OK let’s start this blog getting down and dirty.
Most of us have experienced a one night stand – that fleeting night of passion that often is exciting, thrilling and can make you feel so special at the time.
Then the next day comes – boy is that a different story. A lot of us regret it, maybe feel a bit ashamed and often want to forget it as soon as possible. And yes I have been in that position too.
So I beg you, don’t treat your marketing like a one night stand. Marketing should be like a long-term relationship – the more love, attention and consistency you put into it, the more return you will receive and the greater the chance your fitness business will flourish.
I see a lot of fitness and sports businesses that get so excited at the start and go all guns blazing with their marketing. Then as time progresses, the shine wears off, marketing gets less and less attention and before you know it, they have forgotten all about marketing and it falls by the wayside.
Like a one night stand, your business will soon fade into a distant memory as well. When you forget about your marketing, guess what? Your potential members and clients will soon forget about you too.
Social media is exactly the same – don’t run it now and then or when you happen to have time. And whatever you do, don’t just talk about yourself and never show any interest in what your fans have to say or think. Like being with someone who only calls once in a blue moon (and when they do, it is only to talk about themselves), your fans will soon tire of you and look for others who show them more attention and have a better understanding of their needs and wants.
So approach marketing as a long-term relationship – keep it consistent, supportive and ensure it is a two way street. Think of it as meeting, courting and committing to someone you care about for the long haul. You need time and dedication to nurture the relationship so both parties are happy.
So let’s go through the steps for developing a long-term relationship with your potential suitors:
1. I have a problem…
This is the first step – where the person realises they have a problem they need to solve. I am sure a lot of these sound familiar to you:
- My God how much weight have I put on over the years?
- I have a wedding coming up, I need to look my best?
- I just had a baby and want to lose the baby weight and get my energy levels back up.
- My doctor told me to lose weight or have another heart attack!
- I really need to tone up the wobbly bits.
This is where you need to create awareness of your business to your audience. If the person doesn’t know you exist, then you won’t be going to the next stage. Advertising, handing out flyers, letterbox drops and so forth can be very effective at this point especially when you use the angle of some of those problems listed above which people can relate to. Make people aware of the problem and how you can solve it for them.
2. Looking for clues
So after realising the problem and deciding they can solve it by joining a gym, now they need to gather further information as to what places they should consider.
With someone wanting to join a gym or club, they often will talk to their friends or family to get some recommendations. This is where your current members can really make an impact. So have a strong referral program to encourage current members to introduce you to potential ones. Remember the best way to start a relationship is through someone you know.
People will often get on the Internet and do a search for local gyms (so have Google Ad words up and running), look at various web sites and social media (ensure yours looks professional and you capture the person’s details) and will consult online reviews (this is why you encourage your current clients to submit Google and Facebook reviews).
The important thing is that a person will only consider three to five options – you need to make sure you are top of mind otherwise you are not going to be in the running.
3. Evaluating all the options
So now your potential partner has all the information, they are going to dig a little deeper and see which one best matches their needs.
This is often when they want to meet you face to face. Just like a first date, you want to make sure you make a great first impression. Ensure your business looks it’s best – clean, tidy, no broken machines, spotless bathrooms and friendly, supportive staff.
When meeting someone for the first time, you may pay for dinner – in this case, give your potential customers some free passes so they can experience first hand what you offer.
Have some great promotions and incentive available. Just like you may give flowers or chocolates on a first date to make a great impression, a special deal may make your business stand out from the crowd
4. Making the big decision
So now they take the next big step of committing and making the purchase.
But hang on – a fair bit of money and time is involved so this decision is often not taken lightly. There may be a bit of uummmming and aaaahhhing yet so to nudge them in the right direction, make sure you keep in contact with them and ask them if there is anything else they need or if they have any additional queries.
Whatever you do, don’t pressure them into joining – give them some breathing space to make the decision. There is nothing worse than meeting someone new and they try and put the hard moves on you (come on I am just not that type of girl)!
So make sure they are on your email list, receive your newsletters and are a Facebook fan so you will remain top of mind, and when they are ready to make that big step, it will be with you.
5. Now have I made the right decision?
So at last they have committed to you but as with any new relationship, it may take a bit of time to really fall in love. Or worse, do they have buyers regret and wished they had chosen someone else?
When it comes to any big purchase, we often have that thought in the back of our mind – did we make the right choice?
Well this is where customer relationships plays a big part. Provide great service and build the relationship for the long term. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting your new client just because they have signed up with you. Keep showing the love and respect they deserve – after all, they may help find your next member for you.
So as you can see, you can’t expect to just run one ad or send an email now and then and expect people to come flooding to your business. Marketing takes time and yes a little bit of money – like meeting someone for the first time to that special day, there is a lot of commitment to take someone through all the stages. But I guarantee if you do make the effort and show the person the love and attention they deserve, you will get the return you want and enjoy a long term healthy and happy relationship where both parties get what they are looking for. And isn’t that better than a one night stand?