Questions 10 & 11
Grab a piece of a paper & jot down an answer to this question as it exists today:
What is the plan we have in place & how does someone start?
With that done, let’s explore your starting process further. Tap the play button (gently please!) to listen to today’s session.
3 Big Ideas
Here are the three primary thoughts to keep in mind today:
Sometimes operations dictate marketing, sometimes marketing dictates operations.
→ Remember, branding is all the ways you execute on the promises you are making. That execution is your operations. It includes everything from your schedule to your pricing to how you run your classes. Marketing isn’t just the frame around the photograph, it’s also the photograph inside the frame.
On-boarding new members is a great opportunity to let marketing design operations.
→ Orchestrate a new member’s introduction to the gym in such a way as to amplify & deepen the promises you are hoping to make her. Do everything you can to hint at all the ways your gym will work to keep those promises.
It’s not about a perfect process, but about the appropriate process for the right people.
→ It’s not about right & wrong. It’s about appropriate & intentional. It’s about respecting the expectations & desires of the right people for your gym. It’s about designing a process that meets them where they are.
All the Words
There should come a point in this process of designing & defining your brand that you think about where your marketing needs to dictate your operations. Until now, much of the work we’ve done has been to look at your operations to determine the most effective way to focus, highlight, & clarify your messaging. In this session, though, I want you to start contemplating going in the other direction.
To be sure, this isn’t the only place in the business you should do this. Remember, branding is all the ways you execute on the promises you are making. That execution is your operations. It includes everything from your schedule to your pricing to how you run your classes. Marketing isn’t just the frame around the photograph, it’s also the photograph inside the frame.
One of the most important places your marketing & your operations meet is at the process you have in place to turn a stranger into a friend. I’ve seen this process take many forms over the years, as I’m sure you have. I’ve seen everything from one-on-one Elements programs that last a week, to small group on-ramps, to welcoming new members into class on day one. I don’t know that there’s a wrong answer in theory. I do think it’s a place ripe for pulling your operations closer to your marketing.
Let’s use our example gyms to show what I mean.
By now, we have a good sense of what all three are trying to do. We have a gym geared toward a broad population, one aimed at corporate clientele, & a third designed for athletes. Suffice it to say that by virtue of the unique promises they are making, each of these gyms should have a different on-boarding process. That process should feel aligned with everything else on their Brandwork document.
If we look at our Community Gym’s core values, we know they believe in inclusivity, fun, & approachability. We know from their personality traits that aim to be relaxed, welcoming, & supportive. We know the Principle Problem they are trying to solve for is a disconnected, unhealthy community.
So what kind of on-boarding process would make sense for their brand?
I would argue the best thing for this gym to do is to get a prospective member into a class setting as soon as possible. If she’s right for the gym, then getting a taste of the community, of the camaraderie, & of the support system will go a long way to getting her to “yes.”
First, I’d make it as simple & straight-forward as possible to get her in the door. I’d make it clear on the website that the gym offers free introductory classes every Thursday, & that she only needs to send an email to let them know which class she plans to attend. I’d make it easy to send that email right on the site with a simple form. Within a few hours of receiving it, I'd be sure somebody on staff responded enthusiastically.
When she showed up, I would emphasize the values & personality of the gym even more by making sure the first class is always a team workout. I wouldn’t program anything with a barbell or overly-complex gymnastics movement. I’d set things up to ensure she partnered with at least one member who’s been with the gym for a long time. I’d make sure the coach had plenty of time to demo & talk to the whole class about movement modifications. At the end of class, I’d bring everybody together to give her three claps & a high five.
In other words, I’d orchestrate her introduction to the gym in such a way as to amplify & deepen the promises they are hoping to make her. I’d do everything I could to hint at all the ways the gym will work to keep those promises.
I’d leave nothing to chance. I’d establish a single day every week that a potential member can walk into any class, & I’d program that day appropriately. That’s what it means to be approachable & welcoming. I’d identify one or two members who regularly attend each class & talk to them about what it means to mentor a new person through a class. That’s what it means to be supportive & inclusive. I’d make sure the coach aimed to get the newbie laughing once or twice during class. That’s what it means to be fun.
Everything I listed is often thought of as operations. Programming, customer service, coaching. But it’s also branding. Without doing the work of designing & defining your brand, you won’t know how to mold your operations in such a way as to feel unified with the rest of your branding. You want the photos on your website to reflect your classes, & vice versa. You want your programming to reflect how you respond to incoming emails, & vice versa. You want how you do things to reflect what you do, & vice versa. You can only do that if you’re operating with intention & direction.
