Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How The Candyman Can Help You Market Your Health Club

Last week I was on vacation in beautiful Seaside, OR. If you've never been there, I highly recommend it! Besides the annual Seaside volleyball tournament and the pristine beach, there are a million things to do there. Seriously, out of all my summer trips it has been the Seaside vacations that have been the best.

Again this year I visited the Seaside Candyman store. It's a well-known shop in downtown Seaside that features 170 flavors of locally made salt water taffy. They sell it by the BUCKET, and there is often a line of customers just waiting to pay.

So what's the big deal? After all, there are probably about a dozen stores in Seaside that sell salt water taffy! Why is the Seaside Candyman store so popular and successful?

I'll tell you why, and I GUARANTEE you that I'm right on this! The Seaside Candyman store blows their competition out of the water because of good old fashioned MARKETING. Seriously, that's it.

They don't sell an exclusive product, they don't have the lowest price, and they certainly don't have the best location. But they do have a couple marketing "gimmicks" (for lack of a better word) that pay off for them BIG TIME.

First, the Seaside Candyman store pays a guy to stand on the street corner and give out free pieces of salt water taffy. While he's doing that, he sings the 'Candyman' song. Seriously. Everyone gets a coupon good for 10% off a taffy purchase, too. A singing candyman! Who would have thunk it? It's original and it gets noticed!

Second, the Seaside Candyman store has a huge wooden 'roulette' wheel on the wall inside their store. Yeah, it's HUGE. Anyone can spin the wheel and if they're lucky they can win a small bag of popcorn or a 1/4 pound of salt water taffy. It's GENIUS! People are often lined up ten deep just to take their turn at spinning the wheel. Mom takes a picture of the kiddies spinning the wheel. It instantly identifies the store and provides an atmosphere of fun and excitement!

All of that got me thinking about health club marketing and how so many gym owners feel like they're beating their heads against the wall trying to get people into their fitness center.

As gym owners, are we making it too complicated?

Is it really as simple as a singing candyman and a roulette wheel?

How about doing something similar? You might think about putting a huge roulette wheel on the wall of your health club. Seriously. Invite prospects to spin the wheel and see if they've won prizes ranging from a 1-week free pass to a free sample pack of tanning lotion. The prizes don't have to be big. People just like free stuff.

We've heard about the Liberty Fitness location that put an employee in a Statue of Liberty costume and stood them outside waving at cars. I don't know if they're still doing that, but I can promise you that a Statue of Liberty waving at you from the side of the road is going to get noticed!

So what ideas do you have for fitness center marketing? Please leave a comment so we can all learn from your experience!

If you're interested in some really innovative health club marketing techniques, then you might want to pick up a copy of our Gym Sales Manual. Just click here for details.

Oh, yeah, and if you're really hungry for some fantastic salt water taffy then you should check out the Seaside Candyman website.

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