HubSpot’s Marketing Event

3 Vital Lessons We Learned From Attending HubSpot’s Marketing Event

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Nothing beats a good stretch of fresh perspective. Our blog team took a trip for some fresh perspective on the marketing industry and we’re happy to share what we learned with all of you. Take a dive into the marketing world today, join us in our recapand let’s get a new perspective on social media together!

Build Your Client Profiles With Social Media

colorful icon of two people
Facebook is still the most popular social media platform and per its own quarterly report, an average of 50 minutes or more a day is spent on their site per person. So if the average person reads around 200 words in a minute, then an estimate of 10,000 words are read in that 50 minutes a day from Facebook users. That’s more than two chapters of the first Harry Potter or Game of Thrones book!
So, what does this mean? One takeaway is the importance of personalization. If people are taking around an hour a day at minimum to engage in content relevant to their personal lives, then the messages they will want to continue reading should ideally be in line with their established preferences. These preferences can of course always be recorded in a Client Profile for future occasions such as birthdays or client anniversaries, etc.
How can a business tailor their content for personalization? I would say a variety of options never fails to accomplish a personalized experience. For example, if you develop a poll post on social media you can utilize the comments section for that post as an “other” option answer. Not only does this prompt engagement among clients—it also gives them an opportunity to type their message directly to you in their own words rather than selecting an answer.
I also reached out to my boss for her thoughts too!

The average amount of time that people spend per day on Facebook alone is incredibly eye opening to the opportunity it creates to engage with not only clients but attract potential clients as well. The stats learned while participating in Hubspot’s marketing event, further drove home the importance and value of crafting the right message for your audience. One tip I would give anyone looking to utilize this platform for their business would be too often check the built-in analytics to gauge how your content is performing. From there you can easily make informed decisions to tailor your message accordingly.

Great advice! Another insight from social media we learned comes from an out-of-the-box perspective. Because Facebook is so popular, what is the preference for platform access? Do clients prefer a computer, laptop or going mobile? These preferences can very well determine the presentation of your content. For example, video news content on mobile devices is commonly featured with large captions and an option for no audio. For the mobile user who may be quite literally on the go, the video then connects to them in the same way that it would for a user who is stationary. With the captions, there is no need for raising the volume or finding a quieter environment to concentrate because the content is tailored to their situation and therefore instantly digestible.

Communication Makes the Experience

illustration of a letter in an envelope
In December, we mentioned the value of overlooked communications that, while may feel technically dated, can still carry an impact. Examples of these communications include ‘Thank you’ notes and—it may seem a bit contrary to recommend handwritten communication, however, to assume all our clients who use social media and technology don’t enjoy a letter can be a mistake. Not to mention we’re honoring grandpa and grandma each time we sit down and handwrite a letter. Remember that you can always double check your clients profile page under the Customer Relationship Management feature for their contact info as well as any information you have recorded for them. We also encourage watching our online webinar: How to Become A Data-Driven Powerhouse, to ensure the best is being made of your EZFacility account.
You can also start an experience with members by communicating a follow-up. Follow up conversations have become somewhat prominent due to how fast communication has become so email is where to start. Our Email Marketing Tools has hundreds of templates to choose from. If you need a quick brush up on how to make use of email templates, please check our support guide here.
And if you are interested in keeping in touch more than often, the EZFacility Branded App could be your best step of all! A branded app permits clients the ability to have access to your business within their smartphone. With the help of our design team, we will help you visualize the brand identity of your business into an easily accessible app from the symbol to the layout colors. Bigger buttons? You got it! No social media or carousel images? Done and Done! We’re happy to help you sculpt the app to your liking.
illustration of a desktop computer and mobile phone

Self-Service is awesome

Ah, self-service. It can be seen from car rentals, hotel check-ins, gas stations, grocery stores… The list goes on and it won’t stop anytime soon due to the popularity it serves for a pleasant consumer experience. As the saying goes, convenience is king, and with the time saved throughout our day-to-day lives it would benefit more to add Member Self-Service to your time-saving helpers tools. Member Self-Service grants client access that puts them first. They can book sessions, lessons, update their contact info, pay bills, view schedules and cancel appointments online. In addition, you have the power to define requirements for bookings and package classes as well as set restrictions for members with unremitting balances. You may even open self-service to the public—enabling a bigger market audience towards your business. It wouldn’t be self-serve if it didn’t serve both your client and yourself! We welcome you to take a tour of our newly improved feature in our support center.

