3 Ways to Use Social Media Contests for Member Engagement

hand holding mobile device with social media icons

You may be sick of hearing how social media has a significant impact on your outreach, but having an online presence outside of your website is not negotiable for your business’s current member engagement and lead generation. Running social media platform-specific contests, in addition to sharing student highlights and news, gives prospects an easy way to get an insider’s glimpse.

Use these three social spaces for your contest campaigns.

1. Facebook: The Community Builder

The basics: Facebook should be the foundation of your social media strategy. As you know, the multi-faceted platform has capacities for public and private groups, invitations, messaging, and more. Because Facebook is a dynamic community space, it may take time to build an audience if you don’t already have one. On the other hand, this versatility makes Facebook the perfect environment for social media contests.

Keep that dynamic element in mind when designing a Facebook giveaway that meets your business’s goals. Avoid running a contest that is overly complex and deterring participants. Set a timeframe with rules for your contest and stick to it—no exceptions. Examples include:

  • photo caption contests,
  • page likes contests, and
  • post sharing contests.

Level up: Use paid posts and ads to reach a larger audience.

2. Twitter: Be the Buzz Through Mirco-Messaging

The basics: Twitter is a more competitive social space that needs timeliness, relevancy, and frequency for success. It can be difficult to reach an audience due to these factors, but if you have a strong base of followers, you’ll see results.

Giveaways are particularly easy due to retweets, or Twitter’s re-blogging feature. An easy example of a Twitter contest is:

  • The first five people to retweet will receive a prize of your choice (pick something that is relevant to your marketing goals).

Level up: Reach out to your friends, family, and professional connections for retweets and mentions. Paid Twitter ads also are an option.

3. Instagram: Interactive Photo Sharing

The basics: The fitness and martial arts industries have a strong presence on Instagram. The visual element and the more personable feel of the platform are great for persuasive messaging—which makes Instagram our favorite place for social media contests. Common contests on Instagram include:

  • photo captions and
  • having contestants tag friends in the comments section.

Level up: Use “non-designer” graphic design tools like Canva to create your own images. Make sure you brand everything you create with your gym’s or martial art school’s name in case someone shares what you post. Because paid posts on Facebook integrate with Instagram, you have the option to run any contest promotions concurrently on two platforms.

Already social savvy and want more strategy? Take it a step further into forum spaces like Reddit. Being a regular contributor to threads relating to your discipline will help you network with others for additional ideas.

Webinar: 10 Add-Ons to Increase Event Revenue

If you’re only offering registrants the ability to sign up for your event, you’re selling yourself, quite literally, short. Why? Registrants actually want options to make additional purchases made available through your events. Discover how to incorporate 10 event add-ons from Sarah McGeehan, our Client Success Expert, in this must-see webinar.

About Sarah McGeehan: Having held almost every position at Member Solutions, she knows the entire client experience inside-out. Sarah is a true jack-of-all-trades who is highly knowledgeable about connecting businesses with their ideal solution.

14 Fall Event Ideas for September & October

15 Fall Event Ideas photo

Need event ideas for your martial arts school, gym, community group, or another organization? With autumn approaching, you’ll have lots of opportunities to plan around seasonal delights. These fall event ideas are easy to customize for your participants with online event registration software like Event Manager.

1) Back-to-School/Autumn Pancake Breakfast

Celebrate the turn of the season with a themed breakfast! Use it to commemorate the start of school or the beginning of autumn. Pick your favorite breakfast place in town, or make it special with an apple pancake or pumpkin pancake recipe that you can share with your attendees later. Martial arts schools or gyms: use this fall breakfast as a way to engage prospects.

2) Costume Contest

Dress up at your office, school, team, exercise class, or classroom Halloween party. If you’re a coach or martial arts instructor, have fun with your students by creating a contest that is sport specific. Create a giveaway prize with a Halloween trick or treat bag with items that your group will enjoy.

3) Pumpkin Carving Party with Contest & Prizes

Get in this family-friendly activity by using a twist: pick categories for your pumpkin contest, like the funniest, most creative, and most unexpected. Winner gets a gift card to Amazon or a favorite local restaurant. Make sure you take lots of photos to post to Facebook and Instagram to engage your online community.

