by Angela Reed-Fox
How do you price your indoor cycling classes?
How do you determine what's a fair price for an indoor cycling session? Are you happy with what you're charging?
Pricing is important - get it wrong and you'll either be undervaluing your product or pricing yourself out of the market. Just like with resistance and cadence is in balance on a bike, the level of demand should be balanced by the price you're asking riders to pay. There's a sweet spot for both.
I took a call today from an ICI instructor. He wanted to know: What's a good price to charge? - he's starting to instruct at a different studio; the bikes are quite basic, there are only a handful of riders who can ride at a time, the gym is new, and they offer gym only membership.
What would you do?
You need to focus on what you're actually offering - OK the bikes weren't necessarily top of the range, but if the instructor is good (as ICI instructors are!) then they can help any rider get great results with any bike. Studios will often over-invest in bikes thinking that if they've got the latest tech the classes will be brilliant. But if the instructors don't know what they're doing, that investment's wasted.
The fact that the instructor I spoke to today is well-equipped, knowledgeable and passionate about giving riders the results they want, and that there aren't lots of bikes available in the class means riders are going to be getting a really top-drawer experience. This experience (and the gym's bottom line) could be improved by a small investment in heartrate training - perhaps with the MyZone system which provides extra motivation, retention - and a secondary income stream.
Considering that the gym is seeking to increase interest in the gym by starting to offer indoor cycling sessions but not offer the classes necessarily within the membership, this creates an excellent opportunity. The ICI instructor is contracted by the gym and is incentivised to attract more riders by having a profit share from the classes.
In this instance, it makes sense to have a core price that other offers can be compared with. For example, charging £10 per ride for a non-member, and giving members a discount on this yields two things:
Another thing you can think about is selling bundles of rides. Perhaps your newish rider wants to dip their toe in a bit more, but doesn't want to commit to the terms of a membership. In this case you could offer bundles that don't give the saving of a membership, but offer a small discount from a single ride price. Be aware though that anything that's between the 'benchmark' single ride price and what you want riders to go for (loyalty with a membership!) might deter riders from making that decision.
You can also offer several-week programmes - perhaps a 'Little Black Dress' programme or a 'Winter Training Programme' - this would have riders signing up and committing to a particular session for a number of weeks. They pay upfront in one, and pay the same whether they turn up to all classes or not.
If the gym decides to go down the MyZone heartrate training route, there'll be plenty of crossover as members can use it in the fitness suite as well as all of their classes, this will mean more riders to the cycling studio, as well as more riders exploring other parts of the gym - this approach generally works well for improving member experience, building membership base, as well as that always important bottom line.
by Angela Reed Fox
9 ways to promote your special edition indoor cycling series that work
You have your indoor cycling class timetable - and it works. Great. But sometimes it's good to add something a little different as an extra. We've found special edition 2 hour rides have been tremendously popular, booking out within days of posting them, and usually having riders waitlisted. Partly the popularity of course builds through riders enjoying the session and wanting to do more - and telling their friends.
But what if it's your first event and you want to make sure it's a must-book right from the start?
Here are 9 ways which we've used which work. Mostly, they're free, and just require a bit of planning. I would advise that although you don't need to do every single one, pick a handful that you know you'll be able to do well and go with those. If you just choose one, you're limiting your effectiveness unnecessarily.
Think about the customer journey
What are the points of contact along the journey between when a rider decides they want to do a session with you, and when they actually turn up to class? How many times can you reach them with the message that there's something they might not want to miss?
If you have an online booking system, there's usually a way of posting extra information directly onto the booking system, so riders will see this as soon as they log in - and they're then in just the right place to book your event! Booking systems also usually have a 'reminder' feature to email riders to confirm bookings or remind riders of their class - this is great to add a little extra bit to let riders know about your event.
In studio/venue promotion
Depending on your setup, you can post information about your event in the studio or around reception. This may take the form of printed flyers which can be cheap to produce - or, (and we found flyers tend to be a bit messy, and people still miss the message) you can create a graphic and post it on any promotion screens that you have in-house. Our heart-rate training screens when not in use, will show rider information, inspirational and motivational quotes, and also the odd reminder of upcoming events. If riders are present - they'll get the message.
What if they're not present? How do you get them then?
Blogs are good for websites; they show search engines that your site is up to date. They also drive traffic to your site, therefore making it more likely that search engines will look favourably on it and show it to more people.
Write a blog post, create an engaging graphic to head it, and post it to your site. Share it to social media. But also, don't forget to share it to your Google page if you have one (extra brownie points from Google there!)
