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Is direct mail dying as a viable marketing tool?

Keeping up with a marketing medium balance.

It’s common thinking with businesses that print is dying in marketing and advertising. It may have slowed down, but I continue to fill up my recycle bin every Sunday with newspaper ads and supplementals. Sure, print has decreased in popularity, but there will always remain a place for advertising in print publications. So why is there such a resurgence? The primary reason is that print is no longer the single source of communication medium so it becomes new and fresh again. Ironically, printed items stand out from the crowd when the world is mostly online. There are still enough people who enjoy print so much that several e-businesses have launched print magazines over the past few years.

Similarly, direct mail has made a mini resurgence of its own. Given the upswing of print’s popularity, how can businesses use this “new-again” tool to benefit them? While the level of personalization may have fallen off as the number of recipients rise, getting something individually addressed with a stamp versus being one among thousands receiving an eblast, or email has a certain caché in this increasingly impersonal world. By combining a personal touch with an attention-getting direct mail piece adds to client retention. As technology dictates more standardization such as template designs, businesses need to stand out from the clutter to draw both attention and distinction. Simple techniques like an irregular mailer size, or oversized type using bright colors are still very effective. Offers to save on a membership fee can be written in oversize text on the front and back and make it more attractive with a strong call to action. Variable data printing, or match mailing personalizes your audience by using the first name from a database list. This technique has proven successful in many marketing campaigns.

Email marketing has grown to the point of being over saturated, and text messaging maintains the top position as far as a marketing medium. You certainly can’t beat the price on either of these. However, are the 2 marketing tools on their own giving businesses the return they would expect? Emails and texts are maybe forgotten, or lost within seconds of opening them. Like with Twitter posts, which have an average 3-minute shelf life, emails quickly dissolve into the webosphere. Studies have shown that audiences hold on to and pay more attention to direct mail over emails. Four-fifths (79 per cent) of consumers will act on direct mail immediately compared to only 45 per cent who say they deal with email straightaway, according to CMO Council Journal.  Emails can supplement a direct mail campaign as a follow-up reminder, but on their own they’re quickly forgotten. An example would be greeting cards. While egreeting cards have gained a strong following, print cards still fly off the shelves. It’s just more personal, comforting and credible to get that piece of paper instead of an email.

Other facts according to the Direct Marketing Association:

• Direct mail advertising gives a business a 13 to 1 return on investment
• 39% of customers try a business for the first time because of direct mail advertising
• 70% of customers renew a business relationship because of a direct mail promotion
• 76% of customers have been directly influenced to purchase by direct mail
• 98% of Americans check their mailbox daily
• 62% of Americans enjoy checking their mailbox
• 56% of Americans say receiving mail is a real pleasure
• 77% of Americans sort through their mail immediately after retrieving it from the
mailbox
• 70% of Americans say mail is more personal than the Internet

Print, and especially direct mail cannot be ignored. It is the foundation of brand equity and the driving force of successful marketing. With the continual push for online advertising, any direct mail campaign should be part of a larger comprehensive marketing package where email supports direct mail and visa-versa. Trends will recommend one type of media over another, but good marketing communication requires a strategic media mix with multiple touch points.

Stephen Wilson
Marketing Communications Consultant
Wilsonmarcom

4 Unique Ways Text Messaging Engages Clients

Adding technology to your club marketing should make the task of driving revenue and retaining clients much easier. Using text messaging can be one of the best ways to reach out to your clients and is key to retaining them, creating more revenue and keeping them engaged to what your club has to offer.

When you envision text message marketing, you think about promotional deals such as weekly offers from Redbox, or an update on the latest sale from a retail store. Thinking outside the box with your text messaging marketing as a business owner can elevate you past the normal advertising clutter your clients are bombarded with everyday. While effective text messages can lead to sales more often, using practical, relevant and informative content can go a long way in building client loyalty. Let’s look at four ways to use text messaging to engage your clients and give them every opportunity to connect with your business.

Motivational Messages

Motivating members to continue workouts with regularity is half the battle for any owner. Using text-messaging works well for personalized marketing to inspire your members to keep coming back. This is not only a retention reminder, but that you’re thinking of their personal health while providing yourself an opportunity to upsell them on additional club offerings such as a new class, or a personal training session. Furthermore, you can engage members with motivational messages who haven’t been to the gym for a while, such as inspirational quotes like “Sweat now, shine later,” or “Exercising is a blessing, not a chore.” Other motivational messages might include health tip alerts, or links back to your website for nutritional advice, or even healthy food recipes.

