Marketing Your Fitness Business - Do You Care Enough ?

Thanks to my colleague Eleanor Hisey at Fitsomo who shared a post that I just had to use from Gary Vaynerchuk, and to my partner Robert Dyer who spent so much time with me last week. These two along with my conversation with some of Gold's Gyms leading franchisees at the GGFA roundtable on social media last week led to this post.

By the way it meant a great deal to me to be invited by Ginger Collins and the great bunch of GGFA professionals, who I love, to discuss social media marketing at the Gold's convention. Thanks Ladies :). I was particularly excited that Gordon Johnson, along with several other leading Gold's franchisees, were there and asked so many relevant questions. They wanted to know about using social media, yet the conversation was less about technology and more about being human. I'll explain.

In a world where brands are accustomed to only broadcasting or as Gary Vaynerchuk puts it, presenting their message, now consumers want engagement (see his video below and thanks again Eleanor :)). They want to interact. Consumers want to be relevant. Everything we used to think about marketing has ended because now marketing is the consumer's experience. Its not our message and what we want to tell them; its all about what is important to THEM and our recognizing that fact. The "Connected Consumer" trend has really accelerated this because of technology.

This is a very hard thing for many brands to grasp and execute. In a world where many old school CEO's still worry that having a twitter account opens them up to having to answer to consumers, well what can I say ? Anyone who would have to ask if they should have a twitter account demonstrates they do not understand. You see people who don't understand this, at least 90% of the time, must not really care because if they did they'd want to have customers be able to let them know when they are happy and when they are not. Right ?

This leads to my partner Robert and I having many conversations with customers and industry leaders last week both during the Gold's convention and following it. For those of you who know him, Robert is one of the most sincere and caring people you'd ever meet; he's very human and it shows. It was instructive to hear the comments from a highly respected industry leader who following our meeting asked, "Is this how you conduct all of your meetings?" Well Robert was unclear as to what the person met. They went on, "You see I am so used to getting pressured and sold and you did not even have a presentation." (So I might have paraphrased a bit :)). Get it now ? Its not about us its about them.

The bottom line is this, if health club and fitness brands keep broadcasting content around what they do, what they have, and who they are consumers aren't going to connect. We can't use social media effectively if its not centered around the customer and we must reengineer our businesses accordingly. If the DNA of your organization can't "GET IT" then you've got a real problem on your hands.

Watch the video above from Gary Vaynerchuck and tell me Bryan O'Rourke, what is your marketing strategy with social media ? Do you agree with Gary that you've got to change from presenting to working the room ? Thanks for your thoughts and for reading the post.

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 and heads up the firms Integerus and Fitsomo. He advises successful global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank and is CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council (To join FIT-C visit ). Recently Bryan was named to the ACE industry advisory panel.  To learn more contact Bryan here today.


Fitness Marketing - Why Are So Many Brands Missing Out ?

Its that time of year again, when CEO's, marketing heads, product development and sales people among others are all finalizing their goals for 2012. I'm lucky because I get to listen to many plans and learn about the thinking going on behind them. Its fun, but I'll let you in on a little secret: many if not most of the brand leaders in the fitness business are still operating with a largely decade old mindset. Because of this they're missing out, spending too much on what doesn't matter any more and not pursuing what does. As an example, when I ask, "can you tell me how many people discuss your brand on twitter" the answer is most often "no", or at least I get a puzzled look in response. That's only the beginning....

So why is this the state of business, and in particular marketing, in the fitness and health club industry ? I'm not certain, but I'd hypothesize that it has to do with the industry being largely insular . Most of the leadership has been in the same game for a long time, so when it comes to the change that is happening with consumers, marketing, operations and technology, few at the top in the health club or fitness business are embracing a fresh perspectives. I'm certain, however, that is not going to last.


What is most obvious is how so many organizations think they know what customers want, basing that on long ago worn out thinking that has little relevance today. This greatly influences how marketing is conducted, hence the picture above. So I wanted to share some very important trends for people to keep in mind, no matter what industry they are in, but in particular in the health club and fitness industry. My message to brands is that they best start reorienting themselves to new consumer paradigms or face extinction. Tell me what you think about the embedded slide show below on transforming your marketing. It includes a variety of very important consumer centric trends that every brand needs to keep in mind as they think about their future. I hope its useful. Do you think its relevant to the fitness industry ? I'd like to know.

Transform Your Marketing
About the author:

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


Marketing and Social Commerce

Consumer behavior is something you want to keep on top of as a business owner and technologies are having an impact here. One of my partners and founder of The Health Club for Women, Herb Lipsman. sent a note yesterday asking "Bryan have you heard about Groupons?" He was meeting with the Faust Group during the week and was curious to discuss the trend. I appreciate Herb's curiosity and his many contributions to the fitness industry.

He asked a good question and was touching on something that I've been researching and speaking about - particularly in the fitness industry. The "commerce of social media". Brian Solis recently touched on it as well in his article: The Rise of Social Commerce. As a big fan of Brian's - I want to thank him. The post it was more great content. Here is an excerpt:

500 million Facebook denizens are plotting their social graphs.

145 million Twitter users Tweet and ReTweet.

3 million people are checking-in on FourSquare.

Brands are flocking to social networks, some with strategies and others simply experimenting with community building. What’s clear is that the 3F’s (friends, fans, and followers) are not created equal. Those brands who examine the composition of their existing community will find that many are simply seeking access to exclusive specials and content.

According to a recent comScore report, 23% of Twitter users follow businesses to find special deals, promotions, or sales. 14% of Twitter users reported taking to the stream to find and share product reviews and opinions.  Earlier this year, Chadwick Martin Bailey published a study that showed 25% of consumers connected to brands on Facebook did so to receive discounts. But here’s where things get interesting, in the same report, comScore found that Facebook and Twitter visitors spend 1.5x more online than average Internet users. Herein lies the opportunity for brands looking to add yet another “C” to the many C’s of Communitycommerce.

So how do you embrace Social Commerce to help achieve success given what Brian Solis observed ? Check out Groupon's video below and watch Brian Solis's terriffic video below with Phil Kaplan to learn more. In the interim - contact me, Bryan O'Rourke, and let me know what you think and if you'd like to discuss integrating social media into your strategic planning or marketing execution.