Newsletters are effective at every stage of the Onboarding process. They raise awareness when they’re shared; they increase desire by demonstrating the benefits of our service. They provide a clear path to integration, and keep our existing clients engaged.
Newsletters follow a “good-better-best” delivery continuum:
Good: you send out a newsletter once every month with a good story.
Better: You send out one newsletter each month with a good story and an offer
tweaked for different groups, and including a clear call to action.
Best: You send out multiple versions of the same email in a timely strategy (see below.) You include clear calls to action, and demonstrate the benefits of your services. People look forward to receiving your newsletter.
Here’s how to start with #1, and get to #3:
Use “News” or “Stories” in the title. You’re attracted to stories. Ask a question when possible: “Are You Wasting Your Time in the Gym?”
CONTENT – GENERAL
- Client Story #1. Write a short intro paragraph: “I remember Carl’s first day…” Post a great picture, and then link back to Carl’s story on your site.
- Offer #1. Make the offer relatable to the story: “Carl started with our new OnRamp program. Here’s how:” Include a clickable link to sign up for OnRamp.
- Client Story #2: Keep the reader scrolling down the page. Use the same format as Client Story #1.
- Offer #2: Mention a service that existing clients might like, or list upcoming specialty groups and events. Include clear links to sign up.
- Client Story #3: Follow the same format as above.
- Personal note: though all of the above should be written in professional language (third-person, active tense) this section should be in the first-person and typed the way you speak.
The ‘General’ newsletter will go out to everyone on your list who isn’t in a “special interest” group. For those folks, you’ll edit the original email to include relevant content for them.
CONTENT – PARENTS OF KIDS WHO PLAY SPORTS (example)
- Client Story #1. Use a kid from your CFK program ONLY if you have express permission to do so. Make sure you have a photo release on your waiver, but ask their parent if you can feature them. If not, use the same client story from your GENERAL newsletter.
- Offer #1: explain the BENEFITS of your CFK program (or sport-specific training program.)
- Education #1: Parents need reassurance that your program is: a) safe; b) a good fit for their schedule (relevant); and c) fun for their kid. Link to CFJ articles with a one-paragraph lead-in. Even better: write blog posts about youth training, and link to those.
Debate rages about how often to send your newsletter, but I prefer this schedule:
Tuesday morning (around the 20th of the month) at 10am. This provides enough time for clients to check their schedule for next month, but not enough time to forget to register (a bit of urgency.) Inboxes are jammed on Mondays, but readers’ brains are still fairly fresh on Tuesdays, and they’re likely taking a break around 10am.
You use different versions for different interest groups (i.e. Weight Loss, Sports Performance, Parents, etc.)
Offer unsubscribe links. Readers who ‘unsubscribe’ can always resubscribe later, but people who hit “spam” will probably never get your emails again, even when they’re ready for them. Use the “Check for Spam” option to see the likelihood of your email being bounced. Include only one or two pictures, since many servers will filter out emails with large attachments. MailChimp and Constant Contact will usually prompt you to do these automatically.
The best software won’t work unless you USE it with consistent good content. Many clients pay hundreds each month for software like Aweber or Infusionsoft, but fail to use the software at a level that will give them any return on their investment.
Also, don’t spam people. “Drip” campaigns make me shudder. What’s YOUR first reaction when you get an unsolicited email? How about one that doesn’t give you anything of value, but tries to sell you on a service?
FORMATTING DEMO: Watch our voice-over screencast by clicking here (members only)
Download a Newsletter Template and add it to your staff handbook:
No one uses “testimonials” anymore. They’re too staged, too sales-y. We’ve all been asked for a testimonial and recall how awkward it felt.
But we still need social proof to help our clients relate to our service. And our brains are wired to remember stories better than single concepts or facts. So tell stories on your site!
Client stories are sticky content. They make the featured client feel important. And they remind everyone else about how great about your gym “family.”
