|Health Club Marketing Tips |
Monday, October 03 2011
The outside perception of your health club is what your current members, past members, prospects and the local community thinks about your health club. Perception is reality. Right or wrong doesn't matter. If you are perceived to be a run down dumpy gym, and you're really a state-of-the-art fitness center, you will get the results of a run down dumpy gym.
In fact, we venture to say that the crux of all marketing problems, including yours, can be wrapped up into one simple statement:
Most health clubs' outside perception
is NOT an accurate reflection of their inside reality.
The inside reality has to do with all the things your health club does that makes
you valuable to your customers from a product, operations, and management standpoint. The "inside reality" is about what you do and what you are that allows your club to perform better. It's what gives you a competitive advantage in the marketplace. The reason we call it the inside reality is because the reality of what you do, and the customers' perceptions of what you do, aren't necessarily the same. These two words - reality and perception - are vital to this process of winning in business.
The inside reality encompasses everything you do and everything you are that makes you good. It's all your skills, your people, your expertise, your service to the customer-before, during and after the sale-your systems, your operational procedures, your commitment to excellence, your passion, and the way you conduct your business. You might think you're actually better than you are, or, you might not be giving yourself enough credit for the things you do well. Regardless, there is a reality of how valuable you are to the marketplace based on these things. That's what we call the inside reality.
If you asked your members why they joined your club, they'd tell you something quantifiable, specific, and instantly obvious. They could point to specific advantages
of joining your club and say, "That's why I'm a member here; that's why I refer my
friends to come here; that's why I'm a loyal customer of this place; that's why I don't mind paying more here; that's why I keep coming back." That's your inside reality.
Inside or Outside?
You may need to innovate your club so there's a reason for people to join. Many
popular gurus do a great job of teaching you how to do those things. But here's the
problem: Just because you've achieved "WOW!" doesn't mean customers are going to flock to your business. You still have to market your business. And that's where the "outside perception" comes into play.
The outside perception is how customers and prospects perceive your company. The outside perception is developed by all interactions somebody has with your Health Club. Customers will draw on their past buying experiences to form their outside perception. The industry on a whole has a negative perception. Most of it is not the fault of the health clubs, but more so the members fault. Most prospects have belonged to other clubs. When they join and stop showing up, get frustrated, they blame the club.
But even if your customer service is great and your members love you, none of it
means squat to a prospective member if (1) they don't know you even exist as an option, or (2) they can't distinguish your value because of your inability to market yourself properly. They perceive that you are no better or worse than anybody else.
Marketing ineptitude creates a chasm between your inside reality and your outside
perception. To your buyers, they are totally different. Take your pride and stick it on
the shelf for a minute. Regardless of how good you are or how good your "inside reality" is, your prospects can't figure it out based on your marketing. You appear on the surface to be just another place that sells fitness. The prospect will more than likely be apathetic at best, resistant or hostile at worst.
Most health club owners know what their customers want, but can't communicate their "inside reality" to the outside world. They can't take their WOW and lead prospects to the conclusion:
"I would have to be an absolute fool to join anywhere else, regardless of price."
Think about your health club. Your ability to know what your customer wants is
what has made you as successful as you are now. You have good classes and/or memberships and you fill a market need. You've studied your market, your prospects and your business for years, and you have solutions that add value to you customer's life. Why, then, aren't you making all the money you deserve? Because you're an expert at what you do, not a marketing communications expert.
Advertising executive Rosser Reeves once said, "To be effective, you've got to make the product interesting, not just make the ad different." That's something too many of the books, gurus, and agencies don't understand. Visit an ad agency or a media sales rep and they'll say, "Just bring me any product or service and a big bag of cash, and we'll guarantee you that we'll spend all of it." They put all their creative effort into making the ad different, with no thought for the inside reality of the product or service.
It's A Balancing Act...
You've got to work on both sides of your business -the inside reality and the outside perception. If you concentrate all your efforts on the "inside reality" but you don't know how to market properly, you set yourself up for frustration and failure. You'll be pulling your hair out trying to figure out where your money vanished to, or you'll feel like the "best kept secret in town."
Or, if you're focusing all your efforts on the "outside perception," you may have bought some advertising or direct mail books, or you hired a PR or ad agency, or enlisted a media sales rep. Now you'll have customers, but they'll hate you because you're selling them a lie! You must balance both sides of your business.
Most health clubs could stand some improvement in both areas, but they struggle most with the outside perception. In reality, they have a good club and offer good value, but they don't differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
Look at your marketing and advertising. Is it instantly obvious what makes you better? Can you show what makes you unique and different and how prospects should judge your offer, what factors they need to consider when deciding, and how you provide value? If not, you have some work to do.
Ensure that your outside perception is an accurate reflection of your inside reality and convince prospects that you are the obvious choice.
'til next week...
Saturday, July 30 2011
Have Postcards and Direct Mail Died?
How to Create Marketing that Get People to Take Action,
Become Your Prospects and Join Your Club
Remember the good old days of health club marketing? You would have your printer throw 5,000 over-sized postcards out into your community and then watch people come thru the front door over the next week or two. You would tour them and they would join that day. Sadly, it's not so easy any more.
What changed over the past 10 years?
In a word - EVERYTHING. People get 5 times more junk mail today than they did 10 years ago. Worse yet, there are more gyms today from which to choose in your area. Even the way people look for a club has changed, thanks to the internet. As a result, there is more "noise" and distractions causing people to have a shorter
attention span. How can we possibly get their attention?
