Long popular within the fitness industry, membership-based businesses have expanded to additional verticals, with some of the fastest-growing franchises receiving revenue from membership dues.
The membership business model asks customers to “join” instead of “purchase.” Joining means submitting regular payments to continue receiving a product or service. For a business, this holds the promise of sustained retention and profitability.
While not all franchise companies can operate on a membership premise, every brand can learn from the best practice digital marketing tactics used to target, acquire, and keep new members.
- Build a Community—Locally and Worldwide
Successful membership-based franchises don’t just have regularly paying customers; they have members who are part of their brand’s community. Members are comfortable visiting their fitness studio or spa because they feel welcomed and valued, with a deep sense of belonging. The staff at these franchise locations demonstrate a genuine care for their members’ lives.
Membership-based franchises showcase members on social media and continuously publish engaging posts that foster member and staff interaction with the brand and with each other. This sense of connection helps solidify the brand as a community they would never want to leave.
Often, membership-based franchises are also deeply involved in their local communities—and leverage their contribution across digital channels. When participating in a nearby college’s homecoming parade or sponsoring a 5K run for charity, they promote the action on Facebook Live, create slideshows on Instagram using location-specific hashtags, and show the best photos in an email blast. More than just a business vying for customers, they are truly part of their members’ community and life.
- More than a Brand, Be a Lifestyle
Membership marketing taps into a prospective customer’s emotional need to feel good about his or her life. Rather than focusing solely on a product or service, messaging across digital ads and social media focuses on the life their customers live thanks to being a member and long-time consumer of their product or service.
Lifestyle-focused digital campaigns encourage members to share their own social media content showing them engaging with a product or reaping the benefits of their membership in their daily life. These satisfied members act as brand ambassadors, providing additional business visibility while reminding everyone in their social network to become a member, too.
When a strong correlation is made between your brand and a better lifestyle—whether it’s better health, luxury, confidence, or fun—member retention skyrockets. Customers would do anything to maintain that feeling.
- Roll Out the Red Carpet
Members have VIP status. They receive access to services and products no one else receives. They’re treated with special attention from staff, are eligible for members-only discounted pricing, and are invited to member appreciation events.
Despite their exclusivity, members-only products, services, events, and promotions are meant for the world to see. Roll out the red carpet to treat your customers like royalty, and use social media, email marketing, and digital advertising to show everyone else what they’re missing.
Digital communication also supplements staff efforts to let members know about these promotions and exclusive events available to them. Using e-blasts to reward return customers and Facebook events to invite them to special events can help increase purchases, satisfaction, and retention.
Best in Class
Orangetheory Fitness is an example of a membership-based franchise getting it right on every level.
Community: The “Orange Nation” includes all members, coaches, and staff who belong to Orangetheory’s network of more than 1,000 studios worldwide. When members join Orangetheory, it’s more than a workout—they’ve joined a family. From buzzing about favorite coaches and playlists to celebrating post-workout triumph, studio-driven social media conversations at the local level keep that sense of community alive and strong.
Lifestyle: Orangetheory’s recent More Life campaign focuses on their members getting more out of life the more they workout at Orangetheory. In addition to national promotions including a call for members to submit their own More Life stories, local franchisees highlight their members’ personal records, number of classes attended, participation in local races, wedding transformations and more across social media and in email newsletters.
Exclusive Experience: Special members-only events, ranging from studio anniversary and member appreciation parties to a triathlon-inspired “Dri-Tri,” remind the Orangetheory community about the extra perks of being a member. Local studios promote attendance through Facebook event pages and ads, and they share exciting event footage across their digital channels for all to see.
Applying the Membership Marketing Model
Your brand doesn’t need a membership model to market like one—or to grow like one.
Shape each prospect and customer into the equivalent of a lifetime member by equipping your franchisees to promote a sense of community, showcase the brand as a lifestyle, and highlight an enviable customer experience across digital platforms. Implementing these tactics leads to increased frequency of visits, better retention, and happier clients.