Disrupting the Fitness Industry by Redefining the Brand of Fit Factory

The story of how Fit Factory became the most member centric, fitness destination experience in a hyper competitive market.

What the Client Thought They Needed.

When the Senior Leadership at Fit Factory first met with Conduit Innovation, they asked for help in taking their Marketing Strategy to the next level.  A relative newcomer to the fitness industry, the Leadership Team at Fit Factory boasted more than 50 years of experience owning and operating some of the nation’s largest Fitness Chains.

Put plainly, the team at Fit Factory knew what worked, and they had used those tactics to hyper grow its initial footprint in Massachusetts at impressive speed given the substantial saturation Massachusetts has when it comes to places to “get fit”.

What the Client Actually Needed.

At the start of every engagement, Conduit Innovation conducts a preliminary immersion into our Client’s business model.  This immersion is necessary no matter what the initial focus area appears to be.  Through this initial period, Conduit is able to ask the Client a series of business centric, open ended questions that are framed to establish a baseline of internal and external factors which shape area will ultimately which Conduit is asked to focus on.

The nature of the questions asked during this process are a derivative of our philosophy that we call SMARTech Convergence.  At its core, SMARTech Convergence is built on the idea that business climates, market conditions and competitive dynamics all work together to shape what a business can/should do, while also providing a preliminary idea how difficult/expensive that activity would be.

SMARTech Convergence also demands that each business decision (i.e. a Business Strategy, Sales Strategy, Marketing Strategy) be treated as a building block.  Therefore, each decision is meant to dovetail with the previous decisions/building blocks.  Lastly, within this philosophy, all building blocks must first consider, then lead to the most important thing for any business- it’s customers.

As we walked the Executive Team at Fit Factory through this process, it became clear that the lofty goals for their business model were going to require providing a new, disruptive, fitness center model that gave people looking to better themselves a real alternative to the status quo.

As a fast growing chain, decisions made with current and future members in mind, have significant capital costs (location planning, layouts, services, equipment etc.) as such Conduit Innovation recommended we help Fit Factory use it’s current membership base as a partner in this brand and marketing transformation.

Section 1

Giving the Members of Fit Factory a Voice.

Given the workflow required to “get it right” for Fit Factory, Conduit Innovation divided the scope into a series of continuous sprints.  Given that the Management at Fit Factory was accustomed to a more traditional “agency” model, this allowed for numerous, manufactured stops and starts which Conduit would then use as waypoints for continual strategic alignment.

The first sprint Conduit focused on for Fit Factory was a comprehensive Persona Development/Buyer’s Journey/Customer Experience Exercise (which we refer to as “Customer One").

The goal of this exercise was to not only understand the marketing channels/tactics where members are most often accessible within, but to also understand why they want to go to the gym, why do they quit, what does their personal journey mean to them along with how Fit Factory’s offerings satisfy those needs.

Over a 60-day period, Conduit Innovation interviewed over 100 members, with each interview lasting roughly 30 minutes in length.  These interviews revealed invaluable qualitative information that became the solid platform Fit Factory needed to build a brand that had the potential to redefine the fitness landscape.

Building and Applying Behavioral Profiles of Members.

After completing the interview process, Conduit refined the data set into a series of behavioral and partial psychographic profiles by which Fit Factory could identify the “right types of members” for them, given their model. 

The team at Fit Factory shared our belief that people in general, do not want to be “sold” things.  They understood that the best possible business decision for them, was to align their brand attributes and services with those people who were most likely to value them.

With the customer narrative and preliminary segmentation in place, Conduit moved to marry the Personality Profiles with actual buying behaviors.  The result was a true “value” that could be placed on these personas across all revenue tiers.  This allowed both Conduit Innovation and Fit Factory to establish the true potential of a member of a certain profile, in services, longevity, attrition rate etc.

With this in place, Fit Factory was also able to back into an acceptable acquisition budget for members of certain types built from actual data.  Given the omni channel nature of marketing in the Fitness Industry, attribution is a real challenge.  Armed with the information provided by Conduit Innovation, Fit Factory was now able to structure marketing campaigns by intent as opposed a mass marketing/coverage-based approach.

Section 3

Positioning Fit Factory to Take on the 800lb Gorilla.

As the ways companies market to people continue to multiply, they also become more and more invasive.  With that in mind, Conduit Innovation believes in our clients having a brand strategy that is both well thought through and closely integrated with efforts to both acquire new customers and retain/grow existing ones. 

For Fit Factory, the challenge became cutting through the deluge of mass mailing offers, radio spots, digital and tv advertisements as a relative unknown in areas where they were expanding.  Knowing our audience better than Fit Factory ever had before, Conduit made the recommendation to be succinct, be bold and be authentic.  Our recommendation was that future members of Fit Factory gyms are becoming more discerning and less tolerant for the “same old” gym membership deals. 

Therefore, the only alternative was to have a brand that existed to cut through the white noise and was immediately intuitive to the results people needed, while acknowledging the barriers to those results in a relatable way.

Reasons, Goals and Excuses. Everybody has them.

Conduit recommended Fit Factory build its entire brand presence around being approachable to real people by making it known they understand the challenges real people have in getting (and staying) fit.

