Organisation projects that in 2030 the proportion of overweight men in Ireland will rise to 89pc with a corresponding 85pc of women falling into this category. It’s a big market.

How competitive is the marketplace?

Without a doubt, it’s a competitive market. On the one hand, you have recognised weight-management companies such as ourselves, and on the other you have a wide spectrum of small companies, mostly home-based individuals, who offer a variety of services to help with weight loss. Often, these services exist as an adjunct to an existing suite of services and the barriers to entry are low. Again, weight-loss success rates vary, but they are in the very low percentages.

What are your marketing challenges?

If I focus on one, it’s how do you stay relevant when there is so much noise? In our industry, it manifests itself through fad diets or the next big slimming trick, when in fact evidence shows none of them are long-lasting with most ending in failure.

The failure of these fad diets leads to scepticism and frustration and it’s often our job to unravel and dispel this disappointment of previous failures. Of course, the backbone of any successful company is the team you work with and I’m fortunate we operate an open-door policy here at Motivation and don’t labour on titles. We regularly meet to review all facets of the business so we identify issues early and make the changes as necessary.

I once saw a quote, I can’t remember who wrote it, but it read: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

I fully subscribe to continuous training. Maintaining service levels of the highest standards is umbilically tied to regular training and that’s one area we work tirelessly on.

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