4) Fall Bike Tours

Get a group together for a fun time on two wheels as the weather begins to cool. Explore the earthy, changing colors of the trees for a weekend camping trip or day trip. If you want to accommodate all levels of cyclists, try enjoying a rail trail.

Astronomy Camping Fall Ideas

5) Astronomy Night

Make this an educational after-school event for a student science club, field trip, or as a way to build community in your young athletes. Visit an observatory, planetarium, or go outside with chairs, blankets, and a campfire.

6) National School Success Month

Host a seminar series for students and/or parents on good academic habits. This is a great opportunity for coaches and martial arts school owners to talk about how students can use the discipline that they learn in their sport to excel in the classroom. Offer study time, tutoring, or a way to connect students with peer study groups.

7) Museum Field Trip

Local or big city museums, in addition to their usual exhibits, usually have seasonal or special exhibits. While art museums are popular, science museums are great for kids who want a more tactile, interactive experience.

8) National Cheese Pizza Day (Sept. 5th)

Not that there needs to be an excuse for pizza, but we’ll take one when we have it. Host a pizza lunch or dinner at your school, office, or local community organization.

Frisbee Fall Ideas

9) Ultimate Frisbee Game

Get everyone outside with an adult office league or a team at your gym. Being outside is not only fun, but it significantly impacts the way you decompress.

10) Themed Paint Nights

Create a fall or Halloween-themed paint night for kids, adults, or both. Make it fun for kids with fingerpainting or adult-friendly with drinks.

11) Bonfires/Seasonal Cookout

Have your group submit their favorite seasonal recipes anonymously and have everyone pick their top five favorites. The majority says what will cook on the fire. S’mores are always great for dessert.

12) National Grandparents Day (Sept. 8)

Celebrate the special roles and relationships of grandparents with a dinner, craft night, or a sport specific demonstration from their grandchildren athletes. Have kids make cards or fundraise for gift cards.

13) Local Farm Adventure

Pumpkin patches and hay rides may feel cliché, but they’re a classic for many reasons. And hot cider always tastes better in season.

14) Haunted House

Get spooky with a haunted house or trail. Expert tip: make group t-shirts so you can keep track of your group.

Author: Jennifer Miller, Member Solutions Marketing Specialist

Webinar: Uncover the Hidden Profit Center Inside Gyms & Martial Arts Studios

Can you turn a profit on your billing expenses? Expert sales consultant and school owner Erik Charles Russell says yes.

Members love convenience. In this webcast, Erik Charles Russell shares how to create a new revenue stream by appealing to members’ desire for convenient billing options. Through this model, you can generate higher income from fewer members as you reduce administrative costs. What you’ll learn:

  • How to create a profit center from service and transaction fees
  • How to raise prices and retain current members
  • Why low prices do not lead to more members

Presented by Erik Charles Russell.

Erik Charles has been in the Martial Arts and Fitness industry for more than 25 years and is the owner of Premier Martial Arts and Fitness in Watertown, NY. In 2015, he published a book based on his successes called The Art of Selling Memberships. The book became an international best seller—hitting number one in three categories in the US, Australia, and Germany on Amazon.com.

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Webinar: Lead to Member: Thinking Long-Term with Your Website

Your website is a direct tie to your business’s bottom line. If it’s not converting your leads to long-term members, you’re losing out on important opportunities to grow. In this webinar, you’ll learn strategies from experts on how to:

  • Generate leads more effectively in your area
  • Use best practices for selling trial memberships
  • Overcome common sales objections
  • Convert leads into members

Presented by Tim Sarazen, Director of Operations at 97Display & Erik Charles Russell, Membership Sales Expert

Tim Sarazen is an expert in internet marketing at 97 Display, a fitness and martial arts website and marketing agency.

Erik Charles Russell has been in the fitness and martial arts industries for 25 years. Erik has coached, instructed, sold memberships, served as a program director, and owned multiple facilities. He has perfected a new method for membership sales and marketing that he has published in his book, The Art of Selling Memberships.

Branding, Websites, UX, & SEO: Use What We Learned to Benefit Your Business

Branding word cloud on chalkboard: design, value, strategy, logo, marketing, advertising, identify, trust.

