Marketing to Women

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“How are we going to make the women happy in this club?” That’s the question health clubs and similar facilities should be asking themselves says Bridget Brennan, author of the book Why She Buys; founder and CEO of Female Factor, a Chicago-based consulting firm that specializes in marketing to women; and keynote speaker at the 2013 Club Industry Conference and Exposition later this week. According to Brennan, women drive 70 to 80 percent of consumer spending worldwide. If they’re not spending the money themselves, she says, then they’re influencing or vetoing someone else’s decision to spend it. Either way, women tend to spread the word: “[They] are the drivers of word-of-mouth publicity,” Brennan explained to Club Industry.

If it’s true that women are the decision-makers when it comes to spending money, then might your club benefit from ad campaigns better geared toward them? On a more pragmatic note, how do you gear your marketing to women?
As Brennan puts it, “The message is not to paint your facility pink.” Nor do you have to buy lacy towels or fill the cardio court with flower arrangements. But you do want to let women know that you’re thinking about how to serve their needs. First of all, how many of your posters and brochures include pictures of women — women looking serious about their workouts and happy to be in your facility? If the answer is not many, then consider a redesign that highlights their presence.

Second, do you have programs geared toward women, and do you promote them? Maybe you offer women-only high-intensity interval training classes, extra women-only swim times, or self-defense classes for women. Or maybe you have co-ed programs eager for more female participants, like basketball leagues or squash tournaments. Whatever you offer that is specifically geared toward women, make sure people know about it. Talk about it on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Send emails. Offer prospective clients chances to take part for free, and invite current members to bring a friend at no charge.

Third, advertise in establishments and publications that cater to women. Is there a cute clothing boutique or nail salon near the gym? Ask if you can hang flyers announcing a new women-only cycling class. Partner with local businesswomen’s associations and request that they include mention of your facility in their next newsletter. If you have branches nationally, consider buying ad space in magazines like Self, Women’s World, and Women’s Health.

Finally, engage the advice of the experts. Ask the women in your club what kinds of services they want; do your best to provide those services, and let everyone know that you’re doing so. And go to the official experts, too. Marketing consultants like Brennan can point out weaknesses in your existing campaign and show you how to polish it up for women. Her book, Why She Buys, and others like it also can shed valuable light on the subject. Oh, and there’s no need to forget about the men in your world: “If you lead by thinking [about making women happy], then you’re going to make your male customers happy, too,” Brennan says.

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