Four Steps to Corporate Marketing
If your membership marketplace includes local corporations, then you should plan an organized strategy to reach out to their employees. In order to simplify that plan here are four steps that you can incorporate into your strategy and follow consistently as you pursue your corporate market.
Step 1 — Identify your market. You can do this by doing a Google search for businesses in your town or area and you will find information on business associations, chambers, and the like. Join the associations or at least attend their meetings to forge contacts. Manta.com, a site that lists businesses by geography and category, will also have lists. Don’t forget about your municipal resources. Your local township office will probably have a list of local businesses from the Office of the Fire Chief that they will provide to you.
Step 2 — Make contact. Finding the right person in the corporate organization is key. If the company has 300 employees or more, it is likely there will be a Human Resources Manager. If the company is smaller, you should reach for the highest-ranking individual within the company. Taking the time and making the effort to identify the correct person within the corporation is crucial, otherwise you will waste time and energy. The right person is the one who can make a decision about either promoting your services to the employees and/or broker a corporate arrangement with you to offer a discount, or even subsidize the memberships. I have found from experience that if you have a current member from the corporation, this is the best way to gain an introduction to the “right” individual. In order to find these current members, start asking them at the point of joining to tell you where they work, and let them know that you will reach out to their company to offer a corporate membership arrangement.
Step 3 — Present your services. There are several ways to do this; invite the employees for individual tours, give out guest passes, invite the employees for a group experience (lunch, tour, etc.), give a lecture at their corporate site, set up a health fair at their site, meet with their department heads, put invitations in their company newsletter, notices on their bulletin boards, etc. Each corporation will respond best to a different scenario. The best way to plan your approach is with the point person within the corporation, allowing them to advise you of the best way to communicate your information to their employees.
Step 4 — Make the right offer. If you decide to offer a corporate discount, be sure that it works for your business model. A graduated discounted rate scale is attractive. For example, offer a discount if a certain number of members join from a corporation, and make that discount larger as the number of members grows. This way, the employees tend to encourage other employees to join in order to increase the discount. (Even though this seems like it will be encouraging and it does work, the best encouragement is providing a great experience that the member will want to share with others.) If the corporation is savvy or if you educate them about the benefits of exercise for increased work productivity, decreased absenteeism and lower health care costs, they may be willing to subsidize a portion of the health club membership fees.
At the end of the day each corporation is different, just as each individual is different and your approach must be customized for their uniqueness. From experience we have learned that sometimes an organization may appear to be ready to jump on board with a corporate membership arrangement because one or two people may be interested, but the group is just not ready, or the key person is not receptive. In that case, sell to those individuals who are interested, keep in close contact and revisit your approach at another time. In the final analysis, people do things when they are ready. When working with a corporation you are working with two entities — the whole, and the parts of the whole. I believe that the parts, which make up the whole, are where you will make the most headway.
One last tip: If you can find a group of like-minded health conscious individuals within the corporation, you can develop a program for them, such as a boot camp or special class. You can even provide this boot camp as a free perk for 4-6 weeks so you remove all objections to participation and use their success as a shining example to sell the rest of the group at a later time.
Cool idea: Pick one local corporation each month that you are trying to win over and give all their employees guest passes for one week. You pick the week and call it “ABC Corporation Week.” Put up a banner at your front door or in your lobby that screams “ABC Corporation Week” with the dates on it (see photo). This will not only make the corporate guests feel welcome, it will let others know that you do this and I guarantee you’ll have companies coming out of the woodwork asking if they can have their week, too.
Linda Mitchell is the director of marketing, public relations and charitable giving for Newtown Athletic Club in Newtown, Penn. She can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.