Careful thought should go into your decision to begin an inbound marketing program. This type of marketing is far different from anything you’ve done to generate leads in the past. You must be fully committed to the process for the long-term if you are going to reap the benefits.
Here are five things you should consider before starting inbound marketing:
Choosing an Agency
First and foremost, you must select an inbound marketing agency that you believe you can partner with over the next year or years to come. Notice the word used is “partner” and not “vendor.” The difference is that a vendor is the seller of a product or service whom you call whenever you need something. However, a partner should be viewed as an extension of your team. They exist within your inner circle and should be considered someone you confide in regularly for advice and direction. You’ll want to develop a very close relationship with your agency partner to ensure the long-term success of your inbound marketing program. “Working together” is crucial for the ability to accomplish the goals of your club.
Generally speaking, the size of your investment should be large enough so that you can realize a return in a reasonable amount of time. How much should you invest? The answer to that question depends primarily on your revenue growth goals and the timeframe by which you’d like to achieve your goals. For instance, aggressive goals require a larger investment, while modest goals can be reached with a smaller investment. It is important to note that not only will larger investments help achieve aggressive goals, but the goals are usually realized faster also.
Here’s why: there are specific services that are a part of the inbound marketing methodology. Whether your investment is on the lower end of the spectrum or at the very highest, your inbound marketing agency will provide those services. The difference is simply how often those services will be delivered for you each month. As an example, blogs are an essential component of inbound marketing as they both build your reputation on search engines and help you attract the maximum amount of visitors to your website. A small investment will give you a few blogs per month while a large investment could give you blogs ever single day of the month.
Inbound marketing is a strategy with a clearly defined structure. However, within the framework of the structure, there is room for customization to meet the needs of individual fitness clubs. Your inbound marketing agency will work with you to put together a program where your inbound marketing investment aligns with your growth goals.
Unfortunately, inbound marketing is not a quick fix for a severely struggling club. The inbound strategy, while proven effective in helping clubs realize a positive ROI, takes time to implement properly so results can be achieved. Just as a solid foundation needs to be built before constructing a large building, a strong foundation for your fitness club needs to be established on search engines before you can reap the benefits of inbound marketing. As previously mentioned, the amount of your investment can affect the speed of which the online foundation of your club can be built. However, if your club has been operating in the red for a while, it will take patience and perseverance to get your club in the black — even with a marketing plan as spectacular as inbound marketing.
Type of Club
All clubs are not created equal. While it’s true that all fitness club owners want more new member sign ups each month, the goals, amenities, and offerings vary greatly from club to club. As the owner, have you clearly defined who your club’s buyer personas are? What demographic are you interested in targeting? Do you have an athletic club that focuses primarily on athletes in the community? Does your club cater to women only? Are you a High-Volume-Low-Priced club looking to sign up everyone; men and women, old and young alike?
The problem with traditional marketing campaigns is that you spend enormous amounts of money blindly marketing your club to the masses, most of which have no interest in joining a fitness club. Your inbound marketing agency can help you define your personas, then create marketing campaigns focused on them. Now, every lead being generated is a qualified lead, someone who is interested in your club and someone who you’d like to have as a member.
Your Management Team
The strategy of inbound marketing is most likely new to your management team. Therefore, it’s vital that your inbound marketing agency and your management team develop a sound working relationship that includes regular communication. Your agency should be spending time with your management staff each week, training them on how the system works so they can become comfortable using it each day. Likewise, your managers need to inform your agency about the different types of promotions they’re running in the club so they can be promoted online as well.
Your managers are no doubt used to traditional forms of marketing such as direct mail campaigns, magazine and radio ads, etc. These are the kinds of campaigns they’ve run for many, many years which might make introducing a new marketing concept a bit challenging. However, getting their ‘buy-in’ and full cooperation in adopting the inbound system will be a critical factor in your club’s success.