For this Expert Interview, I’m talking with Zeena Dhalla. Zeena is currently the founder of VerticAlign Posture Coaching and a member of Accelerate: The Business of Ergonomics Program. She works with both professionals and corporations to eliminate pain through targeted exercise programs.

Her specialty is designing workout programs for people to improve their posture and alignment, in addition to adding engineering controls via an effective ergonomics process. Zeena has some really interesting marketing perspectives on how to highlight ergonomics, which I think brings a breath of fresh air to our industry.

Here, Zeena shares how to effectively leverage a wide-reaching modern digital marketing system that attracts and nurtures your ideal clients so that you can grow your consulting business. Zeena passes on a few ideas and tips to help you build a system that can capture leads for you 24/7, no matter if your ideal clients are professionals or corporate.

About Zeena Dhalla

Q:  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

A: My name is Zeena Dhalla, and I come from a fitness background. I’m a Certified Postural Alignment Specialist practicing the Egoscue Method for about 3 years now. Before that, I was a pilates instructor and a  personal trainer. I've always had a deep interest in being an entrepreneur. I've owned a couple of businesses. I’ve owned a women's gym and a pilates studio.

I recently got into ergonomics about a year ago. I got into ergonomics because my business as a posture therapist was referred to some corporation—a big corporation. I decided that I needed to shift into ergonomics because posture and ergonomics are so completely integrated. So about a year ago, I had this vision of integrating the two together, and that’s what brought me to your group, Darcie.

Q: Most Ergonomics Consultants who are into marketing think that they need to be an expert to market themselves, and that's limiting them from moving forward in their business and building a business that they love. So how did you come across that, and how are you navigating that?

A: I started diving a little deeper into marketing about four or five years ago. It’s actually before I was an Egoscue certified therapist. It was when I was a pilates instructor, and I wanted to dig deep into posture and launch an online program. I actually took a class on how to build an online presence for yourself like how to create the lead magnets—that I know you talk about, how to set up a mailing list, how to create a website, how to have actionable items on your website, and then how often you should email people. And at the time, I was attempting to do a consumer-based posture program. I got some clients and got a little experience from that. 

But when I transitioned over to Egoscue Method training and then eventually into my corporate work, I went ahead and abandoned that consumer marketing. When I shifted over to corporate, we shifted our marketing, but the same rules apply. Like the multiple touchpoints, the graphics, the storytelling, all the abilities to just continue to reach out and create that friendly relationship with the customer and get them to know you. Those rules apply whether you're aiming for the consumer market or corporate market. So it's been a lot of years in the making of me just being an entrepreneur. It’s a lot of learning and a bit of luck combined together that's got me here.

Consumer Marketing versus Corporate Marketing

Q: When it comes to representing your skills to consumer versus corporate, was it a big learning curve or was it just a subtle pivot?

A: A subtle pivot is probably a better way to say that. At the end of the day, when you're marketing to somebody, you’ve got to figure out what their pain point is. In my case, as a posture therapist, we advertise three things to my consumers: one-on-one posture alignment therapy, one-on-one ergonomics assessment, and a desk exercise program. To our corporate, we advertise three or four things. We have two corporate workshops or lunch-and-learns: one that's on posture and one that's on ergonomics. We offer a desk exercise program as well, which is continuing education to both workshops. 

When you're dealing with consumers, the pain point is literally a pain. Like your shoulder hurts, your knee hurts, your neck hurts. That’s the pain point. We know that because I actually did some surveys and a whole bunch of digging into that four or five years ago. When you do a survey, you get real words of what people will say like, “This hurts when I do this,” “I'm tired of feeling this.” Those are literal pain points. 

Now with the corporate, it's a pivot because it’s a slightly different pain point. In the case of Google, we work with a lot of team leads. When we're doing a discovery call, they might tell us themselves, “Yeah. My shoulders are hurting so I thought your workshop would be cool.” But also with HR, your pain points are going to be retention, workers’ compensation, or profit margin. So, yeah, their pain points are different. But at the end of the day, what you're trying to market towards is the pain point in either place.

So we have two opt-in and lead magnets for different pages of the website for both groups of people with different words, different phrases, and different follow-up email sequences as a result of that because the pain points are different.

