Differentiation, niche marketing, and positioning. These and other related business
buzzwords have no doubt crossed every gym owner and marketing director's eyes and ears in recent years.
But what do these words really mean to you in your gym? Usually they mean that a
gym will attempt to sell memberships and classes that are somehow different than the
competitions to a certain, specific target market. In theory, this is a great idea.
If you could just reach that one segment of the market with your great and
Welcome to reality. If your gym is innovative enough to develop a truly unique
package and facility that is earning you a profit, the following inevitably happens:
competition springs up from nowhere to imitate you, undersell your price, and steal
your market share. It's immutable.
So as your next line of defense, you choose to position yourself as the quality
leader among health clubs. Or as the low price leader. Or as the service king. You
soon find yourself in a battle with four other gyms - all claiming to have the most
variety, lowest prices, highest quality or best service.
A marketing free-for-all usually ensues. Each gym owner tries in vain to shout with
the loudest voice that his health club is superior. Headlines get bigger, radio ads
get more obnoxious, advertising agencies get richer. More significantly, members
begin to discount any claim made by any of the gyms. The alternative is to slam
(put down) your competition. That doesn't work either. The public hates negative
campaigns. Remember the last election?
Is niche marketing the way to go then? Obviously, different is better than "me
too." The question isn't whether or not to be different, but rather how to
communicate those differences in a way that your members will believe and embrace
them. Your Real Opportunity for Innovation Lies in the Marketing. You don't have
to be the best gym, you just need to be better at marketing. The winner is always
the one who is better at marketing their message.
Here's What Marketing Really Is...
You need to realize three things about business to understand marketing. These
three things are always true, regardless of what type of gym you own: 1) All gyms do
just one thing: They Woo Potential Members - Period. 2) All potential members want
just one thing: The Best Deal - Period. 3) Your marketing should do just one thing: Articulate Why You're The Best Deal - Period. You can build confidence if you
articulate your advantage. Make sure you do it in a way that is Short And To The Point and easy to understand. (SATTP)
This is not a complicated thing. If you dispute any of the three points, please
call us to discuss it at once. We don't want to be wrong about such simple stuff.
But if this is such simple stuff...then why do most health clubs have so much
trouble executing a decent marketing plan? We say it's because, in general, we are lazy communicators.
See if this scenario sounds familiar. When you get home from work, your spouse asks
you how your day was. What do you usually say? "Fine, okay, I'm tired, great, it
stunk". Do these words actually communicate anything? What about when you see someone you know at the store and you ask, "Whatcha doin'?" (as if you really care or can't tell by looking) and he answers, "Fine," which is actually the answer to the other
question he was expecting, which is "How ya doin'?" We are a society of lazy
communicators...we are on communication autopilot. Don't think, just talk.
These communication habits spill over into marketing and advertising all the time.
Show me 99% of all marketing material created and I'll show you a huge jumble of
hyperbole, fluff, platitudes, and yawnably unbelievable, black hole nothing words.
Words like cheapest, professionalism, service, quality, speedy, convenient, and
best. These words do absolutely nothing to communicate why you're the best deal.
NOTHING. Claude Hopkins, the greatest advertising man in history, summed it up: "Platitudes and generalities roll off the human understanding like water from a
duck. They leave no impression whatever."
Stand Out, Don't Blend In
Look at all the gyms within a five mile radius of you. Some of these gyms claim to
be "the" experts. Most tell me in bullet points that they charge the lowest fees,
even if even if you are just looking for month to month memberships. Almost all of
them tout that they have the major brand equipment. None of them, however, give
me compelling reason why I should call them instead of their competitors. The "unique"
a claims of each gym have become generic, unappealing, and meaningless to the
potential member...who is just waiting to be sold.
Surprisingly, very few health clubs really make more than a token attempt to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Once a gym stakes out a position in
the marketplace, the usual strategy is to foolishly proclaim to all potential
members, "Here we are, now give us all the memberships that you have been giving
to our competition...for no justifiable, rational reason."
Fortunately, you can cash in on what your competitors are doing wrong. The most
powerful tool you can use to stand head and shoulders above your competition is a clear, concise compelling message on why you are the best choice for fitness. Your
message is the singular, unique benefit that your members can expect to receive
when they favor your health club instead of your competitor's - stated in specific,
graphically illustrated terms.
The key point is to have something good to say, say it well and say it often and
you will win.
How to Sell More, Keep Your Sanity and Grow Your Club
Have you ever been fishing? Our offices are about 1 mile from the Atlantic
and occasionally, we see those Day Trip boats at the marinas.
You know, the ones where you just show up with about 100 other people
and they set you up for 4 hours on the high seas. They give you the poles
the bait...everything. Then you go out and bob around with 100 lines in the
water. All of a sudden, it seems like 20 or 30 people have there poles bent
over with fish on!
