How to Create Your Best – Or Worst – First Impression Online
About eight years ago, before my time with Snap Fitness, I was looking to join a new fitness center that had recently opened in my area. The location was ideal and the price was right; selling me a membership was as close to a “sure thing” as you can get in our industry. That was, before things went horribly wrong.
During the sales tour, I noticed that almost every mirror was filthy, trash cans were overflowing, and some of the equipment was broken down. In addition, the salesperson touring me through the club was openly mocking the clientele and pointing out the reasons he personally didn’t work out at this particular location. Needless to say, I didn’t join.
As anyone in the fitness industry can attest, a member’s first impression of your club is likely to be the most lasting. A friendly and welcome, informative staff and aesthetically pleasing décor can make all the difference when it comes to closing the sale or losing a lead. This also holds true online.
When it comes to your club’s web presence, the easiest thing to do is nothing at all. But in today’s online age, where people are far more likely to take a virtual tour of your club from the comfort of their own couches than one-on-one with a membership sales adviser, creating an engaging, informative, and even friendly first impression, may decide whether or not you meet this person in the real world. But with so many channels available to you, where do you begin?
The Informative: Your Website
If someone is coming to your website, chances are they want the facts: pricing, specials, contact information and amenities. You can have the coolest, flashiest, most exciting website on the whole world wide web, but if the information is not easy to find without clicking 100 different links or tabs, chances are prospects will go running. Would you make members walk down 10 different hallways before finding your front desk? Of course not — you put it front and center. Same goes for your website.
The Personality: Your Social Media
Creating successful Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest or Instagram accounts is all about one thing — personality. Social media is about finding ways to show off your club’s culture, from the people who work there to the various programs and promotions you offer. If your member-website relationship is like two co-workers, consider your member-social-media relationship to be like workout buddies. You ask each other questions, offer encouragement and occasionally crack jokes. These are the keys to nurturing any good friendship.
However, like any friendship, there are potential pitfalls. If you go silent on your social media accounts for weeks at a time, you might sever the relationship. Or, if you’re like my failed sales advisor, you could run the risk of oversharing or putting your foot in your mouth. Think of social media like a Saturday workout with a friend — be polite, be attentive, and above all else, be nice.
The Interview: Your E-mails
Sending a successful, well-written, cleanly-designed e-mail — whether it’s an invite to attract new leads, an individual response to a potential member, or a message encouraging current members to check out new classes or services at your club —will get you everywhere. On the flipside, inconsistent fonts, poor grammar and punctuation, or overly busy creative pieces can distract from your message. Sending an e-mail is like an interview between you and the recipient. Are you cleaned up, well spoken and prepared to deliver your message? Or are you unshaved, stuttering and completely missing the mark? Take your time, focus on your message and proofread everything.
Keeping up a good web presence can be a challenge, especially when you have other roles and responsibilities inside the four walls of your club. But the reality is that no matter what, first impressions mean everything — and that might happen before you ever even shake someone’s hand.
Patrick Strait is the communications manager for Snap Fitness. For marketing questions, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.