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Outreach: what it means and why it is still useful for your fitness centre

Territorial promotion outside the fitness centre with a desk and set of materials designed to attract attention and engage a potential audience who are geographically close.

This practice is certainly not something new or that we are not used to seeing inside shopping galleries, during events in the square or under agreements between signs with commercial spaces.

Typical of the fitness and wellness sector, outreach also represents perhaps one of the most archaic forms of database marketing: one by one marketing, which leads to an increasing list of names from various places at various times that have been “warmed-up” with a promotional hook of some sort.
These are forms of below the line promotion that are typical of the services world and that can involve a higher contact cost. It’s essential to be profiled and quickly inserted in the commercial process of the company to which it belongs.
Telephony, internet lines, credit cards but also new services of interior design, mattresses and travel agencies. This form of brand relocation has existed since before the digital revolution and the fragmentation of marketing tools of companies and brands.
We then reconstruct some questions to ask when deciding to use territorial Outreach as a fitness centre and identify threats and opportunities.

Why might you decide to organise periods of external relations and promotions?

There are three cases in which this type of action is organised:
1. Out of necessity:
seasonality can affect spontaneous visits to the centre and it may be that people live their moments of socialization in other spaces and look for other ways to spend their time;
2. For opportunity:
a location, an event organized by our municipality, a space entrusted by a partner where it is not possible or useful to carry out physical activity that calls us to activate a different presence;
3. By strategy:
we decide to plan first the itinerant actions to support and anticipate the decline in visits and to create moments, including external ones, that attract attention and that make us recognize strategic points of our territory even by our own members, as a real action of the marketing plan.
Three different visions that can lead to totally different outcomes.

  • In the wake of necessity, there is a risk of not giving the right attention to some aspects of emotional customer needs and involvement;
  • opportunity may lead to underestimating the potential;
  • the strategy not to detail every single appointment at the same time as it will occur, repeating something already done, not taking into account the peculiarity.
In fact, since these activities are organisationally demanding, its useful for every promotional event to tackle 3 different angles in a meaningful way: there is always a human need to have a new and better life, and this a great opportunity to convey the brand in a new way and the strategic approach may have to change from situation to situation.
Once the reason for this has been clarified, we need to focus on the heart of the issue, the how that touches many facets, more or less relevant depending on the cases and the repetitiveness with which this tool is used.

How do we present the message on the territory?

Are we outside or are we inside? If we are outside then do we have a neutral or branded gazebo? Do we decide to represent our brand or to promote an invitation to action? If we are inside, will the desk be enough to identify us as a brand and engage whoever sees us? Do we integrate with elements of attraction for families and children? Balloons or even gadgets?
If we are still outside, will we consider bringing music with us that increases the value of presence? If yes, what agreements do we have with the location?
All these questions are not answered in a single way except in terms of costs and benefits: if you decide to be present externally, you must do so to maximize the results in terms of how well people remember you and by positive word of mouth or curiosity - not only for the number of registered names and those who are interested. Sometimes, good pre-organization can maximize this aspect too, not necessarily reinvesting in an outdoor kit every time but optimizing what is present in the centre. Often performing outreach can be a good time to review stock which can lead to unexpected surprises.

How do we represent our core business externally?

Static presence in promotional or dynamic area? Will we show people something or entertain them by making them activate before we even see our structure? Will we interest you with games and quizzes that are themed but not physical or will we create games that challenge you?
The possibilities are endless: from lifting shopping bags in the right way in the case of activities in the mall, to the quiz "guess the weight" of everyday objects in case of  some presence in the square, to a game on the tablet on the false myths of training.
There are many ways to avoid the technical content of fitness services and make them playful and animated instead.
Technology yes or no, music yes or no, premium gadgets yes or no. There are many variables on the subject that force you to evaluate the organization in order to become much more useful rather than just a passive presence and risk becoming useless.

How to start activities? With which staff?

Internal staff or external promoters?
Unprepared internal staff or specially trained external promoters?
A mix of the two?
There is no perfect formula-staff: surely what must prevail in a logic of choice is the effectiveness of the figures in relation to the mechanics chosen for the outreach of a given period.
In the case of outreach in a park or green area in spring to support the decline in sales it makes sense to combine the promoter or receptionist with the presence of a consultant or even a technician, to help authoritatively illustrate the services after the first stage of entertainment.

How can we avoid misappraisal?

So why decide to do more Outreach in the era of the internet revolution? Because it is perhaps one of the most difficult and therefore most useful areas of comparison with the territory, if equilibrium is achieved.
Recognisability and human contact are also a measure of how we are seen. It’s also because getting used to going on stage, outside of comfort areas, is something that characterises fitness operators, who must return to do so also in a promotional way.
Avoid extremes in the management of this mode of marketing. If you decide to give up immediately after an initial non-rewarding presence, without first evaluating the reasons you could be missing the opportunity to improve. You may also want to decide if you want to invest all of the budget available for the external kit without verifying the response of the territory and the best formula to do so (excessive costs per desk, workstations, gadgets, tablets, clothing for promoters, human resources without any training programme).
A prudential but original approach represents the balance to be pursued: prudence is transformed into an analysis of each exit, into a definition of numerical-qualitative expectations, into a previous inspection and into a verification of all the results achieved, even negative ones.
Originality, on the other hand, represents the desire to bring energy, proactivity, and the organisational movement OUT from one's own headquarters and do it with style thus demonstrating that one is able to transmit energy, competence, challenge, and incentive actions on and off field.

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