Marketing and Branding

On paper, most aquatic facilities seem similar.  They offer swim lessons, open swim, birthday parties, etc.  If you want to differentiate yourself and improve the overall sustainability of your facility, you must brand yourself in a way that makes you stand out.  All facilities will create a brand, so it’s up to you to guide that brand in a way to help your facilities succeed.

The first step to a successful marketing campaign is to have an action plan and budget.  This will essentially serve as your road map to implementation.  Your action plan should include a timeline and budget, an estimated return on investment (ROI), and the person responsible for execution.  Once you’ve completed your first action plan, it can serve as a starting point for future year as well.  Each year will be slightly different, based on the result and evaluation of the previous year.  Also, make sure you plan is current and capitalizes on trends in the industry.  Lastly, make sure you plan is updated to support your current business initiatives. 

When defining your brand, it is important to consider the current perceptions, both good and bad.  It’s hard to change what people already think, so sometimes it’s better to work with the current perceptions.  Consider both the physical brand, but also the emotional.  The physical brand will address the physical benefits of your facility like:  Get in shape, lose weight, etc.  However, people are more committed to the emotional brand that relates to the feeling they get once they are in shape or have lost weight.

Now that you’ve developed your brand, it’s time to start spreading the message.  One if the first steps in promoting your brand is to create your logo. The logo should be fun and simple.  Once created, start using your logo on social media, signs, and print media to spread the message.  Now that people know who you are, make sure you have a place for them to go.   The first-place people will look is your website of Facebook page.  Your website should be an extension of your brand.  People should know that this site is related to your facility through color pallet, imagery, and messaging.  Keep people engage by using short entries with lots of pictures and videos.

Past your website, makes sure to be creative in what marketing mediums you choose.  All mediums should have the ability to track your ROI.  Also, don’t think that you must pay for all exposure.  Work of mouth is still the most popular form of marketing for aquatic facilities in the US.  Also, consider working with your local news outlets to promote special activities or community benefits.   Lastly, consider creating a video that tells your story with a nice concise message.  The video should include highlights of what your clients may find interesting, along with a call to action like “purchase a membership today”.  Remember, once they are engaged, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to become your client. 

Any owner that take a diligent effort in promoting and marketing their facility’s benefits will significant improvements in the participation.  A good marketing plan is the first step to implementing a successful business plan.

 

 

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