But of course, had to be, right? But there's a way to do it. Actually there are several ways - but these are not the ways usually employed. Often a gym's Facebook page will look like an electronic noticeboard. All that's posted is details of classes or special offers - what I call 'Buy My Thing' posts. This is not a page that is going to attract visitors. An attractive page will show your brand personality, will be engaging and will give opportunities to followers to interact. Put out content - advice, how-to posts, motivational posts, and then followers not only won't mind the BMT posts, they'll engage with them.
When you're ready with your event, you can create a graphic and link it to your blog post. Share it to whichever platforms you use - pin it to the top of the page, promote it if you want to (there is a charge for this - so make sure you're confident with targeting and getting the best return on investment, otherwise just stick to the free ways for now).
We've also found it useful to change the Facebook header and also our profile picture. This creates a nice theme, and whenever we reply on anyone else's posts, our followers can see from our profile pic that something's going on, which directs them back to our page to satisfy their curiosity.
Yes it's true everyone gets too many emails. However, if you've got a friendly brand personality and you're not constantly clobbering people with a 'Buy My Thing' narrative, people will be happy to receive yours. We've found that our email open rate is far higher than the industry standard and this is because we think about what people want to receive, and how they want to be spoken to. Our style is always relaxed and engaging, and not formal, and we mix in useful advice that riders can apply straight away with offers, discounts, and special events.
Regarding our special 2 hour rides, we segment our riders. If they've been on one of our big rides before, then we put them in a special group so that they will always hear about similar events. Usually this is enough to fill the session on its own. If you're just starting out, you might want to email all your regular riders, and then keep a separate list or segment for those riders who are interested in your special editions to contact them directly next time.
We use MyZone heartrate training, and one of the features that tends to be under-utilised (but not by us because we're on it!) is the graphic you can add at the top of the app screen which will be seen by all riders who have not replaced your venue's graphic with a photo of their dog (most people don't change this, and therefore it's a good place to get the message out). Creating a graphic to fit the top of the screen and posting it there for two weeks before the start of the event is a good trick. Then of course change it to something else - we recommend changing it every week or two so there's always something new to look at for people using their app. Usually our app graphics are not promoting anything, they're just encouraging quotes. If you leave the graphic as just your company logo, there's more likelihood that people will change the picture to something else (like their dog) and then you've lost the ability to reach that person on the app.
Want MyZone? We recommend it for all studios. Contact us here if you'd like a chat about how it could work for you.
Although it's true that not everyone who books is necessarily going to see your homepage (particularly if they're frequent flyers and they've bookmarked your booking page, or if you don't have online booking), but it's good to have a congruent brand with the message reaching across the different platforms you have available to you. Often if you create one graphic you can either use that same graphic, or resize it for different functions across the internet.
If you're confident with this sort of thing, a chatbot is a handy thing to have. Embed it on your website and it will connect with Facebook Messenger and you can use this to a) get subscribers and b) let them know about cool stuff you ahve coming up (as well as thanking them by providing them with quality content.)
by Angela Reed Fox
6 keys to email marketing success for indoor cycling studios
Email marketing works. It still works. With our own public-facing indoor cycling studio, we've found that email marketing is one of the most effective marketing streams to invest in - but there are ways to ensure that your marketing hits the spots and gets you the results you want:
Often, but not too often. Recommendations vary, but around 7-10 days works well with us - providing a balance of information and advice along with offers, discounts and studio promotions.
Diarise. Plan your offers to make sure they're reasonably well spaced, and then when you get to know your marketing year really well, you'll be able to form some offers that just slot in when you need a bit of a boost.
Segment. This is really important, and if you don't do it, there's a risk of sending people mail they don't want which makes them more likely to unsubscribe and therefore difficult for you to reach again. Email marketing software will enable you to add 'tags' to email addresses - perhaps separating your members from your non-members, or detailing when they last purchased so that you can reach them again with a different offer. This ONE think will add immense power to your email marketing.
Play nice. GDPR. Have an easy way for people to subscribe. We added a simple check box to our online registration forms, and 70% of riders sign up for our email marketing. Once they're subscribed, play nice. Enable them to unsubscribe easily if they want to, and provide them with plenty of nice, friendly and useful content to make sure they don't want to.
Use a combination of broadcasts and campaigns. A broadcast is a one off email. You might want to send an offer to all of your riders who bought rides last month, for example. If you've segmented your list you can easily do this. You'll schedule a time (or 'send now') your email and it will hit everyone's inbox at the same time. A campaign is different. When a subscriber joins your list, or is given a particular tag, that will trigger the campaign. This is a list of different emails that are set to arrive at agreed intervals. We have one for all new registrants - as soon as they sign up, they're added to the list and they receive the first email in the campaign, introducing us, welcoming them, and showing them the ropes. Subsequent emails are set about a week apart and feature a different aspect of getting the most from their workout.
