Branding MECHANICS

Questions 6 & 7

But First

Section Two! Before you head over to listen or read today’s session, take a few minutes to jot down an answer to this question:

What do our potential clients believe, & what do they want?

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Sound On

Now that you have the beginnings of an answer, let’s jump into today’s audio session. Click the play button below to listen. (If you’d prefer to read instead of listen, head to the 📖 tab above.)

Listen

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3 Big Ideas

Time to start thinking about how you want to revise your original answer, given the additional context. Before you do, here are some of the key points you should try to keep in mind:

  1. In your marketing, creating appropriate constraints gives you freedom.

    The target is not the market, it’s where we focus our energies. Without that focus, we’re left to drift. It’s the same reason we want to articulate & act in accordance with our core values. They provide us with necessary constraints within which we can operate. Constraints are good. They keep us from acting randomly. They give us freedom to market with precision.

  2. Asking what your potential members want & believe will help create constraints.

    Identifying what our potential clients want & believe will help us later to serve as guardrails in our messaging so we don’t veer off into trying to convince somebody of something they’re not interested in changing their minds about.

  3. The “right” people are the ones who will respond positively to your values & your personality.

    Your What & How Statement should match your Values. What your prospective members believe & want should sync with your “We Believe” statements. These are not independent ideas, but interrelated ones. They are all pieces to the same jigsaw puzzle.

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All the Words

In the first Section, we talked about embracing your uniqueness, moving closer to what makes you different, & recognizing that there’s always been an “us” & a “them” inside CrossFit. I’ve mentioned we’re seeking to engage with “the right people.” Beginning with this session, Section Two is all about how we identify & understand who those right people are.

There’s a phrase I’ve heard a few times recently. I don’t know where it came from, but I agree with it. It’s that CrossFit is for anybody, but it’s not for everybody. In the last Section, I ran through a few of the reasons why your affiliate is not the right place for everybody. Things like your cost, the programming, & the class environment all serve as signals to some people that your gym is a no-go zone. There’s a reason the old “I pick things up & put them down” commercials from Planet Fitness were so effective. To a lot of people, what we do (or, to be more accurate, what they think we do) exists somewhere between comical & crazy.

CrossFit is for anybody, but it’s not for everybody. That’s one rule I want you to remember.

A second rule I’d like you to keep in mind is more classic marketing. That is that the target is not the market. In other words, the people we are “marketing to” — i.e., the target — are not the only people we can expect to attract, serve, & change.

Two examples I hope are illustrative of this second rule. The first we’ve talked about a bit already.

When Apple markets their products, they do so with an eye toward youth, creativity, & professionalism. That hasn’t stopped both my parents from getting iPhones. Neither have ever been the target of Apple’s marketing department.

When Nike advertises its sneakers or gear, most of the time they use professional athletes. They promote a notion of hard-nose, dirt in the eye, grind-it-out athleticism. But walk through any airport & you’ll see plenty of people wearing Nike kicks who haven’t engaged in any sport beyond couch surfing in many years.

The target is not the market, it’s where we focus our energies. Without that focus, we’re left to drift. It’s the same reason we want to articulate & act in accordance with our core values. They provide us with necessary constraints within which we can operate. Constraints are good. They keep us from acting randomly. They give us freedom to market with precision.

We can identify thousands of examples of people thriving inside an affiliate who don’t match the perceived expectation of what a CrossFitter looks like. The tendency is to point to those people as evidence that CrossFit is for everybody. The hope is that it will be enough to convince somebody that CrossFit is, in fact, for them. While it’s true, it’s not effective marketing.

It’s not effective because the people you’re hoping it will convince don't want you to convince them. There’s just as good a chance they’ll see somebody like them doing CrossFit & decide that that individual is different, special, or crazy in some way than there is they will see that person & realize it might be for them, too. Remember, the job of your marketing efforts isn’t to convince the unconvince-able. That’s the job of your current members. The job of your marketing & branding efforts is to attract the right people when they are ready.

As we continue to define our tribe, I don’t want you to think I’m making the argument that your gym can’t be the right place for anybody. I know it can. Instead, I want you to recognize that there are primarily three means of outbound marketing. The first happens when we do it in places like our website or social media channels. The second happens when our customers do it for us in their conversations with friends, family members, & strangers at the grocery store. The third way is advertising, where we pay money to interrupt somebody.

In this Section, we’re going to focus on the first. We’re going to focus on understanding those individuals who might be the right people for your gym. We’re going to do this because it will help you create the constraints you need to shape how you talk about what you do.

There are two questions we want to ask ourselves as we begin this process of focusing our marketing attention. The first is: What do our potential clients believe? The second: What do they want?

It’s unlikely a person will say yes to your gym is she doesn’t believe her health is worth $150 or $200 a month. It’s unlikely she’ll say yes if she’s convinced she has to get in shape before she starts CrossFit. It’s unlikely she’ll say yes if she believes barbells are dangerous.

It’s not the job of your marketing to convince her she’s wrong. That would be like Apple trying to convince somebody who wants to spend $400 on a laptop that a $2,000 MacBook is right for them. They could try, but it would be a waste of time & effort.

More importantly, it would detract from their ability to encourage & engage the right person. The right person is ready to spend the money on a more powerful machine because of Apple’s promise that the cost will be nothing compared to how productive, how creative, & how elite they'll feel when they use it. The right person believes it’s worth it. The right person believes he’s worth it. They don’t need to be convinced in the same way that a price-conscious person does.

Because of this, Apple doesn’t need to engage with the price-sensitive window shopper.

Likewise, the right people for your gym already believe a few things. It could be about price, it could be about effort, it could be about location. For sure he believes exercise is important, but also that going out for a run five days a week isn’t for him. He doesn’t need to believe you have the best coaching staff in the state, but he does need to believe there is value in having a coach.

