It is difficult to write anything in such a vulnerable and quickly changing time in our world, but after being in the industry for just shy of 40 years, I can see marketing is already making a lightning fast shot into the future.
First, as digital as marketing was before, it is even more so now, if that is even possible. Face-to-face interaction has become almost non-existent. It will return, but our new digital program offerings and communications are becoming widely used, and it is my opinion people will continue to utilize digital services more than they did before COVID-19.
What will that look like?
Virtual offerings are here to stay. They will not replace our members’ use of our clubs and services in person, but they will be used to complement them more than ever before. We will be adding a permanent new way of utilizing our services via virtual offerings all the time.
As for marketing, our messaging will be about how connectivity is achievable both ways, digitally and in person, and the two will be forever intertwined. It’s a good thing.
I remember about 25 years ago, our club put a small line of at-home cardio equipment on display in our lobby for sale. Doubters told us that move would undercut our membership. But lo and behold, it did not. It increased and strengthened our membership. They relished the new opportunity to stay involved and relieve their guilt for not getting to the club. There were even reports published indicating people who owned and used at-home equipment were more likely to have a club membership and to use it more often. Who knew?
This same thought process is now applying itself to virtual experiences.
Marketing always has been about trust, but now more than ever before, our members will feel the need to trust us, because they are depending on us to keep them safe and alive. The stakes are higher and will remain that way forever. All our messaging will be about how we are trustworthy and transparent.
Yes, we will come out of this over time, but this event has been too life-altering. Our marketing will be altered to be more personal, reflecting our explicit and unconditional need for one another.
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