To contrast our Community Gym, let’s look at how our Corporate Gym might work to bring people into their membership.
As a reminder, this gym values efficiency & expertise. From their personality traits, we know they strive to be professional, exclusive, & upscale. We know they believing in maximizing effectiveness while minimizing time.
Knowing that, two things stick out to me that I would consider while designing an on-boarding process. The first is that this gym’s prospective member is looking for something closer to a private school than a public school. In other words, he likely wants to feel the gym is seeing him on an individual level. The second is that he’s busy & doesn’t have much patience for a process that feels drawn out or inefficient.
I’d begin by making step one as hands-off as possible. On the gym’s website, I’d allow him to pick a convenient time for an introductory visit among a few available time slots. No emails or phone calls necessary. Just a click or two.
When they arrive at their chosen time, a coach or membership specialist would give them a short tour of the facility. The staff member would have a series of questions to better understand him & his health goals. She would then send the answers to the gym’s head coach or owner. The whole meeting would take less than thirty minutes.
With those answers in hand, the head coach would reach out to the prospective member within 12 hours of his visit. The sole point of the email would be to inquire about starting a one-on-one Elements program. The head coach would personalize the email with some of the information the gym has already learned about him. This could include anything from pointing out that somebody else in their office is already a member to expressing excitement about starting to tackle some of his long-term goals. The email should be short, professional, & include a link to a page on the website where he can select the dates & times of his three Elements sessions.
From there, he’s off & running.
Just like at our Community Gym, they'll have tailored the process to the wants & beliefs of the prospective member as well as the values, personality, & goals of the gym itself. While emphasizing human interaction & friendly customer service makes sense at the Community Gym, emphasizing efficiency & personalization works better at our Corporate Gym. While welcoming a new person into class right away fits the former, a more individualized, high-touch approach fits the latter.
Neither is wrong & either might work to some degree at both gyms. But it’s not about right & wrong. It’s about appropriate & intentional. It’s about respecting the expectations & desires of the right people for your gym. It’s about designing a process that meets them where they are.
Our Pretend Gyms
[ Full Example Gym Brandwork Docs here: Community | Corporate | Competitive ]
Answers to today’s question:
We invite all potential members to join us for a free class on Thursday, where we always program a partner workout. From there, those interested will sign-up for 3 one-on-one sessions with our head coach to go over the 9 fundamental movements. Once completed, they'll be free to join whichever class they'd like.
They just need to email us & let us know which Thursday class they'd like to jump into.
Their first time in the gym will consist of a tour & a short conversation with a coach. We'll cover how the gym works & our nutrition counseling program, & answer questions. That evening, our Elements coach will email them to inquire about starting their first week. Once enrolled, each new member will have 3 one-on-one sessions before graduating into general population classes.
They select an available time-slot on our website to reserve their introductory tour.
All potential members start with a free physical assessment. If it feels like a good fit, we schedule a 60 minute meeting with the athlete & a parent (if applicable). In that meeting, we break down our process, their goals, & their current condition. From there, we match them with a coach, who will develop a personalized plan of attack.
Call us to schedule a free physical assessment.
Time to Do Work
With all that in mind, revisit the answer you created at the start. Consider how it can be improved - both immediately & over the long-term. What systems need to be put in place? Who will be responsible? When can you start making improvements?
All important questions - but for today, consider entering into your Brandwork doc the answer that is most likely achievable in the next 30 days.
Ready to continue refining? Here are some next steps to consider:
How closely is your current on-ramp program to the values you laid out in Section One of this program? Are your values driving the design, or do they seem unrelated?
What is one thing that you can do this week to better align your on-ramp & your value-set? Keep is simple & manageable, then write down the three steps necessary to get your there by this time next week.
Next, come up with what you’ll need to do over the next three months to recreate your on-boarding process with your values as the primary driver. What changes need to be made on the website? What are the staffing concerns? Are there price changes that need to happen? How will the schedule or the programming be affected? Put it all down on paper & share it with your team.
In the last session of Section Two, we’ll be examining what success & failure looks like for those folks considering giving your gym a go. For now, here’s another quote from Seth Godin for you the wear around like a weight vest for a while:
“Tension is something we can do precisely because we care about those we seek to serve…The tension we face any time we’re about to cross a threshold. The tension of this might work versus this might not work. The tension of, "‘If I learn this, will I like who I become?’”