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Integrate Direct Mail Initiatives with Your Contact Management System

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By this point in the year, the New Year’s Resolutioners have either joined a club (hopefully yours!) or given up, to maybe try again next year. As a club manager, are you questioning how to reach everyone else? The answer may be to fully integrate direct mail within your Contact Management System.

The idea is to drive your club participation and transform prospects into members, and/or program participants by surveying your existing market and targeting specific new groups. Here are some hints and tips to help maximize the marketing results for your club.
Step One: Define a mission and vision for your club. What aspects about your club do you wish to promote? Which special programs are you seeking to increase participation? What industry trends do you want to follow — or not? Is there market research you want to start in advance of offering a new program, service or feature? When you are considering something new, you need to measure more than simply initial interest — you also want to assess how the new offering will affect existing members, facilities and services.
Step Two: Refine your mailing list. Lists are available for purchase or rent from local mailing houses, through your regular printing company, or — if you’re feeling ambitious — by doing a little legwork (visiting Town Hall, joining organizations that expressly permit access to their mailing lists for prospecting purposes, etc.). If you work with a professional list broker, you will have access to more data filters to narrow down your list to target those who are most interested. This is important, because the closer you match targeted recipients, the more receptive they will be.

Are you planning to offer new youth-sports programs? The regional youth coaching association chapter might have a newsletter you could sponsor to insert a postcard. Active adults are also likely to have active younger ones at home. In this case, your mailing list might include members of your own co-ed basketball or indoor deck-hockey league or regular participants in morning Zumba.

Do you want to increase spin-class participation? Partnering with cycle shops in their mailings is a likely source, but also consider ski, surf, dive or running shops. Seasonal sports enthusiasts often cross-train with cycling in their offseasons.

Step Three: Include a call to action and give participants every incentive to reply. We like the idea of providing a return-postage-paid postcard that can be torn off (or folded over if you’re asking about potentially sensitive information, such as spa services). You could also send out an invitation to your website — set up a special landing page — along with an incentive for their time (ex. one free class, a branded workout towel, or key tag lanyard). Regardless of how you gather feedback, be sure to require at least basic contact information — name and an e-mail at minimum; adding a phone number is even better.

Step Four: Ask the right questions, and set up your contact management system in advance to track your responses. It may take some time to enter the data, but the marketing opportunities are endless.

Example: You’re trying to get your new Yoga studio fully booked. Consider what information you will need to maximize your contact result. You may only get this one chance to gather necessary information. “Are you interested in Yoga? Yes/No” will not fully help you make business decisions.

Ask more specific questions (it’s always nice to add an “other” option and comment area), and include directly corresponding fields in your software to check off useful information such as:

specific interest: Ashtanga, Hatha, etc. (if different styles are available)
level: First-timer, returning exerciser or more-advanced practitioner
workout timing: Morning, lunch, evening or weekends

When you set up your contact management system in advance, it’s easy to track answers as they come in, and enter respondents as prospects with specific interests. When you’re ready to take the next step, your software should then make it a simple step to sort out responses into better-targeted groups.

Detailed sorting will allow you to create personalized mail merges to encourage survey participants to take that next important step — coming to visit your gym, or signing up for a program, or adding a service to their memberships. A little advance planning and flexible software to manage responses will go a long way towards helping you achieve your goals. Happy prospecting!

Patti Walker holds a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science from West Chester University and works as a Sales Consultant at Twin Oaks Software. She can be contacted toll-free at 866.278.6750, or by e-mail at pwalker@tosd.com, or visit www.tosd.com.

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