The Neglected Element
Written by Deneen Laprade
Marketing Coach at Susan K. Bailey Marketing
Internal Marketing is more than just posters; it serves a critical role in the forward movement of your business. It should be a key aspect incorporated into your overall marketing strategy. If you believe that relying primarily on monthly dues revenue to sustain your operation limits your growth potential, then embrace the practice of continually selling to your members. Unfortunately it’s one of the more neglected elements of health club marketing plans and it may just be that some of you haven’t connected the dots to see the big picture. So let’s break it down into Why to internally market, What the basis for the promotions and campaigns are and How to effectively do so.
There are several goals for internal marketing, but they’re based on two fundamental aspects of the practice. The first is Retention. We know a connected member is one who remains your member for longer. Because it’s more cost-effective for you to service existing members than it is to acquire new members, your ability to keep as many members as you can greatly improves your day-to-day operations.
The second reason to market to your members is to increase the current rate of . By so doing, you favorably improve the ratio of non-dues income to dues income. Maintaining non-dues revenue at 30% of your overall gross monthly revenue is a formula that provides stability and opportunity to invest in the future of your business.
There are several layers to address here, such as finding creative ways to expose your members to everything you have to offer. You don’t need to be a large, multi-purpose facility to have a variety of programs and profit centers in which your members can participate.
Ask yourselves, "How can we challenge them to try new things?” By so doing, you will effectively drive members into areas of your business you’ve identified as needing growth, like small group training, nutrition programs and massage therapy. You’ve exposed them to a new experience with you, one that hopefully elicits the response, "I want to do that again!” And you’ve also increased the potential for your members to see results, which has the added benefit of maintaining their perception as to the value of them being your members!
Offer opportunities for staff and members to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Socializing is an important element of fitness routines for a large majority of exercisers, so keep it fun and nurture the relationships you see forming around you.
The by-products of your efforts are seen in decreased cancellations, [because you’ve engaged members who are seeing results and enjoying the process.] You’ll also see an increase in member referrals based on these ‘member only’ experiences.
There are countless ways to promote yourselves to your members, but here are a few of the tried and true.
- Member Appreciation Events - large or small in scale, fun, social events that encourage interaction between staff and members that may include a group workout, healthy snacks and raffles.
- Timely Challenges - Commit To Be Fit in January & February; Spring into Fitness in April & May; Summer Usage in July & August. Use your programs and profit centers as the basis for these campaigns that are in place to capitalize on the time of year to expose all of the club’s offerings. You will also foster opportunity to increase member results, generate immediate revenue and create new clients from the experience.
- Regular Communication - use every means of communication at your disposal to keep your members ‘in the know’.
- Random Acts - Be spontaneous and do unexpected things that enhance member experience. Set up the room for a class or training session, hand out towels or water, take it outdoors, team teach, give away shake samples, hand out free guest passes.
The marketing vehicles should be as diverse a mix as the promotions and campaigns they are featuring. Understand that we are all unique individuals who receive and respond to information in a variety of ways. Be sure to mix up the delivery mechanisms by incorporating a blend of both digital and print material.
Of course, the message, look and feel to each marketing piece must be consistent with your brand and the promotion of the moment. This increases the recognition factor, which translates to improved response rates. It’s worth it for you to hire a professional design group to create all your marketing pieces to maintain your unique brand, no matter what you’re promoting.
Develop a schedule of e-mail and e-news deployment that corresponds with social media posting and Internet marketing. Align these digital efforts with the deployment of more traditional pieces like flyer inserts, print ads and take ones.
Use posters, banners, take ones and flyers internally. Table toppers catch the eye, as do ceiling danglers and active displays that force interaction between the member and the message. Make your displays mobile and move them around to keep members guessing where it may be today.
Don’t neglect internal marketing campaigns. This aspect of your marketing plan is critical to your ability to grow. These campaigns are typically less expensive to run than external strategies and produce a higher return on investment. Be consistent in these efforts and you’ll drive up your current rate of revenue per member, increase member retention and generate member-based referrals. Overall, you’ll have happier, more loyal members.