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Each season presents a new opportunity for club operators to get creative with their marketing campaigns in an attempt to attract prospects through their doors. Here, marketing directors from two top clubs share examples of top fall marketing campaigns, including why each was successful and tips for execution.
Submitted by: Donyel Cerceo, director of marketing, Merritt Clubs
Return: 8 to 1
Description: One of our best marketing campaigns was in September. We ran a “We’ll Pay You to Workout” campaign. When someone joined the club and worked out a certain amount of time we gave them their next month of membership dues free.
September is the perfect time to run this type of campaign. Many people have enjoyed summer a little too much, have slacked off at the gym and put on a little more weight — so they are anxious to get back into the gym. People often want to recommit to getting back into shape and just need a little extra incentive. Offering to pay their membership for a month does just that. This also helps with retention. It gets new members in the habit of coming to the club often at the start of their membership so they continue to come to the club.
The campaign was pushed out via direct mail, billboards, physical banners on the clubs, the website, Google display ads and retargeting ads, radio and social media.
Our ROI for this was great. We saw an 8 to 1 return.
Words of advice for other club operators:
Make sure you train all of your staff from sales to your front desk on how this promotion works. They need to clearly explain this to potential members, so there is no confusion on how it works.
Prepare your billing staff in advance for this promotion. They will be the ones handling the credit of the new members.
Make sure you have takeaway material that clearly explains the promotion, that new members can take with them at the point of sale.
Make the members submit a calendar with their dates worked out and put the responsibility on the members to turn in the paperwork to redeem their free month. Most membership software systems are unable to do this type of thing automatically.
Make sure all marketing has a clear deadline to submit paperwork to redeem the free month.
Submitted by: Shannon Malooly, sales and marketing director, The Claremont Club
Return:Membership sales increased by 400 percent
Description: Three times per year we run a membership promotion to “Save $500” (our club enrollment fee) by making a tax-deductible donation to a charitable organization. The benefiting organizations have included Augie’s Quest, The Be Perfect Foundation, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center and The TCC NonProfit Foundation. Total charitable contributions have been over $100,000. In addition, sales for our promotion months are typically 400 percent greater than a typical month.
Words of advice for other club operators:
New members and former members have a difficult time with the concept of enrollment/initiation fees to begin with. Attaching a purpose or cause to this fee as an incentive to join creates a positive experience. People are happy to make charitable donations, and people also align to companies with shared values and a culture of giving.
Simply waiving enrollment/initiation fees sends the message that the fees are ancillary and just an added charge for no apparent reason — this leaves a punitive impression for former members looking to re-join.
We run these promotions during the same three times of the year every year: January (to capitalize on New Year’s resolutions and after the holiday spending), May (before the summer rush as college students are returning home and families want to use our pools), and on Black Friday (we have a major one-day sale which includes club membership, training discounts, salon services and more).
Make sure all associates club-wide understand the benefiting causes and can clearly communicate the purpose behind the donation. Nothing can discredit a campaign more than an employee not having all the answers. The nice thing about running our campaigns traditionally is that employees and members who had joined during the campaign time all are familiar with the campaign and promote it.
We also require each new member who joins to go through a 60-minute health risk assessment with our health and wellness coach. This process has resulted in an over 60 percent conversion rate for new personal training clients.