Let's start with your typical prospect and what goes through their heads each day. What do they do with their mail when they get home? If they are like most of us and probably you, they sort it - bills, personal, magazine and "junk" for recycling. What goes in junk? Flyers. Ads . Bulk letters. Other crap; and all that other NOISE.
Guess which pile your postcard goes into...
You are praying that of the 5,000 people who get your expensive postcard, 1,000 don't put it in recycling right away. You are then hoping of those, 100 are even THINKING about joining a health club. And finally, you keep your fingers crossed that 25 of them either call your club (to likely ask you "how much does it cost?") or maybe
actually come walking through your front door.
So, I ask you - How's that working for you these days? Not so good, I imagine.
For most clubs with limited advertising budgets, I would stay away from postcard mailings all together. There are better ways to drive traffic and sell more memberships than postcard mailings. For some clubs, postcards may prove to be part of a well constructed and integrated marketing strategy.
So if you are going to do postcard mailings, at least give yourself a fighting chance to break through the noise, get your marketing noticed and get people who are actively seeking a club membership on your radar screen.
Here's how to do it:
1. Keep your postcard simple. The goal is to get people to take
the next low-risk step of getting to know your club better.
2. Highlight the benefits of membership; not the features of your
club. People want to lose weight, get fit, have fun and feel
energized. They could care less about your club or you.
3. Have one (1) offer that requires someone to register or download
it from your website. Not 3 offers. Not 5 offers. Just one.
4. Set up a landing page to receive the people who log on to your
site. Ask for their Name and Email address only. Deliver to them
their coupon to redeem your offer (7 days free, Free Training
Session, $100 of Enrollment Fee, etc.).
5. Make the offer time sensitive. Create a sense of urgency.
6. Drip market on them. Encourage them to come experience your
club first hand.
7. Monitor your web sign ups and be patient.
People who get your postcard and are ready to join this week will come in right away; regardless of your offer. Your postcard may be enough to get them to drive over to your club. For the other 97%, you want to capture their information, give them something of value and let them go through the typical buying cycle.
Old marketing is dead. You must adapt your marketing to the way people want to buy.
Remember, people HATE being sold, but they LOVE to buy. Do it on their terms to crush your competition.
Until next time...
Monday, May 16 2011
Is Your Club the
Obvious Choice in Town?
Becoming The Obvious Choice...
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
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.
'til next time...
Tuesday, February 22 2011
14 Money-Making Marketing Ideas,
Programs and Tactics You Can Use
Need some new marketing ideas to take your club from good to great? Profit Partners has 14 money-making programs and tactics that have been tested and proven throughout the USA, Canada and abroad.
Take 5 minutes NOW to watch this brief video. See how many of these 14 time-saving and money-making strategies would work in your club. So shut your door, mute your phone and focus on new health club marketing ideas for the next few minutes.
Until next time...
Sunday, December 19 2010
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!
Selling Memberships 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
If you are short on good ideas, get help.
'til next week...
Saturday, November 13 2010
Get Your Club Filled in the Afternoons
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.
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?"
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
'til next time...
Friday, August 31 2007
I bet you already know what company has been using that as their marketing slogan.
We have all heard the Capital One commercials, seen the TV spots and received their oversized, never ending mail campaigns. We can learn a lot from this company.
They are in a heavily competitive industry. Sound familiar?
Their goal is not to get you to BUY from them, but rather SWITCH to them. That is
no easy task. Like a health club, they don't know who their 'next clients' will be.
They use the 'wide net' marketing strategy. We don't have the numbers on their progress, but at the end of the day, they will be one of the top 3 credit companies
in the U.S. soon.
This is not an endorsement of Capital One. This is easily predicted based on the fact
they have tuned in to America's brains.
It is easy to understand
They use multiple media types
They use a ton of repetition
They hit on hot buttons (tired of paying fees?)
There message is consistent (HUGE KEY)
People equate familiarity with 'the right choice'
A consistent message keeps the prospect comfortable. If you hear or see and ad,
then go to the company website and it has a completely different tone, or when
you call them, your sub-conscious mind sends up a red flag. Something is wrong...
Fine Tuning Your Marketing Message
This needs to be done in order to separate you from your competitors. Let them
run the ads that have a picture of a guy on a treadmill with a price next to him.
You can be the gym that speaks DIRECTLY to your audience and tells people
WHY they are going to buy from you. Look at all of your recent ads. What message
are they giving off? Are they telling a story? Is it compelling? Would you join your gym?
These are important questions to understanding how your marketing works.
What we are covering this week is how to create the right messages in both your
external advertising and your internal promotions for ancillary sales. It is one thing
to be happy to get a prospect to join your gym, but why did 5 people not show up
for their tour and yet another 5 people that took the tour did not join? A more
consistent and compelling message needs to be driven home in every aspect of your
What we want you to do is to create a story that your marketing will follow. This
flow will allow your prospects to learn more about you, your gym, your promotions
and the other things you offer outside of a good workout. As your marketing begins
to tell a story to your prospects, they begin to know more about your gym on a
higher level. It becomes more personal to them. If they feel a personal relationship
with your gym, they will be less likely to break an appointment, less likely to join
another gym and less likely to discontinue their membership after the first 9-12
When prospects are ready to join a health club, they are in the process of
elimination, not the process of selection. You must NOT give them any reason to
eliminate you. This is why ALL of your marketing must follow the 3 C's...
COMPELLING, CONVINCING, CONSISTENT
We could give you the greatest ad in the world, your phone is ringing off the hook,
Until next time...