Chantal: Kari, welcome along. I’m so excited to have you on the show today.
Kari: Thank you so much. I am just as excited to be here.
Chantal: Now, just to give everyone a little bit of background, we of course have had the Co-Founder, President, and CEO of Active Wellness, Bill McBride on the show, not once but twice before. And anyone that missed those episodes or anyone who doesn’t have a bit of knowledge about Active Wellness, can you start off by giving us a brief overview about the business?
Kari: Sure, absolutely. Active Wellness is a fitness and wellness management company. We own and operate, and also consult with over 50 plus fitness centres across the country, and we do so for partners that often don’t have the expertise in house, or don’t really want to even operate the fitness centre themselves. And most businesses are usually corporate fitness centres. Those are corporations that have fitness centres on their campus, or in the sense that we partner with their Human Resources and Benefits departments, to offer a workplace wellness programme.
We often work with community centres, medical fitness centres, in partnership with hospitals, property management companies that have fitness centres on their residential or corporate properties, as well as just the regular gym owner across the country.
Chantal: Excellent, well thank you so much for that overview, and today of course, we’re gonna be, you’re gonna be taking us through rather, the steps to create a membership sales promotion. But before we talk about that, I would like you to tell us, why is it that you, or Active Wellness Group, have moved away from discounting when it comes to their membership sales promotions.
Kari: Sure, yeah. You know we believe in our value and are very much focused on delivering exceptional member experience. So from a promotional offer standpoint, we like to offer guest passes or paid trials, versus deep discounts on enrollment fees or monthly membership dues. And this allows prospects to walk through our doors and experience all that our clubs have to offer for themselves, before making that purchasing decision.
Chantal: Fantastic, I am super excited to dive into this today, because I feel like it’s an area that we’re gonna be able to help a lot of gym owners and managers out there, and I believe that you have 10 steps to creating membership sales promotion. Can you kind of talk us through those ten steps?
Kari: Absolutely, so let’s start with step one, which is to understand your market, to identify your target audience. For us it’s really important to gain an understanding of our market potential that will eventually shape a marketing campaign. So, we like to run what we call a Likely Joiner Report, and this takes a deep dive into a club’s community, to determine our market penetration, based on target demographics within specific drive times to a club.
So, if you have a very urban club, like in San Francisco or New York City, it would be a walk time, but this report also takes into consideration surrounding competition, and their membership capacities. But what you’re left with is, the number of people who fit into these specific segments, and this helps us create personas of our key audience segments, which in turn is your target audience for your campaign.
Chantal: Ooh I love that, I’m going to jump in there because so, we on the show before have talked about creating an avatar, so creating a persona, it’s the same thing right?
Kari: Sure, yes, absolutely. So we will actually name, put a name to these target audiences, each segment, so we’ll actually put a face, a name, interests, age group, what they like to do, if they have families, and their households. So we just build out each of these personas, which identifies our key target audience segments.
Chantal: That is fantastic. So step number one is really identifying that target market.
Kari: And step number two, would then be, to determine marketing channels based on how best to reach those specific target markets. So, if one of the personas for instance was, let’s just say, a mother in her 30s, she might have two little kids at home, she loves to shop at Nordstrom and Whole Foods, and is very active on social media. So, we might run targeted Facebook ads with those type of demographics to find prospects very much like her.
Other groups might, you know you may reach them by email or direct mail, whatever that might be. You really have to determine which channels are best to reach those groups.
Step three, create a compelling call to action. Now, your call to action might be offer based, it could be value based, and most definitely be experience based, which is what I highly recommend. And by that I mean, a guest pass or a free trial. So allowing a prospect to come in to your site or to your fitness centre, and experience for themselves what they might find, what they really enjoy.
Chantal: When you say a guest pass Kari, is there a particular length of time that you would put on that? Is that a one visit pass, or do you normally extend it out to a three or five day pass?
Kari: No, we really like a three day guest pass, and anything above that would be a paid trial. So if we were to give a week long pass, we might charge a nominal fee, and that will help you really identify who your prospects are that are more likely to join. So more of a qualified prospect than just generating leads.
Chantal: Perfect. Okay, and step number four.
Kari: Step four is to design creative that best resonates with your target market, embossed relatable copy that speaks to them, as well as through imagery and visuals.
Chantal: Right, so once again it’s coming back to just truly understanding what’s gonna appeal to that avatar, or that persona that you identified in step number one.
Kari: Exactly. Step five is to set your KPIs to track success, and oftentimes, aside from doing market demographics and really understanding your key audience, this could be one of the second most important things to do. Because if you’re not tracking your success, you just won’t know what works. So this give you the actual data to back up all of your efforts.
Chantal: Kari, do you use a system to do that? Do you use a spreadsheet to do that? How do you recommend people can best track the results of their campaigns?
