Most health clubs know the importance of differentiation — the process of defining the unique aspects of your business that make it stand out, and then communicating those points of difference through marketing.
However, the landscape of fitness has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. As a result, the differentiation strategies that worked for your business in the past may no longer be relevant.
Here, we spoke with Bryan O’Rourke about differentiation strategy — highlighting the importance of identifying points of differentiation that involve the user experience.
Before, you could advertise a specific message — but customers have become more sophisticated and their distrust of advertising has gone up significantly. The days of advertising by itself to get sales, without delivering a real experience, are coming to an end. People can’t be conned anymore — they have too many options. So, you can have a really pretty ad, but if that doesn’t match with the in-club experience, you’re not going to be as successful.
That’s exactly right. [Review platforms] have impacted customer behavior and are governing our decision making.
Right now, the dynamic of communities and social media is huge right now — where a user gives a business a Google review, and then likes them on Facebook, and then shares a story about their experience with the business on Instagram. This is an example of advertising that’s so much more impactful to followers and people in the community. When you create great experiences with people, the more impact you have.
You can go about creating a differentiation strategy in a few ways. One of the best ways is to emphasize the user or member experience. What kind of unique member experiences can you create? An example is Barry’s Bootcamp, which has an app that knows your favorite smoothie, and you can set it up to where when you’re done with your workout, you walk out and your smoothie is waiting for you. That’s a point of differentiation based on user experience.
Being focused on user experience is a good differentiation point. You can compete on low price, you can compete on focus — but differentiation is about figuring out those things that truly make your club stand out.