Test! There's really no excuse, and this is super-powerful. Email marketing will give you lots of metrics and most providers offer an A/B test feature where you send two almost identical emails to two parts of your list, and then when one of them gets a better open rate or click through rate, the winning mail goes out to the rest of your subscribers. Test everything. Do your subscribers prefer plain emails (ours do) or emails with embedded pictures? Do they like shorter emails, or do they prefer more content in the email and less to click through to? How about subject lines? This is really important because this is what people read when they're deciding whether to open and read your email or just delete it. Test everything you can think of.
by Angela Reed-Fox
GDPR - How we made a challenge into an opportunity
On the 25th of May this year, the GDPR rules which came in 2 years ago became legally enforceable. And that has seen companies rushing last-minute to secure data and data practices. Your inbox may have filled up with "Please allow us to keep sending you mail" messages.
We suspected that this might not work. On the one hand, if a company felt it now needed to ask for permission to continue mailing someone - could it be possible that they hadn't asked for that permission in the first place? And secondly - what would make someone receiving the mail think "Yes, please keep sending me stuff I didn't originally ask for" actually click to resubscribe?
We consider that adversity makes us stronger in life and in business, and also that restrictions can be a blessing by enabling us to concentrate our focus.
With any challenge, we follow a 4 step process:
1. The definition
We needed to check and possibly change the way we stored and use personal data (more on that another time) and also we needed to revamp our email marketing system. Although we have always acted ethically and fairly, as there was some confusion over what precisely the GDPR required, we recognised that we may need to delete or destroy some customer data, thus reducing the size of our list.
2. The possibilities
We found this a good time to 'clean house', clean up our email list and customer database, and make sure our processes are watertight, and reinvent strategy, taking our marketing up a level. We considered this a perfect time to improve our strategy and re-engage with those who have signed up with us.
3. Make the issue something that works in our favour
As we tightened our policies and streamlined our processes, we knew that we would be disengaging from those who had signed up with us, but who hadn't visited or engaged with us. We would be improving our email open rate (OR) and click through rate (CTR). We wouldn't have the costs involved in maintaining a larger list. We would have a streamlined list of engaged people who were genuinely interested in us and what we had to offer.
There is a fallacy that the bigger an email list, the more profitable it is. There is another fallacy that the more those on the list are contacted, the more likely they are to buy. These two misconceptions are probably the main reasons businesses find email marketing doesn't work for them - when in reality it's a relatively cheap way to contact those closest to the business, keep them engaged and interested, and show them new things.
4. Test and test again.
It's early days, but we're in the testing phase.
What did we do?
oing back to our boutique cycling studio where we test everything, we knew that sending an email to current registrants (those who had registered to use the cycling studio) and asking them to 'resubscribe' was not going to be successful. We defined success as eliminating disengaged or inactive registrants, and losing no more than 30% of our current engaged registrants.
So what we did was change our marketing strategy radically. Previously we had offers, promotions, discounts going out on all platforms, email, social, paid search, as well as in leaflets and magazines, and in the studio itself. We decided to ditch all of those platforms (not for marketing, but just for offers), we decided that all our offers were going to be accessible from only one place - the registrant's inbox.
Why? Because this immediately added value to the emails we would be sending. If registrants knew that the offers would only come in this way, they'd be more likely to open and read our emails - improving our OR and CTR. We'd be changing behaviour by offering value.
We created a new project. We called it 'JammyFox' implying the fact that only a particular few would be getting hold of our offers.
by Angela Reed-Fox
Attracting new indoor cycling customers
Anyone who tells you this thinks business success is a lot easier than it actually is - and if it were this easy, everyone would be doing it.
"Build it and they'll come" is a misquote of the phrase "Build it and he'll come" from the 1980s film Field of Dreams. In the business setting, it implies that all you need to do is bring a product to market for it to be successful.
This completely ignores the fact that once the product is in the marketplace, it's then that you can do your most rigorous product-testing - on real customers. Listen to them - what do they like? Do more of it. What don't they like? Definitely do less of that.
It's at this point that you can release new features you've been holding back.
And it's also at this point that if your marketing isn't on point, the message just isn't going to get out there.
How do you encourage them to come?
Build your brand
Your brand is the personality of the business. It is how your product 'speaks' to customers and those who are still to try it out. In today's uber-social marketing climate, you need a strong brand. You need quality interactions with your customers.
If you ask for opinions on aspects of your brand or marketing, just be sure that the person understands what you're trying to achieve with your brand voice.