SellingMemberships is Like Fishing on a Party Boat
The more lines you've got in the water, the better chance you've got to
hook an evasive fish (or prospect). Seems logical to me. We've seen it on
the boats and in the clubs. Think of all the ways we can actively pursue
new business and improve member retention. Just like if we have more than
one line in the water, we'll catch more fish. We can treat sales the same way.
Throw Out At Least A Dozen Lines Off Your Boat
Until someone comes up with the magic formula to have people flocking through
your door, you better have a lot of lines in the water. When we say 'lines' we
mean things like educational brochures, tip sheets, seminars, guest trainers,
newsletters, follow up systems, member referrals and many more.
If you use a wide-range of of approaches every month to increase your sales,
I promise you'll have great results. Will all of them work all of the time? Heck NO! All the more reason to have as many 'lines in the water' as you can to catch
The secret to selling a lot of memberships is to have as many 'lines' in the water
as possible. Make sure you're doing a lot of different things to make sales. When
some don't work well in any given month, it won't matter. Other things you are
doing to make sales will be working for you.
Do More Things to Make More Sales
Here is a list of offers and promotions to get your brain going. Don't overlook the
simplest and most obvious. Sometimes they'll have the most powerful effect and
make you the most money, quickly. Here you go:
Free trial passes
Nutrition tip sheets
Fitness tip Sheets
Diet tip sheets
Member referral program
Sales person closing guidebook
Front desk prospect tips
E-Newsletter for members
Automatic follow up for prospects
Contact management for members
Guest instructors or trainers
Bundling of services
Low risk offers
Direct mail campaign
Corporate marketing program
Using Unique Selling Points
We could list 20 more, but you get the idea. How many lines can you fish with?
First, make your list. Then, determine if you have all the 'poles and bait' you
Is your club missing members from 2:00 in the afternoon until the after work crowd rushes in? Do you have a sales associate who could use a kick in the pants? Looking for something to put wind in your sails this winter?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions...read on. We'll show you how to get a 2,000% ROI or more in less than 3 days.
Market to Your Target Market
Profit Partners works closely with their clients to focus on very specific and targeted markets with their advertising. Your dollars are few and precious so we advise you to spend them wisely and where you will get the biggest bang for the buck.
If you have a few sales associates who could use either a kick in the pants or just a change in routine or if your gym is too quiet and sparse during the afternoons, you can fix that. And here is how.
Follow These 10 Easy Steps
A target market program does not have to be rocket science. Actually, we have found that the simpler we can make it, the more effective it is and the easier it is for you to track your results.
The steps below will help you get started. Your sales team will be busy, your club will become busier and you'll pocket some more cash.
Here is What We'd Like You to Do...
Step One: Identify your target. Get a map of your community. Draw a circle around a 3 to 5 mile radius. That is your geographic area. Any marketing and advertising outside that area is money flushed down the toilet.
Step Two: Who could work out in the early and late afternoon? We suggest teachers, administrators and staff. Also possibly municipal workers, local businesses and shift workers. Branch out here. You need to think about public schools. Private schools. Vocational and technical schools. Colleges and universities. Secondary, middle and elementary. Get the picture.
Step Three: Pick 2 or 3 to start. Make them big ones. You want schools that employ at least a few dozen teachers, staff and administrators.
Step Four: Prepare a powerful, one-page letter that follows the Marketing Equation addressed to the Administrator or the Principal. Make sure it Interrupts, Engages, Educates and gives a Low Risk Offer.
Step Five: Create a flyer to be read by teachers, administrators and staff. You will want to make it powerful and very simple for these people to take the next step to try your club.
Step Six: Have 100 flyers printed for each school to go with your letter. Your 'package' should look professional and neat.
Step Seven: Have your sales associate role play with you. You pretend you are the Administrator. Have them rehearse a 1 minute speech that would be given to the Administrator explaining who they are, why they stopped by, what they have and why they should distribute the flyers to each person's mail box.
Step Eight: Have the sales associate hit the road, stop by the school unannounced (late morning before lunch is the best time of day), and ask to speak to the top dog. If they can't get the top dog ask for his or her assistant. Make a short and professional presentation with a lot of smiling, thank them and then get back to the club.
Step Nine: Track activity. Make sure you have identified some way to capture the calls and drop-ins from people from the school.
Step Ten: Calculate your results. You should know how many people called or stopped in, how many toured, how many joined and what the ROI was for this program. It should take all of 30 days.
How One Club Made Over 15 Grand in a Week
As you can see from above, any health club, owner and staff can nail these ten steps in 3 days or less. It is a matter of whether you want to or not. Will this be just another good idea that sits on the shelf? That is your call.
One of our clients had a very nice return on this program and they only spent about 7 days on it. This club is located in a suburban area and had over 12 schools to choose from within a 3 mile radius. They needed afternoon activity in the club and they wanted to take one of their best salespeople and get them exposed to Corporate Sales and this program was a perfect training ground.
