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Newsletter #985: The “Lessons from Gyms” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Gyms are complicated. They’re a physical space, a support community, a self-serve product, a commitment, and sometimes a chore. And to top it off, there are lots of them. So gyms have to get creative to stand out.

Here are three examples:

1. Have a party for “people like you”
2. Reward your loyal customers
3. Make it a privilege
4. Check it out: Burgers

1. Have a party for “people like you”

Planet Fitness

Photo thanks to Business Insider.

Planet Fitness says they’re “not a gym.” Instead, they’ve built a reputation for being a place for people who hate gyms — regular folks who aren’t into beefing up, extreme CrossFit, or juicing. In fact, Planet Fitness has a pizza party once a month. It’s a way to get their members back in the door — not to work out, but to build a community. It’s a completely different take on an industry that’s traditionally thought of as exclusionary or judgmental. (And it’s one of the reasons Planet Fitness is the fastest growing gym franchise in America.)

The lesson: Want your customers to feel like they’re among friends? Give them opportunities to meet those friends.

Learn more: Business Insider

2. Reward your loyal customers

Gym memberships are only worth it if you actually go to the gym. But lots of people pay for memberships they rarely use and end up cancelling instead. That’s a lot of customers who only have a negative experience to tell their friends about. So to encourage people to come to more fitness classes, Fitmob created a pricing model that makes each consecutive class in a week cheaper than the last. (For example, taking one class a week costs the same as taking three a week.) Members who don’t make it to the classes they sign up for are charged a small “Flake Fee” that benefits local parks and recreation charities.

The lesson: How are you encouraging customers to get the most out of your stuff?

Learn more: Springwise

3. Make it a privilege

theMill gym

Photo thanks to theMill.

A lot of gyms try their best to get people to wear their logo. They’ll give away swag, sell t-shirts, and hand out bumper stickers (which are great word of mouth techniques). But theMill, a gym in Perth, Australia, does the opposite. You have to earn the right to wear their logo after you become a member. In fact, according to their site: “Items bearing our name are not and can not be purchased with money.”

The lesson: That may seem pretty extreme, and it could turn some people off. But the few people that meet theMill’s strict membership requirements and get to wear theMill’s stuff feel important (and when people feel important, they tell everyone else about it).

Learn more: The Story of Telling

4. Check it out: Burgers


Photo thanks to The Age of Mammals.

Watch this totally mesmerizing, totally pointless wall of burgers. As you mouse over each Big Mac, Whopper, and Filet-O-Fish, it only gets more mesmerizing and more pointless.

Check it out: The Age of Mammals

More personal = more remarkable

This is a post from our project. Check it out for more great word of mouth marketing tips like this every day.

If you’re like most people, your mailbox is full of bills and junk. Nowadays, it’s not often that people get truly personal stuff in the mail.

So to make their direct mail more direct, a Porsche dealership took one of their cars to a nearby neighborhood for a photo shoot. They took pictures of the car in front of people’s driveways and left postcards of each photo in their mailbox with the headline, “Your dream car is closer than you think.”

Pfaff Auto: Instant Direct Mail from Lowe Roche Advertising on YouTube.

Newsletter #984: The “Tell Them Why” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

You can have all of the fantastic features you want, but if your customers don’t know why they’re fantastic, those features mean nothing. You have to give them the “why.” You have to say “because…”

Here are three ways to do it:

1. Explain your behind-the-scenes process
2. Share a little-known fact
3. Make an effort to be transparent
4. Check it out: Feed fish from your computer

1. Explain your behind-the-scenes process

Maker's Mark rollermill.

Photo thanks to Maker’s Mark.

Maker’s Mark claims to be “purposefully inefficient” with how they make bourbon. For example, they use a roller mill to break up their grains instead of the modern hammer mill most distilleries use. It’s slower, but it doesn’t scorch the grains like the hammer mill. That’s a tiny detail that would probably go unnoticed if Maker’s Mark didn’t point it out in their email newsletter to their Ambassadors.

