7 Best Practices for Membership Marketing

Adult females in yoga class

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When I was finally ready to commit to a regular exercise routine in my schedule, I had lots of options.  I could continue walking in the neighborhood on a regular basis but find a group to walk with regularly and hold me accountable for showing up.  I could find a group exercise program that would have a strong cardio workout. Or I could take out a gym membership and avail myself of all types of training, machines, weights and activities.

After I tried out a few options, I chose the group exercise classes.  And I also got weight training and core work as a part of the package! My decision was driven by these elements, in this order:

—Companionship
—Cost
—Convenience
—Value

I have regularly shown up for my classes for the last 8 years! There have been occasions when I’ve had to miss, but rarely for an extended period.  I am a loyal customer.

Membership Marketing Best Practice #1

When looking at your membership marketing, you first need to identify the primary drivers of membership for the audiences you are trying to capture.  Body & Soul Fitness* really targets stay-at-home moms, so they knew cost and convenience would be primary drivers.  One of the ways they keep down costs is by holding their classes in church facilities.  I don’t know if there is a cost to rent the space or not. (*disclaimer—We are not a vendor to Body & Soul.  I am speaking solely from a member’s perspective)

Membership Marketing Best Practice #2

It’s also important to align your cost, membership value and member satisfaction to recruit and retain members.  When I had first done Body & Soul classes back in the early 80’s they were known a fun cardio dance program.  I eventually had to drop out when my family commitments overtook my need for regular exercise.  I was getting plenty of exercise running around after kids all day, picking up toys, cleaning, cooking and doing LOTS of laundry 😉

When I sought the program out again in 2006, they had added a weight training component, as well a combo pilates/core strengthening exercise piece. I fell in love with the weight training.  It’s a great stress buster for a small business owner. And I’ve worked my way up to 10 pound weights.

Membership Marketing Best Practice #3

Your third goal is to build member profiles that takes into consideration personal needs and interests as well as demographics.  In the last year or so, Body and Soul has expanded their dance component.  There are now options to add in additional cardio dances that use country, salsa and line-dance-type moves and music. In addition, they offer 11 different class types—from Boot Camp, to Cardio/Strength to Dance Blast.

Membership Marketing Best Practice #4

Target your products and messaging based on your member profiles.  One of the things I like about their marketing is that I only receive a direct mail piece right before a new session starts. All of the music used for the cardio, weight training and core routines is taken from Christian artists. Each session has a theme, so all of the music choices are focused around that theme.  At the start of each session we get a devotional booklet that talks about the music and the artists and shares lessons of encouragement. Their theme this winter is ‘Brave & Free.’

 Their tagline is, “Where Faith and Fitness Meet.”

Membership Marketing Best Practice #5

Provide members with products and services that benefit them AND are exclusive. This does not mean that every benefit has to or even should be exclusive.  For Body and Soul Fitness, the benefits of a good cardio workout are not exclusive.  Their delivery is! The devotional booklet is free and there are few programs out there that are based solely on Christian music AND are nationwide.  I  live in Montgomery Village and there are 7 class day and time options available to me within a 30 mile radius. Because their program network is so extensive, if I travel, I could potentially pick up a class in another city or state.

Membership Marketing Best Practice #6

Don’t over provide, just sell what really matters. As I said earlier, their main target audience has been, from the beginning, stay-at-home moms. Across the board, they have more offerings for day classes over evening classes.

When I came back to the program in 2006, I no longer fit that category.  They do offer evening programs, but fewer moms are available in the evening to make this type of commitment.They have two evening class options for working women in my area, but no more.

They offer 11 varieties of program types to meet multiple levels of workout options. They have recognized that adding multiple options for levels of intensity and content would be a good thing. And they offer evening programs, recognizing that there are fewer moms able  to work out in the evenings. There are Saturday class options available.

All of these points demonstrates to me that they’ve done their homework to balance exclusivity with selling what matters.

Membership Marketing Best Practice #7

Be strategic in your pricing of benefits for more value. I have a variety of pricing and payment options with Body and Soul.  I can pay for 1 class a week or 2 classes per week per session.  There are also different prices based on the length of the class.

Our class started as 1 hour sessions.  Two or three years ago, we collectively agreed to extend the class to 75 minutes to get more benefit out of the weight training and core exercises.

Last fall Body & Soul Fitness began offering their class registration and payment online.  I love the free devotional booklet.  I’ve priced classes through our county rec department, and Body and Soul has beaten them every time!

What about you?

Do you have specific membership goals that you are trying to meet for 2015? How many of these best practices are you following to ensure your organization’s success? I would love to hear what you’re doing!

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