Get On-Line Or Get-Out of Business!
Why Every Club Operator Should Be Using Internet Marketing - Part I
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Yes, the title of this article is bold, but I won't back down from the statement. As someone who has been in the health club industry for over 25 years now and who specializes in sales and marketing, I predict that, if you don't immediately begin to embrace and utilize the Internet as a significant element of your marketing plan, you will be out of business in the near future. Therefore, when speaking and consulting with a health club operator who is resistant to using Internet tools, my advice is very simple, "get out before you go out!"
In my opinion, there are many reasons why this "do or die" prediction is a reality. First, consumers are using the Internet more and more to locate products and services. When polling a room of 100 seminar attendees, I ask, "Who has used the phone book in the last thirty days?" Maybe two people will raise their hands. Asking, "Who has used Google in the last week," I almost always get a resounding "Yes" from everyone. This trend of locating products and services via the Internet will continue as time goes by and more businesses begin using the many Internet marketing tools that are available.
Second, consumer buying-patterns have changed. Not only are people using the Internet to find items, but they are also spending a considerable amount of time researching before they either call or visit a business. Whether it is time spent on your website, doing Google searches on your company or visiting one of many social networking sites where other customers are talking about you, consumers are empowering themselves with information so they don't have to talk to a "salesperson" before making an initial buying decision. This means that, if you don't get yourself engaged in all the areas of the web where customers are visiting, you will miss out on valuable prospects.
Third, traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective. In part, this is due to Internet use, but it is also a reality of an "over-advertised to" consumer. People have hundreds of television stations to choose from, posters and ads are displayed on everything possible, heaps of junk mail is delivered to mailboxes and technology is bombarding us with messages 24-7. As a result, people tune many advertisements out. On the other end of the spectrum, you have things like satellite radio, TIVO and on-demand movies that allow people to simply turn off all advertising. Compound this with the fact that newspaper readership continues to dwindle and the reality is that many of the ways health clubs effectively advertised are either dead or dying.
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