As the competition of more new clubs continues to grow, there isn’t a single one of us who doesn’t consider competitive marketing and salesmanship as top priorities.
- Know your competition. It’s essential to understand all you can about the other clubs in your area. If you don’t already have copies of your competitors’ advertising and brochures and can’t recite their key selling points and messages, now is the time to make it happen. Otherwise, how can you hope to successfully position against those clubs?
- Capitalize on your specialty. Once you know everything possible about your primary competitors, you can identify an offering of your health club that’s unique or special. Take a long, hard look at the current programs in your health club. If necessary, alter your classes or services themselves, bundle in additional features or find a way to deliver a similar core programming or service in a way that uniquely meets the needs of your members. Then, build your marketing campaigns around this central specialty theme.
- Tackle new audiences. If you’ve reached the maximum market share of a particular member niche, why not try a new one? You may be able to add variations of your product (also known as line extensions) that will stimulate sales from a whole new set of customers. You can also launch a new media campaign targeting ethnic audiences or a different age group, who may embrace your product or service with a minimum amount of alteration.
- Offer more bang for the buck. Some product and service providers traditionally compete based on discount pricing, but for many other types of businesses, cutting prices is often detrimental and sends the wrong message. The concept of “value” is, well, valuable. If you offer a service, for example, and charge the same rates as your chief competitors, cutting your prices may make you look suspiciously cheap and inspire customers to wonder what’s “wrong” with your club or the services it provides. A better idea is to offer something of additional value that your customers will find tempting.
- Add a sales channel. Are you presently selling via one channel alone, such as exclusively through a brick-and-mortar store or by catalog only? Adding another channel, such as online sales, gives your customers more choices and allows them to shop more often and at their convenience. (It’s likely that most of your competitors offer sales through multiple channels too.) What’s more, studies show that customers who shop through more than one channel will spend more (often as much as three times more) than customers who shop through one channel alone.
- Dial in to your members. You have to understand what your customers want if you want to remain highly competitive. Unfortunately, your customers’ needs and preferences sometimes change on a dime, so you should have systems in place to regularly solicit their feedback. As a club owner, you’re in the enviable position of being closer to your customers than some of your big-business competitors. You may know many of your customers or clients by name and even have the advantage of being able to contact them periodically to check in. To take it a step further, be sure to initiate regular surveys as well as solicit ongoing feedback via your website.
- Ask for the sale. This may seem like an obvious statement, but the reality is complacency is the enemy of small-business success. If you’re not continually asking your best prospects and customers for their business, you can be sure your competitors are. Set up and monitor an ongoing marketing program that reaches out to your former customers and new prospects year-round. The key to success is to have a consistent marketing message and select a mix of media and tactics (email marketing, direct mail and social media, for example) that “touch” prospects and customers with sufficient frequency. This will help you drive your message home and stand out from your toughest competitors.
Jim Thomas | http://www.fmconsulting.net/