A look into how marketing and sales strategies have evolved in recent years.
Recently, there have been a lot of changes in how society communicates, operates and connects. You are likely feeling this impact on your marketing and sales approach.
Merikay Marzoni, the chief experience officer at Fitness Formula Clubs (FFC), said right now they are seeing marketing messaging around their overwhelming value proposition, inclusivity and creating habits to be the most successful.
“Effectively communicating how we are different is key to our success,” said Marzoni. “We’ve also moved to rewarding new members for coming to the club in the first 30 days. The more they check in, the more rewards they earn. Finally, being purposeful in marketing by using a diverse group of ages, races, ethnicities and body sizes helps make the clubs seem more approachable and welcoming.”
The Cooper Fitness Center echoed the most effective marketing messages include emphasizing the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, such as improved physical and mental well-being, stress relief, and an overall focus on prevention.
“For more than 50 years, our mission at Cooper Aerobics has been to improve the quality and quantity of people’s lives, a message consistently woven into our communications,” said Bryan Lennon, the vice president and general manager at Cooper Fitness Center. “Highlighting the social aspect of joining our facility is also effective, as people enjoy being part of a community and having the support of others in their fitness journey. It’s important for us to meet people where they are in their journeys.”
Over the past few years, people have grown used to doing everything digitally. While businesses are open and back into the swing of things, people are still demanding digital offerings. To cater to this, FFC recently completed a newly integrated online join process.
“We find the convenience — both for the membership representative and the new member — has been game changing,” said Marzoni. “Being able to ‘close the deal’ with a link after a tour that didn’t end in a sale has made our sales process that much more efficient and effective. Plus, to the customer this is how they want to do business.”
FFC has also eased the sales process by adding interests to all of its online lead forms. This allows the membership representatives to effectively tailor the sales process to each prospect, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. The membership representative can easily uncover the prospect’s “why,” using their own personal motivation to help guide the sales process more naturally.
At Cooper Fitness Center, referring a friend and word of mouth is the club’s No. 1 lead generator.
Lennon said they emphasize the value and convenience of a membership by providing personalized attention and guidance to potential members. They also build rapport with them to understand their goals and explore how the center can help them achieve these goals with the many health and wellness services they offer. “We offer the occasional three to five-day temporary pass for interested individuals to try out the facility before they purchase a membership,” he added.
Besides guest passes, another great way to ensure you are reaching everyone in your community is to properly utilize technology to assist your marketing and sales strategies.
“We recently launched a new integrated online join process, which is likely our biggest technology other than our app,” said Marzoni. “While our app is more memberfacing, it has helped us engage members, gamify creating habits and communicate information more easily. We are reaping the benefits in our retention numbers.”
Marzoni added they’ve also developed, tested and continue to tweak their email automation throughout the customer life cycle. From prospect to present and past members, they have thoughtfully built out messaging and calls to action for each portion of that cycle.
Technology can help improve your marketing and sales strategies, but Marzoni noted it needs to be able to make experiences either simple and easy, or richer and more meaningful.
“There are many transactions at the club level that can be made simpler and more straightforward to help the club increase revenue and are easier on the prospect, member and/or guest,” explained Marzoni. “On the flip side of that, if technology can help us give a more personalized experience — so the prospect, member and guest experience is more meaningful — that can help us meet them where they are to help them get to where they want to be.”
Marketing and sales tactics have evolved greatly to meet members where they are, and they’ll likely be changing even more in coming years with upcoming trends like AI developing.
“I certainly think everyone is watching ChatGPT carefully to figure out how it can best help marketers,” said Marzoni. “More applied methods of AI also exist which we have been dabbling in, anything from email automation to sifting through the social landscape to find the best influencers. I think the evolution of predictive analytics is something to watch as well, and while this isn’t necessarily new, I do think there have been improvements on the original predictive models that are more precise and reliable.”
Another trend to watch is taking the fitness consumer outside the walls of the facility to spend time outdoors.
Positioned on 30-acres with an outdoor lit track, tennis courts, two swimming pools and a variety of outdoor class offerings — including outdoor boot camp, water classes and HIIT — Cooper Fitness Center is prepared to meet this need.
“We offer pickleball socials each month for members,” said Lennon. “Wearables have made this shift to outdoor exercise much easier by keeping the connection to our facility — even when the member is away — through challenges and community leaderboards. With the popularity of QR codes, we’ve pivoted from less paper to more digital communication, including QR codes on facility signage, posters and more.”
Overall, marketing and sales strategies have evolved in recent years and will continue to do so. As you adjust your plan of action to meet these new needs, it’s important to do what best suits your members. Knowing your community and what they’re drawn to will help you attract members and improve more lives overall.