Having the convenience of automated text alerts for your clients helps to keep you and them in “real time.” As different events occur at your business, sending out text messages to members will quickly alert them to what’s going on. For instance, you might be closing for a holiday or have to close early because of bad weather. By letting members know in advance, you will help to combat client frustration instead of them showing up to a locked door. In another example, new clients often are pressed for time. A simple text suggesting less busy times may allow for that member to ease into their workout routine more comfortably. Plus, it gives your staff more time to educate new members about their workouts. Other text messages can include automated birthday alerts and efficient member renewal reminders.

Class Schedules

Giving members timely updates on classes, especially when schedules change is critical to keep them coming back for more classes. Whether it’s a specialized class that happens once a month, or something that happens more frequently, you can create text lists to help remind them about the classes. If something comes up and you have to reschedule a class, you can let members know instantly and they’ll appreciate it more than you can imagine.

Creating More Business Revenue

With the majority of clients using smartphones, businesses can now take advantage by creating a better client experience, as well as up-selling them on products and services. This can be done through basic sales alerts, incentive offers for family and friend referrals, product or service promotional offers, business specials and educational events, or even branding your business as a community sponsor.

Text message marketing is most effective when you can engage your members with relevant information that’s delivered on a personal level. Building a club community begins with keeping members informed through alerts, updates and special offers. Creating a better member experience starts with education, motivation, or something as simple as remembering them on their birthday. Increased revenue can be the result of engaged clients who refer your business to others; and by upselling your promotions or services through continuous education and text communication.

Stephen Wilson
Marketing Communications Consultant
Wilsonmarcom

For more information email Wilsonmarcom@gmail.com or call 720-810-2580.

Your Health Club Members Are Not Just Another Number

I was recently talking to a new client that has two very successful health clubs and I asked, what brought new members to their club? The response was “their members felt like a number with other clubs.” This got me thinking about my own perception of feeling like a number. In my twenties I had joined several gyms and I always quit. Each facility had state of the art equipment and all the amenities I needed, but I never felt a connection. The friendly sales person signed me up, but after that I was lost in all the other members.

Fast-forward to now and I have been working out routinely at the same club for almost five years! The key was finding a gym I could call my home. There are 3 main components that will help your member feel like they are part of a community, not “just a number” in your gym.

#1 Listen

Remember that each member has a story to tell as to why they have ended up at your gym, so ask them and patiently listen for their answer. In sales, it’s easy to jump in quickly and eagerly explain all the great things your club has to offer. If you don’t understand your member, how can you truly explain the benefit to them? Once you take the time to listen, you will understand “why” they’re coming to the gym, and “what” their goals are. This allows your sales team to personalize each member’s experience and give them the opportunity to start building the relationship.

#2 Foster the relationship after the closing the sale.

I previously joined a big gym and the sales experience was great. I was excited and ready to go! The next day, I came in to work out and I was quickly greeted, and that was it.

  • I felt no connection with the people at that gym.
  • I felt intimated to ask the staff questions.
  • I didn’t know where I start?
  • I didn’t know how to get the best results?

I just walked on the floor and blended in with masses. About 4 months later, I quit. Clubs generally spend a lot of time, effort, and money getting new members to walk through their doors. Don’t sign up your newly excited members only to leave them alone and eventually lose them. Set up a follow-up process for the member and your staff so you are keeping connected with all of your new members. This allows you to help build a trusting relationship at the crucial time when you member is most excited. There are some great management tools that can help your staff be successful. The 30-60-90 day report can be designed to track your member’s attendance during your member’s first 30, 60, 90 days of joining your facility. You can easily see if your new members are on track of getting the number of visits needed to reinforce their workout routines and build healthy habits. This type of report can also give you the ability to track new members by sales person so you can see who on your sales team has their new members hitting their attendance goals.

#3 Don’t let members drop off.

It’s easy for “everyday life” to get in the way of members making it to the gym. Member’s kids, their work, being sick – the list goes on. Once they miss a few days, it becomes easier to turn that trend into a bad habit. Don’t let your member’s just drop off without checking in with them. A non-attendance report is a great way for your staff to run regularly to track members who are missing gym time. The report includes the “last visit” by your member, as well as their phone number and email address. Your staff can call, text or email those members, check in, and encourage them to stay the course. Have your staff agree to meet with members to review their workout routines and suggest changes that may help that particular member feel better trying to reach their goal.

Conclusion

By truly listening to members and taking the time to build relationships, your members will start to feel like they are part of a community and “not just a number.” This is what keeps me getting up each morning to workout at the same club. There’s no place I would rather be to have the support I need to accomplish my workout goals. When you start fostering member relationships early on, you have the opportunity for a long-term commitment. By creating a follow up process and using your gym management tools, you are on your way to successfully creating a thriving community for your members!

Stephen Wilson
Marketing Communications Consultant
Wilsonmarcom

 For more information email Wilsonmarcom@gmail.com or call 720-810-2580.

