Take Advantage of Summer | Susan K. Bailey Marketing & Design
Leverage Q3 for a Strong Q4
Written by Deneen Laprade
Marketing Coach at Susan K. Bailey Marketing
Quarter 3 can be, when used wisely, a powerful set-up for quarter 4 successes. Take advantage of the summer season and its unique set of characteristics, such as low and/or inconsistent member usage, to leverage your brand to achieve Top of Mind status with prospects. It’s a matter of using this time to increase brand awareness that generate leads in the fall. Additional aspects of your business to address are planning, testing and strategizing.
Brand Awareness is achieved by blanketing your market with your brand in as many marketing vehicles as you can afford to execute. Budget friendly suggestions are:
Guerrilla Marketing - the act of deploying somewhat non-traditional marketing tactics such as flyer distribution, face to face meetings with local businesses and community event participation are extremely useful at this time of year. They tend to be lower cost to execute and in exchange, require more effort on your part. Guerrilla Marketing strategies are also a means to work ON your business. By establishing mutually beneficial relationships within your community you’re putting a ‘face’ to your brand that can positively impact your bottom line in the future.
Social Media posts have the potential to go viral and are often free. They’re easy to produce and execute, as well. Consistent postings are the key to success in this realm. Keep prospects engaged and wanting more from you.
Prospect E-blasts are an incredibly cost-effective means of getting your brand in front of prospects you may not have reached via other means. Well-crafted subject lines with clean and compelling creative with a sizzling offer will make all the difference. Inserting a lead capture mechanism is a must.
All of the marketing vehicles mentioned above should be employed year round as part of an annual marketing plan. They just happen to be very useful during a time of year when average membership and program sales are down and budgets are a little tighter.
Internal Strategies are very important now for two reasons. The first is for retention. Now is the time to show your appreciation for your members’ loyalty by building small thank-you tactics into your daily operations.
Examples include free guest days, random water and towel in spin/yoga classes, smoothie samples after class, outdoor classes, usage challenges and a member cookout or picnic.
The second reason your internal marketing should be stepped up during the summer is to use this time to soft launch new programs and introduce new staff members. It’s an opportunity to start small and smooth out the rough edges so by the time fall rolls around and your daily obligations once again take up most of your time, you are a well-oiled machine. It also gives members a glimpse of the fresh, new fitness routines they can expect in the coming months.
External Strategies should be creative, low-cost and intriguing. Use the vehicles mentioned above to share news and information about your business with local prospects in such a way as to compel them to act when the time is right.
Examples include creating or sponsoring a team in local fun runs, hosting a community day of wellness with local ‘complementary’ businesses such as massage therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors and nutritionists. Use these engaging occasions to educate prospects about health, wellness & fitness. By exposing the effective, safe and fun experiences you provide positions your business as the local expert and trusted advisor of all things fitness.
Plan your Q3 & Q4 marketing strategies.
Take a look at the first half of the year, analyze the results and determine where your business needs to grow. Focus your efforts on those areas, whether dues line, profit centers or both. Know ahead of time what your marketing needs to achieve and you will see results from your efforts.
Consistent creative must be developed to ensure your brand messaging won’t be misinterpreted. The last thing you want is for your brand to be confusing and inconsistent. Colors, fonts, images, logos and tag lines are all key elements of brand awareness. Take the time and spend the money needed to develop a consistent cache of marketing pieces that are clean, consistent and powerful.
Hire a single designer or agency to produce all of the marketing pieces you use, regardless of vehicle. The examples below are a mix of digital and printed pieces that are undeniably unique to this facility. They are clean, powerful and consistent. Develop your own and put it on everything you do!
Clubs often and unwittingly create brand confusion by developing their own in-house pieces for schedules, flyers and e-mails and allowing outside sources such as newspapers and printers to develop others. Subtle variations in font, colors and imagery are just enough for prospects to question whether this is in fact the same club that left the door hanger as the one that sponsored a team in the recent 5k.
Be prepared to answer yes to unexpected marketing endeavors such as last minute calls to participate in a community event or to take advantage of ad placement opportunistically. Take the summer to build a collection of printed collateral that can be mixed and matched depending on the audience. It saves time and allows for spontaneity when it arises. A budget friendly method is to create the designs and have the files ready to print as needed.
Make the most of the summer by building your brand with low-cost, effective marketing vehicles that engage prospects in creative ways. Ultimately you will generate leads in the fall that position your business to realize an increased market share and incremental growth as the year comes to a close.