Being lifestyle enthusiasts and following the trends within boutique fitness, one name kept popping up; Jessica Yarmey – CMO of Club Pilates. As we got to know Jessica online, her brand advocacy and marketing brilliance began to emerge. We’ve been inspired by her authenticity and innovative spirit, and her energy is contagious! Working for a brand that has multiple lines of customers in itself is a challenge and we appreciate Jessica’s approach to leveraging customer data and market trends to maximize personalization – delivering content and messaging lead by her philosophy of “Right People, Right Message, Right Time.”
What life experience(s), either personal or professional, do you feel best prepared you for a leadership position?
My professional career started about 20 years ago. In those 20 years, I’ve reported into 14 different people which is a lot of people to learn from! I’ve always approached relationships with my managers as an opportunity to learn what they did well – both in terms of their leadership style as well as their work. My leadership style today pulls the best from a lot of different people. And I tell my team to do the same with me. Learn what I do well, combine it with the best approaches of others and create your own leadership approach.
Who had the biggest impact on you throughout your professional development?
I’ve been laid off three times in my marketing career. Each time, my first phone call was to my mom. Each call had different details, but the gist of her comments was always along the lines of “Jessica, you have always amazed me with how you figure things out. This will all turn out ok.” Those super-supportive comments would help me dust myself off and get a game plan together which was truly invaluable in my career. To this day, I have my mom in my corner to tell me “you got this” and “go for it.” I don’t think I would have rebounded or progressed as quickly in my career if I didn’t have my mom as a cheerleader.
Based on your extensive experience and career growth within the health and fitness industry, what are some of the biggest challenges brands face when trying to keep up with the shift from traditional to digital consumer lifecycles?
I have seen numerous brands in the fitness industry chase trends and simultaneously lose focus on their core competency. As a brand, you can’t be everything to everyone. You need to know who you are and what you’re best at and stay centered in that lane. Your digital capabilities need to complement your core competency. At Club Pilates, we are best at the in-studio experience so our acquisition focus is inviting new members into the studios. But we also realize that our members have an appetite for digital tools and are users of fitness trackers so we integrate with trackers and with apps we know our members use.
According to the IHRSA 2019 report, the U.S. health club industry serves 71.5 million consumers. How does Club Pilates leverage data to identify and communicate with its target consumer groups?
Club Pilates has two very primary core member personas, as identified by our partners at Buxton, so we can be very targeted and intentional with who we’re primarily speaking to and engaging with. As an additional layer, each individual studio has their own local breakdown of personas which drives many of their local marketing decisions. We are at a size where we have a plethora of first party data so we’re consistently trying to improve performance by improving our reporting on our own data.
With its first location opening in 2007, Club Pilates has been part of an exciting period fitness industry growth. Seeing the rise in new customers and new competitors over that time, has Club Pilates tried to maintain a consistent brand image or have there been strategic shifts in brand positioning? Is there any focus on measuring brand perception to gauge the effectiveness of these efforts?
Club Pilates went through a repositioning when it was purchased by Anthony Geisler in 2015. The changes were largely to make the brand accessible and appealing to a broader range of members. In the fragmented fitness space, it is critical to know who you are and who you are speaking to as a brand. Club Pilates is clear on both which I believe has contributed to the brand’s success. While the effectiveness of the brand is reflected in the growth of lead volume, membership count and studio footprint, brand awareness measures will be important to the brand as it grows and expands internationally.
Are there any marketing or consumer trends within the health and lifestyle industries that have you particularly excited looking forward into 2019 and beyond?
The industry has flipped from the high intensity, personal record kind of training to an interest in more sustainable, holistic offerings that don’t put the same strain on the body. Pilates and yoga are both in this lane, as is meditation. Club Pilates recently partnered with Calm which is the leading sleep and meditation app. I’m excited about looking at health and wellness holistically to drive sustainable health and lifestyle changes for people.
Do you have any advice for a business professional looking to elevate their performance and rise into a leadership position?
Identify your strengths and get even better at them. What are the top three things you do best in your current role? Identify them with your boss and try to do more of those things. If you don’t have flexibility in your currently role to work more in your strengths, commit time outside of work to get even better at what you’re good at. Working on your strengths will build confidence and joy in your work which are traits that others will follow. You cannot become a successful leader if you doubt your abilities and don’t enjoy your work.
What is your favorite quote?
I work in marketing which is the most amazing but visible field to work in. You’re constantly approached with feedback because everyone is a consumer. And therefore, everyone has been exposed to advertising and has an opinion about what you should be doing in your role. I tell anyone who is looking to get into the marketing field to build up a thick skin because you do need it to be successful. Early in my career, I didn’t have the thick skin or the confidence behind my ideas so I would ride the highs and lows of other people’s feedback. I’ve found my lane for the most part and can take all feedback in stride, but I do repeatedly come back to this Theodore Roosevelt quote to stay centered on the task at hand:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt