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Featured Leadership Marketing & Sales

Roundtable Recap: Industry Marketing


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.

Technology tools:

  • Braze
  • Hubspot
  • GymSales
  • ABC Fitness Solutions
  • Solutions One
  • Chat Meter
  • Sneeze It

Final takeaways:

  • 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.

Access the on-demand version of this webinar.

Access the audio-only version of this webinar.

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor for Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com

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