On February 17, Club Solutions Magazine presented the second installment of a monthly virtual roundtable series on thought leadership, surrounding industry marketing, PR and communication strategies.
Panelist included Brian Morris, the SVP of Gold’s Gym SoCal; Kari Bedgood, the chief marketing officer at Active Wellness; Erica Bates, a senior executive of media and community relations at Chelsea Piers Fitness; Jacqueline Buchanan, the senior manager of PR, communications and social at In-Shape Health Clubs; and Mindi Bridges, the chief brand and marketing officer at VASA Fitness. The discussion was led and moderated by Rachel Zabonick-Chonko, the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. Sponsored by ASF.
The following is a summary of top takeaways from the discussion, centered on industry marketing, PR & communication strategies:
- Notice and adjust.
- Don’t do things just because you always have or because other people are.
- Know your brand and audience.
- Simplify to multiply.
- Identify your core age groups of members. Pre-COVID main group for some panelists was 40-plus. Now 70% are in the 18 to 30 group.
- Messaging matters — open, clean and safe.
- Reimagine what it means to help members live healthy. Virtual programs.
- Speak to your audience directly.
- Don’t sit back and wait for perfect, because it can get in the way of good enough.
- If you fail, fail fast and move on. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
- Be nimble and make quick decisions at an executive level.
- Invest in technology that supports your business model and allows it to grow.
- Stay engaged with social media and blog articles.
- Be flexible as your members’ needs change.
- Separate what content you like and what your members actually like.
- Reposting member content has been some of the most engaging social media content.
- Reopening can be a barrier to members. Create a video of how your gym now operates and what COVID-19 restrictions are in place.
- Social media allows your members to still be a part of your gym community.
- Former member campaign for members who canceled when COVID first hit. Offer a special to rejoin. One-click rejoin made it super easy to restart their memberships. VASA had 1,000 joins from an organic email campaign.
- You can market all day, but seeing is believing. Get members to come see how you have updated since the pandemic. Offer month-to-month memberships.
- It’s easy to forget your fundamentals when a crisis hits. Have constant, transparent communication.
- Lean on your CRM to analyze data and help determine content your members will actually enjoy.
- Have online events to encourage engagement between members.
- Keep renovating and communicating.
Improving the Industry’s Image
- Understand how people out of the industry perceive the industry.
- Your images and messages matter.
- Move away from marketing vanity and performance, and toward health.
- You need to prioritize images and content around health for everyone, not just the fittest people.
- Only feature real members and staff in ads.
- There is an educational component that goes with it.
- Have community relations.
- Stay informed and help educate people about the importance of gyms and their impact on overall health.
- People want to be happy and healthy — how can we help them?
- We are essential.
- We have to continue to send the message that we are preventative care to media and government officials.
- Partner with physicians and healthcare workers.
- Promote more inclusivity.
Things to Consider
- Listen and stay up to date in your markets. Listen to your members and always be transparent.
- Members have been asked to change a lot because the rules keep changing. Think about what procedures COVID has introduced that will become a mainstay. You will be judged even harder for your cleaning procedures moving forward.
- How do we motivate members to come back when they haven’t been in the facility for months?
- Connections are key.
- Engage your consistent members. Look for up-sale opportunities.
- Focus on retention marketing.
- We are more than four walls. We need to not only embrace that, but build it better. Get people to be a member of your brand, not your building.
- ABC Fitness Solutions
- Solutions One
- Chat Meter
- Sneeze It
- Don’t be afraid. Throw your traditional rules out of the window. We are in unusual times, so use unusual measure.
- Make data-based decisions. When you find something that works, double down on it.
- Understand your consumer through data and meet them where they are.
- Communication. People want to hear information, don’t keep them in the dark. Don’t throw away strategies just because you created them in COVID times. Keep your relationships.
- Know your brand and principles.
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