Navigating the rebranding process and launching a completely new, optimized website wasn’t easy. But it gave the Member Solutions team valuable insight into the kind of planning, techniques, and development required. To help you out, we asked our marketing department, “What did you learn from our recent rebrand and the launch of our new site?”

Meetings: Use collaborative communication tools. Be open with your team.

CLAIRE, Marketing Specialist

Aside from a having a positive attitude, open communication and having various ways to communicate really helped. One strategy we used was creating a group chat on Skype where everyone could talk and submit their observations. Another was having smaller meetings in between our scheduled large group ones to discuss specific topics, like SEO.

UX: Create a website that offers a positive, intuitive experience for your customers.

CHRIS, PPC Manager

We only have a few seconds after a user arrives at our website to grab their attention. Wasting any of those seconds can turn a potential customer away for good.

People fall into the trap of trying to pack their website full of information, keywords, and resources. These actions are things you think should help, but they hurt the user experience instead. Knowing when, where, and how to provide information is as valuable as the information itself.

Branding: Bring in fresh perspectives. Grow through flexibility & willingness to learn.

CAITLIN, Brand Manager

It was interesting coming into this project as someone who doesn’t have long-standing familiarity with the product. Because of this, I could view the content with a fresh perspective and place myself in the shoes of a potential client. Tackling the project from this viewpoint allowed me to take a step back from the content developer mentality and remember the top priority of any website our team creates: our audience.

Be flexible. No matter how much you plan and plan again, processes and strategies evolve over time. You learn from mistakes, gain new insight, and even spark fresh ideas. It’s all part of the challenge and what drives continued growth—both professionally and personally.

SEO: Plan your website’s optimization from the start. Know your industry & involve key stakeholders.

MIRANDA, Brand Manager

Consider SEO up front. At the early stages of planning, consider how SEO will play into your website structure and content. As a vital part of your strategy, you need to make sure that any decisions you make will align with your SEO goals.

Collaborate during planning. Involve all key stakeholders and team members to gather information about what your customers want and look for. Each person has a different experience with your customers, so it’s important to get multiple perspectives on the structure and content you’ve proposed for the site.

Know your industry. Research key opinion leaders, your product category, competitors, and customers so you can appropriately reflect the current needs of your industry. Take the opportunity to address present challenges and preferences with your new website rather than simply updating the appearance of your old site.

Websites: Design for clear, branded messaging in a mobile format.

LAURA, Senior Graphic Designer

It’s not enough to create a new logo and call it a day. You must update your website as well. As a designer, I cannot stress enough just how crucial it is to make your homepage clean, visually interesting, and to have a clear message. Ask yourself, “What type of company am I? What do I want to say?” You may think you’re getting your message across to the right target audience, but in the end, you may be missing the mark.

You literally have 5 to 10 seconds to make your first impression when a new visitor lands on your site. If a prospect cannot figure out who you are and what your company does in that short window of time, you’ll lose their interest or worse, future business. They are already moving to the next thing.

If your site isn’t visually appealing and built to adjust to all the different devices out in the world, your prospects will lose interest and instantly move to a competitor. People are not surfing the web on a desktop computer anymore. In fact, not being mobile friendly will even affect your rankings in Google’s search engine. It is now known that their preferred configuration is mobile responsive sites.

Another other important aspect to remember is your opinion isn’t the only one that matters. Invite friends, family, coworkers, or someone in the same industry to look at your newly refreshed website and logo. Get an outsider’s perspective. Their opinion may be completely different than how you view your company.

Content: Be authentic in your tone & brand voice. Show your audience that you’re human, too.

JENNIFER, Marketing Specialist

Your website may be the first introduction someone has to your business. Think of how you would greet someone in person: authenticity and friendliness usually open the opportunity to build rapport. Today’s savvy consumers are going to take their business to companies that speak to them personally, that make them feel valuable as individuals.

Appropriately using emotion builds that value with your audience, even when they’re not ready to purchase. Human-voiced content should not only translate through your website but through social media and advertising as well. Blogging is a great way to create and demonstrate your brand’s sense of community. Categories are a subtle way to create authority in your areas of expertise.

