Marketing Success - Innovations, Trends And Tips For Your Fitness Business To Succeed In 2013 And Beyond

Are you preparing for the future of connecting with customers ? Follow some of these 8 ideas to take advantage of important marketing trends and strategies for 2013 and beyond. Please tell me what you think.

1. Integrate Your Message And The News

Figuring out ways to inject your brand into breaking news that generates media coverage, builds more awareness and creates credibility is a great strategy. Acting fast to develop a connection between a hot story and your brand is key. Using Google alerts or other monitoring tools to stay on top of the latest trending information is a good idea.

Some smart health clubs are hoping on stories about fitness trends, community news and reaching out to media, incorporating the stories into their blog content and social media feeds and this helps greatly in raising their profiles and credibility.

2. Use “Old School” Approaches Appropriately

Social media is a dominant area of marketing and many brands undervalue old tactics like direct mail . Some companies, however, are using more traditional forms of marketing to further reach prospects that have engaged with a brand online in a very focused manner. The key isn’t to limit the amount of online marketing. Consider enhancing the frequency and impact of your message with traditional methods for targeted prospects.

3. Work With Suppliers, Customers And Strategic Partners

Doing more with less is a big opportunity so working with your customers, suppliers and other strategic relationships to generate content is a good way of taking marketing to another level. Producing video interviews of clients talking about their specific challenges and opportunities is great content. For clubs, generating a video of a member who achieved great fitness results and how they did it is great content. In the realm of programming, partnering with group fitness program offerings like Les Mills enables a treasure trove of content for club marketing. There are many examples and we’ll see this trend continue to grow.

4. Mobile Mobile Mobile

The era of innovations integrating social media, local targeting and mobile devices is upon us. Do you recall this scene from Minority Report ? Look for more innovations around the “SoLoMo” trend, and watch more B2C companies try to capitalize on it. Mobile is moving really really fast and the opportunities are huge.

Foursquare, a SoLoMo application, is a great example of what is to come. Foursquare tells mobile users of nearby companies and available deals. When users input personal preferences or an app recognizes patterns when they are near a business that fits their profile, it will push out a notification for a coupon, discount code, special of the day or sale. This is the fourth of five eras of the social web that I wrote about in 2011 . More than Foursquare, things like making sure your web site is mobile friendly, are really important. There is going to be a constant evolution of what mobile really is including mobile commerce. What is mobile is the consumer. Learn more here .

5. Video Video Video

There will be a steady increase in the number of people viewing video content on computers, tablets and mobile devices in 2013 as compared to TV sets . More and more brands are planning to use the medium to communicate complex ideas and solutions in a visually appealing manner. Expect more video content from brands to communicate information. This is a big part of the “inbound marketing” trend that you can learn more about here .

6. Create A Content Lexicon

A lexicon is a vocabulary specific to an area of knowledge or activity. Content has been increasingly important for awhile. How that content is positioned in light of a specific area or market is going to be more important than ever . It will be the context in which content is delivered that will make it more or less relevant. In an environment that requires more targeted messaging the requirements of a Content Lexicon is obvious.

Developing content tailored for a targeted audience is fundamental. For example, if you sell fitness equipment, don’t talk about your equipment features, address issues in various vertical markets like YMCA’s, Parks and Recreation Centers, Micro Gyms, and others, that have unique demands and needs. Address their problems, their industry, their company and how you will benefit their business. Keep this in mind when creating all of your content including articles, videos, presentations and webinars.

7. Offer Calls To Action

Even when content is created with context in mind, it needs this important part of the equation to convert prospective buyers into leads: a call to action. Businesses are increasingly grasping the benefits of adding calls to action in their materials and all of their content. This important piece connects content to action, and gets information from prospects enabling them to be targeted more effectively in the future.

8. Don’t Plan To Be Right; Plan To Learn

What is irrefutable is how fast things are changing. Building out marketing programs from start to finish without any flexibility to make changes in the middle is something that isn’t wise to do.

When developing and managing marketing programs, organizations need to try different approaches, measure results, and make adjustments. Agility in marketing provides greater control and insight if executed in this manner. An important underlying principal is to keep cost low as new endeavors are being undertaken. Check out this recent post on new smarter ways to plan
for more examples.


Did you find these 8 marketing strategies helpful ? How is your business planning to market in 2013 and beyond ? If you like this content please subscribe to my web site or connect with me via social media. If you’d like help with marketing your brand feel free to contact me here today.

About the author:

Bryan O’Rourke is a health club industry expert, technologist, financier, shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He works for Fitmarc, which delivers Les Mills programs to over 700 facilities in the US. He advises successful global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank and serves as CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. To learn more contact Bryan here today .

How Much "Innovation" Is REALLY Going On ?

