Beyond Social: Hyperlocal Marketing for Your Health Club

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Hyperlocal isn’t new. What’s new is the ability to combine local knowledge with location-aware and address-sensitive technology to target your health club’s ideal prospects.

Hyperlocal marketing zeroes in on a small geographic area, like a single zipcode. It’s Main Street, your office park, or addresses within walking distance of your business. Those pizza flyers on your windshield? That’s old-school hyperlocal marketing.

1. Inventory your local knowledge

When golfers use the term “local knowledge,” they mean the kind of insight you get from playing the same course over and over again — how the greens break, what the winds are like, and so forth.

In hyperlocal marketing, your knowledge about your local community is your most important strategic asset. Think for a minute about all the information you have at your fingertips about your local community.

You know which businesses are popular with which types of customers. You know the rhythms of your community — when important local events occur, when people are out and about, when things tend to slow down and other seasonal trends. You know other business owners and local government leaders. You know which parts of town are growing, and which ones are struggling. You know about the non-profits and civic clubs in town that do good.

You know the businesses that surround yours. There’s the burger joint a few stores down, the styling salon around the corner, and the pack-and-ship place across from you. There’s the urgent care clinic on the pad site in the middle of the parking lot and the chiro office down the street. You know that folks in your vicinity are going to be dropping off packages, getting their hair done, having their shoulder worked on, and stopping for dinner.

2. Make your website location-aware

This means that when people visit your website on a mobile device, they’ll be asked if they’re willing to share their location with you. That allows you to show them your nearest location without making them enter zips or plod through annoying drop-down menus.

3. Think in terms of neighborhoods and districts

Zip codes are great, but…many communities are so small that there’s only one zip code anyway. In other cases, a zip code crosses areas that are nothing like each other. For example, my old residential zip code included a declining shopping district, solidly middle-class houses, crime-ridden apartment complexes, strong retail locations and some of the most expensive real estate in Far North Dallas.

Collecting local neighborhood data can often be more useful. For example, Dallas includes neighborhoods like Far North Dallas, Uptown, Cedar Springs and Old East Dallas. You’d never find these areas if you just relied on zips. And figuring it out from addresses is doable but time-consuming.

Far better to just ask customers to self-identify their neighborhoods of interest as they sign up for your email list. Then you’ve got truly hyperlocal information you can use to target email and social campaigns.

4. Build digital marketing around local knowledge

For example, when the burger joint’s sponsoring Antique Car Weekend, you could promote this event on your own Facebook business page and in an email campaign. Offer your usual joiner’s discount plus a fun freebie like fuzzy dice to anyone who signs up that weekend. Do you sell supplements? Talk to the styling salon about posting a Facebook event inviting their clients to a complimentary class on using supplements to keep skin young and hair shiny.

Look for co-promotion opportunities with several other businesses. You’ll get far better results if your personal training studio, the burger joint and the urgent care center are all promoting a wellness-oriented event on your respective social accounts and email marketing platforms.

5. Grab attention with instantly-recognizable references

Always look for opportunities to reference instantly-identifiable points of local significance in your email marketing campaigns. I recently received an email from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy about donating to TrailLink. Embedded in the email is the name of the closest trail to me, Preston Ridge Trail.

It really caught my eye — I never expected to see a local reference I would recognize in an email from a national organization.

This isn’t hard to do — it just takes a little email marketing know-how.

Did the promotion feel more local and specific to my interests? Yes.

Did they get my attention by mentioning a trail I might recognize and want to help preserve? Definitely.

 6. Keep it personal

Personal and local go hand in hand. Your email campaigns, your website content — all of your marketing needs to feel like it’s coming from real people, someone potential clients might run into at the grocery store. Because in this case, they probably will.

One of our customers had an unfortunate reputation for leaving typos in their emails. It just seemed programmed into their DNA. And while we did our best to help them clean up and do a more professional job, we recognized that one of their assets was their quirky, language-challenged communications style. So we helped them capitalize on that.

The author brought out his personal side, talked about how he was fumble-fingered and couldn’t wait to get the message out, and even gave away promotional coupons for free introductory services to people who could find the most typos in his regular weekly email newsletter.

If your club’s email newsletter is the one that always uses the frilly pink fonts or the videos of sports fails, own it! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to scrub out that quirkiness just to make your wellness business look “bigger.” You’ll just end up looking like everyone else.

And of course, tend to your digital knitting:

All of this assumes you’ve got the basics of local search optimization in place, so let’s recap key points:

  • Your website and any landing pages must have your address, phone number and common “neighborhood” descriptor on all pages

Remember, most prospects don’t start by picking a vendor (“Blue Serenity Yoga”) and then finding a nearby location. They start by searching for “yoga Far North Dallas” or “yoga Castro District” and then look at the search results.

Use your customer’s vocabulary, not marketing gobbledygook. Even if you like to call your club’s yoga programs “whole-body serenity training” no one in the world is going to search for that phrase. Like it or not, your prospects are Googling for “yoga.” Your digital content better have words and phrases about “yoga.”

  • You must claim and complete your health club or wellness business profile on Yelp and other online review sites

Make sure that your address and phone are exactly the same on your website, online review sites, and so on.

  • Your website design must be mobile-friendly

This means “hamburger” menus or parallax design, mobile-responsive graphics and big easy-to-tap buttons, and saying the most with the fewest words possible.

  • Your website phone number must be clickable

This means it automatically dials your business when someone taps the number. Super-easy to do, but often overlooked.

  • Your digital content MUST be mobile-friendly

Lots of people have laptops or desktops at home or at work — but they also have smartphones and tablets. They read half of the emails you send them on tablets or smartphones. Comparisons of different health clubs early in your prospect’s buying process happen on smartphones. Then they may jump to a bigger laptop or desktop screen when they’re really ready to dive into the details of making a membership decision.

Everyone’s got access to the same digital marketing tools — but no one can duplicate the local knowledge you and your management team have about the communities where you operate. Put the tools together with the know-how, and you’ve got a unique opportunity to reach potential customers.