Over at the website of the International Health, Racquet, and Sports Club Association (IHRSA), there’s an interesting post about advertising. It features three very different clubs and the three very different forms of advertising they use.
B-fit, a center for women in Turkey, identifies itself not as a fitness club but as a “women’s club.” It relies on word of mouth, creating activities, seminars, and services that give members something to talk about. Brooklyn Sports Club, in New York, uses event-based marketing, offering special events, such as indoor triathlons, self-defense classes, and Zumabathons, that are open to the public (for paid programs, members get discounts and others pay a slightly higher fee). Even if just one nonmember attends and joins, the cost of the event generally is covered, and the club comes out ahead. Re Creation Health Club in Australia relies on good, old-fashioned newspaper advertising. They make sure their ads are big and colorful, and they emphasize the ease of joining a health club these days.
I find it fascinating that not one of these clubs mentions Facebook or other social media. We hear so much about the importance of reaching out to all our audiences via electronic means. (In fact, on the IHRSA website, a post that appeared just a couple days after the advertising post says, “Technology in the fitness industry is here to stay. Not only should it be part of everyday life but, if you want your business to survive, it really needs to be incorporated into all areas.” The post goes to on to describe an important online survey the Fitness Industry Technology Council [Fit-C] is conducting for a technology trends report). But I wonder whether the technology-based methods of advertisement that are available today simply are not the best methods for the fitness industry. Judging by the very small sample of clubs featured in IHRSA’s post, it seems that more personalized, bricks-and-mortar–based methods are preferred.
It’s good to know and worth pondering. Maybe Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and all the other forms of social media out there are fantastic for building a brand identity and for adding a personal dimension to communications from facilities to their members and clients (and that personal dimension is crucial in an industry so reliant on building relationships with individuals who are managing their own health). But for getting your name out, and for selling memberships and programs, it might be best to stick with longstanding, old-fashioned, tried-and-true advertising (for now, at any rate).