Introducing the Redesigned Member Solutions Website

Member Solutions website design

We’re finally revealing what we’ve been working on the last several months: the rebrand of Member Solutions. Deciding to rebrand meant that we needed to reflect on who we are as a company, how we’ve evolved, and what our evolution means for us and our clients—now and in the future.

What You’ll See from Us

We’re still Member Solutions, but now with:

  • A new, modernized logo that you’ll see across our media
  • A re-energized website optimized for engagement and usability
  • A unified product line with new, memorable names

What Our Rebrand Means for Our Clients

All of these changes are summarized in our new mission statement:

To delight our clients by delivering industry-leading service and flexible, technology-driven solutions that provide superior value.

Our new mission goes back to who and what we care about the most: our clients and community. Through the rebranding of Member Solutions, we want to ensure that we are giving you our 100 percent best as a SaaS (software-as-a-service) partner that anticipates your needs and meets them through high-quality customer service. You inspire us to be more and do more every day.

What Our Rebrand Means for Our Community

We’ll continue to serve the martial arts, fitness, and personal training communities through our suite of solutions. We’ll also offer tailored solutions to other membership-based communities, including:

  • Yoga and Pilates
  • Box training
  • Music schools
  • Spas and massage businesses

We’re excited to feature our complete list of industries on our new website. We at Member Solutions want to help business owners live their dreams by easing organization and the time commitment required in their day-to-day tasks.

We’re Here for You

Your hard work often means early mornings, late nights, lunch breaks on-the-go, and time away from family. But you wake up every day knowing you’re not only living your dream, but that you also have the power to inspire others. When you partner your passion with Member Solutions, you’re deepening the community relationships that influence your success. We’re here to help you make a difference.

10 Ways to Reduce Your Delinquency Rate & Increase Cash Flow

Business charts and graphs

In the 26 years that Member Solutions has been in business, we’ve discovered that there are ways to alter member payment behaviors to ensure prompt and predictable cash flow to your facility. Here are 10 tips to reduce your delinquencies and facilitate collections with our managed billing services.

1. Avoid statement or coupon billing methods whenever possible.

Customers that pay by statement or coupon are 23% more likely to become delinquent than those who sign up for auto-pay. Enroll customers for bank draft or a credit card option. It’s a double-win for you: Customers are more likely to pay on time and electronic payment options save you money.

2. Get email addresses from every customer.

Email is one of the fastest ways to communicate with your customers. It has become an effective tool in delinquency management. When we send email reminders as part of our payment collections service, we provide a direct link to our customer-only website where your members can make payments and update their billing information.

3. Provide a contract copy promptly when requested.

Your agreement is legal proof of the customer’s obligation to pay. The quicker we receive the agreement, the better chance we have in recovering your funds.

4. Select due dates early in the month.

If a customer does miss a payment, has a declined payment, or a returned payment, Member Solutions has a better chance to recover your funds within the same billing cycle when payments are due when a new month starts. We recommend setting the 1st or 5th of the month as the due date for all of your members.

5. Know who’s delinquent.

Our most successful clients know how and where to find this information online. Here are ways to stay informed:

  • Review the delinquency report at least twice per month.
  • Sign up for Email Alerts. We’ll email you and any staff member you designate whenever a customer has a returned or declined payment.
  • Examine the Activity Report on a weekly basis. Not only will it provide you with a list of new accounts and funding activity, but it also will list any customers with an active follow-up that is preventing or delaying billing.

Member Solutions Managed Billing Solution - Software on Monitor

6. Work together with Member Solutions.

The clients we see with the lowest delinquency percentages work with our team to make it easy for members to manage their accounts and make payments. Some clients prefer to be direct with their members, while others prefer a subtle approach. Either method will increase collection results, so long as you’ve communicated your preferences to our team.

Once you know who is past due, you can simply hand your customer a Member Solutions’ business card and say, “Member Solutions has informed us that they have been unable to contact you. Here’s a card with their website and contact information.”

Once a customer is aware that you may know that they have a billing issue, they are more likely to pay on time to avoid embarrassment.

7. Ask your customer to provide you with their most accurate billing information.

Have them provide it to you directly rather than obtaining it from a driver’s license or previous billing account which may be outdated. Ask the customer to verify their vital billing information when they are signing the agreement.