Social Media and Self Promotion

Social Media and Self Promotion

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Congratulations! Your business has been recognized in an extraordinary manner. Whether it be an honorary title, a rave review or newly awarded achievement—it’s a wonderful accomplishment worth sharing. You can certainly make a quick capture of a moment to post for social media or you can apply more strategy to make the content last longer. And why not? It’s a special moment worth remembering! Below is a list of thoughtful approaches in expanding both the reach and length of self-promoting content.

Capterra's Top 20 award

Show Rather Than Tell

Recently, EZFacility received recognition as achieving the number 9 spot in Capterra’s Top 20 Most Popular Membership Management Software. If you’ve been to our company page, you already know that EZFacility started at a modest size and then grew to fantastic proportions thanks to hard work and a dedicated team which helped us earn this spot. To exemplify our appreciation, we shared content focusing one what best represents the success of our software: our client’s successes. On both Twitter and Facebook we shared precisely that and as seen, the act of showing rather than telling expresses a more visual representation of that success. When celebrating positive news, it’s great to make sure the presentation of the message is bright as the content itself!

Think Before You Use Hashtags

Hashtags are a great way to be seen by both new people and potential clients. For newcomers to social media, a hashtag is a short phrase following the # symbol that identifies a social media post as a topic. For example, if someone were to post about how they met a goal of performing 100 push-ups a day, they may write a hashtag #PracticeMakesPerfect or #LifeGoals at the end to encapsulate the message of their post as a lesson of dedication. If a popular hashtag is used by a mass amount of users in the same time period, then the hashtag will trend and become visible for all users to see what’s trending on social media. It’s important to make sure a hashtag has some relevancy to the post and there’s no space between the text. If not, then the post will neither reach their targeted audience nor the maximum range of its audience. #HashtagsDoneRight

Build Up Anticipation

Content featuring surprises can gain quite a lot of attention. Think of the news headlines that read “You Won’t Believe This.” and “What You Hear Will Shock You”. These are sentences meant to grab your attention and while successful they are dramatic and we don’t want to turn authentic social media posts into that! Ideally, we would like to introduce intrigue to the presentation but not too much at the risk of oversaturating the content. One method is by making an announcement for your announcement. For example, we did a short tease post on social media about an upcoming blog post to be released in the afternoon. Note how we included a timestamp on when the reveal would be to keep audiences engaged. Using time effectively within a modest range gives the audience less of a burden to check back and less time to wait!

Make it Accessible Across Social Media Accounts

Spreading self-promotional material across your different social media account platforms is ideal but what’s better is to alter the content to fit the best practices of the social media account. One of the best references to find the style of each social media post is to look at examples from other accounts you follow (and that means competition as well!). Most pictures on Instagram have dynamic angles whereas photos on Facebook have a traditional ‘photo album’ appearance. Catering the presentation to your social media accounts will create for a significant impact for varying platform audiences.

The Big Game and Your Business.

The Big Game and Your Business.

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The Big Game is almost here and it can really help your business. Yes, that’s absolutely right. As long as you tread extra carefully from using trademarked words such as “Super Bowl”, the Big Game can help improve the status of your business. The idea of celebrating while presenting your business may sound like a huge multitasking feat-but with the help of social media, the idea is a lot easier (and even fun) to accomplish. Here’s how you can get started right away.

Words and Phrases To Use On Social Media Posts: The Big Game, The Big Day, The Big Football Game, Pro Football Championship, American Football, The Game, Football Fun, etc.

Facebook Live is Your TV

A 30 second TV advertisement during the Super Bowl can cost as much as 5 million while videos shared on Facebook can cost a total of nothing. According to Salesforce, 73% of Super Bowl viewers use two devices while watching the game.This allows a wonderful opportunity to use Facebook and its many methods of post engagement, namely Facebook Live. By going candid, clients will be drawn in by a casual aura-and it doesn’t have to be a long video. It could be a 10-second clip of asking gym patrons for a cheer vote of their Pro Football Championship winner.