Kari: Yes. So there’s a lot of analytics through various marketing channels that you get when you initiate campaigns. So we like to compile each KPI or outcome on our spreadsheets. And then, for most of our client sites, we prepare monthly reports that outline the success of every campaign.
Chantal: Fantastic, I think that you mentioned that’s one of the most important points, and I tend to agree, because I think that quite often we put a lot of focus and emphasis onto what we’re gonna do, and actually getting it done, but perhaps we can fall down a little bit when it comes to actually tracking the effectiveness of that activity or that investment that we’ve made.
Kari: Exactly. Step six would be to test, so you yourself go through that prospecting journey as if you’re a prospective member, both on a computer, and most definitely a mobile device. And for us, I like to get more eyes on it, and often ask colleagues that are in other departments, who may not be as close to the campaign, so I’m not overlooking something, just because I am anticipating the next step.
Chantal: That’s a really interesting one, Kari. I was actually having a conversation or doing an interview a couple of days ago with a customer experience expert, here in Australia. And one of the things that she recommended was, actually trialling a lot of your systems, and your promotions on a customer group that you assemble. So a bit of a test group, I guess it would be. Have you done that before? Would you agree with that suggestion?
Kari: I can definitely attest to that, because I often ask my boyfriend and friends to test some of these campaigns out. But yeah, we’re gonna get to testing in one of my next steps, but absolutely, we often run AB tests with campaigns, so even though they’re live and not more focuses groups, it still gives us the ability to iterate and figure out what works, and then you kill the one that doesn’t and you go with the one that does. And you can keep doing that throughout your campaign.
Chantal: Just for anyone who isn’t familiar with the term, AB Split, or testing AB groups, do you wanna just very quickly explain that to us?
Kari: Yeah, it’s really just publishing or distributing two different campaigns, and oftentimes for us, it might be two different offers that we’ll put out there to the same group, but we’ll segment the list in half, and look at which of the offers has more success. If it’s the A group, then we know that, that offer was more successful, and we’ will walk away from the offer that we tested with the B group, and try something else. We also do that with imagery, visuals, sometimes copy, or the call to action.
Chantal: You know what I love about AB testing in 2018, is that because so much of what we do is online, it’s relatively quick and easy to do, to test two different pieces of creative, as opposed to back in the old days when we used to print things and, you would put out two different flyers with different messages or different creatives, it’s a lot bigger process, but these days, you can actually do a relatively quick and simple AB test to find out what’s working, which I love.
Kari: Exactly, next step.
Chantal: On to our next step.
Kari: Step seven is to create excitement internally with kick off calls, and sneak peeks on creatives and offers. We as a marketing team work very closely with our membership teams, and we like to hold these fun kickoff calls, so that they are prepared and excited, and ready to support our marketing launch, and we often like to include our service desk teams as well.
Number eight, analyse your results. And we do this on a daily basis, so track your KPIs and look for areas for improvement daily.
Which really brings me to step nine, and I know that we touched on this already, but it is to iterate. And Chantal, you brought out the great point that, digital these days in marketing allows for quick and inexpensive adjustments to be made, if you were to AB test. So, that’s just you have the ability to iterate, and we definitely encourage that throughout a campaign.
Chantal: All right. And that brings us to number ten.
Kari: Step ten. Repeat. It sounds so simple to just do what works, but oftentimes, we have conversations with clubs across the country, and they’re always trying to recreate the wheel. So if you find a campaign or a strategy that works, we definitely encourage you to keep repeating it.
Chantal: They are all fantastic steps, and thank you so much for walking us through that today, Kari. I do have another question for you, and I quite like this one, ’cause we don’t normally go down this path. But I would love to know, or finish up on today, three things that we should avoid when creating a successful membership sales promotion.
Kari: Ooh, this is a good one. Okay. So I would say the first thing to avoid would be, to don’t run sales promotions every month. Gone are the days of thinking of a new promotion each month, or trying to recreate the wheel. Just focus on experience, great content, and really being a positive support in your members’ lives. I just truly believe that happy members will do the rest, with the right tools.
Number two, I would say, don’t do what you always used to do. If you don’t have a clear reason why, then stop or look for ways to improve.
Chantal: Oh, it’s so important isn’t it?
Kari: Absolutely, that’s another Bill McBride concept. And number three, don’t try to do it all, do what works with mastery and focus. We often get asked, where should we be, what’s the latest marketing craze, and honestly it doesn’t matter. I mean, obviously be aware and do your research and learn, but you don’t have to do it all.
Chantal: Kari, look, I wanna thank you so much. I just loved those ten steps that you talked us through, and I think that it will give our listeners a lot of structure, and maybe give them the opportunity to check back on their current processes, their marketing, or their membership sales promotion. To cross check what they’re doing, and make sure that they are ticking more of those boxes, ’cause it’s such a comprehensive list that you talked us through, so thank you so, so much for joining us today.
Kari: Thank you, it was such a pleasure.
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