8. Make sure that your customer knows that Member Solutions is servicing the billing portion of their agreement to avoid having payments charged back.

Your endorsement of Member Solutions provides your customers with the reassurance of your professionalism and commitment to quality service. Place the Member Solutions decal in your business and hand out contact cards, both provided free of charge. Talk about our customer portal, designed specifically for your customers to make payments, update their billing information, print payment history, or contact our customer service team.

9. Offer settlements to members who have trouble paying.

The longer an account remains delinquent, the less likely you are to receive payment. When a customer is no longer attending class or using your facility, they are more likely to stop paying altogether.

Once an account reaches 90 days delinquent, we recommend automatically offering the customer a settlement for a percentage of the remaining balance. This could bring you income in the form of a lump sum payment and leave the customer on better terms which could result in new customer referrals or re-enrollment in the future.

10. Don’t accept payments at your business.

Generally, we discourage our clients from accepting payments at your place of business. Accepting payments creates more work for you and increases the likelihood that your customer will receive delinquency phone calls and correspondence when they are not past due.

Worse yet, it also increases the chance of double billing your customer when the payment is not reported immediately to Member Solutions. Finally, once you accept that first payment, chances are it will occur again and diminish our authority when the customer decides not to pay.

Everybody’s Business: Understanding, Recognizing, & Responding to Bullying

Warning: Cyber Bullying. Sticker on keyboard.

Many of us have heard others say that bullying is “just a fact of life” or “no big deal” or “you are not alone!” Too often, people do not take bullying seriously until the sad and sometimes scary stories are revealed; like the mass retribution shootings we are seeing more frequently across North America. Or the increasing numbers of teen suicides that involve cyberbullying, like that of 15-year-old Coquitlum, BC Canada resident, Amanda Todd.

Many studies show that bullying can have negative effects on a child’s development and their future. But the problem is much deeper and more widespread than we have been led to believe.

In a child’s world bullying occurs once every seven minutes on the playground, and once every 25 minutes in the classroom. Reports show that 30 to 40% of children with aggression problems grow up to continue with violence as adults. As they grow older, bullies may transfer their abuse of power on the playground to other forms of harassment, violence or abuse. Bullying changes its form with age:

  • Children’s playground bullying often involves pushing, shoving, name calling, teasing and isolation.
  • Teenage bullying may begin to include cyberbullying, sexual harassment, gang attacks and dating violence.
  • Adult bullying may become assaults, marital violence, child abuse, workplace harassment and senior abuse.

In order to curtail bullying, one needs to also address what has instigated it.

A Learned Behavior

Childhood bullies are kids that have usually been exposed to some type of negativity that prevents them from functioning in a positive way. They have often been traumatized by someone else. In many cases, it is someone they look up to like an older sibling, a parent, a sport’s coach or a teacher. Bullying is their way of venting their own frustrations or fears.

Young people who bully are more likely to smoke, drink, skip school, get into fights, vandalize property and drop out of school. A recent study in the USA shows that 60% of boys who were bullies in middle school had at least one criminal conviction by the age of 24. Still many bullies continue to use their tactics into adulthood without legal ramification. Victims may include people under their authority or control like subordinate staff, spouses and children.

Scars for Life

Victims of childhood bullying are typically unhappy children who suffer from fear, anxiety and low self-esteem. They may try to avoid school or social interaction in an effort to escape it. Some victims of bullying are so distressed that they develop eating disorders, substance abuse and commit, or attempt to commit, suicide. Several instances of suicide by boys, who had been severely bullied in Norway in the early 1980s, moved that country to begin a nationwide anti-bullying program.

Bullying is not gender specific. Young women face an increasing number of challenges which can produce low self-esteem. At early ages it can start with bullying, and as they enter their teen years it transforms to verbal, physical, cyber and in some cases sexual abuse. In a 1993 study, it was reported that 60% of girls who were bullied were bullied only by boys, while another 15-20% were bullied by both boys and girls. Today many news headlines include reports of swarming by groups of girls. None so close to home as the Rena Virk tragedy.

In almost all cases of bullying and abuse, the bully or predator will single out a victim who is weaker and possesses a low level of self-esteem. More time and effort is needed to help children and adults become more aware of themselves, increase their level of confidence and to learn how to defend themselves on a number of levels. But this is only the beginning. In order to stop bullying, we need to also address the source.

