How Brand Advocacy Boosts Customer Retention For Fitness Clubs

One of the most critical challenges facing fitness clubs is customer (or member) retention. About 30 percent of club members do not renew their memberships, according to IHRSA. In some clubs, turnover rates are even higher.

In larger fitness chains, improving retention rates by even one percent can mean millions in revenues. So how can Brand Advocates help fitness clubs keep more members? Here are four ways:

1. Members are more likely not to renew if their usage levels are low. Brand Advocates can  help educate other members about services they may not currently be using like Group X classes, personal training, swimming lessons, spa services, and more. As the club’s most enthusiastic and engaged members, Advocates are glad to tell others about these services.

2. Brand Advocates will happily create content about why they’re loyal customers. Ask your Advocates why they stay with your club. Advocates will create compelling answers, which you can then share with other members and even prospects.

3. Sponsor fun events where Advocates encourage new members to participate in club events and take advantage of club services.

4. Lastly, engaging your Advocates increases the likelihood that these enthusiastic members themselves will continue renewing their memberships month after month, year after year. By building and nurturing relationships with your Advocates, you deepen their commitment to your club.

We saw this at Apple, where I worked as a marketing consultant for ten years. Apple Advocates drove loyalty by acting as a powerful marketing force. These enthusiastic customers went out of their way to:

  • Educate other Apple customers about product features and benefits, which increased product usage.
  • Defend the Apple brand against negative word of mouth, a significant cause of attrition.
  • Build communities of other Apple customers, which drove engagement.
  • Remind Apple customers why they purchased Apple products in the first place.

Top 10 Ways to Reward Customer Advocates

Paying for advocacy isn’t a smart move. It lessens the impact of advocacy. It’s unethical and it can get a company in the FTC’s crosshairs. And it’s just freakin’ lame. It’s like saying, “Since our product isn’t worth talking about genuinely, how about I give you 10 bucks to write a review.”

Here are 10 ways to authentically reward Customer Advocates:

  1. Give Advocates sneak peeks at new products and services earlier than other customers. If your company is a consumer electronics manufacturer or a software firm, give Advocates first access to a new DVR or version of your graphics software.
  2. Hold special events for Advocates only. If your company is a restaurant, hold a special event for Advocates where they get an exclusive preview of your new menu or meet your new executive chef. If you’re a retailer, hold a special Advocates only preview of a new store opening. Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill and Vertical Response, an e-mail service provider, are two companies that thank Advocates by inviting them to special events.
  3. Provide Advocates with exclusive offers that they can share with their friends. Don’t give Advocates the same offers you give to all customers. Give Advocates unique offers that show that you recognize them as your true VIP’s. If your company is a hotel, give Advocates a weekend package for their friends only.
  4. Give Advocates early access to exclusive content. This includes content like white papers and research studies. If you’re a biotech company, make sure your Advocates are the first to get a new research study.
  5. Ask Advocates for their opinions. If you’re an apparel company and thinking about a new sportswear line, give Advocates the opportunity to voice their opinions about the line before others.
  6. Give Advocates special access to company leaders. Starbucks gave one of its Advocates- “Starbucks Melody”- an opportunity to meet company founder, Howard Schultz. Can you imagine how thrilled Virgin America Advocates would be to meet Sir Richard Branson? Even if you don’t have a rock star CEO, giving Advocates the opportunity to have direct dialogue with senior leaders of your company can make them feel special.
  7. Give contributions to nonprofit causes on behalf of Advocates. One of the best ways to reward Brand Advocates is to make cash and/or in-kind contributions to deserving nonprofit organizations on behalf of your Advocates. This approach motivates Advocates, boosts your corporate image and reputation, and serves a useful social purpose.
  8. Honor your Advocates. Webroot has started recognizing its Advocates with its Webroot “Advocate of the Week” program. This is yet another great way to encourage advocacy without paying for it.
  9. Let them know that their recommendations matter. One of the best ways to recognize Advocates is making sure they know their advocacy is working. Awhile back, one of my colleagues recommended someone they knew for a position at our company, Zuberance. They were delighted when I sent them an email thanking them for the recommendation and letting them know that the person was doing a great job. You can do the same thing systematically online by showing Advocates which of their friends they’ve recommended are also now customers and Advocates themselves!
  10. Give Advocates VIP levels of service. If your company is a hotel or a resort, you may provide Advocates with a town car or limousine while they stay at your property or a personal VIP guide. If your company is a software provider, offer Advocates a special help desk for VIP customers only.

Letting your Advocates know that you recognize their contribution is the best reward imaginable. A simply thank you note or email from the CEO of your company goes a long way with Advocates.

Now Available! Download Chapter One of New Book, Brand Advocates

About Brand Advocates

In the social media age, power has shifted from advertising’s Mad Men to millions of passionate Brand Advocates. Their trusted recommendations are driving purchase decisions for trillions of dollars in sales of cars to computers; soap to software; hotel rooms to home appliances; fitness memberships to fish tacos; and more. In this ground-breaking book, advocacy expert Rob Fuggetta shows marketers and business leaders how to identify Brand Advocates; energize them to spread positive Word of Mouth and drive sales; and track results from advocacy programs. Brand Advocates is chock full of colorful real-world stories of Brand Advocates and innovative marketers who are getting eye-popping results by turning Advocates into powerful marketing forces.

Click here to download Chapter One now!

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