Questions 12 & 13
Ponder this, as it relates to your current & future members:
What does success & failure look like?
Ready to jump in? Hit that play button to listen to today’s session.
3 Big Ideas
Before you head back to your Brandwork doc, review some of the big concepts in this section:
Creating the right amount of tension in your marketing inspires action.
→ We want somebody visiting your website, for example, to understand the stakes at play. We want him to feel like we’ve made the dinner & poured the drinks, & that we’re waiting for him to sit down at the table. Without that tension, it’s too easy to take a pass, to push the decision off for another day, to stay away from the unknown. Creating the right amount of tension forces your prospective member to make a decision.
Articulating what success & failure looks like is an effective way to create tension.
→ People need to be inspired by the journey you can take them on. They also need to understand what it would mean to never start that journey. They need to feel like this is a choice they’re making. You need to give them a compelling reason for saying yes.
Specificity about the Tribe you’re building is how you’ll be able to define success or failure.
→ Until you create a clear sense of the individual you're building this brand for, your marketing will necessarily take the shotgun approach. It will try to be all things to all people in the hopes that something - ANYTHING - works.
All the Words
One of the central aims of your messaging efforts is to create tension. Not over-dramatic, Hollywood thriller-type tension. Enough to make it clear to a prospective member what it means if he says yes or no, though. We do this because the right amount of tension can be a catalyst for action.
We want somebody visiting your website, for example, to understand the stakes at play. We want him to feel like we’ve made the dinner & poured the drinks, & that we’re waiting for him to sit down at the table.
Without that tension, it’s too easy to take a pass, to push the decision off for another day, to stay away from the unknown. Creating the right amount of tension forces your prospective member to make a decision.
One of the best ways to do this is by understanding & messaging what success & failure look like. What are the consequences of saying yes to you? What are they when someone says no?
The answers to these questions might sound so simple as to border on obvious & unnecessary. After all, you’re running a gym & most people understand the general purpose of a gym. But that’s actually the challenge. When you assume you don't need to state something so fundamental, you lose the opportunity to create the kind of tension necessary to inspire action.
People need to be inspired by the journey you can take them on. They also need to understand what it would mean to never start that journey. They need to feel like this is a choice they’re making. You need to give them a compelling reason for saying yes.
When you think about the success of your members, what do you think about? Is it weight loss? Is it kicking unnecessary medications? Is it regained mobility, more energy, or competitive dominance?
Likewise, what does failure look like for them? Is it continued boredom in their workouts? Is it weight gain or decreased energy?
The best way to find these answers is to circle back to the work we've been doing in previous sessions. What does it look like to solve those problems? What does it look like to continue struggling against them?
If we look at our Corporate Gym example, we recall their prospective members are looking primarily for two things. First, to make the most of their time in the gym. Second, to get better balance between their health & their work. The gym strives to meet these challenges in every way it can.
We want to continue thinking through these themes in this session because consistency matters. You want to tell a unified story in your marketing. In the case of our Corporate Gym, their answer to these questions might look like this:
Success: “Her clothes begin to fit better, she has more energy every single day, & she makes connections to others in her city & profession.”
Failure: “He continues to make the choice between spending too much time in the gym or no time at all. He lets the grind of work dictate bad decisions, from poor nutrition to lack of sleep to inactivity.”
Remember what we talked about at the beginning of this Section, that the target is not the market. It’s not that these definitions of success or failure will be the only ones your members experience. It’s that the job your marketing & messaging isn’t to try to be all things to all people. The job of your marketing is to signal to the right people that this is the right place for them.
There’s no question that this gym will have a broader population than hard-charging, corporate ladder climbing, mid-thirties professionals who work in finance. But until you create a clear sense of the individual you're building this brand for, your marketing will necessarily take the shotgun approach. It will try to be all things to all people in the hopes that something - ANYTHING - works.
If you took this same approach to your daily programming, you'd have some metcons, a couple days of yoga, a spin class, a few 7 mile runs, & some bicep curls. You'd rationalize it by saying that there are plenty people who believe one or two of these things are exactly what they need to be doing. Therefore, if you program a little bit of everything, you give folks plenty of reasons to say yes. You give them options!
But what are you really giving them? You’re giving them an ineffective program that feels random & inconsistent. You give each person a little bit of what they like, & hope they stick around for all the other stuff they’re not interested in.
It’s the same with your marketing & messaging. The entire process is about making choices. Inherent in making choices is the understanding that saying yes to one thing means saying no to many others. When you choose CrossFit, you’re saying no to any number of other fitness options. When you choose to build your marketing around young professionals, you’re saying no to kids, teenagers, soccer moms & dads, adaptive athletes, & the retired set.
You do this because you have to decide who the backbone of your business is going to be. You have to decide who will be a member of your Tribe. When you do this, you’re able to go deep. You’re able to make decisions with that individual & that Tribe in mind - decisions about programming, about your facility, about where you allocate your resources. You’re able to architect specific solutions to specific problems.
If you don’t do the hard work of understanding the backbone of your business, you won’t know the right decisions from the long list of possible decisions. Our Corporate Gym won’t know if they should invest in hosting a throwdown next month or renting out a private room at a local restaurant for a members-only networking event. They won’t know if their programming should be strength- or conditioning-biased. They won’t know if they should have a front desk staffed at all hours of the day, which images should be on the homepage of their website, or how fast incoming emails should get a response.
You'll make each of these decisions more easily with the clarity that comes from knowing who your gym exists to serve & what success or failure looks like to them. When you’re able to do that with your marketing & branding, you’re setting yourself up to attract & encourage the type of people who will become evangelists for your gym. You’ll be able to give them exactly what they need to be successful. This is what will inspire them to bring more of the right people into your business.
Our Pretend Gyms
[ Full Example Gym Brandwork Docs here: Community | Corporate | Competitive ]
Answers to today’s question:
She's more confident, connected, & active. Her health improves across every possible metric & she has a better understanding of what it means to make smart choices about food.
He continues to make false starts toward better health & increased fitness. He never improves his diet, never connects with his neighbors, & never learns to see fitness as something that can be fun.
Her clothes begin to fit better, she has more energy every single day, & she makes connections to others in her city & profession.
He continues to make the choice between spending too much time in the gym or no time at all. He lets the grind of work dictate bad decisions, from poor nutrition to lack of sleep to inactivity.
She's more capable, more confident, & more competitive. She knows exactly what she needs to do to reach her athletic potential.
He continues to struggle to make consistent improvements in the right direction. He risks never reaching his potential by relying too heavily on randomness, chance, & guesswork.
Time to Do Work
Open up your Brandwork Doc & spend some more time articulating the success & failures you’re creating tension around.
Here are some questions & guidelines to check your revised answer against:
This session is closely related to Question 5 from Section One (“What changes are you seeking to instigate?” & Question 8 of this Section "(“What problems do our potential clients have?”). If you need a jumpstart, simply glance back at those answers & list the logical conclusions of either successfully or unsuccessfully making that change & solving those problems. Refine & revise from there.
EXTRA CREDIT: At this stage, do you an image of who the “right person” for you gym is? Do you know two or three or five people currently within your membership who fit the mold? If so, consider asking them out to lunch sometime soon. Pick their brain about what’s working or not working at the gym. Ask them what they’re responding to. Ask them how things could be better.
You’re moving onto Section Three next! It’s all about taking the hard work you’ve been doing & making sure it’s in top shape to share with the world. Your first session is all about creating a solid one-liner that explains your business. Here’s what the one-liner for AirBnB might look like:
"A web platform allowing travelers to book rooms with locals rather than hotels.”