One of the most insightful marketers ever is a man from Indiana named Jay Abraham, possibly you’ve heard of him. He’s an author and marketing consultant who has produced many books, seminars, and audio programs of his marketing philosophy. He comes to mind because it’s January and that means that it’s the peak promotion season in the gym management and fitness-centered world. Every New Year I’m reminded how almost everything he’s written has proven to be true.
One thing that Abraham writes about is how promotions can be so non-linear that just a slight change in wording or graphics can produce huge increases in the response rate. But mostly variations bring only slight changes of results. You just never know what will hit the jackpot. When you find a format and wording that works exceptionally well you’ll have something that might be worth marketing to other gym owners across the nation. That’s another level of promotion altogether.
The January Flyer That Flew So High
What is the magic formula for marketing campaigns and promotions? That is the $64 million question. Marketers and copywriters who can consistently deliver the golden egg make a fortune at creating slogans and campaigns that drive the advertising business. It’s also the reason that small business owners like gym and fitness center owners, try to do a lot of the promotion work themselves: good copy is expensive!
January is the time of year for the bold offensive of marketing and promotion in the fitness industry. Every year we attempt to corral new members through clever words and catchy graphics. Sometimes it works spectacularly. Once, I made a campaign flyer that was just a drawing of a man’s torso with a big belly hanging over his belt. It sounds odd, right? It brought in a bigger response than I’ve ever seen before or since. I tried the same flyer later in the year and got a very mediocre response. It’s so hard to tell what’s going to attract customers and what isn’t.
Really, there’s no magic formula because there’s no linear relationship between a campaign and the response that it generates. Developing a promotion that works is an art form based on instinct and experience. You just have to be very persistent about it. You have to continuously seek to draw as large a response as possible.
Going Back To The Foundation For Inspiration
There are certain things that make people respond. When readers find something that reflects what they believe or see in themselves it often provokes a response. After all, aren’t some of the most successful ads the most provocative? Perhaps seeing a picture of what they fear they look like is enough to motivate some people to join a gym. Maybe they would respond more strongly to seeing a picture of who they currently feel they are, contrasted against what they do not want to become.
The response doesn’t have to be positive necessarily, pain can be a strong motivator. Most people have at least a little pain associated with their self-image. The most provocative promotions appeal to our desire to overcome that pain. Once it’s balanced by a promise of improved self-worth action will follow. I think that the most effective promotional materials for gym memberships remind people of what they want to change and then offer solutions to which people associate the promise of pleasure.
Flyer promotions, like the one above, can be great. If you can get potential members’ attention and show a solution to something that they feel is a problem then that is half the battle. If you then make an offer that looks like a bargain you can draw people in. Something like a free month of membership will usually lower the payment-pain threshold of the decision to join your gym.
Persistence Pays Off Eventually
You always have to stay on your toes and experiment in marketing. Even if one campaign runs perfectly, that doesn’t mean that it will do so again. Over a number of years you may find there’s a seasonal pattern or that some promotions suit particular communities better than others. In time you can learn to create promotions that are consistently successful for your market.
What Jay Abraham goes out of his way to stress, in his teachings, is that you have to keep trying different things, keep what works and drop what does not. When you find the best you could even leverage it into a real jackpot, by sharing it with other owners across the industry, just like Abraham does.
Over to you…
What has been the most successful marketing campaign for you?
Have you been able to replicate it?
Have you had a chance to set up A/B testing?