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SALES & MARKETING


FIGURE 3: The infl uence of online customer reviews – and the subsequent impact on sales – cannot be underestimated


• Think about re-focusing some of your staff to maintain your online presence as well as keeping the physical club clean and tidy.


2. GET A RECOMMENDATION Having found your club online, the customer then seeks out impartial advice to help them make the right decision. Word of mouth remains a powerful tool for an industry that relies heavily on referral, but this conversation has moved online. In this context, operators need to identify where their clubs are being talked about and know how to effectively participate in the conversation. During the summer of 2012,


payasUgym.com carried out a survey of gym users in order to understand whose advice they trust when considering a new gym – see Figure 3. As part of this analysis, we also studied the fi nancial impact of online customer reviews in order to understand the revenue potential for operators. The results show that anonymous internet users have a signifi cant effect on your business through comments posted on internet forums, social media and review sites. We also found that online feedback is even more infl uential for women, and the effectiveness is enhanced as the price of the gym increases. Many operators approach customer


feedback with a degree of trepidation, but it’s interesting to note that nearly half of all customers would still buy from a


club with negative feedback provided the management had responded to it. We also found that a club with average feedback can offset negative comments by providing more photographs of the actual facilities. In addition, customers understand that


no service can be perfect all of the time, and not all of them agree on ‘bad’ points. Where one person may complain that a swimming pool was full of children, another will interpret this as ‘good for families’. To help secure a recommendation:


• Make sure your club is listed on review sites and forums that enable people to talk about gym use by searching Google for ‘gym reviews in [your town]’. • Set up a Google alert so you receive an email from Google when people are talking about your club, and try to respond quickly and positively (google.co.uk/alerts)


3. LOOK FOR A DEAL At this stage, the customer still hasn’t set foot in the club, but is now seriously considering it. Therefore the challenge is to provide just enough of an incentive to get them to follow up their interest with a site visit – without discounting unnecessarily. The key to offering effective deals is to ensure that the online channels or websites through which you promote them specifi cally target the type of customer you are trying to attract with each deal. The promotion or discount you offer should also be no more than the bare minimum that will get them through the door.


52 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital


It’s important to: • Consider the relevance of the audience when you offer a promotion online to maximise conversion to full members. • Try to avoid ‘daily deal’ or group buying sites that aren’t specifi c to the health and fi tness industry. These sites offer diminishing returns and signifi cantly devalue your product in the eyes of the customer.


CONCLUSIONS Customers have fundamentally and irreversibly changed the way they buy, so fi tness operators have to change the way they sell. This doesn’t mean traditional methods need to be abandoned, but it does mean clubs have to understand their customers’ decision-making process before tailoring their next ad campaign. ●


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Neil Harmsworth is co-founder of the online lead generation and gym sales website, www.payasugym.com.


As a National Business Award Finalist in 2012, payasUgym.com works with almost 1,000 gyms and health clubs across the UK to maximise online sales and lead generation opportunities. Contact: neil@payasugym.com


February 2013 © Cybertrek 2013


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