As the owner of a small business, I have felt the effects of the pandemic. Being that I own a boutique fitness studio has only compounded the problem. What is your advice on getting new members into my studio?
Answer by Mike Ozan
Hello Joe, First of all know that you are not alone. So many businesses have suffered great loss not only because they had to close and pivot to other methods of revenue but even more because their customers' needs have changed, their purchase urgency has changed. The innovation in fitness during the pandemic accelerated not only in capability but your fitness customer has gained a ton of comfort and confidence in the viability of home work outs. As your customers felt they had no other choice they adapted. I can tell you as someone who is now working out at home and succeeding after 25 years of gym membership I don't remember what I am missing until I hear those that are going to the gym talking about it. Then I miss it. This tiny focus group in my head spurs one key insight. People have forgotten the difference of feeling that being in the same place has to virtual. All places that are part of a lifestyle must continuously show images of what's occurring on the property. Fitness classes and parties have the same social patterns. People are drawn to the energy of the place. Right now most assume that the energy is dulled like everywhere else. When everything feels muted that is a great opportunity to show off color, vibrancy, personality and energy. That means lots of photos, lots of videos of what is happening with consent to tag everyone there. That is because, of course social media is the best way to get your audience to see that they are missing out! Now, that brings us to the next issue that all small businesses are having, here is what we hear: "I am posting in my social channels but barely get any engagement". Here's the issue with that and how you can fix it. Social media is either a virtuous cycle or a vicious one. That means that in the world of social media is this, if your posts are liked and shared and commented on then they gain momentum and are seen by more and more, why? Social media is an advertising platform. So more eyes means you are helping Facebook produce revenue. Thus the algorithm favors and spins up engaged posts. So the downside is if you did not maintain and work your butt off on social up until now you are at a great disadvantage because even though you have a couple thousand followers only a few of them are seeing your posts as the channels programming tries to prioritize what people have demonstrated they like. So a thousand followers but 2 likes on your post? That means maybe 5% or less of your followers are actually seeing your post. So to make up for lost time we typically recommend spending some money on boosted posts that will for sure be seen by those who like your page and their contacts or a specific audience you designate. We understand that small businesses don't have dollars to spend on advertising. What we are talking about here is $5 to $10 to $50 at most at a time but for a while, put a little something down on every post to make sure things are being seen. Also, when you do this take a stab at creating a bunch of different audiences. In Facebook and Instagram you could overhear people talking about a new show and you could target people who watch it. You could also target Peloton followers. So to recap, capture the magic of the experience and push it out through social sponsored social posts. Keep an eye on your social metrics which come with your business page and also your website analytics, class sign-ups and the like. To master marketing is to master behavior patterns. Look for them, watch what people respond to and most importantly make sure your team is leveraging every oz of their own following and personality. Tell your friends and family to like posts and share posts. Again you have to reverse the vicious cycle and turn it virtuous. Lastly, I will tell you the trick to social content is to always be working a few stories at a time that are planned in advance. Brainstorm with your team things you can make a show off in social. Up the experience part in every way that is appropriate. Next, look to your franchisor. I see that you share posts from the main feed but is that all they have to give you. Make sure you are getting the marketing support you are promised when it comes to photography and other assets. Also consider banding together with the other franchisees in the area and pooling your collective energy around a local cause. Come up with some spectacles like moving a class outside and turning your parking lot into a post covid wellness faire by parting with complimentary businesses. Don't forget to put on a show. Use your give back spectacular to attract new media and get customers back on your property. It's a ton, I know but that's what it is to be a small business. Thank you for your question Joe, if you require any clarification or assistance please reach out. Mike