Paul “Woody” Woodford is Director of Marketing & Partnerships at TA6, the marketing agency from Alliance Leisure. Paul and his team of creative leisure experts help operators with marketing strategy – including communications, content, and customer retention.
Woody talked us through the crucial steps every operator must be doing now, to ensure a successful re-launch once lockdown is lifted.
Operators need to have a positive mindset about bouncing back. There is so much scope for success, the volume and appetite for home workouts is incredible and shows the demand for fitness. The key is starting now, not a couple of weeks before you reopen.
Reflect, Appreciate, Take Action
Leisure customers are currently reflecting on their lifestyle, and deciding what to make a priority once lockdown is lifted, Woody told us. Lots of them will want to take action on their health and fitness, get active, engage with other members, or get motivation from their Personal Trainer. This all presents a huge opportunity for operators. Woody urges operators to be ready, by starting a clear communications strategy now.
Step One – Reflect and Plan
Find out how your customers are feeling, and look at how your brand aligns with this data. We pulled together a survey which our leisure operator clients are sending to clients. Ask your clients, stay close to the consumer research, and make any necessary changes to your brand. As well as reflecting on consumer research, explore new ideas and initiatives to engage consumers. Maybe there is a service, workout, or offering you had been thinking about launching but didn’t. Now is the time to plan that re-launch.
Step Two – A Calm Comms Strategy
Avoid a scattergun approach to your content during lockdown. Keep things calm and cohesive. Stay visible to your existing customer base and add tons of value. Use your content strategy to show that you’ve thought everything through and will be re-launching in an appropriately safe and healthy way. Create a campaign that is mindful – both of consumer mindset, and of the reality of life after lockdown.
Focus your communication strategy on your current customers – those active with you at lockdown. Reward them, thank them, and show you value them. Once you have done this, then focus on customer acquisition.
Step Three – Pivot to Digital
Digital offerings are more accessible (and in demand) than ever. Customers will have seen more content than usual during lockdown. Do you have a fitness app, and a digital member journey?
If not, now is the time! This is a great opportunity to embrace digital and use it to enhance your in-facility and outside-facility customer experience and communications.
If you already have a digital journey, consider ways to improve it. Is it well communicated, what percentage of members are using it, are all staff able to communicate the benefits? bohgym mywellness Cloud is the one and only digital platform in the sector that allows clubs to manage their members’ home training sessions. Thanks to mywellness, fitness clubs can offer assistance and coaching to their customers remotely.
Step Four – Reverse Engineer
Right from the start, your communications strategy should be part of your relaunch campaign. There is no excuse to not have a relaunch strategy ready. Be in a position to press go as soon as we get the green light to reopen.
Your communications strategy can evolve over the weeks, with messaging around taking action to come back to the gym. The main message is that you’re ready for business, you’re taking changes to health and safety seriously, and you want them back.
Think about what your communication strategy might look like. What do customers appreciate about your facility – your offering, your staff, your classes? Build on this to remind, re-engage, or inform them.
Step Five – Ready To Launch
Your campaign needs to be agile so it functions across the business during lockdown. Create a cohesive campaign that inspires current customers, drives acquisition, and leads to the relaunch. You should be in a position to fire off your relaunch campaign two weeks before you can reopen.
Step Six – Stand Out
It’s obvious that goal-orientated members will be different consumers after all this is over. This presents a great opportunity. How will you meet their needs? Start planning how you will communicate a shift in values, different themes in your messaging, and different product offerings.
Step Seven – Re-Connect With Staff
The last step is thinking about how you communicate with staff. Many may have returned from Furlough Leave after several weeks. Use the days before re-opening to reconnect with them and refresh staff knowledge.
Why not consider an engaging staff education and team-building session about your brand, products, and relaunch? Connection with staff will have a direct correlation with their connection with customers.
The Big Benefits Of Planning For Relaunch – Now
See the opportunities, start planning, and resist the urge to focus purely on sales and acquisition.
Your priority has to be existing customers, Woody said. It’s also an exciting opportunity to show who you are through smart brand positioning to new customers. This is once-in-a lifetime stuff. Planning is key to not getting it wrong.