Twitter is Your Radio

In a statistic run of Twitters activity, audience views during Super Bowl 50 were at 4.3 billion. One way to take advantage of Twitter during the game is through the rotation of play by play tweets known as live tweeting. Note that the The Big Day doesn’t have to be the main event of a live tweeting session, especially if you want to put your business directly in the spotlight and not beside it. Think Budweiser (Yes Really) According to a 2012 study from the  American Veterinary Medical Association, 36.5 percent of the United States population own dogs. It’s possible Budweiser was aware of this when they added a puppy to their iconic Clydesdale in their latest commercial hit. (Fun fact: the Clydesdale was first introduced in 1933 during the end of the Prohibition Era as a method of transportation. As of this time, it is now recognized as a promotional symbol.) It’s important to recognize what Budweiser has done better than other businesses, and that is creating and maintaining a good business icon. The steps to establishing a mascot tend to be costly but with free-to-use social media platforms at your disposal, there’s nothing to lose when you put your pet on camera.

The Power of Food

According to the National Retail Foundation, viewers of Super Bowl 50 spent an average of $82.19 on food, team apparel, and decorations. Another zero cost strategy would be to share a healthy game day recipe on social media. You can even take the project one leap further and post your own how-to video across Facebook and Twitter. If the content resonates with fans, use it for other popular events and holidays. (And congratulations by the way, you got yourself a theme going!) Contests One of the best ways to ensure client engagement on social media is by using the words “contest” or “prizes”. With some imaginative thinking, you can turn the next Big Game into an effortless marketing campaign for your business facility without giving up a single penny.

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Social Media No No's

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I’ve addressed this area before, but I cannot stress enough how crucial social media is to your fitness or sports business. Last time in my blog, 8 Best Practices For Promoting Your Business On Social Media, I spoke about all the tactics you SHOULD be using with your various social media platforms. But, what is also, if not more important, is what you should be making sure NOT to do.

The following is a list of major “DON’Ts” to abide by in the digital space.

1. Sending automated twitter messages to new followers.

I know it’s hard to avoid the siren call of “automated” anything. Let’s face it, we don’t want to waste time individualizing each reply, but, believe me when I tell you it goes a long way. I can’t even tell you how many times I have received an automated reply that goes something like this:

“Thanks for the follow! Get my free e-book here!” or, “Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc., or my favorite, “How have you stayed motivated this week, download my blah blah blah.”

The point is, automated messages–no matter how witty and clever you think they are– give the impression that 1. I am just a number 2. You just want to clog my inbox with promotional materials instead of get to know me and my specific needs and 3. I am just not intelligent enough to realize this is an automated message and you don’t really care how motivated I was this week.

Key Takeaway: Automated messages are no beuno.

2. Grammatical Errors.

You may think it’s no big deal to make a mistake here or there, but if you think your followers aren’t judging you for each wrong use of “there”, “their”, and “they’re”, you’re dead wrong. Also consider your client demographic. Do you work in a high-end gym or boutique? If you do, grammatical errors can be extremely off-putting.

3. Responding to public negative feedback in a condescending or defensive manner.

Even if the feedback is completely untrue, responding in a kind, gracious manner makes you look really good. Getting into long-winded debates over what did or didn’t happen and what is or isn’t true not only leaves a sour taste in this complaintant’s mouth but also for your other followers and potential clients. Be the bigger man (or woman) and take this feedback as constructive criticism. It helps to think of complaints as gifts. For every person that voices a complaint, there are probably at least a dozen others with the same complaint who would rather leave than voice their concerns. Use this negative feedback as constructive criticism to improve on and build your brand and business.

4. Not having a “like” or “follow” button on your business website.

Do we even need to explain?

5. Not taking interview requests.

Interviews are a fantastic way to promote your business! Always say yes and always respond in a timely fashion. Even if the publication asking for an interview isn’t industry-specific, you are still reaching a variety of audiences and the more your brand is out there circulating, the more publicity and attention your business will get. Plus, while the interviewer may be from a smaller publication now, that doesn’t mean they will stay that way forever! And, on the same note, when the press publishes nice things about you, make sure to acknowledge them in a gracious manner. Keep that positive rapport going to capitalize on possible future feature pieces.

