Connections Designed to Matter
Hawkeye has a simple mission: to drive members. Combining a passion for fitness with data-driven marketing strategies, Hawkeye provides the insights and solutions that help clubs drive membership growth.
The commitment of Hawkeye, powered by Epsilon, to this mission of driving growth for fitness brands through marketing stems from Greg Dowd, the portfolio lead for Hawkeye and former president of Epsilon.
“I’ve had a lifelong passion for fitness,” said Dowd. “For over 40 years, I have trained, modeled, competed in and provided support to the world of health, nutrition and fitness. When I decided to start a marketing agency nearly 20 years ago, it was very natural for me to combine my interest, relationships and experience in health clubs along with my entrepreneurial spirit.”
Along the way, his passion for the fitness industry and the operators in it has only deepened. “I feel extremely fortunate to have such long-standing clients who are also, in many cases, strong personal relationships for me,” said Dowd. “I am also lucky to have a career that integrates so many of my personal interests — creative content, technology, data and marketing — to help an industry I care for and am so passionate about.”
Before founding his first marketing agency, Advecor, Dowd spent the early years of his career working in various roles, including telecommunications, sales and marketing. These different roles, as well as a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Bucknell University, master’s degree in marketing from George Mason University and master’s degree in project management from George Washington University, gave Dowd the perfect starting point to begin making his mark on the industry.
“I’ve always liked marketing, and some of my technology and sales experience led me to starting a company that is a technology-driven marketing agency,” said Dowd. “At that time, I didn’t know I would focus so heavily on fitness, but given my interest in fitness, I naturally started going after fitness clients and that’s where the business grew most dramatically.”
Dowd ran Advecor from 2003 to 2012 before a series of mergers and acquisitions — that included first being acquired by Aspen Marketing and then bought by Epsilon — finally culminated in the $4.4 billion acquisition of Epsilon by Publicis Hawkeye in July 2019.
The result is a data-driven, technology-focused marketing powerhouse. “Hawkeye is a one-of-a-kind human experience agency,” said Dowd. “We orchestrate experiences across a customer’s journey, leveraging human insight, the world’s best data, empathic creativity and world-class technology to drive business results and create more meaningful connections between humans and brands.”
These meaningful connections, called Connections Designed to Matter™, are created by executing marketing campaigns across all channels — traditional, digital and social — keeping the human experience at the core of every strategy. And this focus on customer relationship management (CRM) marketing aligned perfectly with Epsilon’s mission.
“The reason it’s such a good fit is their core competency is CRM marketing, and a lot of fitness marketing is the full member journey — the full marketing funnel,” shared Dowd. “A lot of the strategy and creative capabilities of Hawkeye complement my division even more, so I’m excited about what my organization can do within Hawkeye given our deep and comprehensive solution set.”
An exciting development for Hawkeye since acquiring Epsilon has been the strategic partnership it has formed with ROR Partners, a new marketing company for the fitness industry.
“ROR is a database, marketing technology and digital transformation company that is fully productized for the fitness industry,” explained Dowd. “It’s the result of many years and huge investments to incorporate top technologies that drastically revolutionize the fitness marketing funnel for the highest marketing return on investment (ROI).”
Founded by executive chairman Tom Lapcevic, an industry veteran with 30-plus years of experience in fitness marketing, including his most recent position as the chief marketing officer of 24 Hour Fitness, ROR helps clubs grow through its strategic partnerships and the delivery of data-driven insights.
While he was with 24 Hour Fitness and they were a client of Epsilon’s, Lapcevic worked with Dowd to develop many of the marketing principles used by Hawkeye and ROR today.
“The most exciting thing about this partnership is that Hawkeye and ROR have come together to act as a single company on behalf of mutual clients,” said Dowd. “The two companies complement each other to provide a revolutionary leap forward in marketing performance and insights for health clubs.”
The aim of this partnership is to combine resources and knowledge to give their mutual clients all the information and expertise they need from one source. “A lot of agencies will talk about their data-driven approach, but it is worthwhile to really understand their capabilities and what they mean by that,” said Dowd. “To be fully informed by data, there is significant infrastructure needed. Our company understands it takes an array of people and suppliers to pull together a highly strategic and successful marketing ecosystem.”
Having two companies in the same segment of the fitness industry — who should probably be competitors — collaborating to help fuel the growth of clients is certainly rare. It puts Hawkeye and ROR in a position to provide insights and solutions other companies might not have the capacity or experience to deliver.
“The Hawkeye-ROR approach truly starts with a data strategy, then leverages its patent-pending database technology, along with artificial intelligence and marketing automation technologies, to allow our clients to outsmart and outperform competitors,” said Dowd.
From start to finish, Hawkeye and ROR are invested in helping clubs maximize their marketing campaigns. They create an overarching marketing strategy based on each individual club’s needs and goals, and deliver the creative content necessary to implement that plan. They also orchestrate and execute every step of the campaign across all marketing channels.
Most importantly, during and after the campaign Hawkeye and ROR report, analyze and garner insights about the results of the marketing campaigns to provide continuous improvement.
“No other agency has the breadth of services and depth of fitness marketing experience and expertise,” said Dowd. “Across both Hawkeye and ROR, we have an industry-leading suite of full-service, end-to-end capabilities. Furthermore, the many years of experience Tom and I have, as well as what our extensive teams bring to the table, is unrivaled.”
Through data-driven insights and technology solutions, Hawkeye and ROR help clubs optimize specific areas of impact, including acquisition, retention, engagement, ancillary revenue, budget and cost per lead.
“Everything we do is driven by the objective of growing our clients’ businesses,” said Dowd. “By growing our depth of services, expanding our technology platforms and increasing our industry expertise, we can better service our clients.”
At the core of everything Hawkeye does is a passion for helping the fitness industry communicate and connect with consumers more effectively. Every club will benefit from optimized marketing strategies that open up a dialogue with prospects and members, no matter how different their needs might be from the gym down the street.
This is where the rubber meets the road for Dowd, who pours 40-plus years of passion into the objectives and direction of Hawkeye. “Together, our clients and Hawkeye enable consumers to be healthier and more fit, leading to a better overall life,” he shared. “The legacy I want to leave personally is ‘to make humankind healthier.’”