The introduction of something NEW, now there's a novel idea. When I read the WSJ article by Leslie Kwoh, "You Call That Innovation ? Companies Love to Say They Innovate, But the Term Has Begun to Lose Meaning"; it struck a cord. As she says, "innovation is in danger of becoming a cliche', if it isn't one already." Her article made me think because a successfull Linkedin Group I created and manage is titled, "Fitness and Wellness Innovation"; Now I'm considering a name change.

Innovation, based in the Latin term innovatus, meaning renewal or change, has become divorced from its essence in many of today's popular organizational pursuits. Many leaders use the term to describe activities which are hardly innovative at all. I know of one CEO in particular who has used the term incessantly during talks over the past two years while their organization hardly innovated anything at all; it's embarrassing. Why ?

The efforts of many in industries and organizations have more to do with self preservation than addressing a future that isn't kind to past abilities or thinking. I guess if people say the term innovation enough they might believe they're actually innovating. While any change could be technically termed innovation, the reality is that real innovation is much more - its disruptive and disruption is rarely born from parents of the status quo. Why is this important ? Industries are changing and very quickly, so if you're not on top of that change you are likely going to become extinct. Don't believe me ? Check this out.

Like many, the fitness and wellness industries reflect a culture steeped in protecting the past. As I wrote in an article in 2011, How Does The Fitness Industry Change Its Mindset ? , :

...while the fitness and wellness industry has grown over the past quarter century, obesity and health quality in the developed world have not improved.  Many argue they've gotten worse. The fitness industry still serves about 15% of the adult population while failing to broaden its appeal to the not yet fit. Something is broken because things have not improved and I fear the industry is failing to reach its promise and as a result, things need to change - but how ?

Innovation; as Vijay Govindarajan, Professor at the Tucks School of Business at Dartmouth and co-author of 10 Rules for Strategic Innovators , is about 2 major things. First, leaders must accept things ARE changing and figure out how to adapt accordingly. Second, leaders must understand change is NOT a technical problem its a MINDSET problem. Therefore to enable a business or even an industry to adapt one must introduce NEW mindsets.

Dr. Govindarajan is right and the problem for leaders in any industry when it comes to "Innovation" is that it is often white wash because really innovating means people at the top might have to admit they don't know the answer and even that they might be or have been WRONG. As Kwoh points out when quoting Harvard professor and author Clayton Christensen,

"Most companies say they're innovative in the hope they can somehow con investors into thinking there is growth when there isn't." WOW, but SO true.

If the fitness, health club and wellness industries and organizations participating within these industries want to innovate, they must do 2 things: admit things are REALLY changing and accept enduring the change requires changing their MINDSETS. That requires opening the door to new voices and new leadership.

So the next time you hear someone use the term "Innovate" listen up and question if it is really innovation at all. Are you being "conned" as Christensen says, or are they part of a new order of things ?

What do you think about the term innovation ? Please share your thoughts with me, Bryan O'Rourke and thanks for reading the post.

About the author:

Bryan O’Rourke is a health club industry expert, technologist, financier, and shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He consults with global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank is Chair of the Medical Fitness Association’s Education Committee, is President of the Fitness Industry Technology Council and a partner in Fitmarc, Integerus, Fitsomo and the Flywheel Group. To learn more contact Bryan here today .

Highlights From IHRSA 2012 - WOW

Wow, last week was quite an IHRSA event. I just penned a note of thanks to several IHRSA leaders because I thought this years convention in Los Angeles was really great. There were so many highlights I can't get to them all, but thought I'd share a few for those who might have been unable to attend.

First, Simon Sinek and Guy Kawasaki were super keynote speakers. A little tip for those who did not know is this; when you contribute to the IHRSA Industry Defense Fund, you get very special access to these speakers, literally almost one on one. So consider making a contribution today before IHRSA 2013.

Second, a roundtable conducted by the people from Virtual Fitness Planner and InTouch featured a panel of 5 of the leading club operators in North America. It was exceptional and the room was packed. Thankfully I got to participate along with super stars like Patch Evans, Rich Drengberg, Mark Miller and Jamie Nelson. Daron Allen and his team created an interesting exchange centered around my recent research, The 2012 Trend Report - 12 Interesting Trends That Health Club & Fitness Leaders Should Keep An Eye On - hit the link and you can get a free copy. The tools that Virtual Fitness Planner and InTouch introduced are pretty cool. Check it out.

I really enjoyed attending a wonderful dinner Thursday night, hosted by Michael Bruno, owner of Land America, Star Trac Fitness, Core Health and Fitness and StairMaster - Schwinn, among others. Michael and his wife Lin Qing are the most gracious hosts one could ever meet. Attending were the who's who of the health club and fitness industry at one of the most touted Italian restaurants in North America. My partner, Robert Dyer, was there along with the Lynne and Victor Brick, Mark Smith, Tony de Leede, Patch Evans, John Baudhuin, Ed Trainer, Sal Pelegrino and many many others.

