Planting the Seeds For Better Marketing
Spring! Has it snuck up on you? The arrival of spring is a welcome change for many of us, whether it is simply better weather or the promise of fresh starts, new growth and opportunity. For many, spring cannot arrive too soon. Unless you don’t have a marketing plan!
The ‘New Year’s Resolution’ season is over for another year and hopefully your club business was able to take advantage of a tidal wave of prospects that evolved into a wealth of new members who are now actively working out in the club. Even if this is the case, now is not the time to sit back and admire the fruits of your first quarter marketing labors. It is time to dig deep and cultivate the next crop of new members.
Spring Clean Your Marketing Plan
Just because spring is coming and you feel like a change, before you abandon your entire marketing plan and strategy, take a long, hard look and an honest review and evaluation of what worked, what did not, and what is still working. It will take some discipline to look back before you spring forward. However, the value of measuring the success or failure of your marketing can never be underestimated. It can save you so much time—and money—to repeat or maintain successful campaigns and to refine and improve less successful efforts and examine why they did not work. Often, you can sow the same seeds and they will continue to yield a worthwhile return.
Remember the plan? As discussed in a previous article, this is a boiled-down recap of the programs that are the embodiment of successful club marketing, and some recommended messaging components:
Nurture – The Loyalty Program
Make constant connections with new and current members that inform, inspire and reward them. Send them emails on a regular basis. Make sure the messages are personalized and make the member feel special and important. ‘Dear Tracey’ resonates with Tracey so much more than “Dear Member”. Keep the messages short, sweet and interesting—with plenty of “what’s-in-it-for-me” news, “what’s new” club updates, photos and exclusive members-only offers.
A new member who joins should receive a follow up offer right away—and do not just ask for a referral but offer something of real value to them like a coupon for profit center services. It could be an offer that will benefit the club as well as the member, such as a limited-time discounted membership for a family member or friend.
Develop ongoing in-house campaigns that have some moxie, like frequent exerciser rewards programs and challenges that generate excitement within the club. Align your club with a charity or local sports or community effort and get your members involved with a great cause and an empowering opportunity to “give back” through their participation. It is great visibility for your club and instills a great sense of pride for your members.
Propagate – The Outreach Program
Prospects are quintessential to your club business. They are living and working all around you—the key words being around you. Plotting where your members come from is a vital tool that ensures you zero down on the prospects that are most likely to join. To let them know you are there, you have to reach out to them where they live or work. They are reading newspapers. They are on Facebook. They pick up their mail. They check their in-box. Once you get in front of them, you must have a compelling advertising message that will gain attention, urge them on to the next step, and convince them to take action by visiting the club. Once the prospect visits the club, the work of the advertising is done, but other aspects of marketing take over, such as the look and feel of your club, the quality of your team of staff and the sales process.
Harvest – The Welcome Back Program
Recover your former members and lost leads with a bright message for spring. Make certain not to make them feel bad for leaving, and keep your marketing positive. Remind them that they are VIPs—Very Important People by creating an exclusive offer. Your message can announce new and exciting changes at the club and explain how, this time, you will ensure they will enjoy successful results from their membership experience.
One great advantage of spring is the feeling of wanting to breathe new life into every aspect of your club business. In advertising, stay true to your brand, but think of fresh ways to make your marketing mark, and mix it up in new places, everywhere you can imagine.
For example, building new relationships by co-operative advertising with other businesses you admire is a wonderful opportunity to mine prospects from a like-minded customer base. You carry their message. They carry yours. Just be careful to be strategic and discerning, make certain you share the same kind of customer demographic.
Sparkle up your phone answering script and give inbound callers a reason to smile. Be surprising, but be surprisingly good!
Now that your club has enjoyed a spring-clean sweep, hold a public open house. It will not only gain you some face time with prospects, but also show an appreciation of your current membership. Publicity is a crucial aspect for the success of an open house campaign. From press releases in local media to sending invitations and advertising inside the club with posters, talk it up to make this event a perfect marketing opportunity.
Welcome as many guests to the club as you possibly can. This may not traditionally be your busiest time of the year, so you can probably afford to have a few extra folks trying out the club with a complimentary workout without overcrowding your facility. Why not place a guest pass in outgoing mail, including business-to-business. Even when you are paying bills through the mail—someone at the other end is opening the envelope!
Cultivating Campaigns – A Professional Spring Tune-Up
Finally, these two spring campaign themes are club client favorites and proven marketing success stories:
1. You’re Already a Member
This campaign is out-of-the-box friendly and welcoming as it invites prospects to the club as if they are old acquaintances and valued members before they even start. Breaking down barriers of intimidation and the threat of non-acceptance, the message is personal and direct. Marketing vehicles need to reflect that personal approach through direct mail and/or email if you have the permission to intrude into the sacred inbox without reproach! The mailer includes an “official” membership card and the offer is naturally a trial membership.
2. The Weight-loss Challenge
Timely, as people emerge from winter hibernation in search of their body that will fit into summer clothes, this campaign demands good planning and benefits from the participation of your personal training and nutrition centers. Not such a bad thing. The theme, popularized by being trotted out by TV show reality, has meant that the potential for participants to anticipate successful results has been heightened. A good thing for a marketing campaign.
Host the challenge for a predetermined number of days. Open it to members with prize incentives. Market the challenge as a self-contained program to prospects who will love the short-term commitment and its single price-point before they decide to join the club. Nevertheless, the conversion rate to annual membership for these participants is high due to the personal attention, support and motivation offered by the program, especially when progress is measurable and results are evident.
Keep the theme lighthearted. Whether you call it Skinny Jeans, Battle Of The Bulge, Lose To Win or Look Better Naked, your prospects and members will join in the fun-spirited, healthy competition—and wear the t-shirt!
Promote internally with an email blast to your members and lost leads, post on your Facebook page, feature on your website, display posters, ceiling danglers, banners in the club. Reach prospects using doorhangers, take ones, flyer inserts in your local paper, and direct mail postcards. Keep in mind the newsworthy value of the campaign and take advantage of free publicity in local media.
Does all this seem like a lot of work? Creating an effective campaign takes time and effort. The services of a professional marketing company can provide an objective perspective and look after the strategic planning, creation and execution that a comprehensive campaign requires. They can also ‘police’ your brand to make certain your club presents a constant and memorable image in the marketplace.
The marketing possibilities are endless, so plan early, budget appropriately, execute beautifully and reap the rewards of your spring marketing!