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IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Effective Use of Data-Driven Marketing

“Health clubs’ advertising budgets aren’t getting bigger, so it’s a matter of how can we do more in the boundaries of what we have,” says Mary Frank, sales and marketing manager for Cincinnati Sports Club. “My advertising budget hasn’t expanded, but I’ve done more because I’ve been smarter with every dollar I spent.”

Frank will detail how other health club operators can use data to maximize their marketing initiatives in her IHRSA 2016 session, “Doing More With Less: Effective Use of Data-Driven Marketing.”

Common Marketing Challenges

When it comes to health club marketing, a common misstep is trying to cast your net too wide.

“There are a lot of marketing mediums to use to spread the word about your club. The traditional methods included direct mail, which is a very expensive method to communicate,” Frank says. “Owners/operators believe they need to market to thousands—quantity over quality—to get the sales results that they needed. This ties up very valuable marketing dollars and limits you to diversifying your portfolio with new avenues including social media, digital advertising, and driving referrals.”

Social media marketing can be an effective sales tool, but the variety of options can lead to health clubs spreading themselves too thin online.

“The challenge is to find the one or two that will sell your story the best and stick to it,” Frank says. “Too many sources can send a confusing message of who you are and what your club is trying to accomplish.”

Data-Driven Solutions

In order to stretch their advertising budgets, health club operators must strive for quality over quantity in their marketing efforts—and technology can help.

“Today’s technology advances allow us to have more information about the consumer available to us,” Frank says. “You can actually hand pick the potential members that best match your existing member and target them specifically. Additionally, by watching what is going on in your marketplace as it relates to consumers, you can see if there is an untapped market that you have not been reaching out to. Overall, being smarter with who you mail to can generate more sales and lead to a lower member acquisition cost.”

And Frank has done just that. Twenty years ago, it was common practice for her to send one direct mail message to 10,000 people. This January—thanks to tracking trends and targeting demographics—she mailed to 6,000 people using 10-12 tailored messages.

In the past two years, these tactics have decreased her member acquisition cost by $100.

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