Seven Steps to Improve Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing Efforts
Word-of-mouth marketing is easily the most powerful way to spread the positive word about your health club. However, generating the buzz necessary to get everyone talking about you requires a planned approach. Here are seven things you must do in order to set the stage to create raving fans that will tell the world about you.
1. Leverage your existing social networks. Before worrying about spreading the word in unfamiliar territory, focus first on the people you know and the people they know. The obvious first group you should start with is your members; then consider your other social groups. Do you go to church? Are you active in your children’s schools or other activities? What are your hobbies? Think of all of the contacts you already know that can help you spread the word.
2. Diversify your networks. Most club owners have become cave dwellers. They spend a high percentage of their time tucked away in their home, car or office. To build a business through word of mouth, you have to be visible and active in the community by participating in various networks and social groups. You have to manage by walking around your club. You have to get involved in the lives of your members and you have to be accessible.
3. Target People of Influence. Instead of focusing directly on attracting prospective members one by one, focus on the people who are in a position of influence within a subgroup of the community. Partner with heads of local networking groups, organizers of cycling clubs; find a meetup.com group and get to know the organizer. Talk to the board of condo associations or subdivision associations. You should network with local bands, owners of businesses, event organizers, motorcycle enthusiasts, school boards, etc. Word-of-mouth marketing from a person of authority within these groups is far more powerful than them receiving a random postcard in their mailbox.
4. Utilize Micro Marketing. Get specific in the groups you’re targeting and the methods with which you market to them. For example, get members who are parents to spread the word about your childcare offerings to other parents they know. Have your members that tan tell all their friends to come get a fitness membership and tanning combination for the same price they are currently paying for only tanning. Allow your members that have friends that are buying nutritional supplements elsewhere, to come get a special member-only discount at your gym. You can send e-mails, letters or phone calls to those people to convince them to join.
5. Be a farmer not a hunter. Word of mouth is more about farming than it is about hunting. Building your business through word of mouth is all about cultivating relationships with people who get to know you and trust you. People do business with people they trust. My father used to always say: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I’ve actually found that it takes more than that. It’s not what you know, or who you know, it’s how well you know them that counts. If you go into this process understanding this one key point, you will have a better opportunity to build your business through word of mouth.
6. Develop your contact spheres. These are businesses that are symbiotic and noncompetitive to you. For example, think about the relationship between a lawyer, an accountant, a financial planner and a banker. All of them have clients with overlapping similar needs. They can all work with and refer each other easily. What about a florist, a photographer, a travel agent and a jeweler. A referral for one of them becomes a referral for all of them. You should immediately determine what professions fit well with you and start developing relationships with the owners of these businesses. Who delivers health, wellness, nutritional, feel good/look good services in your community? Who caters to the same “expendable income” group that you are also targeting.
7. Promote Exclusivity and Scarcity. Make something a limited time offer or “Exclusive,” and your response will be much greater. When you promote this through a person of influence, you’ll have a great way to get the word out about your club. Exclusivity invites curiosity; scarcity generates consistent demand and conversation.
Follow these steps and you’ll have a solid foundation on which to build your word of mouth marketing efforts.
Curtis Mock is the host of FITBIZ.TV, the TV show for fitness entrepreneurs. He is also the executive director of gymsuccess.com. Curtis can be reached at email@example.com.