Q: You mentioned that you use different words and phrases for consumer versus corporate. I'm wondering if there’s a specific stream that you find works better for consumers and for corporate.

A: Absolutely. So Instagram is where the consumer market is for me, and LinkedIn is where the corporate market is. That's really as simple as it is. For my social media strategy, we post five times a week on LinkedIn and Facebook, four times a week on Instagram, three to four times a week on Instagram. On Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, you can repost something. It can be any kind of content. But with Instagram, it has to be original. So there’s a heavy load of content production and cost associated with that. For example, I share a lot of personal information on Instagram because when people are looking to hire you and look at your page, they're looking for that whole person. Like, if I’m going to hire Zeena for 10 sessions of posture alignment therapy, that means I'm gonna spend 10 hours with her. Who is she? Does she have a kid? Is she married? So we’ll share stories about me going to an Angels game or my daughter's birthday.

There’s a little bit of curation that happens with what social media we're approaching, and it's a very simple task. I sit down and create four of my posts that are going to go off, I put it on a Trello board, and then my social media person turns it into magic.

Zeena’s Marketing System

Q: Your Instagram followers are quite impressive, and that doesn’t happen overnight. It's clear that you've been working on this with dedication for many years. So would you mind sharing with us how you did it?

A: The number that you see on Instagram, again, is curated marketing. It’s all about perception. So let me tell you how it started. I authored a book about six years ago, and it’s co-authored by a really high influencer. She’s a Bollywood trainer, and I was on posture and pilates. When I went to India, she grabbed my phone and opened up my Instagram and she said, “Alright. We're gonna get you your first 1000 followers.” She posted something, and I got my first 1000 followers within a day. So that helps. You get a little help and a little push from somebody. 

And so I got about 7000 on my own. And then it got to a point where I was like, “I want to be perceived as an influencer.” And that's a decision and a choice because it's like your window dressing. Macy's puts up their window displays on Thanksgiving because they want their audience to perceive something, like “We do this special thing for the community,” or whatever it is. So it's like that. It's my window dressing, and I wanted to be perceived as that.

So I started hiring companies to help me get my growth going. That being said, I still log on every day and I engage. I actually have something called an “engagement group” that I run, and that's a group of 10 or 15 people where we help each other and get that engagement going. And then I have a company that helps me with continued growth because I’ll tell you, the algorithm for growing an Instagram is really challenging.

There were times where I was frustrated doing all these things and posting five days a week and finally said, “This is a puzzle that I cannot figure out. I’m going to let somebody else take that job for me.” But what are the puzzles that I can figure out? I can figure out how to get somebody out of pain, I can figure out how to set up a desk, and I can figure out how to run a workshop. 

Q: I think if more Ergonomics Consultants can also do the same thing, like figuring out what you need help with, what you're good at, and what relationships you have to build, then it makes it a real simple thing to move forward in our business instead of doing all the things all the time.

A: I think it's also important if you can identify one or two platforms that work for you, then focus on that. If you try to succeed in all of them, you're gonna drive yourself crazy, especially if you're a solopreneur. I was a solopreneur until about a year and three months ago when I finally started getting some help for myself. So I've helped with all of that.

All I do is I’ll shoot one video a week, and then that gets sent off to my social media person and she turns it into a blog post, she turns it into a social media post on IGTV, and then we propagate. So it becomes content that feeds content, that feeds content. But it all comes from less than an hour of work a week of putting together the Trello card for her to give her guidance on what I like to do.

There are endless opportunities for content, but getting organized and having accountability are another key elements of it.

Q: For those who are considering diving into marketing, what’s the one thing that you think someone should start at?

A: I think a mailing list still has a lot of value. We all still are dedicated and motivated to our emails, right? That's how we function as a business. So I think a mailing list with the opt-in, which is basically giving somebody with some sort of tip for free in exchange for their email address, is the basic way to start. That's where I started. 

And then in terms of social, pick one platform that you know will work for whatever the pain point is for your particular customer. You need to know your customer, you need to know your niche, and you need to know their pain points. Once you know that, then you can pick your social media platform and then just commit to it every day.


And there you have it! If you have additional questions for Zeena, you can connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn.

If you want to learn how other healthcare professionals are already adding office ergonomic expertise to their services, get on the waitlist for the same program that Zeena is in, Accelerate. Just click here to sign up.

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