It’s a new year and as tradition dictates, it’s time to make a resolution! This year, might we suggest it be a resolution for marketing your business!
Growing a successful business requires continuous marketing and marketing can only be successful when there is a plan in place. A comprehensive marketing plan should outline what, when and how; which in turn helps you track and analyze the results of your efforts, allowing you to create a road map for the future.
A good starting point is determining where you need to increase revenue. For instance, how healthy is your dues line? How many members participate in Personal Training? Are your profit centers performing at full potential? Once you know the needs of your business, have assigned measurable objectives and prioritized these goals, do some market research, including a member plot. Find out exactly where your members are coming from, which is typically within a 3 to 5-mile radius of your business. What do they have in common? Income? Location? Age? Learning about your members and prospects, and what compels them to act, will help you to determine how to share your message
Effective marketing campaigns use a MIX of marketing vehicles to reach their intended audiences. These can include:
- Print – share your message on the printed page in all traditional forms, including guerrilla-marketing pieces.
- Direct Mail – adding call source numbers and purls (personal URLs) makes quantifying the effect of the piece simple and comes with the added benefit of capturing lead information.
- Digital Marketing – share your message via electronic devices.
- E-mail Marketing – this is like digital direct mail. In order to truly be effective, there needs to be a compelling subject line and content with a swift call to action encouraging prospects to “Click here”.
- TV & Radio – These marketing vehicles have a high price tag when compared with other marketing options, but can generate immediate response under the right circumstances (e.g. Live remotes).
- Community Involvement – philanthropic acts ingratiate your club in the hearts and minds of your prospects and members. Costs vary, as does the amount of time and energy, but the ROI and other intangible benefits can be significant.
Your plan is starting to take shape!
The next step is deciding what your primary marketing focus will be during each month of the year. Some months are better spent focusing externally while others should be internal. Though you should always run both internal and external campaigns, the primary focus is directly related to the buy cycle of the fitness industry.
Speaking in general terms, most clubs and studios experience similar patterns of member usage in each season of the year. The trick is to learn the nuances of your unique business and identify the best times to run referral and prospecting campaigns, challenges and retention efforts.
Plan your member referral campaigns to follow a big sales month. Run a weight loss challenge in mid to late winter and again late spring. Host an open house in the fall when people are getting back to their post-summer routines. And remember to reach back to former members during those same periods prospects are most actively seeking fitness solutions.
Start sketching out your plan now. You know what your business needs to grow; you’ve learned about your members and have identified prospects. You know how you want to communicate with them and you just mapped out when you’ll run campaigns focusing on your goals. All the pieces to a successful plan are here and simply need to be put on paper in order to implement.
Implementing your Marketing Plan
- Work on 3 months at a time. Once you have one quarter in place, you can copy it forward, making the necessary adjustments to goals and focus, based on results from previous efforts and the time of year.
- Select a campaign or theme to unite your various efforts and strengthen your brand identity. Decide on offers and expiration dates to create a sense of urgency.
- Adopt a consistent look, message and feel to your designs so you are immediately and easily recognized in your market.
- Create an action plan to identify the unique responsibilities of the staff involved, include dates for completion.
- Have a system in place to track leads – make it a part of your club culture to ask every new prospect how they heard about you.
- Inform your staff, especially front line and sales staff. They need to clearly understand your expectations to convert leads into members and clients.
Making a marketing resolution is a commitment to implementing a strategy that is practical, pragmatic and produces results. Planning ahead offers you freedom to focus on other things rather than scrambling to put something together on short notice.
Start now, and you will eventually have a 12-month marketing plan that will become the template for all of your future marketing. You will end up with more time to explore new opportunities to grow your business. Making it a very successful resolution indeed!