6. Not responding to tweets/posts/comments from people who are NOT followers.

This an opportunity to build a relationship with non-clients. Interact with these users, educate them about your brand and mission (without shoving it in their face) and eventually they just may become clients.

7. Failure to acknowledge bloggers/publications in your local area.

Follow them, repost their relevant content, like the heck out of their posts and invite them to participate in events and social functions at your facility. Start small and target local channels before attempting to step into the big leagues.

8. Having no social media presence at all.

This should go without saying—especially in a world where almost everyone is online and on some form of digital platform. The benefits of promoting your brand on these different channels is astronomical and should NOT be ignored. This is the easiest way to tap into a myriad of audiences from different demographics. While you’re at it, start up a blog too and develop a consistent schedule so subscribers know what to expect each week.

Social media

How to Leverage Social Media to Attract and Retain Members

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As a new business–specifically in the health and fitness industry– resources and budget tend to be limited. Social media is an inexpensive way to both attract and retain clients. Follow these steps to start crafting a successful social media strategy to grow your business.

1. Identify your audience

With any social media/marketing campaign, knowing your target audience is the key to success. How does one identify their target audience? As a small business, look at your local neighborhood. Is the facility located in a baby boomer community? Middle class? Or is most of the population between the ages of 20-35? Different images and messages should be marketed to each segment.

When marketing to Generation Y and/or younger age groups, social media is woven into every aspect of life, making it possible to reach them through various channels. This generation is all about doing research before committing to something new. So, pay attention to the fitness trends! A recent study from Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) indicated a rising interest in group classes among this segment. Highlight group programs by posting videos of your kickboxing, aerobics or group Zumba classes. Use hashtags to make content more searchable!

2. Engage and Build Relationships

It’s not enough to strive for “likes” on posts; the conversation must continue. Actively engage with customers and require actions. Ask them to like a post, retweet, add a comment, subscribe, or share a video. Use these opportunities to offer promotions. Maybe a certain number of “likes” or shares will result in a free group class. This opens the conversation to your client’s friends, and social circles.

Social media creates constant communication between you and clients. Strive to build a relationship through feedback. Feedback is a two-way street; it’s important to respond to both negative and positive feedback-whether on Twitter, Facebook or your own personal website. Post client success stories to demonstrate your brand’s personal relationship with clients and programs with REAL results. If clients feel heard and respected, they’ll WANT to share your content and message, often times resulting in new lead and member acquisition.

3. Develop a strategy

Develop a schedule for posting content and be consistent. Encourage clients to get an early workout in Sunday Mornings at 8am to start the day off with a bang. Or, post “free” information once a week such as, “10 steps to a healthier heart”. Remind clients that your facility cares about them even outside the gym walls.

4. Measure the effectiveness of your social media strategy:

Social Media platforms measure your reach (followers), traffic (visitors), leads from referral sites, customers, and conversion rates. Utilize these metrics to identify what is working and what isn’t. For example, you can determine if promotions offered on Tuesdays at 12pm are more effective than Fridays at 12pm.

Identify, Engage, Develop and Measure to begin growing your small business. These days, you would be hard-pressed to find a successful business NOT using social media to expand their client base.

How to Increase Social Media Reach in the New Year

How to Increase Social Media Reach

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Boosting sales and leads is one of the greatest assets that social media can offer a business.  When done properly, social media can transform into a lead generation monster for your company. To unleash the monster, people need to know that you exist and are ready to make an impact on the social media world. So how do we do this? By building a social media presence. 

The Foundation 

Before you do anything social media related, you need to start from square one — which is building a foundation. The first step towards building a social media infrastructure is choosing the right social networks: Facebook and Twitter. These platforms both have well over 300 million monthly active users, giving them the largest demographic and making them the most popular among all social networks.  To get the maximum benefit of these networks, you need to optimize your bio and visuals. The ideal bio will include a clear and concise description of your company and its URL. The visuals should include an awesome logo that is on both the profile picture and background image; this will further increase brand association. A fully optimized profile will allow customers, who are researching your industry, to see who you are and what you’re all about. Laying a sturdy foundation is just the first step to creating a social media empire. Now let’s give the industry something to buzz about and discuss the art of posting.  

