In my last article, “Discovery: The Essential First Step of the Marketing Process,” I talked about some of the types of information you might need in order to ensure your marketing plans are based on hard data, and places where you might look to find this data. In this article I will use the example of a fictional fitness company to illustrate how the discovery process might look.
The owners of a gym specializing in cross-fit training want to expand into offering some type of wellness/fitness program to local corporations. Their vision is that they would send wellness and fitness experts out to these businesses to provide services on an on-going basis.
What they want to know
Before they launch this program, they want to determine (a) is there any demand, and (b) what services should they offer? Their current ideas include wellness seminars, nutritional counseling and on-site exercise programs. Once they answer these questions, they’ll want information that will help them shape their marketing campaigns.
Information they should look for
• Do their current gym members work at local corporations? If so, do these companies currently offer any type of wellness/fitness program?
• How many local corporations are currently offering wellness/fitness programs for their employees? What types of programs are they offering?
• What other types of companies are offering wellness or fitness programs in the area? Is the competition personal trainers, other area gyms, independent consultants, large regional/national providers, or what?
• What types of programs do these competitors offer? How are they marketing them?
• Is there any research-based evidence that corporate-sponsored health and wellness programs actually improve employees’ health and/or improve the corporate bottom line?
Where they can look for this information
• Their customer database – If their enrollment form includes a question about “where do you work,” then it will be easy to find out if their current gym members work at local corporations.
• Their customers – They can formally survey or informally chat with their customers to learn about their employer’s programs.
• Local listing of companies – In most cities there should be a list of businesses available for purchase. I know that in our local area, Irvine CA I get a list every year through the Orange County Business Journal. It is nicely segmented into sections based on the size and business type. Your local Chamber of Commerce might have one as well.
• The internet – Once they have a list of area competitors they can visit these firms’ websites to learn about the services they offer and how they’re positioning themselves in the marketplace.
• Syndicated research – Research might be available regarding major corporations that offer wellness/fitness programs, evidence that these programs work, etc.
• Focus groups – A market research firm can be hired to conduct focus groups regarding what type of programs employers and employees would like to have.
As you can imagine, a robust discovery process can make the difference between success and failure. In this example the gym owners might have begun this exercise thinking that there was likely to be a big demand in their area for on-site personal training and group exercise classes, only to learn that what corporations really want to offer is health and wellness classes, with an emphasis on weight loss strategies. Or vice versa.