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There’s no denying the past 11 months have been a rollercoaster ride for the fitness industry. Coronavirus has thrown our sector into disarray and, as I write, mid-way through lockdown 3.0, we find our doors closed and many staff furloughed once more.

As we await the much-anticipated go-ahead to reopen, now is the time for operators to take stock, re-evaluate marketing strategies and consider partners they can work alongside to best promote their facility – and speed up post-lockdown recovery in the months ahead.

There are numerous important considerations around choosing marketing strategies and partners. Firstly, it’s important to select partners that have powerful reach. Working in partnership with specialists opens up opportunities to access valuable marketing reach and resource, at no extra cost to you.

Hussle connects with potential members by investing in two main marketing channels – direct to consumer through big-brand marketing and commercial partnerships with the likes of Premier Inn and Vodafone, as well as via big-name employers providing fitness-as-a-benefit to their staff, such as CBRE, Facebook and the NHS. Thanks to the national marketing partnerships we attract, plus the corporate members we generate, Hussle can offer operators a national ‘network scale effect’.

Secondly, avoiding exclusivity is vital – never choose just one marketing partner. Aside from being anti-competitive, it reduces leverage with any single marketing channel and leaves you open to becoming dependent. A healthy partnership, as I learned from my time as an operator at Nuffield Health, Virgin and LA Fitness, is one that keeps options open and doesn’t see that operator becoming a hostage to a single marketing partner.

Lastly, I’d advise operators to make sure the customers a marketing partnership brings to your door can be converted directly into your own joiners. This is crucial. Most models provide operators with revenue, but the customers will never become their own members. Whether it’s ‘try-before-you-buy’ customers or occasional users, your chosen partner should offer ways to convert this footfall to memberships.

This was a key point for me in working with Hussle. Since joining the business, I’ve focused on helping operators improve membership conversion tactics and led the development of Hussle’s new Member Conversion Service. This service identifies customers that would be best served by a direct gym membership and so provides a new joiner channel for operators.

We proactively encourage users to join clubs they attend regularly; in the last 18 months Hussle has upsold more than 30,000 try-before-you-buy customers into direct club members. On average, 26%* of customers go on to become exclusive members of gyms they visit via Hussle.

In the coming months, as we emerge from lockdown, making informed marketing decisions and choosing partners who work with you to create additional revenue streams, will be crucial to success.