It can be a daunting prospect, can’t it, going digital? However quickly you pivoted online during lockdown, the need to now map out a longer-term strategy for the sustainable, commercial, brand-enhancing digitalisation of your business still feels like new territory.
You don’t have to go it alone, though, with the digital experts at Wexer on-hand to help you navigate and thrive in precisely this new territory.
We’re here to help you start, and we’re here to help you succeed.
Let’s start with some food for thought: 10 tips to help you set off in the right direction. Of course, if you’d like to discuss any of this in more detail, don’t hesitate to get in touch – you’ll find our contact details at the end of this blog.
#1 – Ask yourself why
Why do you want to go digital? What are the problems you’re trying to solve, the needs you’re trying to meet, the experiences you’re trying to create?
Not everything has to, or even should, be digital. So, which touchpoints within the member experience will be available digitally, why, and how will these complement the physical?
Asking yourself ‘why?’ will help you design an ecosystem that meets the needs of your members and your business alike. Map out your desired outcomes first, then design your service accordingly.
#2 – Choose your partner
Choose your digital partner wisely – an expert that has all the technology you need, but also the interests of your business at heart.
Your brand should be front and centre. Your business model should inform the tech, not the other way round: you shouldn’t be confronted with limitations on your content, features, monetisation options and so on, simply because it doesn’t fit the commercial model of a vendor.
Make sure the tech reliably does everything you need, from live streaming to on-demand to monetisation. Check the options to dovetail it into your ecosystem for an own label experience. And make sure your partner will be there at every step of the way; it isn’t just about starting well, but about together building on those strong foundations for ongoing success.
#3 – Structure your team
Build and empower the right team to deliver your solution. Who will be your champion? Who will lead this project for your business?
Larger businesses with multiple clubs might want to hire a product manager. Smaller organisations may need to lean on their digital partner for guidance throughout the process – so returning to point #2, make absolutely sure that support will be there on an ongoing basis.
#4 – Define your content strategy
Draw up a clear digital strategy. Important, here, is to remember that your digital offering will be your extension of your brand. If you have loyal members at your club, and you create an online offering that’s relevant to them, you don’t have to compare yourself to the big brands – the Apples and Pelotons of this world.
What would a digital extension of your offering and your brand look like? Who are your members, your demographic, and what do they want? If in doubt, ask them.
You’ll want to offer content that’s bespoke to you, featuring your own instructors. Ideally something people can’t get anywhere else (see tip #6). You’ll need to offer strength in depth, too, so there’s always new inspiration for every member – cue third-party content. Check the quality of your digital partner’s library.
And you’ll need to look at how you package it all, which brings us to tip #5…
#5 – Consider your pricing
Take time when considering the price tag for your digital gym; go back to your outcomes in point #1 to help guide you.
Do you need your digital offering to directly make a profit, or is it more about retaining members and thus contributing to broader club revenues? Is it a marketing asset – a way to get new prospects involved with your brand? Should it be integrated into your membership tiers or have a separate pricing structure: an add-on to membership, and/or a standalone digital membership with no physical club access included at all?
Note, there is no right overall answer – just a right answer for your desired outcomes.
#6 – Harness your talent
Group exercise fans will have their favourite classes, their favourite instructors, and there’s no reason why that has to stop at the physical studio door. Leverage the existing connection between your instructors and members to create powerful, popular digital content.
Ask yourself what superstars work for you and only you. Then work out how to propel them to the forefront of your online offering, filling your digital platform with great content people can only get from you.
Whether on-demand or live-streamed, your self-produced content will be a valued facet of your overall digital offering.
#7 – Spread the word
When it comes to promoting your digital offering – and irrespective of whether you’re planning to sell standalone digital memberships – you need to be thinking about both members and non-members.
For your members, get your CRM right. Know who to talk to about which element(s) of your offering, then tailor the content and comms vehicles accordingly.
For a broader audience that includes members and non-members, it’s time to get creative. Build promotions using your library of digital fitness content. Run teasers on social media. Create hashtags and link competitions to them, getting your digital users to spread the word for you. Perhaps even consider the occasional foray outside of your ecosystem to host workouts on other platforms, with a view to winning new fans (aka prospective members).
Give a taste of what’s on offer – just enough to get people intrigued – and harness the power of peer recommendation on social media.
#8 – Prepare for launch
Get your launch absolutely right. Build up the excitement and anticipation. Ensure your entire team is briefed and enthusiastically ready to answer member questions. Make a big deal of it. Run induction sessions to walk members through your new digital experiences. Unveil the huge benefits.
And then keep the momentum going. Integrate digital into your sales collateral, promote it in your CRM, keep the drip-feed going. This is a multi-year investment; success will come over time.
#9 – Act on the facts
Forget gut instinct. Forget what your experience might tell you. The joy of digital is that it hands you unequivocal data – not just what customers tell you they do, or would like to do, but what they are actually doing.
Use this data to continually review and refine your digital offering. How are people using it? What content are they watching? How long do they watch videos for? At what time of day is it worth doing live-streams, and when – or for what type of content – is on-demand better? Which instructors are proving to be your online superstars? Particularly for content not behind a paywall, where are users coming from: sales channels, your app, direct links?
With digital, you can see very clearly what’s working – and then do more of it.
#10 – Take a long-term view
Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same goes for your digital ecosystem – and, however loyal your members, its audience.
Member mindset around digital fitness is much further down the path now than it was pre-COVID, but you’ll still need to grow awareness, fuel need, and of course build and continually refine your product. You are, effectively, creating a whole new business, in much the same way as if you were building a physical club. Set realistic expectations and a realistic timeframe to achieve them.
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