Don't get too emotionally involved in the product you're offering. Yes you should love it - but at the same time you should be able to look at it critically and make necessary changes. If you can't be objective, find someone you can trust, and ask their opinion.
Are you offering an 'easy in"? Is it easy for customers to join in? Test the pathway - does it work? Is it easy for people to sign up or register with you? Is it easy for them to purchase their first class? Is there any information they might find helpful before they arrive - and if so, how do you ensure they get it?
Don't rely on just one or two ways of getting your message out. Get your plans together and keep tweaking as the data comes in. More of what works, less of what doesn't.
Does everything happen that needs to happen in order to deliver your product to a happy customer?
by Angela Reed-Fox
Indoor Cycling rider recruitment
Are you attracting enough new indoor cycling customers?
A successful gym or studio is dependent on customer attraction, recruitment and retention. What's easily overlooked, however, is that for many of those who would most benefit from what a gym or studio offers, getting in isn't easy. They may have fear:
Here's what we tried, and what works:
Make sure (by testing!) that the onboarding process is easy, that the new registrant knows where to go, and reducing the chances of the person 'falling through the cracks'.
Test and tweak - and make sure everything is easy. It's all very well putting 'contact us' on a social media post promoting a special offer - but unless you actually plant a specific link there, you'll be missing people. Always, always link to what you're pointing people to.
Easy, trust-boosting sign-up
Online registration is great because it means that as soon as someone has made the decision to join, they can do so straight away.
We combined our registration process with a more comprehensive PARQ form, as well as our marketing permission (see how we did that here).
Immediately the registrant can see that we have pre-empted many issues, they're provided with a nurse contact in case of medical queries, and they can see that we take their safety very seriously.
We call the registrant on the same day of registering, and if they have signed up for our discount club, we add them immediately to that email list, and they receive their 'initiation guide', which lets them know what's what in the studio - what different classes are for, how the technology works, and a bit about the studio culture, and of course - our bikes!
When a new rider is attending a class, we let the instructor know, and we also pass on any relevant health or other information that the instructor will find helpful.
Classes of different intensity
This is the single biggest thing that has provided the easy "in" that has enabled hundreds to give us a try when usually the thought of indoor cycling would have them running in the opposite direction.
As always, we tweaked our product as we saw how customers were interacting with the different class types. Originally we had classes for beginners, progressive riders and advanced riders. We noticed that some riders were reluctant to try different classes, even though working at different intensities is what we should be encouraging our riders to do.
We tweaked! We replaced the original classes with a 'welcome' class for those completely new, a calorie burn (lower intensity but aimed at fat-burning), metabolic booster (aimed at using power and musuclar strength), and our performance classes for riders to improve their strength and stamina on the bike. This change gave riders 'permission' to try different intensity levels and find a mix that suits them.
The 'welcome' class is typically a small one. We strongly recommend that every studio or gym has this type of class - it won't always pay for itself in the short term - you may only have a few riders trying it, but by giving them an excellent start, you're more likely to get them interested and coming back to the other classes. Measure the success of the 'welcome' class in terms of retention rather than profit. The profit comes from the other classes.
Occasionally we come across someone we know we can help achieve so much, who just doesn't have the confidence to start with even the gentlest class. One lady pulled up outside the studio in her car four times before plucking up the courage to come in. Even a 'welcome' class was a step too far.
So we talked. We did a bike setup, we explained how the bikes worked, we explained the heart rate tech we use. We discussed what she needed - and what she wanted. And then she went home.
She came back a couple more times and got on the bike and pedalled, and we ran a mini 5 minute class just for her. She then joined a 'welcome' class as she felt more confident.
Where is she now? She's a member. Her husband's a member. Her daughter is a member. They come to lots of classes - and this only happened because we invested in her that time, and treated her as the special person she is.
Always start well - and carry on.
Choice, but not too much
We found four types of classes were good - not too much choice, but enough for everyone to find what they need. In the same way, we have different payment options - single rides, bundles, or memberships. Keep it simple, and be prepared to explain.
Not enough choice is counter-productive. People don't want to be herded - they want choice, they want to be in control.
Lead Magnets - how to make one for your indoor cycling studio
What's a lead magnet and why do I need one?
A lead magnet is an offer that encourages potential customers to sign up with you - either onto your email list, or to register with you.
Lead magnets are useful because they increase your list of potential studio members and therefore the number of potential indoor cycling session purchases.
