Behind the Scenes
Jay Baer offered the keynote address at the opening day of IHRSA in Orlando on Monday Photo by Pamela Kufahl

Jay Baer offered the keynote address at the opening day of IHRSA in Orlando on Monday. (Photo by Pamela Kufahl.)

The Best Way to Market Your Health Club Likely Isn't What You Think

Jay Baer offered advice on marketing during the keynote address at the opening day of IHRSA in Orlando on Monday. (Photo by Pamela Kufahl.)

Is your club's marketing so useful that people would pay you for it? If you want to be successful in today's social media over-saturated world, that's exactly how useful your marketing needs to be (even though you would never actually charge people for it), said Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert and author of "Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype" plus three other books. Baer gave Monday's IHRSA 2016 keynote address at the Orlando Convention Center in Orlando. The show runs from Monday through Thursday.

On social media, businesses are competing for the attention of consumers with other businesses and with family and friends of those consumers.

"So businesses are competing for attention with people that members know and love," Baer said.

The solution for standing out from those family and friends is simple.

"Stop trying to be amazing, and start being useful," Baer said.

Baer shared a story about a pool and spa company that was just days away from filing for bankruptcy in 2009 during the recession. The company decided to write a blog sharing the answers to every question they had received during the last few years. The average person who comes to their blog reads 105 of their blog posts—and the best part is that the company is now doing well financially.

"The better you teach, the more you'll sell," Baer said.

Another way to be helpful is to monitor social media for questions you can answer, which is something that Hilton does. The company answers questions that may have no relation to hotels or Hilton. The eventual payoff is that people will remember the brand's helpfulness when they take their next trip, and perhaps that will lead to them selecting Hilton.

"Embrace the power of eventually," Baer said. That means, think long term rather than short term. Be patient.

Of course, the best marketing is member word-of-mouth, but that only comes when you do something no one expects you to do.

"Great customer experience is when you're so useful it exceeds customer expectations," Baer said.

But when a company does not meet expectations and gets a bad review or comment on social media, business operators should see that as an opportunity.

"Members who complain are your most important customers, but we treat them like our least important customers," Baer said. Not responding to complaints is a mistake because it decreases consumer advocacy and tells the complainer that you don't care enough to answer their complaint.

"What makes you a better business and person is negative feedback," he said.

So, the next time a member criticizes you or your club, it might be best to thank them for the feedback, let them know you will address the situation and ask them to share more feedback to help you improve even further. 

For more about the IHRSA show, read this preview blog

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