Here is the breakdown of the results:
3 letters and 300 flyers delivered
11 Calls and 29 drop ins
26 memberships sold
Revenue produced: $15,600 (26 x lifetime value of $600) Cost of materials: $89
The question to ask yourself is: "Do you want more afternoon activity in the club and can we make your sales team better and stronger?"
Okay. Picture this. You just came off two months of low activity, missing members, your summer vacation and a reduction in sales. Join the club. Most clubs see a drop in sales several times a year for of a list of reasons:
It's getting nice outside;
It's crummy outside;
It's vacation season;
The ______holiday (you fill in the blank);
People are away;
Kids are getting settled in school;
It gets darker earlier.....
You've heard them all. Better yet, you've said them all. Here is the bottom line. If you think this month will be slow or if you think this month will be busy... you're right.
Speed of the Boss is the Speed of the Crew
You don't need 7 excuses on why it is slow, you only need one. Just pick the one you like and tell it to your staff and we're done. See you next month.
Hey, what are you doing still reading this? Oh, I get it, you must be one of those 10%-er's. The cream of the crop. The owner who wakes up everyday with a knot in your stomach. The type that got into this business to do something special. To be someone in the community. To bring value to people. To make a difference on this earth. Well join the club. I'll keep going then...
Be a Leader!
People NEED to be led. We are all born dependant. Some people stay that way and others choose the tougher road. If you accept the fact that you are already a leader, because of that choice, then you can accept the fact that people will follow your lead. Good or bad, they will follow. So here are the rules:
Set a Goal: Make this month the best month EVER! Make a Plan: Spend 10 minutes (right now not later) being creative Get Your Whole Staff on the Plan: You will need EVERYONE to break a record. Create an Event: (Sell it like it is the invention of toilet paper) Commit To It For a WHOLE Month: (Remember speed of the boss...)
Now some of the 'leaders' who are reading this, clicked off and said "I get it" and they are off manufacturing the greatest month in their history. Others are still looking for more direction and help. Others are saying "What the hell does this have to do with marketing?"
The 5 steps above are the same five steps we do for every client we work with. Substitute this current month with the next 12 months and you'll get the picture.
But you say, "I don't need you... I can do it on my own."
True. But you won't. It is a lot of work and time to go from good to great. Great leaders are great at delegating. If you could get someone to do this for you, month after month for a year, you'll go from good to great. If you follow baseball, a good hitter ends the year with a .280 batting average.
A great hitter ends the year with a .300 batting average. The difference? 12 singles over 600 at-bats. That is mind blowing. A dozen little singles are the difference between good and great. The .300 hitter takes the most batting practice - everyday. The .300 hitter hires extra coaches and trainers to push him, motivate him and help him stay focused.
It is okay to be just "good". The world needs a lot of "good" health and fitness centers. It is not as hard to be good and you're still better than most if you're good. But if you want to be great... You have to tune up your leadership skills and work smarter, everyday.
Have a Marketing System
We have rolled out great systems in many health clubs of all sizes. Why is it the exact system has killer results in some, average in others and mediocre in others? The answer is leadership. Remember step number 5 above. COMMIT to it for a month. A leader commits. They go all in. They sell out. First in and last out. A manager doesn't. They say things like "I like it but my staff won't do it". You can lead a horse to water but you can't make 'em drink. (No, but a leader will figure out a way to make them thirsty).
Ten (10) Leadership Rules:
1) Treat People Well - We see too many owners manage with fear and intimidation. Macho Management is from the 80's. Replace Quotas with Incentives.
2) Build Personal Relationships - This is opposite of corporate America, but it works. You want your members to feel like they have a second family when they interact with your staff.
3) The Secret: Praise and Recognition - Everyone has weaknesses, ignore them. Focus on their strengths and praise them for improvements. What gets rewarded gets done.
4) Total Commitment is the First Step to Greatness - Look at your breakfast - the egg was committed, the bacon was a total commitment. Your staff must see you are totally committed.
5) Develop a Positive Attitude - One of the hardest things to develop on this earth is a positive attitude. Fortunately it is also contagious. Your staff is a reflection of you.
6) You Get What You Expect - People will rise to the standards you set for them. Expect the best and encourage people to set a standard of excellence.
7) Get Your Priorities Straight - If your personal life is out of balance, your business life will be too. God 1st- Family 2nd- Business 3rd works for us. Do you have yours?
8) Don't Be Afraid to Fail - Fear of failure holds more people back than anything. It's okay to fail as long as you track it and learn from it. Failure is the seed of success.
9) Build with Quality - If you're going to build anything, build it right. Don't shortcut your future by skimping on quality that will last longer and produce more.
10) Never Give Up - No one can ever truly be defeated until they stop trying.
The road to success has many disappointments, but the person who rises to the top is the one who NEVER gives up.