Planning your Spring marketing?

Q1: The Referral Campaign

Table of Contents

Happy New Year! A new year has just begun and as is every New Year, it is a gift full of promise and growth yet to be realized. Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and turn to page one of your Marketing Plan!

January has energy unlike any other month in the fitness industry. Consider this statistic, “More than 12 percent of gym members join in January, compared to an average of 8.3 percent per month for the full year.” according to the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) 1. Clearly, New Year’s resolutions are a powerful motivator and by their very nature force people out of their comfort zones and into your clubs. Make the most of this uptick in new member sales by implementing timely, creative and exciting internal and external marketing campaigns to generate leads and empower your brand. (Hint: They should jump off the pages of your marketing plan!)

Time your marketing campaigns to coincide with the buy cycle of the industry. By connecting the dots of when to put forth various campaigns and promotions will improve the results (i.e. the number of leads generated) and ultimately, net you a better return on your investment. Purposefully highlight the departments you’ve identified as needing growth and feature them in your campaigns, effectively driving leads right where you need them to be.

Right now, let’s focus on the components of the campaign itself. Think about it, you just brought in a whole new group of members who are excited by their experiences with you and are beginning to see the possibility of success. They’re telling their friends, family and co-workers about the new things they’re trying and how they great feel about it. Why not entice them to bring those same folks in to have their own rewarding experiences? Now is the time to create a tiered reward system to get leads from your members.

The tiers, or layers, of the campaign are pretty simple and relatively easy on the budget. Take a look:

  • Level 1: $5 – $10 reward in club bucks for every 5 leads given
  • Level 2: For every lead that joins, the referring member gets a free month of membership or club bucks equal to that amount.
  • Level 3: Grand Prize. This can be anything from a full-service club package to a bicycle or a vacation. (I encourage you to seek barters for non-club prizes. Better still, I’ll bet you have members that own businesses and will be most enthusiastic to contribute)

Culminate with a social event for all those who participated as a thank you for all their efforts. To improve event turn out, announce that the grand prize will be awarded and that you must be present to win.

Now that you have the basics of a solid referral campaign you need to fully develop your marketing strategy. This is an internal focus and to maintain high-energy throughout, should run for no more than 30 days. A successful marketing strategy includes a mix of marketing vehicles that are layered throughout the month to introduce the campaign, reinforce it, remind members of what’s at stake and give them a last-chance call to action.

Introduce the campaign with a member mailer that matches internal signage. The creative should be well branded and exciting with messaging that compels members to act. The mailer should include a free pass or two for members to share with friends. Take a look at these samples to see some effective campaigns.

Reinforce the message with staff-member interaction via announcements, create special class passes that match internal signage and use social media posts to inform and encourage dialogue. Have staff tees and buttons made.

Remind members the campaign is on-going by creating an active display and putting it in a high-traffic area of your club that shows how close you are to reaching your goal. Send a member e-blast reminding members of the campaign and include a mention of the grand prize, as well as your leads and new members to date to keep the level of excitement up.

Last-Chance to participate announcements by staff, add a small banner over the front of your internal signage that shows how much time is left to get in on the action and amp up your social media posts.

The social event is a way to get all the participants together to celebrate your success as a group. Include a group workout featuring a program or equipment you want more members to use. Be sure to offer refreshments and light snacks post workout to keep everyone around for the grand prize award.

It’s always a good idea to recap the campaign and results to your entire membership. You can use e-mail, newsletters, social media and staff to spread the word of your success. Post the results on the active display in the lobby for all to see.

For best results remember to:

  • Make sure staff knows what the campaign goals are before and during the month. You may decide to add a staff reward layer to the campaign, as well.
  • Have an attractive offer in place for the prospects that come in. The campaign will generate leads, how you treat them once they’re in the club will turn them into your new members. Be warm, friendly and inviting. The hard sell is no longer effective and prospects should be given the opportunity, via your offer, to try before they buy.
  • Put a tracking system in place to identify which vehicles are the most effective. This will help you determine ROI for this campaign and provides valuable direction for future referral campaigns.
  • Express your appreciation by sending thank you cards to all the participating members and newly generated leads and members. Consider giving all of them a small ($5 – $10) gift in club bucks, just because!

Let’s wrap by circling back to your marketing plan, which is an ever-evolving body of work, impacted by the results of each campaign. Record every piece of data you can:

  • Which marketing vehicles garnered the biggest responses?
    • This will identify which vehicles to continue to employ
  • How many leads were generated and how many new memberships were sold?
    • This will highlight the efficacy of your sales staff and procedures. Use this as a learning and training opportunity for you and your team to improve.
  • Were your campaign goals achieved?
    • Analyze the overall strategy to find areas to improve upon.
  • What were the campaign expenses?
    • Calculate the cost to implement the entire campaign, including marketing, rewards & prizes.
  • What is the campaign ROI?
    • Compare the campaign expenses with the new memberships sold to determine the acquisition cost of these memberships.
  • How are your growth goals for the coming year impacted and does this change any of your plans for the remainder of Q1? Based on the results, you may need to step up your efforts or simply adjust your focus to other departments.
    • Did you meet your goals? Better yet, did you exceed them? Take a look at where you stand and how this impacts the rest of Q1.
    • Adjust your overall marketing strategy to support incremental growth.
  • Understanding the buy cycle of our industry and producing timely campaigns that are compelling, that empower your brand and generate leads is your primary marketing goal. A marketing plan keeps your energy and focus on execution rather than creating something new every month, which ultimately translates to forward movement and bottom line growth. Knowledge is power, people. Go forth and prosper!

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