Creating a 21st Century Digital Strategy for Your Club to Thrive
by Margo Drakos, Vice President of Business Development for Expresso Bikes powered by Interactive Fitness Holdings, LLC
Not long ago, members came to your club to be part of a community.
Today, most members come into your club with headphones on, do a
workout, disassociate themselves from everyone in the club, and leave.
It is a one-way street. Club loyalty has dropped dramatically and the
fitness industry as a whole can’t sell enough memberships to cover the
attrition rate. Technology has caused many of the disruptive changes
we are experiencing in the fitness industry; it is also part of the
solution. How is your club relevant to your local community? How do
you make your club personal to your members? How do you empower and
recruit your current members to be your sales-force? The key is
engagement. You are presented with the opportunity to redefine what
“community” means to your club, and to the 21st Century club member
living in a digital world.
I often hear senior staff say they don’t have enough time or resources
to invest in their website or social networks other than posting
special offers or PR. Showing the return on investment for your
digital strategy is important. However, a digital strategy is not
defined by having a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a
YouTube Channel or a mobile app. These are the distribution channels!
What you put IN these channels – your content – is what constitutes a
meaningful digital strategy. Most important is what you provide your
members for them to become your marketing sales-team! The question
isn’t whether you should invest in building an integrated, top-down
and bottom-up digital strategy for your club. The question is can you
afford NOT to? There are no magic bullets, but a digital strategy has
the potential to:
1. Save your club time and marketing /pr resources.
2. Generate revenue by attracting new members through your best
recruiters – your current members!
3. Retain your current members by making them personally connected to
How many of your club members are on Facebook? I bet most. The average
Facebook user generates three pieces of content to their profile page
every day. One of the reasons that Facebook is so powerful is because
it is not 500 million users, but rather 500 million people with
overlapping communities of interest. Your members are your most
powerful sales team because they communicate to their friends. Friends
trust friends. If a member posts a workout at your club on their
Facebook page with a special club referral offer for their friends –
this is direct, free marketing to customers you want to reach, from a
most trusted source – a friend!
So, how do you get started creating and identifying the right digital
strategy for you? Why not have a fun brainstorming session with your
staff and bring in a few members in exchange for a free training
session?! Some questions and notes I have found helpful to get
• Who are you trying to reach?
• What is your club’s story and how do you make this personal to your
• How can you make everyone in your community a stakeholder (staff and
• How is your club relevant in your community?
• A digital strategy is not just a PR, one-way push of content. It is
• Invest in cost-effective platforms and equipment that will continue
to evolve and develop with the technology space and needs of your
• Identify a point-person in your team to be your digital marketing
and communications guru.
• Release content on a regular schedule.
• Start small. See what works.
I stumbled upon a wonderful YouTube video made by GGFA Club owner Skip
Johnson interviewing an iconic member of his club’s community – shoe
shiner Ernest Calloway. Ernest has shined shoes at the Douglasville,
GA Courthouse (which is across the street from one of Skip’s club) for
over fifty years. Says Skip, “You want to get fit? Come to Gold’s Gym
Douglasville. You want to get your shoes shined like magic? Come to
the shoe master, Ernest Calloway.” Why is this great? It makes the
club and the owner personal. It is relevant to the community. It cost
nothing to produce. It could have been recorded from any Smartphone
and immediately uploaded to YouTube and shared on any web, social
network or mobile platform. It makes me want this to be MY club!
At the end of the day, the most important thing about a digital
strategy is getting started. Start small, give it your best, see what
works, and tweak as needed. And have fun!
Join us for a webinar on Thursday, July 14 at 1:00pm EDTto learn more from Margo on how to Attract, Engage & Retain Members by Creating a Digital Strategy for your Club.
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