Picture your ideal customer — the one who spends the most dollars at your facility, and who is the most engaged.
Now imagine you could clone that customer so your gym was packed to the brim with high-paying, highly-enthusiastic members.
Although you can’t literally clone your top customers just yet, you can come close. How? Through the use of buyer personas that identify your most fruitful customers, supported by a marketing strategy that seeks to target prospective customers with similar characteristics.
As Sam Kusinitz of HubSpot explained, “A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. When creating your buyer personas, consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.”
Newtown Athletic Club is a great example of a club organization that’s found success through marketing to specific buyer segments, versus mass marketing alone.
“With the increase in marketplace clutter, standing out and resonating with a profitable audience is harder than ever,” explained Taylor Antolino, the director of marketing for Newtown Athletic Club. “Being able to segment customers based on their unique characteristics gives you the opportunity to speak directly to a defined audience. We’ve seen a significant increase in email marketing open and click-through rates based on tailoring communications by membership types, demographics and activities.”
City Fitness has also found success through segmenting its member and customer groups — and tailoring its messaging to each subset.
“Say you have 10 different groups,” said Tom Wingert, the vice president of marketing at City Fitness. “If you understand each of those groups, then you can understand how best to communicate with them. By appropriately understanding who your people are and creating those key flagship indicators — be it gender, employment status or age — when you’re thinking about how to communicate with these people, then you can employ appropriate marketing tactics.”
So, how do you go about creating buyer personas?
“Conduct market research and use analytics and technology to track engagement,” advised Antolino. “We encourage our members to tell us about themselves through a survey upon joining, for a holistic marketing strategy, and then every year or two for the duration of their membership.”
In addition, your club management, sales and marketing software can be extremely helpful in this endeavor. Some technologies automatically create buyer personas for businesses — and if not, the information should be readily available. “I would say anyone who’s got over a thousand people they’re managing in their business can get access to this info,” explained Wingert.
If further help is needed, Wingert advised partnering with marketing services like Epsilon to identify buyer personas and specific marketing strategies. “Epsilon does a great job of this,” he added. “You can share your member lists with them and say, ‘Break this down into a member profile,’ and what they’ll do is then supply you with a list of the people who are buying your product based on specific indicators.”
Although identifying your top buyer personas may require an investment in time and resources, Wingert explained the end result is worth it.
“A lot of times operators are just marketing everything they’re saying as though it’s to everyone — they’re not tailoring every individual message to the people who will find that message either useful or interesting,” said Wingert. “It does take time to create customer profiles, but if you’re not doing that, then you’re constantly going to be forced into that hole of marketing the same thing to everybody, every single month. You’ll fall into the trap of being yet another fitness business operator who’s trying to scream over the other fitness business operators saying the exact same thing.”