Spend some time thinking about what a potential client already believes. It will help us later to serve as guardrails in our messaging so we don’t veer off into trying to convince somebody of something they’re not interested in changing their minds about.

When you’re done, continue onto thinking about what that potential client wants. If she believes exercise is important, what does that mean for what she wants from her time spent in the gym? Does she want to look good? Does she want to keep up with her kids? Does she want to run her 5k races faster?

Think about the gym you’re building & the people you’re serving. Look at your answers from the first Section of work. The person who you're going to attract with your values, your personality, & the specific changes you’re hoping to instigate — what does that person want?

Let’s look at one of the example gyms I presented already. We can use it to explore how you might start thinking through these questions of belief & desire. Let’s build out the third gym in our set, the one focused on corporate clientele.

As a reminder, here’s how we said their What & How statement might read:

We are a conveniently-located CrossFit gym offering forty-five minute, coach-led classes throughout the day. Our program will get you fitter than you’ve ever been, increase your energy so you accomplish more, & get you back to the office looking & feeling better than ever.

To get a fuller picture of the gym, let’s also identify some values & some personality traits that match.

Based on this statement, we could make the case that this gym values “efficiency” & “expertise.” Their first “we believe” statement could read:

We believe in maximizing your results while minimizing your time in the gym.

Their second:

We believe our members expect the best in whatever they spend their time, money, & efforts on.

Based on that, we could imagine this gym’s primary personality traits being “professional” “exclusive,” & “upscale.”

With all that laid out, what can we imagine the right person for this gym believes & wants?

We probably don’t have to convince the right person the cost is appropriate. She already believes she’s worth it. We don’t have to convince her that having more energy throughout the day has value. She already believes it leads to more productivity. We don’t have to convince her that looking good matters. She already believes it does.

Let’s consider how these beliefs lead us into articulating some wants.

Does she want a community of new friends? Maybe, but it’s probably not why she’s interested in this gym. Does she want to establish a life-long habit of moving well & eating healthy? Maybe, but she’s probably thinking more short-term than that. Does she compete in CrossFit or another sport? Maybe, but she’s probably more interested in fighting for her next promotion.

All these things might come as a result of joining the gym & engaging with everything it offers. But it’s unlikely she’s signing up for them directly.

So what does she want as it relates to this gym?

It’s a little bit of a trick question. I’ve already started to answer it with the What & How & “We Believe” statements. I’ve already started to answer it through the gym’s Values & Personality.

The right person for this gym wants efficiency & effectiveness. They want to make the most out of their time in the gym because they believe they don't have time to waste. They want to make health a priority, but not a higher priority than work. That’s why the What & How Statement specifies that classes run 45 minutes, for example. Because this gym knows what their potential clientele want, they can shape what they offer to meet them.

In other words, they can make the right promises to the right people, & then they can keep those promises.

I set this up intentionally because I wanted to show you that these questions you’re asking yourself - the answers to each don’t exist in a silo. Your What & How Statement should match your Values. What your prospective members believe & want should sync with your “We Believe” statements. These are not independent ideas, but interrelated ones. They are all pieces to the same jigsaw puzzle.

If you get to this step & what you think the right people for your gym want & believe don’t match with your answers for the very first question in this program, go back in & start editing. Edit until it feels cohesive. Every step of the way, check back & make sure you're putting together a unified picture.

In six months or a year, after you’ve completed this program & put some of the ideas into action, revisit the questions. Ask them again. This isn’t a process that ends. It only evolves as you learn more, experiment more, fail more, & grow more.

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Our Pretend Gyms

[ Full Example Gym Brandwork Docs here: Community | Corporate | Competitive ]

Answers to today’s question:

Community Gym:

Believe:

That they're ready to try something different because what they've been doing doesn't work; that their health is worth the time & money; that working out in a class isn't scary; that it looks like people like them already go here; that it's not too late to do something about their health

Want:

To have more energy throughout the day; to lose weight; to find something they can stick to long enough to see results; to meet other people in the community; to find something they can do with their significant other

Corporate Gym:

Believe:

That their health is worth the expensive of time, effort, & money; that they're too busy to spend a lot of time in the gym; that they expect to best, even if it's expensive; that looking better leads to feeling better, & feeling better leads to performing better; that they work hard

Want:

To look good & feel good; to make the most of their time in the gym; to know that they are getting the best (service, experience, results)

Competitive Gym:

Believe:

That their sport is a big part of their identity; that they have athletic potential they want to see expressed; that they are willing to work hard in pursuit of their goals; that they deserve to be coached by the best; that they are an athlete; that they capable of winning

Want:

To learn from & compete with the best; to put in the time necessary to get better; to feel that they are doing whatever it takes; to see results; to dedicate themselves to their sport

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Time to Do Work

With what you just learned in mind, revisit your original answer & make it more better.

Check Yourself

Now that you have your revised answer, here are three things to check them against.

  1. Imagine for a second that you were running a different kind of gym - a Globo gym, a personal training or a spin studio, etc. Grab a piece of paper & answer these questions again. Compare the two sets. Are they differentiated enough to be useful?

  2. Take a gander at your website. Does it do a good job of speaking specifically to the set of folks who believe & want what you need them to, or are you trying to convince the unconvince-able?

  3. Grab that piece of paper again (you still use paper, right?) & write down your values & your personality traits. Then write down your answers to the questions posed in this session. Does the brand you designed in the last section feel like the right one for the folks with these wants & beliefs? If they don’t ask yourself whether you need to shift how you see yourself or how you define who’s “right” for your gym.

Coming Attractions

The next session is all about identifying the layers of problems your tribe has that you are trying to solve. Before you head over, consider this quote from Sir Richard Branson:

"Solving problems means listening.”