What IHRSA would not be complete without visiting with our Gold's Gym Friends and the GGFA team. It was good to see CEO Jim Snow, our friend Tim Keightley and others. Another great GGFA event hosted by Ginger Collins. Thanks to the Gold's Franchise community.

Finally, I can't forget to mention my visit with Bud Rockhill, CEO of Spectrum Athletic Clubs, one of the best operators I've met as well as Phillip Mills CEO of Les Mills, who always has something engaging to discuss.

Well that was only a taste of the fun filled and educational convention that IHRSA 2012 was. My thanks go out to Joe Moore, Pam O'Donnell and Meredith Poppler, to name a few, and all of the IHRSA staff for their hard work in making this a memorable event. Please attend next year and let me, Bryan O'Rourke, know, what did you think about IHRSA 2012 ? I'd love to know if it you thought it was as great an event as I did.

About the author

Bryan O’Rourke is a health club industry expert, technologist, financier, and shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He consults with global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank is Chair of the Medical Fitness Association’s Education Committee, is President of the Fitness Industry Technology Council and a partner in Fitmarc, Integerus, Fitsomo and the Flywheel Group. To learn more contact Bryan here today .

Think I Was Kidding About Augmented Reality Taking Off ? [VIDEO]

I've been talking and writing about the impact of Augmented Reality on all industries, but particularly the health club industry and the fitness business in general, for some time now. In fact, over the past few years I've referenced Layar as one of THE up and coming technology platforms that could be harnessed to create some impressive new consumer interfaces. Its all about the merger of the physical and digital worlds in the health club industry, the fitness industry and others; with smartphones connected to the Internet in increasing numbers the possibilities to connect, engage and market to members and customers is incredible.
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What Does Google Health's Failure Have To Do With Watergate ?

I like good movies for a lot of reasons but often for the memorable quotes you get from time to time. I enjoy sharing a line from an iconic film at a cocktail party when referencing the latest topic Du jour. In All The President's Men, Deep Throat, the government informant who spoke in riddles and metaphors in response to Woodward and Bernstein's questions recounted, "follow the money". Following the money is often good advice and is one of those quotes that I love to use. It explains a lot of things.

So what does Google's recent announcement that it is discontinuing Google Health have to do with Watergate ? Just "Follow The Money".

I a March 2011 post "Where Is Google Health In The Evolution Of Wellness ?" I talked about the promise of technology in evolving health care and fitness into wellness. Interestingly I received a number of communications following the post from people who seemed to know Google Health was being shuttered. But why would this promising idea get the shaft ? In a recent Technology Review article , How A Broken Medical System Killed Google Health , correspondent David Talbot wrote:

At the end of this year, Google Health will flat line. The service couldn't encourage many people to import or analyze their health data, and experts say its untimely death is, in many ways, an extension of U.S. health-care providers' failure to share data across institutions, or make it easy for patients to obtain it.

David's tag line to the article said it best, "Google would have had to fix a balkanized U.S. health-care system to make the service catch on." He's right and I know it first hand.

I recall my treatment for colon cancer and repeated and unsuccessful attempts to get my group of five physicians to utilize Google Health. Despite Quest Diagnostics providing access to my diagnostic records electronically for free on Google Health, not one my physicians knew about it or cared to use it. Instead I would have to suffer duplicate tests, hauling records around and harassing people to fax results. Even more interesting was a strategic session with leaders in the Medical Fitness field. Not one of the participants knew what Google Health was. Amazing but why ? Why would a system that offered real solutions to a broken system be so unfamiliar to so many ? Follow the Money.

The failing of and lack of awareness of solutions like Google Health in either the "Sick Care" system or the "Wellness" prevention system highlights the obvious: there is NO money in improving health outcomes. As Bryce William's recent article in Fast Company "There Is No Such Thing As A Health Care Consumer" points out about the failure of Google Health:

...the underlying cause is that there is no such thing as a consumer in the American health care system today. A consumer is someone who uses personal dollars to buy goods and services for his or her own use. In our health care system, the users of medical services are, of course, individuals. But users don’t pay the largest share of costs for these services. Employers, the government, and health insurance companies do. So while people may be highly concerned about quality medical care, most are not motivated to manage costs.
 With that fundamental understanding, it’s easy to see why Google Health failed.

And that is the problem, its up to consumers, who have no real incentive to improve their health, and its up to delivery systems that have no incentive to deliver it. So when I ask What does Google Health's Failure Have To Do With Watergate, you might just "follow the money".

So tell me, Bryan O'Rourke, why do you think Google Health failed ? Why has the U.S. and world's populations become less healthy while the cost of care sky-rockets amid a push for healthier lifestyles by the fitness industry. Is it a broken system ?