There was a time when I would have thought that creating a brand was as simple as having an idea and commissioning a graphic designer to put my imaginings into visual form. I have learned a simple and harsh lesson over time: You have to work very hard to get recognized in your marketplace, as a business and as a brand.
Be The Brand
You can create your brand as an extension of your own personality but you have to make sure that it is the right image for your market and membership. Test your results and take measurements wherever possible. Use less of what doesn’t get a response and more of what does. It sounds so simple but the detail will get you every time.
Fortunately, being independent, you are the face of your brand and you can do things that no big box brand can do. You can engage directly on the personal level; as you speak for yourself you speak for the brand. This works on multiple levels, at least two anyway. You can look your members directly in the eye and use empathy to sense how well you are doing.
Also, when you speak to members face to face or you respond at length to comments made on your website or Facebook page you speak with ultimate authority. On a practical management level you are the decider, the person that can cut a deal. Of course that can be double edged, you can’t get away with blaming policy or head office. But you shouldn’t do that in any case; people will see right through that every time.
Always Be Testing
Fitness trainers and gym owners really ought to be the perfect managers for marketing. What is it we do with clients? We make an initial assessment to show them where they are starting. This helps to sell the program we have to offer. As members progress over time we then measure their results to show what they have achieved. This makes them feel good about the training and tells us what they need to do to get to a further or final goal.
Managing a business is just like that too. You determine the present state of affairs and what you need to do to move it to the next revenue and membership target. For marketing materials and graphic design try to set up tests where you can see what members or prospective members prefer. This can be done digitally with spreadsheets or dedicated applications or just marks on a board. The point is to find the visual, verbal and physical materials lead to more sales.
Brand As You Mean To Go On
Always look to your final objective, which is getting members to sign up repeatedly for your service. You don’t want to have a high turn over. Gaining new members is great but retaining the ones you have is better. You want members who are receptive to additional goods and services, as well as the basic membership.
Have you ever experimented by moving the equipment around on the gym floor? After all, your gym is your brand. When you move equipment around you may find that different configurations create different activity. As an example, it has always puzzled me how moving the elliptical machines to one place on the gym floor will cause them to be discovered and used more but where ever I used to put the stair-stepper it was consistently used about the same.
My point here is there is no simple equation to explain it. Either that elliptical sat unused or members were almost lining up. You probably know that look that they get, sort of hanging around watching over their shoulders. Well, you are trying to do something like this by applying measurements to your brand. You need to know what will move the needle and what won’t. One way will be an investment that drives your business and the other is like throwing your money away.
If you can’t take the time to do elaborate marketing tests you can always go with what you like yourself. Your taste after all does represent who you are and a little professional guidance can go a long way. You might be taking a shot in the dark but it will give you initial feedback that you can build on later, just make sure that you try to measure what happens. If you don’t already use Gym Insight check it out and find out how it can help turn your guesses into measurements you can act on.
Beesley, Caron. 10 Tips to Help You Build and Grow a Stand-Out Small Business Brand. March 4, 2015. https://www.sba.gov/blogs/10-tips-help-you-build-and-grow-stand-out-small-business-brand (accessed October 4, 2015).
Fagan, Lawrence. Differentiating Price and Value In Premium Gym Memberships. January 9, 2015. https://blog.gyminsight.com/3057-premium-gym-memberships/ (accessed October 4, 2015).
—. First Things First In Digital Name Selection. February 19, 2015. https://blog.gyminsight.com/3156-first-things-first-in-digital-name-selection/ (accessed October 4, 2015).