Be a Problem Solver

The secret to any successful social media page —first-rate content. Creating quality posts is vital; it gives followers a reason to come back to your page(s) and an opportunity for potential new fans to discover and follow your organization. What specifically will make people return to your social media accounts and gain new followers? One thing all humans have in common, besides being human, is they experience conflict; which is why many people are attracted to material that pertains to their particular issue(s). For instance, let’s say you’re the owner of a gym whose members are mostly men in their late 50’s and are having troubling lowering their cholesterol. To help your members combat their problem, find and post educational information about the topic; this could include an article on the “10 Best Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol” or a video on the “7 Best Heart Healthy Exercises”. Not only are you helping your clients, but you’re demonstrating an expertise within the field. Content like this will have people raving about you and will aid in building your social media presence. Let’s strengthen that presence even further by getting social.

Get Social

Social media is more than a publishing tool, it’s an engagement tool. The conversation aspect is what makes social media unique, which is why Facebook and Twitter have made it easy with their internal search functions. However, there are also outside search platforms such as www.buzzsumo.com— a website that makes it quick and easy to discover relevant industry content and influencers. Identifying and communicating with well-known industry bloggers is essential to expanding your social circle and gaining some serious social clout. When it comes to an interaction strategy think beyond just industry thought leaders, and stay open to finding industry groups and getting involved with their circle. Last but not least, make sure you’re engaging followers with thought provoking questions and discussions; it will add value to your page(s) and keep followers hungry for more. The more interacting you do, the more of a name you will be making for yourself. Get involved and let your presence be felt. 

The Conclusion…

Start from the beginning and optimize your profiles so people will have no question about who you are and what you stand for. Next, tackle the posting beast to show people what industry knowledge you bring to the table. Finally, use social media for its purpose—to communicate and share ideas with others. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your social media empire be. Although it might take time and patience, in the end it will all be worthwhile as you see the tweets fly-in and the likes accumulate.

 

Study Links Obesity to Lack of Exercise

Study Links Obesity to Lack of Exercise—What It Means for Your Facility

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You may have heard about a long-term Stanford University study that recently revealed interesting—and controversial—results. Obesity, the study concludes, is due primarily not to over-eating but to a decline in exercise. “Our findings do not support the popular notion that the increase of obesity in the United States can be attributed primarily to sustained increase over time in the average daily caloric intake of Americans,” said the study’s lead author, Uri Ladabaum, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford. “We found significant association between the level of leisure-time physical activity, but not daily caloric intake, and the increases in BMI and waist circumference.”
This is good news for the fitness industry for several reasons. First, amid all the clamoring voices in the media and among experts, it lends a weight of authority to the work we do. Every day, it seems, there’s a new report, or a new top-ten list, or a new “trusted opinion” about the value of exercise, the value of dieting, the value of exercising while dieting, the value of a health club membership. The Stanford study took place over a 20-year period. It rigorously examined obesity, waistline obesity, physical activity, and calorie intake among both men and women. It offers unique data: In 1994, for example, only 19.1 percent of women said they did not have any physical activity in their lifestyle; in 2010, 51.7 percent reported that they did not work out. The difference is similar for men: In 1994, only 11.4 percent of men didn’t work out; in 2010, that figure was up to 43.5 percent. During that time, body mass index increased .37 percent per year for women and .27 percent per year for men.
The upshot is this: Medical scientists who have spent two decades studying the issue have proven that people need to work out to avoid obesity. The opportunities for working out provided by gyms, health clubs, fitness venues, sports centers, and the like are unparalleled. In today’s society, with the pressures of work being what they are and the possibilities for sedentary activity being so attractive and plentiful, it is your facilities that give people a fair shot at lasting good health.
How can you use this information to your benefit? Make it known. Spread news of the study through your social media channels and through personal interaction—make sure your trainers and your sales staff know about it, and get them talking about it. Find ways to ask your members to tell their friends.
Also, create outreach programs. The study shows that the groups hit hardest by lack of exercise are African-American women and Mexican-American women. Consider creating affordable programs and make them available to these groups. Also, try to figure out the best ways to spread the news about them. People who don’t have easy access to exercise want it—and desperately need it—and they represent for you a virtually untapped source of new memberships. It’s up to you to design memberships that work for them.
But beware of one thing: The study results are, as I mentioned, controversial. Certainly eating habits in this country are problematic, especially in places known as food deserts, where nutritious choices are not always available or understood. Even in places where incomes and available options do allow for healthier eating, the prevalence of processed food, fast food, and just plain junk food often leads consumers to make poor choices. To show that you’re concerned with the total health of your members, try to make yourself a source of information about nutrition and healthy dieting. Offer programs to educate your members about healthy eating choices—and to set yourself apart from your competition. Your members are there to work out, and that’s the first step; give them the added bonus of increased chances at better eating. They’ll watch their BMIs drop quicker, and eventually you’ll watch your membership numbers grow.

