To ensure that your club’s online holiday marketing effort succeeds, you need to start thinking well before the holidays, plan the timing of your marketing carefully, and execute on time. Here’s Radial’s hotlist for what should be on your marketing to-do list now and into the season.
WHEN: At the start of the season
WHAT: Develop a marketing calendar for your online campaign.
Here’s an example of one:
plus an exclusive Radial template you can download and use in Excel.
The purpose of the marketing calendar is to break down the tasks involved in actually converting browsers, searchers, or social media users to prospects so that you can actually do them.
The example above is ridiculously simplistic, so it will be up to you to figure out what level of detail needs to be present in order to keep making progress with your online holiday marketing. Ideally, your marketing calendar should include all online channels where your club does business, including social, web, email, apps, and search marketing. Each one of those categories will need steps underneath that can be done in a single “chunk.” You don’t want “build the pyramids” as a line item in your marketing calendar.
If it gets difficult, consider investing in cloud-based project management software. Here’s a list of several that are free or at the very worst, trialware.
It’s harder than it looks, which is why we suggest starting as soon as you possibly can. To help give you an idea of what should go in your marketing calendar, we recommend the following:
WHEN: Now through 11/15
WHAT: Early Bird Marketing
As you work your marketing calendar, keep in mind that for each channel, you’ll have tasks to do leading up to the holidays, when, presumably, you’ll be well into the sales process and closing business. For now:
- Add a holiday teaser to your business’s Facebook page to augment normal non-holiday marketing communications
- Update subscribers to your email list with new gift possibilities since last year
- Start “wishlist” marketing on your website to help customers hint to their loved ones
Your early email should highlight the products, programs and services your health club, wellness center or yoga studio has added over the last year. It brings your products and services to “top of mind.” Position it as “new gift ideas” for the holiday season.
For example, if you’ve added new Level 1 and 2 yoga classes, point out that these make great gifts for daughters, granddaughters or stressed-out coworkers. (Didn’t add anything new this year? You’re heading towards rocky water.)
For wishlists, start with a blog entry formatted as a holiday-themed checklist of the ten most popular programs, products or services that your fitness center or wellness center offers. Then cross-promote it via your email list.
Regardless of where they find your wish list, your prospective customers can print it, check off their faves, and then “accidentally” leave it where their loved ones will get the hint.
WHEN: 11/15 – 12/15
- Help your clients match your services to their gift recipients – by price, by recipient, by area of interest
- Consider tie-ins to charities your wellness business supports
- Use BONGOL promotions – buy one now, get one later. Especially appealing to current clients who secretly want more of your services for themselves. The second item doesn’t have to be identical to the first.
- Personalized or customized gifts, like hand-picked packages of services or custom gift baskets built around a gift certificate or prepaid participation in one of your health or wellness programs or services
Link your products and services to the recipients that your customers are likeliest to buy for: boyfriend, wife or partner, parents, kids, best friends, or close coworkers. It helps sometimes to think of people you actually know, and how they think about buying. Then write for that person.
You’ll need to revisit that web copy you wrote so long ago detailing your product offerings, and look at it in a whole new light, asking of every page, “How does this help ME, the customer, get comfortable with making a purchase?” Refine your web copy until there’s no way Bob the Customer has any remaining questions, doubts, or anything else standing in the way of buying.
For example, one of our health club clients packages massage, personal training and an assortment of energy foods into a “Runners Recovery Package.” (Learn more gift card marketing tips here!)
WHEN: Day after Thanksgiving through end of November
WHAT: Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Sunday-Monday Marketing
You’re well into the holidays now, but there’s still work to do on refining your online holiday marketing. Tie your holiday marketing to unique and fleeting opportunities. For instance:
- Partner with related local or online merchants to promote “Holiday Shopping Days” in email that incent customers to buy from your GROUP of businesses during a limited time window if they bring in a copy of the email (your proof that the email reached them and your email marketing was successful).
- Consider: special online discounts, gifts which bundle services from multiple merchants, and limited-time offers.
- Consider Facebook ads or posts that highlight unique buying opportunities, including bundled pricing, limited-time free or discounted service upgrades (i.e., “gold” membership for “silver” price).
