The ‘how to’ of hybrid: 5 steps to digital transformation

Wexer Blog

22 March 2022

There’s been so much talk already around why hybrid is the future of fitness – that combination of shifting consumer habits and digital innovation, all accelerated by the pandemic, that means at-home convenience alongside in-person gym attendance is unquestionably just the way things are, both now and moving forward.

We thought it might be useful to move on from the why and look instead at the how of taking your business hybrid. We’ve stripped it back to five important steps.

 

#1 – Have a clear strategy

Before you act, ensure you have a strong digital strategy.

Acknowledge and embrace the change that’s happening, recognise your strengths and weaknesses, and develop a strategy you can execute.

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, the big brands – the Apples and influencers of this world – become less of a threat.

So, who are your members, your demographic, and what do they want?

What would a digital extension of your offering and your brand look like?

This isn’t about copying others. It’s about complementing your unique in-club experience with a digital one that’s equally unique and relevant to your customers. It’s about creating a seamless journey that allows your members to step into your brand more often.

It’s also about choosing your digital partner wisely: one with relevant and reliable technology, content that suits your model, an option to monetise should you wish, scope to own and personalise the experience. A partner who will be with you every step of the way, taking the headache out of getting things up and running and providing ongoing support and expertise.

 

#2 – Understand what hybrid is

Digital isn’t, or certainly shouldn’t be, an add-on. To bust a common misconception, hybrid categorically doesn’t mean ‘in-club over here, digital over there’.

What hybrid actually means is embracing digital and in-person equally, enabling an omnichannel approach where a seamless series of touchpoints allows every single customer to consume your product in the way that best suits them on any given day.

As Garrett Marshall of Xponential Fitness observed in a recent edition of The Wexer Podcast, it’s then about understanding the consumer value of these different facets of your brand experience. His advice: it’s OK to acknowledge that the in-studio or in-club experience remains the pinnacle, while all the while selling digital too.

Because in-person will always be your all-singing, all-dancing sensory experience: the lights, the scent, the community, the atmosphere. But for the role it plays – allowing people to still participate when time or geography doesn’t allow for in-person, or indeed complementing in-person with stretching, meditation and recovery for example – the experiential step down doesn’t in any way diminish the relevance, importance or value of digital.

Digital must be viewed as a critical business unit that receives the same level of attention as your physical space.

 

#3 – Create a content plan

In a hybrid world, members need to be able to dive straight in to a familiar experience wherever they are; health clubs must deliver exactly the same user experience across all digital and physical touchpoints.

And of course, where equipment is essentially anchored to the gym, content can be perfectly replicated and disseminated across all channels. Content is therefore the key to omnichannel delivery of the club experience, so your next step must be to create a content plan.

We’re talking your own content: the content that features your own loyalty-driving superstars, that you must make available not only in-club but also digitally, via every possible channel and touchpoint, to enable omnichannel delivery of your signature club experience.

But we’re also talking third-party content, which should also be made available via every possible channel and touchpoint to ensure strength in depth of your content offering at all times: all levels, all interests, all catered for, all the time.

These dual strands of content are equally important: our data shows the variety of Wexer’s global content library is what draws people to on-demand in the first place, but the locally-produced content plays a major role in keeping them there.

 

#4 – Secure team buy-in

Make it a team effort. Gather your talent, identify their skillsets and clearly assign who does what. To make hybrid a success, you need buy-in at all levels of the organisation, not just your leadership.

Ensure that your whole team can talk about what you’re doing with genuine understanding and passion. And show them how they can bring value to digital as well as physical themselves, highlighting how this can, in turn, enhance their own visibility and careers.

Get your superstars contributing content digitally as well as in-person, incentivising and rewarding them for doing so. Empower and incentivise them to promote this content among their followers, too. Help them grow their profile at the same time as rewarding them for their role in your success, to ensure their ongoing loyalty to your brand even as their reach and appeal grows.

But remember it isn’t just about your superstars. Every single member of your team needs to be singing from the same hybrid song-sheet. Everyone needs to understand how the in-person experiences they deliver fit into the ecosystem of your now omnichannel business, as well as looking for ways to add to the digital experience too.

#5 – Critique your content plan

You created a content plan at stage #3. Now you need to keep evolving it, fine-tuning it, bespoking it around your members’ very specific needs and behaviours.

To get your content just right, you have to regularly dig into the data, analysing both in-club and at-home usage, then crafting your offering around your findings.

Because this is the great thing about digital becoming part of your model: you can very clearly track exactly what members are doing, what content they’re consuming, which instructors they’re loving and which types of classes are most popular.

Take your content lead from this. Be ready to pivot. Be ready to respond. Create more of what your members want, then place this content at the heart of your marketing.

If you’d like to chat about hybrid and how we can help you take the all-important next – or even first – step, please get in touch at info@wexer.com

AuthorRobert Louw