Establishing a YouTube Presence

Establishing a YouTube Presence

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YouTube is the second most used search engine in the world. The first is Google. When you consider the facts that (1) Google owns YouTube, (2) Google’s search engine algorithm weighs heavily the presence of videos on a website (in plain English: if you’ve got videos, your site will appear higher up in Google’s search results), and (3) videos are much more likely to go viral than text-only online content, the conclusion you should draw is obvious: Your facility can benefit from having a presence on YouTube.
But where to begin? Or, if you already have a selection of videos on YouTube, how to optimize? Don’t worry. There are some simple steps you can take to establish yourself in the YouTube universe.
First, if you haven’t already, create a YouTube channel for your facility. This takes seconds to do and allows you to build up a mass of users who subscribe to your account; it also lets you send emails to subscribers. Be sure to upload the videos you create to your channel.
Then consider the production value that’s right for you. Your videos do not have to be perfectly polished works of art; in fact, anything too polished could be off-putting. You want to keep them authentic, comfortable, and welcoming. You also want them to be cost-efficient. This means investing just enough resources to get your point across; you might be able to make a perfectly fine video with just a smartphone attached to a tripod accessory (just make sure you’re paying close attention to sound quality; if you invest in any sort of high-tech equipment, let it be a great microphone).
That said, keep in mind that viewers won’t stick around for long if a video is too low in quality. And you want them to stick around, because the whole point is to give them a direction to take. By the end of your video, you should tell viewers to contact you, stop by, or check out your social media channels. Including a call to action — and making the video compelling enough so that viewers stay long enough to get the call to action — is crucial.
As far as other content goes, the sky — and your imagination — is the limit. Videos featuring quick, helpful routines created by your trainers are an obvious choice, and are sure to be a big hit. But don’t overlook other possibilities: videos of new members, perhaps explaining why they chose to join your facility; videos of staff discussing their favorite parts of their jobs; videos of events you’ve hosted or sponsored, especially if they’re events that show your dedication to your surrounding community. Also, videos of CEOs, managers, or owners offering personal, sincere stories about how they’ve overcome hardship or what motivates them or why they do what they do can be extremely compelling. Don’t forget that humor always attracts attention. As do children!
Other things to keep in mind: You want to be sure to help Google — and viewers — connect your YouTube video with your other online content. That means, in the description of your video, include a link to your website. The flip side of that is connecting your clientele (and potential clientele) with your videos: Be sure to tweet the videos, share them on Facebook and Google+, promote them on Instagram — make them an integrated part of your social media strategy.
As part of that strategy, you should also take time to invest in the YouTube community. Become an integral part of that community by commenting on other videos within your fields of interest. Add links on your website to videos you find interesting. If other YouTube users perceive your facility as a supportive, community-minded entity, they’ll support you, and then the real magic of YouTube will kick in, with word about your facility spreading at lightning speed.
Of course, as with all of your marketing efforts, you’ll want to maintain brand recognition. Include your logo, use fonts and colors associated with your brand, establish a consistent voice and personality, and ensure that the tone conveyed in the video matches the tone you have established elsewhere. The pay-off — a higher profile on Google and a reputation as a video provider — will be huge!

