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New business owners Mark and Fiona came to me a year into running their business. They had taken on the marketing role along with their other management responsibilities for their new gym. As I have seen many times before, a lot of money had been spent with agencies and design firms creating their website, logo, stationery and marketing materials and planning promotions and advertising campaigns. There were as many different approaches to their marketing as there were vendors on the expense sheet. Without a clear understanding of marketing communications, they had not set a clear strategy or anticipated what was involved in executing the suggestions offered by contractors. They were overwhelmed with the amount of work required to deliver what was required, frustrated making decisions they didn’t really understand and disappointed with the overall results. They had learned the hard (and expensive) way what works and what doesn’t work for their business. After an afternoon together, we had reviewed all their materials and identified a huge disconnect between their vision and their message. They were left with a new marketing plan, a better idea of budgeting costs and new skills in preparing written briefs for vendors and tips for incorporating new ideas while maintaining a consistent overall brand message.

With their shared love of fitness, Mark and Fiona both understand their customer well. They can predict where they will be and how receptive they will be to messages in different environments. We agreed that they could start an opt-in email newsletter that would give their members tips and hints on nutrition and wellness along with their program updates. This way they could increase customer retention and minimize the expense of recruiting new members. They are now branching out to deliver value-added information to their networks social media. Where they were using a push strategy with traditional advertising, they now see these new channels to open 2-way communication. They have been advertising (above the line) in a local magazine and now Fiona is going to approach them to contribute a regular column (below the line) on fitness. With all these activities, they will pay particular attention to synchronizing all communication. This way, they will develop a reputation with existing and potential customers so consumers remember their name when it comes time to make a purchase and make referrals.

Professional support from a market expert is a practical business investment.

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