Creating a Bully-Free Community

Children are afraid to speak out about bullies and their acts. Some common reasons could be threats made by the bully or discounting the urgency by an adult. Because of this, adults need to take a proactive role in identifying and curtailing bullying activities wherever possible. If you suspect that your child may be a victim of bullying, or perhaps is the person doing the bullying, there are immediate steps that you can take to help them deal with this terrible childhood trauma.

Like any epidemic, one cannot keep applying Band-Aids to the wound. Eventually one has to venture to the source of the infection. In the case of bullying, the source is adults and parents who are usually too busy or stressed to deal with their own anxieties or fears. In order to create a bully-free community, government, police forces, educational bodies and the media need to work together to:

1) Accept the fact that bullying is a growing epidemic and major cause of illness and crime in our society
2) Educate the public on the existence and drastic effects of bullying
3) Provide educational opportunities for children and adults who would be typical targets of bullying
4) Identify weaknesses in our legal systems that allow bullying to exist
5) Pass laws that force adults in authoritative positions to develop approaches and behaviors that prevent bullying from taking place, and nurtures positive growth in our children and citizens
6) Be prepared to enforce anti-bullying laws. Only by taking these steps will we be able to curtail this unacceptable behavior.

About the author: Ken Marchtaler was born in Vancouver, Canada. He has studied and taught Martial Arts for more than 20 years. His group of companies, Marchtaler Group, includes two Martial Arts studios in Victoria, Canada, as well as a number of programs developed for the Martial Arts community including Little Warriors®, 30 Minute Warrior® and the concept of Martial Wellness®. Ken recently appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX networks: Health & Wellness Today TV Show Full Interview with Dr. John Spencer Ellis.

5 Sales Email Mistakes That Are Costing You Gym Members

Computer typing writing

A lead fills out a form on your website for more information on one of your fitness programs.

You need to follow up. That includes sending follow-up emails. But with literally hundreds of emails in a lead’s email inbox, how can you make it so that your email doesn’t get deleted as soon as it’s received? How can you improve the chance that the lead will take the next step to visit your facility or take a class?

Here’s a don’t-do list that can help when crafting your follow-up emails:

1. Don’t write subject lines like an advertisement.

Avoid spammy email subject lines like How to lose 30 lbs. and keep it off.

The email subject line is the first thing that a lead sees. It should be relevant to the lead’s interest. For example, if a lead requested information on your Fitness kickboxing program, send an email with the subject line: “Membership options for Fitness Kickboxing with |LS|YOUR BUSINESS NAME|RS|.”

Making the subject line relevant to the request will increase the likelihood that the email will be read and get you that much closer to converting the lead to a membership.

2. Don’t send only canned, mass emails.

Continue with relevancy by making the email content about what the lead requested. Sticking with the Fitness Kickboxing example, include information on the program, the schedule, directions to your facility and other related content.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use canned email templates to respond quickly to common questions or requests. Just make sure your response truly addresses your prospect’s needs before sending.

Member Solutions Member Manger Software- Email Marketing Template

3. Don’t leave your lead hanging without a next step to take.

Every email that you send out should include a call-to-action— words that urge the lead to take immediate action. Common calls to action include Call Now and Sign Up Today. If you are including a link to your class schedule, you could include the call-to-action Sign up for a class today.

4. Don’t leave out your email and phone number.

All emails to your leads should have some sort of personalization to it including a way for leads to reach you. Some people prefer to pick up the phone. Others like email. Everyone is different. Include multiple contact methods within your emails. It will greatly improve the interaction between your fitness business and potential members.

5. Don’t shy away from lending your expertise.

You want to be known as the leader in your neighborhood, so tell everyone who will listen what you know. If you have an instructional fitness video, an article you’ve written on diet and exercise, any how-to materials at all, include them in your emails. Doing so will showcase your expertise and get the people that inquired about your programs inspired to take action.

Bottom line: Keep your follow-up emails relevant to the lead’s interest and provide ways for them to easily take the next step and get a hold of you. Doing so will get your leads in the door much quicker.

What kind of follow-up emails work for you? Tell us about it below.