Protecting Point Of Sales From Skimming Devices

One of the most critical pieces of hardware involved with your payment processing is your card swipe POS device. It’s the device that makes physical contact with your customers credit card and if it is compromised it can be used to copy the full credit card information by a hacker. Unfortunately, the hackers and criminals know this and they have been ramping up their attacks from ATMs, to gas pumps, and many other POS devices.

image1 Criminal installing Skimmer on POS device

The criminals are creating customized overlays, called “skimmers”, that sit on top of the credit card reader to copy the credit card information as it is swiped through the reader. The credit card data is stored on the skimmer until the criminal pulls the data off. In some cases the criminal configures Bluetooth on the skimmer so they can read the data remotely; or in other cases they simply take the skimmer back off the device and read the data at their location. Once they have the credit card swipe data they are able to “clone” a credit card with the information and run fraudulent transactions. With the adoption of EMV chip (EuropayMasterCard, and Visa) in the U.S., it will go a long way to eliminate this type of threat by removing the benefits of skimming by fraudsters. Even though the majority of EMV chip cards being issued in the U.S. still have a magnetic stripe that can be skimmed, a fraudulent credit card made from that stolen mag-stripe data cannot be used successfully at an EMV- enabled terminal. In addition, it has been reported that more than 7,200 credit card terminals from store registers nationwide have been replaced after discovering that thieves had somehow modified or replaced machines to include POS technology capable of siphoning customer payment card data and PINs.

image2 One criminal distracts attendant while other installs Skimmer on POS

Compliance requirements

The credit card industry has been aware of these attacks for sometime, but with the advent of personal 3D printers the attacks have become much more “stealth-like” and harder to identify. The Payment Card Industry (PCI) security standards council has updated their own compliance requirements to ensure merchants are regularly inspecting their card swipes looking for both the substitution of the devices, and to identify if the device has been tampered with.

Conclusion

With the recent headlines being full of credit card breaches, consumers are wary of merchants who do not protect their data. It is recommended that you let your customers know about the efforts you’re putting into protecting their card data. Let them see you when you’re inspecting your POS devices. Invite their questions and point out to them how you’re different. Instilling consumer confidence will make a difference to your customers with the myriad of choices they have from competing gyms in the area if they know you take extra steps to protect them.

Stephen Wilson
Marketing Communications Consultant
Wilsonmarcom

 For more information email Wilsonmarcom@gmail.com or call 720-810-2580.

Scheduling For Dollars

Being efficient with your time and your health club member’s time should be synonymous. By creating better scheduling efficiency, you’re meeting member expectations when it comes to helping organize their busy lives. Let’s look at several ideas on how that can affect your bottom line when it comes to member scheduling.

Lost revenue through the Internet

People do most of their business online these days. 86% of the U.S. population uses the Internet. 72% of those people make purchases using a mobile device, which generates 68% of all web traffic. This includes purchasing and scheduling classes or training sessions. Furthermore, clubs must realize that they are not just competing with other clubs for member revenue, but with all online purchases a member or prospective member can make. Having a strong online scheduling presence, including the ability for member purchases through a robust gym mobile app can make a difference with class size and training revenue.

Time is money

People generally know what they want and when they want it. When it comes to the Internet, people are developing a shorter attention span that translates into losing patience and moving on. These days, gym members expect immediate gratification when it comes to scheduling classes and training sessions. Having quick and efficient online scheduling software to use by instructors, trainers and members not only keeps your day on track, but also keeps everyone on the same page and at the same time. Having push notifications is also a major convenience for appointments and helps to keep members and staff up to date. By having fast online check-in, a simple click saves valuable time with instructors and trainers that can be better served working with their members.

What are the possibilities for the future

Beacon technology is promising many future benefits for the fitness industry. What if clubs were able to track member usage patterns in the gym through their mobile devices and determine which equipment was being most utilized, or under-utilized? Clubs would be able to make necessary adjustments to their future purchases, maintenance and areas of approachment for trainers to sell sessions. Other future enhancements with Beacon technology for health clubs may include a member journey experience: welcome/goodbye notifications when members enter and leave the facility; automatic emails and notifications triggered by beacons and other devices within the facility; progress and statistics reporting; motivational emails automatically sent at the right moment; and the member having their own health team network to communicate with through a closed chat. Don’t be surprised to see these possible advancements.

Conclusion

Let’s face it, when you’re competing for your member’s purchasing ability, time is indeed money. It seems like the world is speeding up and technology is setting the pace. Being responsive to your members requires being available anywhere, anyplace and at anytime when it comes to purchasing, scheduling, or for that matter any other area in your business. Staying in front of your members with the right technology requires that you keep current with the latest gym software trends and advancements.

Stephen Wilson
Marketing Communications Consultant
Wilsonmarcom

 For more information email Wilsonmarcom@gmail.com or call 720-810-2580.