IHRSA Institute 2014 - Looking Forward To Teaching Social Media And Digital Strategies

Ok, so you know I love Gary Vaynerchuk . What makes me a big fan of Gary is that what he says gets to the heart of the matter and in this case that matter is how businesses, including health clubs, are marketing in 2014. By the way if you missed him at IHRSA this year I'm sorry because he was great. Another big reason I love Gary is this video he made for me - please watch it ;) and that's another story in and of itself.

The bottom line is many businesses, and health clubs, are marketing like its 2005. That's why I am excited to be teaching a class at the IHRSA Institute this year in Chapel Hill, NC on August 7, 2014. I'll get to share specifics as to how health clubs can use social media and digital strategies effectively.

Marketing is confusing to may business people today because marketing is changing. Heck its confusing to experts and whole industries. The whole idea of marketing is being redefined by an increasingly knowledgeable and connected consumer. As my colleague Denise Lee Yohn says, "Marketing Is Customer Experience". It used to be you could publish and push a story or a message, promote it and sell your service or product around it and that was marketing. Now the "Moments of Truth" are a continual process and cycle that involves much more than just the initial message and buy in. You see increasingly brands are suffering from a gap between what the brand is promising and what is being delivered. This reflects misguided efforts to push a message while failing to deliver what is necessary to delight the customer. The problem exists across all industries and health clubs are no exception.

Brian Solis's book What's The Future Of Business , explores the challenges of competing in the marketplace today and identifies the customer's brand journey and the new way companies have to consider today's dynamics to be successful. You see to be successful we have to think like its 2015 not 2005 .


Gary Vaynerchuk's book , Jab Jab Jab Right Hook , further details how we need to tell stories in a world where there is an increasing competition for consumer's attention.


I'll address these and many other sources and subjects at the 2014 IHRSA Institute next month and I am so looking forward to it. Hopefully you can be there for a fresh view on how your organization can adopt social media and digital strategies effectively.Thanks to the professionals at IHRSA for their kind invitation to attend.

About Bryan

Bryan O’Rourke is a thought leader on technology, health club, consumer and wellness trends. He has been quoted in global periodicals like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Inc. Magazine, and has been published in journals around the world on his views of how technology will create the dawn of a new era of opportunity for the health club and fitness industries. In addition to being an industry expert, Bryan is a technologist, financier, shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He has spoken on a range of business and trend topics on four continents. As a contract executive and advisor, Bryan wears many hats, including working for Fitmarc, which delivers Les Mills programs to over 800 facilities in the US. He advises successful global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank, on ACE's Industry Advisory Panel and is CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. To join FIT-C visit www.fit-c.org . To learn more contact Bryan here today .

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 www.fit-c.org ). Recently Bryan was named to the ACE industry advisory panel.  To learn more contact Bryan here today.


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 .

Are Health Clubs & Fitness Brands Paying Attention To The Emerging Connected Consumer ?


The fitness, health club and "wellness" industries are all going through massive change as the result of 3 drivers: advancing technologies, changing consumers and globalism. I've been paying close attention to consumer trends as of late, in case you haven't noticed (see my content on millennials). A recent post by Brian Solis raised a number of startling facts about Generation "C" - The Connected Consumer that brought this issue to the forefront of my mind again. Health Clubs and fitness brands in general better take note. Here is an excerpt from Brian's post :

No longer can we blame it on the youth. We must blame, if anything, the disruption of technology. Nowadays, age ain’t nothing but a number. It is how people embrace technology, from social networks to smartphones to intelligent appliances, that contributes to the digital lifestyle that is now synonymous with Gen-C.

Solis bases much of his post on Neilsen's recent report "Introducting Generation C: Americans 18-34 are the most connected". But as Solis and the Neilsen report show, the rise of the new connectedness is not exclusive to this age group, its impacting every generation and as a result every industry (like health clubs).

IBM's Report, The Connected Consumer Challenge, also speaks to these massive consumer shifts. As the introduction states, "Today’s electronics consumers expect much more than quality devices – they demand a quality experience. Their interest has shifted from the device itself to what they can do with the device." You can get the white paper here . Yet despite all of these reports I do not think a significant number of fitness facility or fitness brand players in general get it. Based on my first hand experience, many brands are still marketing like its 1990 or earlier. By the way its 2012....

Why ? I think a combination of factors answer this question. Owners and managers whose experiences are based on old modalities like membership sales being THE emphasis is one. Sorry, its a word of mouth world and if your fitness brand or club isn't delivering outstanding over the top experiences or worse bad experiences you are going to SUFFER. You can't sell your way out of bad programming or poor service. Another reason I think health clubs are failing to excel in this arena is the lack of cross polination from other industries who have done a better job adapting to this new paradigm. Regardless I have a message for leaders of health clubs and fitness brands in general. Here is the bottom line (consistent with my recent quotes on twitter from @Garyvee about business and advertising in general) :

"If you do not care about your end user immensely, especially in the next few years, your brand will die." (BTW these consumers are increasingly connected consumers)

"I'm very passionate about traditional media. I don't think it's dead. I just think it's overpriced." (Perhaps you should stop doing so much direct mail and try something different)

And for those of you who don't believe the Connected Consumer should be a major part of your business thinking I have this last quote just for you from @Garyvee:

"There were people walking around saying the internet was a fad, and weren't joking. They won't admit it now."  (Don't be one of those people who did not see it coming).

So tell me, Bryan O'Rourke, what do you about Generation "C", the "Connecter Consumer" ? Am I wrong ? Do you think Health Clubs and fitness brands have changed there marketing in response to this expanding consumer group ? I don't think that's happened enough and it worries me. What do you think ?

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 .

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 .