Health Clubs have come a long way since the days of a warehouse space with rows of machines. They have matured in their settings—and their marketing. Niche products have entered the market (boxing only, pilates only) while larger, established clubs have kept pace by offering ever more services under one roof. The market is crowded, and competition is fierce.
Merritt Athletic Clubs, a division of a family-owned corporation, has been a Baltimore fixture for decades. Well known, the name did not evoke any particular feeling among target audiences—from millennials to families to seniors. While innovative programs exist for each audience, the brand conveyed neither the forward thinking structure of the clubs, nor the intense family feeling among staff and current members.
To appeal to the entire gamut of potential members, we removed the word “athletic” from the name and developed a new identity that underscores their vibrant brand and family-friendly clubs—a place you could go to work-out like crazy, or just hang out with friends. For the online experience, the breadth of classes and activities are quickly and easily surfaced on the new site, and targeted offers are tested continually to achieve the best response from visitors.
The new brand debuted January 2017; results are impressive. Year-over-year lead growth is up 39%; website visitors up 37%; page views up 28%. With this increased engagement, the average cost per lead and per sale have decreased dramatically, and marketing has gone from influencing just 13% of overall sales to 41% of overall sales. And with member engagement and club visits up as well, the future looks bright for record renewals, as it is well known that utilization is an indicator of likely membership renewal.