Winter in Summer

Winter in Summer

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Since we seem to be in the middle of an endless winter, let’s contemplate the experience of winter in summer — or, more precisely, how rinks and hockey centers can manage most efficiently in the off-season.
I have a friend who loves to go ice-skating in the summer; rinks are empty, she tells me. But I don’t get it: Why are they empty? Why doesn’t everyone head straight for a field of ice when it’s 95 degrees outside? It’s largely and very simply a matter of public perception, I think: We associate skating and hockey-playing with cold weather, so we don’t think of doing it when summer rolls around. If you operate a rink or hockey center that’s open year-round, however, there are a few things you can do to shift public perception.
It’s all about managing the message. If you offer a summer camp program, get the word out to families before the major push for summer-camp registration starts. These days, parents start signing their kids up for summer activities the day after New Year’s. Luckily for you, that’s the ideal time for a rink to spread the word. At the beginning of December, when you’re in the thick of league games, regular training, clinics, and rink rentals — and before other types of summer programs have easy access to the audience you’re serving — start an advertising campaign for your summer camp program. Put up posters that play on the winter-in-summer contrast, and get creative with them. Images of kids in bathing suits running around in mounds of snow will grab your audience’s attention. Your goal is to let families know that the hockey and skating they’re enjoying so much right now are available to them all year long (and are even more enjoyable when the temperature is soaring!).
Also, if your rink is the kind that converts to non-ice sports in the warmer weather — roller-skating, soccer, field hockey — be sure your customer base knows this. Again, because the tendency will be to associate your facility with winter sports only, customers might think of other venues before they think of yours. From the first moment a hockey player or ice-skater walks through your door, be sure it’s obvious that your activity offerings go far beyond the ice-based. Prominently display pictures of people enjoying other sports in your facility; directly advertise your other offerings. Train your staff members to mention those other offerings at the moment when registration for a winter sport happens.
Finally, make good use of social media. Facebook, Twitter, and especially Instagram and Pinterest are all image-centric: Reveal your full breadth of offerings through vivid images that you post frequently. Avoid the natural inclination to show off only your ice-skaters and hockey-players when the holiday season in upon us, and businesses everywhere are plugging images of happy, winter scenes. That’s the perfect time, in fact, for you to capitalize on the interesting contrast you can offer that other places can’t: winter in summer!

Brand Identity

Brand Identity

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We all know how confusing a mixed message can be. Somebody tells you one thing and then does another, and you’re left wondering what exactly happened. Did you misunderstand something? Have you misinterpreted? Most of all, can you still trust the person in question?
While it can be bewildering when it happens between individuals, it can be downright damaging when it happens between an individual and a business, especially when the business thrives on retaining members. So, it might be time to review the messages you’re sending your clientele and make sure you’re not putting conflicting signals out there. To that end, a few pieces of advice:
1) Consider your free offers carefully. Some gyms have been known to offer pizza days, bagel days, even doughnut or candy days. While such food giveaways might make members happy, they can undermine your primary messaging. You want your members to believe that you care about their health — sure, a slice of pizza or a bagel once a month never hurt anyone, but let the strip mall down the street supply those. If you do it, how believable are you going to sound when you tell your members they need to exercise and eat properly to lose weight? And if you don’t sound believable and they don’t lose the weight, are they going to renew their membership when the time comes?
Of course, you could give away candy or bagels—even bagels slathered in cream cheese or butter—if you hand out with them, say, a chart that shows how many push-ups a person would need to do to burn off those calories, or how many miles they’d need to run on the treadmill. Again, it’s about consistent messaging.
2) Check how inclusive you’re being. Unless your facility is an elite training center or something similar, chances are you don’t want to turn away any potential clients. Are your flyers, advertisements, social media postings, and other promotional materials inclusive, with people of all colors, genders, sizes, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds represented? Will an overweight person or a Spanish-speaker or a transgender individual feel alienated? Try to consider your messaging from as many different points of view as possible, asking yourself whether you might be unintentionally shutting anyone out.
3) Pay attention to your grammar. I know this one makes me sound like your ninth-grade English teacher, but it’s important. In this day and age, when so much of a company’s identity depends on the words it strings together on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, in emails, and on websites, proper grammar—along with careful spelling and punctuation—is crucial. This is especially the case if your messaging is about achieving excellence, pushing yourself, going over and above, and the like. If you want to keep your credibility, you have to show your own willingness to achieve excellence, to push yourself. Even if your clientele cares more about a good workout than a well-crafted sentence, on some level evidence of carelessness will have an effect.
In the end, it’s about having a solid brand identity and continually working to strengthen that identity. Tweaking small details and taking the time to reflect on the messages you’re conveying can make a big difference.