The fitness industry is constantly evolving, and marketing trends are no different. That is why many health clubs turn to agencies to ensure their marketing strategies and messaging stay relevant — and ultimately, achieve the highest return.
“With a rapidly growing business and ever-changing marketing trends, it can feel almost impossible to stay ahead of the curve at times,” said Sarah Harvey, the marketing manager at Chuze Fitness. “We know working with agencies helps us keep our content and business practices up-to-date and on top of new trends we otherwise would not have been aware of or able to execute on our own.”
But choosing the right marketing agency is important. Like any partnership you enter into, it’s vital to ensure your values and mission align. Otherwise, you’ll be disappointed with the results.
According to Harvey, Chuze Fitness looks for marketing partners that are innovative and fun to work with. But most importantly, they have to offer great customer service —a unifying quality the fitness brand has found in agencies like Power Digital Marketing, Epsilon and Zettist.
“At Chuze Fitness, our No. 1 priority is to provide exceptional customer service to our members and their guests, so we tend to have high expectations when it comes to the vendors we work with,” continued Harvey. “There are so many different options out there when it comes to marketing partners, so why waste your time on a vendor that doesn’t make you feel like a priority? Companies like Epsilon, Zettist and Power Digital Marketing truly set the bar high when it comes to customer service, which is why we love working with them.”
For Dal Clayton, the chief operating officer of Fitness Connection, another important quality to look for in a marketing agency is passion for your brand, which he has found with Loomis.
“Picking a partner that’s passionate about your brand or gym is important, because that passion becomes an ownership mentality and a partnership mentality,” said Clayton.
To ensure that passion is maintained, Fitness Connection worked out a performance-based fee structure with Loomis. The agency receives a modest monthly fee, plus a bonus whenever it outperforms projected results.
“With a lot of ad agencies, traditionally it’s all about the fees,” explained Clayton. “They’re going to deliver a product to you and hope for the best so they can continue to keep the business. But there’s no motivation for them beyond just executing what they’re being asked to do and perform well enough to maintain the account.”
By creating a performance-based fee structure, this issue is mitigated. “Loomis is almost like part of the production team, part of our sales force,” said Clayton. “There’s a high degree of motivation for them to perform.”
However, in order for this type of relationship to work, communication is vital. Fitness Connection and Loomis meet on a weekly and monthly basis to evaluate results and pivot where necessary.
The increased results make the unique set-up worth it. “Create an incentive bonus plan if possible around achieving the agency’s goals and budget,” advised Clayton. “It ensures you’re completely in alignment.”
If a performance-based fee structure is out of the question, Harvey explain it’s still important to ensure any marketing agency you work with is creating the appropriate return on investment.
“Do they keep you in the loop in terms of how your marketing strategies are performing? Are they providing you with reports and monthly or yearly comparisons? Weekly or bi-weekly reporting meetings with your marketing partners are crucial in order to figure out what is working, what isn’t working, and to discuss the ways in which you can continue progressing,” said Harvey.
Before entering a marketing partnership, Harvey advised doing your due diligence by talking with other club operators about their experiences with an agency.
“Just because they might be well established in the industry does not mean it’s necessarily the right fit for your brand,” said Harvey. “When we are vetting an agency, we ask them if they would be willing to get us in touch with some of their clients to provide a testimonial for us. These testimonials are so helpful, and you can gather a lot of insight during those conversations.”
If everything aligns, you may just have a fruitful partnership on your hands.
“It is very easy for your brand’s messaging and tone to change across different marketing channels, but Zettist, Power Digital Marketing and Epsilon are so great at helping us by maintaining constant communication via email, phone calls and bi-weekly meetings,” said Harvey. “Communication is key.”