“Reasons, Goals and Excuses.  Everyone has them.  We believe that being FIT is a choice.  The choice to start is an easy one, but the choice to see your fitness goals through can be full of excuses”

In other words, the services, amenities and staff at Fit Factory would live under a brand that existed to remove the excuses why regular people could not maintain their personal journey of being “fit”.

This was shorted to the tagline:

“Get Fit. No Excuses.”

This easy to remember, tag line which in reality is more of a rallying cry for employees and members alike became the North Star for Fit Factory and Conduit Innovations efforts as we jointly proceeded into the next phase; bringing the brand to life.

The risk with a bold brand statement like “Get Fit. No Excuses” is that it either fails to resonate with the members, or (even worse) it becomes an empty promise.  Unlike traditional “creative” or “marketing” approaches, Conduit Innovation was not asking Fit Factory to impose a brand on it’s current and future members.  Instead, the segmented current members’ wants and needs provided the connective tissue to give birth to a brand that was certain to resonate.  The challenge ahead was to make it easy for future members to connect these mental dots.

Section 5

Creating Avatars That People Can Identify With.

Through better understanding the member types and personalities at Fit Factory, it was clear that the new and future members in greatest need of “getting fit without excuses” were themselves intimidated to engage with a gym for guidance. 

With that in mind, the next step in creating Fit Factory’s member centric, inclusive brand was to give these people an avatar that best represents them.  From there, Conduit Innovation sourced, negotiated and leveraged outside vendors to scout models that represented each member profile. 

From there, Conduit Innovation used all information gleaned from Customer One, Data One and immersion within Fit Factory’s business model to build out personalities and stories for these avatars to ensure continuity of strategy and vision throughout the marketing lifecycle.

Each Avatar was given their own “page” on the Fit Factory website and each was given their own mission statement, FIT Recipes and custom-tailored story. 

These avatars would be used throughout the website, and in media in a longtail approach meant to make these faces and “stories” synonymous with the “Reasons, Goals and Excuses” which have held real people just like them back in their own journeys.

A Member Centric Approach to Selecting a Gym.

The first element Conduit Innovation deployed was a pop-up self-assessment on Fit Factory’s new website homepage that spoke plainly and clearly to visitors. 

Quite simply, it asked the visitor to check off as many of their reasons, goals and excuses that they had.  The purpose behind this was to immediately show new visitors to Fit Factory that the “Fit Factory Experience” was different, and that they had a voice.  

Next, the user had an opportunity to assign a gender and name to their self-assessment.  Special care was taken differentiate this tool from a sales tactic and rather use it as an opportunity to gain the visitor’s confidence.  As such an email address was not asked.

Getting Fit Starts with a Mission Statement.

Once the user completed the self-assessment, they were directed to a dynamic page within the site which would combine their reasons, goals and excuses into a personalized mission statement.  The intent here being to motivate the visitor to invest in themselves.

Lastly in this micro journey, visitors would see recommended routines (called "FIT Recipes") which were assembled by Fitness Directors within Fit Factory that would provide the appropriate exercises, support and accountability needed to achieve the goals the visitor themselves selected.

This was the genesis of "real results-based fitness training" or in other words; relating the exercises and routines that "regular people" may not be aware of with the real world goals they hope to achieve.


Section 8

Taking the Fear and Embarrassment Away from Choosing to Get Fit.

Conduit Innovation strived to make the digital presence of Fit Factory “easy” and intuitive for everyone regardless of their level of fitness aptitude.  Each service offered in Fit Factory was branded with an intuitive logo that was meant to symbolize the “feel” of that activity. 

The content within the website promoted a healthy overall lifestyle and included blogs about healthy eating, while also linking classes, exercises and programs with the “areas” of the body each class/exercise/activity would impact.

Targeted TV Spots that Evoke Emotion.

Leveraging the cumulative knowlege gained throughout the entire process to date, Conduit wrote, directed and coordinated a series of tv spots featuring Avatars to authentically communicate how "being fit" is a personal choice.

“Reasons, Goals and Excuses.  Everyone has them when it comes to being fit.” 

The importance of these commercials were to underscore that, while everyone's individual Fitness journey is different, Fit Factory can be the one place you can "get fit" and remove the excuses that hold you back.

Strategy Pays Dividends with Record Setting Launch.

Fit Factory's efforts with Conduit yielded immediate results setting a new franchise record for most successful pre-sale and grand opening with its Foxboro, Massachusetts location.

Bolstered by a new website, brand strategy and a slogan to motivate new members, Fit Factory completed the puzzle.

The brand's inspirational elements were infused into the decor of the club as a daily reminder of the personal mission statements each of their members honored in their journey to "Get Fit".

Instant Gratification.

Conduit Innovation was proud to win a Massachusetts Innovation and Technology award for “Best Marketing Strategy” in the Health and Wellness space for it’s work with Fit Factory. MITX unites a dynamic community that drive how technology is shaping the future of customer experiences, ensuring organizations stay relevant and businesses stay vital.

Results that Matter.

For their part, Fit Factory realized an immediate and pronounced lift across key marketing and sales metrics as a result of this shift in positioning:

  • 400% increase in website membership purchases* vs. previous 6-month average
  • 55% increase in website traffic vs. previous 6-month average
  • 27% decrease in website bounce rate

Bolstered by it’s branding and new positioning, Fit Factory has expanded their footprint from Massachusetts into Texas and is poised to grow their chain by 4x by the end of 2019.