The lesson: To most people, the difference between hammer-milled and roller-milled grains means nothing. But Maker’s Mark helped their fans look smart by telling them why they make their bourbon the way they do.

Learn more: Maker’s Mark

2. Share a little-known fact

“No rails to damage your tires.” That was the headline on one car wash’s sign that made them different from the three other car washes on the same street. Did you know that car wash guiderails could damage your tires? Probably not. But it’s that one simple sentence that tells everyone why that business is different.

The lesson: Before this car wash put their selling point on their sign, they probably got a lot of questions like “Where are the guiderails?” Are you listening for these opportunities to explain what small details make you better?

3. Make an effort to be transparent

Coconut oil process

Photo thanks to Harmless Harvest.

When a coconut spoils, it can take on a pink hue. So when Harmless Harvest started selling pink coconut water, people said they were crazy. But as the company explains on their bottles and their site, the coconut water turns pink from antioxidants interacting with light, not spoilage. Harmless Harvest says their coconut water is pink because they refuse to change their product from its natural state — because “nature comes in many colors.” The result: Grocery stores can’t keep Harmless Harvest’s pink coconut water on the shelves.

The lesson: Being true to your brand is one thing. But explaining to your customers why you make decisions strengthens your word of mouth story and gives your products more meaning.

Learn more: Harmless Harvest

4. Check it out: Feed fish from your computer


Photo thanks to The Next Web.

Aquardio is an online portal that lets you feed live fish in a fish tank. You can also release bubbles, check the temperature, and change your view of the tank.

Check it out: Aquardio

How many perspectives do you have

Problems always get easier when you look at them in more than one way. 

If you and your coworkers think alike, you’re going to miss things that are obvious to folks with other backgrounds.

Example: My engineer father-in-law sorted out all these puzzle pieces by shape. I would have done color. 

Who is missing from your team?


How to get everyone to see your fans’ love

This is a post from our project. Check it out for more great word of mouth marketing tips like this every day.

Got big fans? Make a big deal out of it. Amplifying your customer love helps them feel great, helps your employees feel great, and shows everyone else why you’re great.

Here are some fantastic ways to do it:

1. Love them back
2. Make it sharable
3. Show them how to do it

1. Love them back

When Honda asked their fans to show off their love for the brand, they were overwhelmed. They got photos of Honda tattoos, nail art, and one guy who shaved their logo into the back of his head. So it wasn’t enough for Honda to send these big fans a simple thank-you note. Instead, the company reciprocated the love by showing the exact kind of appreciation they got from each fan back to them. They shaved the guy’s name into the back of one employee’s hair, wore t-shirts with a customer’s name on them, and mowed another fan’s name into the Honda headquarters’ lawn.

2. Make it sharable

Want everyone to hear the nice things your customers are saying about you? Turn their feedback into something people will want to share. Wendy’s did it by gathering messages of praise for their new Pretzel Burger and getting some guy to sing them lounge-style. The YouTube video is hilarious — which means lots of people shared it with their friends (and a lot more people heard all of the fantastic stuff customers are saying about Wendy’s).

3. Show them how to do it

Lots of companies have walls of fame or pages on their website for customer love letters and fan photos. Make it easier for your customers to contribute to these. Post something like “Want to get on the wall? Here’s how.” One example: Crowdrise emails step-by-step instructions for new members to get their photo on their fan page. You’ll be surprised how many of your customers would love to tell you how much they like you, but aren’t sure how.

A different way to ask for feedback

Don’t send a generic survey. Definitely don’t send a long survey. Instead, ask: What one thing can we do better? You’ll get great ideas you can actually use.

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Newsletter #983: The “It’s Not an Ad” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] People don’t share advertising with their friends — but they will share something fun, exciting, and surprising. Are you doing that […]

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2 steps to achieving true excellence

Step 1: Put someone in charge of watching the details. Step 2: Make sure everyone knows that the details matter. Example: I’m staying in a very nice hotel with exquisite branding. Everything is perfectly designed. They even change the floor mats in the elevator from “Good Morning” to “Good Afternoon” to “Good Evening”.  That’s Step […]

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