I was recently walking around my neighborhood when I noticed someone standing outside of a new fitness center that appears to be opening up. This gentleman was trying to attract the attention of those passing by yelling “get a free trial class.” He was also handing out postcards promoting the opening and the free trial. I’m typically devoted to my local Equinox as well as the nearby Soul Cycle, but hey, I’m happy to support the opening of new neighborhood businesses. I took my postcard, said thank you and kept walking.
As I looked down at the postcard and reflected on this brief interaction, I realized that I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what kind of fitness center I just walked by. Spinning, pilates, weight training, yoga? All of these were possible options given the size of the space and the location. But there was absolutely no way to tell. The name of the company didn’t give away information. That’s fine– lots of businesses choose creative though non-descriptive names and brand around it. But then give me something– a tag line, or an icon or some information that tells me what the business is and why I should care.
The failure to tell me, a potential new customer, exactly what this gym was about was a huge mistake for a couple of reasons:
1. They Had My Attention and They Lost it. In the increasingly noisy world it’s hard to get people to pay attention to a brand. This is particularly true in an already saturated market like fitness. This particular company took action to get me to notice them. They got me, a potential customer, in their sales funnel. Whether it’s engaging people to come to your website or literally stopping someone on the street, getting someone to notice your brand is difficult. But thanks to a yelling stranger, they did it. However, I still walked away without really knowing anything about this company.
THE LESSON: If you do the hard work of getting someone to notice your business, be sure to follow up quickly with the information you want them to know about it.
2. They Lost an Opportunity for Word of Mouth Marketing: Word of mouth can be extraordinarily powerful. As Marie Forleo recently shared, word of mouth marketing is what got her started on the road from transitioning from a one woman shop to a multi-million dollar enterprise. But, if I don’t know what you do, I can’t tell people about you. Looking again at this example, other than saying “there’s a new place fitness place opening up,” I have no way of directing specific people to this place because I don’t know who it’s geared to.
THE LESSON: When communicating about your business- particularly your launch- think of the word of mouth effect. Are you saying something that’s easy for people to remember and pass on?
3. They Now Have to Do A Lot to Get Me Re-Engaged with Their Brand: I have to imagine this fitness studio has some hook that made them open up within blocks of established brands like Equinox, NY Sports and Soul Cycle. But I don’t know what that is, and now I’m probably not going to take the time to find out. I’m not saying I will NEVER go into this studio for that would be a bit extreme If all of a sudden ten of my friends were telling me I had to go there (because maybe they received Round 2 of the postcards with descriptive info) or I a read something really positive about the brand, I’d reconsider. It’s just means that the cost to acquire me as a customer just got higher. Before, the cost was some minimal guerilla marketing. Now, the cost to get me into the studio is guerilla marketing + heavy word of mouth marketing + high quality media. And to think, they could have avoided all that with just a better sales pitch up front.
THE LESSON: Get it right the first time. When you’re introducing a new brand or product, do it well. At the very least, do it clearly!
Via by Cari Sommer at Forbes.com