Two Fitness Centers Exercise Direct Mail to Drive in New Members

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June 12, 2012

Health clubs have withstood tough economic times. Since 1992 the number of health clubs has increased 40 percent and membership has grown by almost 60 percent from 20.8 million to 32.8 million, according to a Trends Report published by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association.

So what’s the downside if the number of healthclubs and its members have grown to this extent? The Achilles tendon is for health center operators not to fall into the lazy thinking common in the boom of the 80s – a build it and they will come mentality.

The clubs that failed to build direct marketing campaigns with a firm understanding of the dynamic nature of their consumers, saw their membership numbers decrease and soon thereafter, their doors close. The same can happen today if such lazy thinking creeps in again.

Title Boxing Club Throws a One-Two Punch with Direct Mail

Title Boxing’s aggressive workout and marketing program are far from lazy. Title Boxing promotes an intense body workout and 1,000 calorie an hour burn with its total boxing program. The boxing chain is piggybacking on the “extreme” workout craze made popular by Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo® Fitness and Tony Horton’s P90X home program.

In the Kansas City marketplace, one Title Boxing Club is becoming the heavy weight champion of marketing – direct mail via over-sized postcards. By mailing 6×11 four-color postcards regularly to around 30,000 homes near its gym, it only needed a handful of new members to sign up at $60 a month for a year membership to break-even. It received 70 new members from its last mailing that offered a complimentary workout, ½ off enrollment and a free pair of boxing gloves with a membership agreement.

Bally’s Tests Variable Dating Printing for Extraordinary Return in Ethnic Markets

Bally’s Total Fitness provides total fitness through fitness, nutrition, and all a person could want for wellness under one roof. However, it was approached by a variable data evangelist urging them to allow him to guide them through a test of one-to-one direct marketing to increase its membership among Hispanic, Korean, and African Americans.

Bally’s said yes to producing the variable data print piece, which included a six-panel, mailer with perforated membership cards on the inside fold shown below. Both the images and the text were triggered by the recipient’s gender and ethnicity. Even the language was variable from piece to piece, based on a trigger in the data. If the acquired data indicated the prospect was a native speaker of Spanish or Korean then the language on their mail piece reflected that information.

The test mailing of 15,000 pieces was divided between three New Jersey Bally’s locations with low membership rates. The mailer instructed the recipient to punch out the trial membership card and bring it in to Bally’s for a free two-week trial membership. The trial membership number, bar code and recipient name were printed on an image of a hand holding a Bally’s membership card (see image above).

The test mailing produced $18,000 in new membership revenue at just one of the three locations. Similar new membership applications later came in at the other two locations.

What is your company doing to keep its new business numbers healthy? Are you using variable data printing for the ultimate knock-out in ROI results or falling back on a less strategic methodology that’s leaving your results anorexic.

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