WHEN: First week of December
WHAT: Season’s Greetings / Loyalty Marketing
‘Tis the season for good will, and your messaging should reflect that. This close to the holidays, it’s good to get in front of customers a little more frequently. While maintaining your email effort, spend a bit more time on social–where people are often a good bit more casual and emotional–and promote nothing but the holiday. The primary purpose is just to remind potential customers that you’re there, you still have products, programs, and deals, and to create a mild sense of obligation by giving away something of small value that doesn’t cost you anything to produce. For instance, a delicious AND healthy recipe for a holiday snack.
What you’re looking for is:
- Primarily a goodwill message like “Season’s Greetings, with our warm wishes for a happy and healthy holiday”
- Include a freebie (our preferred recommendation) or a special offer (but this changes the tone and impact)
- Consider your audience – the “season” includes Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, for example.
Use this opportunity to give your nutrition, yoga and fitness clients some lagniappe – that’s Cajun for an unexpected and delightful freebie! We’ve seen a free holiday recipes PDF offered by a healthy lifestyles program, a free 30-minute massage coupon from a chiropractic practice, and a family-oriented open-house sponsored by a health club.
By now, folks should be getting ready to buy anyway, and the goodwill goes a long way.
WHEN: No later than December 10
WHAT: Countdown Marketing
The heat is on! Now it’s OK to do:
- Multi-day “X Days of Christmas” or daily deal promotion campaigns (best done through Facebook or Twitter so you don’t overwhelm your email subscribers)
- “X days left to enroll”, “3 slots left”, etc.
Start tying your marketing to specific days on the calendar. Your search ads should be scheduled to run on specific days when you know you have prospects’ attention. Your web copy should mention any countdowns, time-limited, or about-to-expire promotions, including any driven by a partner’s business calendar. For instance, if you are partnering with a local Turkey Trot or Christmas / New Year’s day 5K, you should focus urgency since the race won’t be around forever.
WHEN: Two weeks before Christmas
WHAT: Last-chance Marketing
You only have two weeks left before Christmas and if you send an email weekly, that’s not frequently enough. So we recommend conducting your last chance marketing through social, search and display online marketing (Google AdWords), and in-app marketing, where you have people’s attention, know their interests, and have some idea of their likely buying behavior.
- Last day to order online – key deadlines
- Last chance to get personalized or custom gifts
- Last chance to prepay participation for limited-enrollment programs
A word: these really should be last chance deals. If you offer them all the time, that makes them your regular seasonal pricing.
WHEN: One week before Christmas
WHAT: Last-minute Marketing
- Stocking stuffers
- Curbside service – they buy over the phone or online, then zip in to pick up their already-gift-wrapped purchase (and YES, you can and should beautifully gift-wrap gift cards and gift certificates!)
- Buy-one, get-one – great for last-minute purchases because you can cross off two names at once
- E-gift cards or online gift certificates – instant delivery makes these the perfect extremely-last-minute choice
Send an email reminding customers that your wellness center, yoga studio or clinic has convenient gifts at all price levels, ready to go. Encourage them to buy by the phone or via your website, so all they have to do is swing by and pick up their beautifully-wrapped gifts. You can also create location-specific and click-to-call ads for prospects in your geographic area who are just looking to find a place where they can buy what you’re selling. The advantage of these is that they encourage phone calls and walk-ins, both of which are likelier to occur very late in the season.
WHEN: Day after Christmas and beyond
WHAT: Post-holiday Marketing
- Redemption marketing – get people to redeem gift cards and certificates
- BOGOs and similar offerings for customers who can provide evidence of a purchase
- “Credit” PDF gift certificates to customers who bought something online, encouraging them to enjoy your services past the initial period covered by the gift purchase. Most online sales software (such as Stripe) have the ability to send a receipt to the purchaser — consider attaching a one-month extension coupon to the sales receipt as a thank-you; it can help keep members enrolled engaged.
- Upsell and cross-sell opportunities – for example, selling a sports bra to someone who got a personal training gift certificate purchased online.
- While the season of giving is still upon everyone, consider making a charitable donation of part of the proceeds from post-holiday sales.
Consider extending your holiday pricing to upsell- and cross-sell customers, such as someone who emails you a receipt from a gift purchase and wants to buy a “partner” product or service — for instance, a wetsuit to go with the Ironman training program bought by the customer’s spouse as a gift.