Here’s how to get three client stories every month with very little effort:
It’s important for a featured client to tell their story in their own words. Just prompt them with questions that lead to a narrative with a beginning, middle and end.
Email the following “interview” questions, with this lead:
“Hey Sara, it’s fantastic having you in the gym. You bring so much to the noon group, and we want to make sure everyone knows your story. Can you answer these questions for us? Don’t worry about your answers, and don’t spend more than ten minutes. If you can send it back by Friday, we’ll post it on Monday with some GREAT pictures of you working out!
- What brought you to CrossFit in the first place?
- What was your first impression? How has that changed?
- What was your first “bright spot”?
- What are you working on now?
- What’s your favorite Catalyst memory?”
Then find 2-3 great pictures of Sara. When she responds, cut the interview questions from her text so her post reads like a narrative. Paste to her blog; don’t correct her language, but fix her grammar if necessary (always help your clients look their best.)
Ask a client if they can stay four minutes after class:
“Sara, we love having you here, and I want to make sure ALL of our clients know who you are. Can you stick around after class for a quick interview? I’ll put it on our site next week.”
Then prompt Sara with the same interview questions above. Keep the conversation rolling, and make it clear that her job isn’t to sell your gym. Don’t make it awkward. Smile while she’s talking.
Drop the interview into iMovie. See the “How to Create Good Video Content” PDF and watch the screencast demo for a complete how-to guide.
IMPORTANT: It’s better to be consistent (and have many) than to have high-quality “produced” videos. In fact, a client who is clearly speaking “off the cuff” about how much she loves your gym will be far more credible than a polished spokesperson.
REWARD: Thank your interviewees with a special “mango.”
SAMPLES: Visit the Catalyst “client stories” area for dozens of examples.
Download the sample “Member Stories Template” and add it to your staff handbook here:
How To Create Good Video Content
You’re a great coach, but no one outside your gym knows it. Let’s show them.
Don’t set up a sound stage: just coach a class as you normally would, and record the “skills” portion. Use your phone, a small video camera or DSLR. Record the whole thing.
Review the video, and find the best cue or tip you used. Cut that portion and drop it into iMovie or Corel Video Studio Pro.
Add your logo to the start and finish.
STEP FOUR (OPTIONAL):
Clean up the background noise. In iMovie, reducing background noise by 50-55% can remove hum without distorting your voice too much. Or use a more sophisticated tool like Audacity.
Add a simple “next step” for viewers: a site to visit, a facebook link, or another video to watch.
Post to your YouTube Channel. Add a link to sign up for your intro session in the video summary.
THIS IS IMPORTANT: Don’t wait until you can create a perfect video. Consistency is better than perfect lighting and sound.
START HERE: Video the movements you teach in your OnRamp or Foundations program first. These are the most important, and most usable in future content marketing.
Download a sample template for use in your staff handbook here:
You need to show people how you can help them.
Content marketing doesn’t mean plastering flyers on windshields: it means demonstrating your expertise. After all, if they don’t KNOW you’re the best coach around, who’s going to tell them? Not your competition!
Here’s how to create a simple 300-word blog post:
Explain how your topic will help the reader. Give them a reason to pay attention. Benefits, not features:
“Squatting will keep you out of the nursing home. It’s the single most important exercise you can do. Here’s how to do it right.”
Show, don’t tell. Keep instructions simple, and use pictures to illustrate what you want.
“Push your hips back until your weight is on your heels (you should be able to wiggle your toes.)”
Focus on what to DO, not what to avoid.
Give examples: when should people squat? How often?
“Try to do ten perfect squats in a row. Include squats in your warm-up, or do 20 while the coffee’s brewing!”
FOURTH (SUMMARY) PARAGRAPH
Give the reader a “next step” to take.
“Click here to watch a video demo!”
The most important thing in content marketing is CONSISTENCY. Get a blog post up every week, and post a coaching video at least three times every month. Make it good, not perfect, and hit “post.”
A downloadable version of this post to add to your staff handbook: