The 12th Man in Fitness Club Online Marketing


Inbound marketing, on the most fundamental level, is about engaging prospects and members on the Internet. (Did you notice that I included “members?”)

One of the biggest flaws we see in fitness marketing is the over-focus of acquiring new members to join your club. Yes, this should and will always be the primary focus of your marketing, but this focus can be a huge by-product of focusing on your current members. So many clubs are quick to create repetitive offers that are solely meant to acquire new members, and the overall percentage of effort they put into marketing to current members is left in the hands of the sales department. This in itself requires a highly focused sales staff and could require results and expectations that only the best sales staffs should be expected to measure up to.

The 12th Man

12th-man-in-fitness-club-marketing.jpgAre you a Pro football fan? If you are you already know that every play begins with 11 players on each side of the ball; offense and defense. A distinct advantage the home team has is the 12th man, which is the home crowd. The home crowd can get real noisy and much of the time they are disrupting the flow of the game when the visiting team has the ball. Why? Because the visiting team’s communication with each other is stifled; their voice is taken away by the volume of the crowd. They have to rely on movements and signals to overcome the crowd noise.

The 12th man, the crowd, is a large part of why home teams win games over 57% of the time, thus the term “Home Field Advantage.”

Your Most Valuable Sales Person

You can do all the marketing in the world, and your sales staff can be closing beasts, but nothing will ever measure up to the sales and virality capabilities of your current members. Think about it; your members are entrenched in every place online that you wish you could be, and they’re constantly having conversations with strangers, acquaintances, friends and family members on social media. Putting a concerted effort, both physically and monetarily, into engaging your members can and will result in less attrition, more revenue for your clubs and, above all else, loyalty that not even big brands can achieve. Their endorsement of your club(s) is much more powerful than anything you can ever do to promote your club.

10 Ways You Can Turn Members Into Amazing Promoters of Your Club

  • Free Events — Public workouts, public jogs followed by member gatherings and meetups at local businesses (co-sponsoring) are excellent examples of direct exposure to your club’s brand. Events cause lots of trust and awareness of your club’s philosophy and the effort to be a part of the community. Plus, the likelihood that many non-members will be attending is very good because your members will likely bring family and friends that may not be members.
  • Member Spotlights — Use your website, social media and newsletters to spotlight accomplishments, businesses, and benchmarks of current members. Smiles on member’s faces get shared very quickly.
  • Free Downloadable Content — Offering free downloadable content full of fitness advice is something most clubs don’t do. Focus on workouts, healthy recipes, member stories and other fitness topics. Also, promoting downloadable free content on social media will get you many more leads than a bottom of the funnel offer.
  • Referral Incentives — Instead of giving the referrer an incentive to get their friends and family to sign up, try the other way around. Tell the referrer that you’ll give their referrals the gift for signing up. We’ve found this tactic to be much more successful because it encourages sharing.
  • Personalized Engagement — Anytime you call a member by their name and acknowledge their fitness journey you are creating a memorable experience, and they’ll let people know about it. This also applies to your website personalization, newsletters and correspondence on social media.
  • Personalized Content — Once you know your member’s goals, challenges, plans, and timeline, you can focus on delivering content to them on a personal level. Blog articles, newsletters, landing pages to focused classes and influencial guest speakers, and more, can be an excellent means to segment your members and get them to know that you have their best interest at hand.
  • Social Media Content Allocation — Many clubs use social media, Facebook, in particular, to promote bottom of the funnel, or “Buy it now” offers. Reallocation of the content of your posts to a rule of thirds will get more current members to talk about your page; 1/3 sharing of articles and stories that inspire conversation, 1/3 member acknowledgment and spotlights, 1/3 in-club promotions. Always remember that people are on social media, especially Facebook, to talk — not to take advantage of a deal. Make your page more likable and sharable is the priority. Overwhelming statistics show that signup specials are virtually non-existent in the sharing category.
  • Member Acknowledgement — Tell your member success stories. These stories will inspire and resonate with prospects and current members and increase share-ability.
  • Club Personality — Stress is a big part of people’s lives. Most people that are looking for a club to join want to work out in a friendly atmosphere. Your personality on your website should reflect the personality of your club. Feel free to relax when creating content for your website and throw in some humor to show people your friendly nature. Smiles never hurt anyone.
  • A Current, Cool (Dope), Amazing Website — The Internet is chock full of trends in design, trends, responsivity, activity and so much more. Take a realistic view of your website and ask yourself whether you would share it or not with others. If not, it might be time for an overhaul.

“Member Delight-ion” is the fourth, last and, arguably, the most important phase of the inbound methodology. Give yourself the home field advantage by increasing your current member loyalty. Apply one or all of the above to your fitness club online marketing and see for yourself the difference focusing your resources on your current members can make.


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