Lead magnets are easily consumed, they are generally a short or bite-size piece of information that can be acted on immediately. They have high perceived value this is because they solve your target market's immediate problem, not only this, they are specific in supplying to your target market's need and showing them that you know what they need. They therefore have high perceived value for your potential clients even if they are provided at low cost to you - often they are evergreen, which means that they can run for as long as they are effective. Lead magnets can bargeted to a specific segment of your target market, and enable you to oposition yourself as an expert who can be trusted to provide exactly what your target market needs.
Differentiating yourself from an increasingly competitive and crowded market is essential, and a lead market will help accomplish this.
Types of lead magnets
There are many types of lead magnets, but some work better in some markets than others. examples include:
Make your lead magnet
Lead magnet mechanics
by Angela Reed-Fox
Indoor Cycling Studio issues: What brands should learn from Boaty McBoatface
Remember this? The Natural Environment Research Council (whom most people had not heard of) launched a public poll for the naming of one of their new research vessels - and for a few months in 2016 they became famous. Or even infamous. Previously there had been other public polls for naming animals such as orcas and owls - but none seemed to go as viral as this one. A BBC radio presenter suggested Boaty McBoatface and this captured the imagination of the British public and the poll took off - with Boaty in the lead at 33% of the vote.
The result? Boaty won the public vote, but this choice was vetoed; the research vessel was named the Sir David Attenborough and as a sop to the public, an on-board submersible craft was given the name Boaty McBoatface. What can brands learn from this?
1. "What could possibly go wrong?"
Recognise that asking the opinion of the Great British public is potentially even more dangerous than working with children and animals. There's tremendous opportunity and likewise great risk. On the one hand, if you catch the public's imagination the possibilities are endless - but on the other, mess it up, and you're going to look ridiculous.
2. Build reliable pre-crisis planning into every project
The results and subsequent action after the poll was concluded showed an astonishing lack of awareness of what were the possible or indeed likely outcomes of launching a public poll. The NERC suggested a few possibilities, but from these proposed options it was clear that they had absolutely no idea of the dark roads that public opinion was about to drag them down. They were then unprepared to deal with the inevitable consequences. Sun Tzu in the Art of War said a warrior should "know your enemy, and know yourself". NERC showed profound ignorance of both as the gap between what they wanted and what the public voted for was amusingly wide. They clearly didn't know themselves, and certainly weren't aware how out of touch they were with the public sentiment.
3. Never underestimate the Great British appreciation for irreverent wit
During the pre-crisis planning which wasn't done, a quick internet search would have shown NERC that in previous public naming polls, the British value humour over pomp. Indeed in 2007, a poll to name a humpback whale resulted in Greenpeace reluctantly agreeing to name the mammal Mister Splashy Pants. A similar outcome nine years later was always probable. (In the event, Mister Splashy Pants earned 78% of the vote, with the rather more staid options of Shanti, Amal, Aurora, Mira and Kaimana only earning 1% each.)
4. Don't make an offer you're not willing to stand by.
Only ask for an opinion if you're willing to take it. NERC didn't give the public parameters, it made suggestions but left the choices up to the public. By running the poll, NERC had two options:
4. Catch public imagination and surf the waves of popularity
The viral nature of the poll should have sparked NERC's interest and had them seeing the possibilities regardless of the acceptability of the outcome.
Allowing the public to name the vessel as inappropriately as it liked had the potential to create the first celebrity boat. This was a missed PR opportunity; children would remember into adulthood their school trips to see Boaty. It was a fabulous chance to spark the imagination of the next generation of marine explorers - and educate everyone else on what marine explorers actually do. It would have been a boat everyone had heard of.
5. Brand value doesn't have to come at a high price
The internet and social media has enabled far faster viral spread of ideas. Advertising is far cheaper than it ever has been before - and publicity stunts pulled off well need not cost anything at all. There was immense value created by running this poll. So many got involved, had a vote, shared the poll with friends and colleagues, and talked about it amongst themselves. It captured the nation's sense of fun -and if you can do that, it's difficult to go wrong from there (although clearly not impossible!)
6. Opinions matter
Polls and quizzes are popular because they invite opinion - and everyone has one of those! It also has the ability to create tribes. The tribe effect is evident in people voting and then sharing the poll, inviting others to join in too. A press release of the imminent launch of a research vessel could never have the same organic reach as a poll on the same subject. A poll taps into the twin desires of wanting to contribute, and wanting to be heard. The fact that the voices heard where then dismissed was the reason the entire PR project backfired.
7. So much to gain and yet so much was lost
Instead of a PR victory which would see hordes of people keen to visit Boaty, schoolchildren's imagination sparked by marine discovery, a renewed faith in these research bodies of which we know very little, and the affirmation of the irreverence that Britain holds so dear - the result was negative:
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