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New Year, New Plan

Ron Greenfield, founder of Individualized Fitness Solutions and owner of No Limits Fitness in Voorheesville, NY, is a certified personal trainer and sports conditioning specialist who works with various high school and collegiate sports teams throughout the Northeast. He can be reached at

As fitness professionals and club operators, we are constantly telling our members about the importance of tracking workouts so that they can determine what is working and how much progress they are making. Yet when it comes to creating a marketing plan and updating it, we usually make it last on our to-do list.

Why do a new plan when the goal of generating new members hasn’t changed? It is imperative that an annual plan is completed so that we -- just like our members -- can track our progress and make the necessary changes that are needed to ensure success.

Here are six tips to remember when developing your annual marketing plan:

1. Create specific timelines. For example, it is probably too late to order holiday gifts for your clients on Dec. 1. Ask yourself when the project is slated to begin and what is the target completion date. When are results expected?

2. Consider if each action was a success or a failure. If your direct-mail campaign got few responses, it might not be the smartest idea to do it again until you figure out why it didn't achieve the desired results. Once you do that, you can modify it to create an even greater chance of success next year.

3. Decide who is responsible for each step in the plan. Who is taking responsibility for the action, and who is following up to make sure the action was completed? Make sure the person assigned to a project agrees to the project and knows when the project should begin and end.

4. Weigh the cost of each step against the benefit so that you can budget effectively. If you reduce prices for a special membership sale, will volume make up the discount? What is the break-even point? Was the benefit of the project to bring in additional members, and, if so, how many can be attributed to that particular action? How many referrals will be generated through an ad or Web site? Does the cost equal the result? These are questions you have to ask yourself.

5. Track the success or failure of each step. Are you asking potential members how they heard of your facility or what motivated them to join? What specific tracking tools are you using? Consider adding questions to your application that address tracking.

6. Make the plan fluid so that you can make changes when needed. Circumstances change. Just because it is in the plan doesn’t mean you have to do it or do it in the particular time frame that was set. Be flexible to what your facility needs.

Remember to take your own advice. A marketing plan is to your benefit, just like a workout card helps members get results.

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