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Marketing is a critical component to the success of a health club — no surprises there. Gainesville Health and Fitness knows this well. It has been a mainstay of the fitness community for many years, and its success goes beyond cutting-edge design and the latest equipment — it has also created a trusted brand.
This is accomplished through strong marketing strategies directed toward current, former and potential members. To find out more about what drives the success of Gainesville Health and Fitness, Club Solutions spoke with Debbie Lee, the club’s marketing director, about successful marketing strategies.
CS: Describe your gym’s approach to marketing.
DL: It’s all about content. And there’s so much content out there, you’ve got to figure out how to make yours compelling and certainly believable. Fortunately, we’ve been in our area for quite some time, so we have a great reputation. I’m counting on people wanting to read something if they see something with our name associated with it — whether they do something with it or not, that’s a whole other story. But at least we know it’s good, well-thought-out information they could use anywhere, anytime. Our thought is we pump out all this content and if we give it to them in a practical way so they can start doing some of these things on their own when they’re actually ready to use a gym, they will pick us because they’ve been reading, seeing and learning from the content we’ve put out there. And most of it is seasonal — we take seasonal topics and give them our own twist with our own staff and trainers.
CS: Are there any specific marketing strategies clubs should be taking advantage of?
DL: We create content for our local TV station, which is an opportunity for other gyms across the country. What we know is, especially with morning TV, they’re always looking for content. And if they don’t have to produce it themselves, that’s a plus. They’re always looking to fill their half-hour segment with cool, local, fun things — not the same old stuff. We’ve found that to be a good thing. We can provide them with content, and because we can produce these videos for them, it saves them a lot of time. Almost every local television station is on a really tight budget, and if we can make their lives easier by providing content, that’s what we do. It took us several years before that to get them to do that, but it’s the most wonderful opportunity.
CS: Is there a way to produce content that can help increase or sustain membership?
DL: Once you go to all the trouble of creating this content, there are so many places it can go that will benefit you over time. For example, it helps with marketing to former members. We keep our former members in our database — we keep their account information in case they want to come back and join. We have their email addresses, so we keep sending out emails to them that are educational in nature like our newsletter, and if they want to unsubscribe, they can. But it’s a good communication piece for them.
It also goes into our library we have for missed guests. We keep in contact with people who decide it’s just not the right time for them, but we keep contact about stuff they’re interested in, not just asking them if they’re ready to join. Instead, we just send them content — not every week, of course. Then we rely on our sales team to use all this content to send it out to their missed guests that they’re trying to get back into the gym or whomever they have in their databases. We provide this library of information for them so they can do it in a helpful way instead of an annoying “selling” way.
CS: Are there any other tips you can share on how clubs can maximize their marketing efforts?
DL: Nobody wants to be sold, so you can only email or text somebody as a reminder every so often asking if they want to come back in or telling them you have a new program they might be interested in. This way, we’re not asking them for anything, we’re just giving them something.