Bonfire Health Business Manager, Kassia Bennett (pictured) engaged group buying to spread word-of-mouth, kick start her customer base, and lock in annual memberships. Here, she writes about her experience as well as her advice to others who are considering this as a marketing platform.
We opened our doors at Bonfire Health just over a year ago with the aim of bringing wellness to the local community. We provide yoga classes, massages and chiropractic services in our state of the art facility based in Brown Plains, Queensland. The opening of our location followed the success of two of Bonfire’s other facilities based in Jindalee and Parkwood – we had a big reputation to live up to!
While yoga is a spiritual and ascetic discipline that has been available at health facilities for decades, many remain unfamiliar with what the technique entails and why it’s beneficial for mind and body. As a result, some are wary of signing up to block bookings or even approaching a facility at all. Add a twist like hot yoga to the mix and people lose all confidence completely.
What we needed to do was source a low cost marketing platform that would target our audience directly to educate them and create a call to action for them to visit the facility. We knew that once we had people through the door we would be able to provide them with a life changing experience that would almost guarantee their return. It would also encourage them to spread the word around the local community.
That’s when group buying came into the mix.
I had heard various success stories of businesses that had launched through group buying and also of others who had used the marketing platform to maintain customer numbers through quieter periods. I approached the team at LivingSocial with the criteria that I needed to meet, my target of where I wanted to be, and the perception of Bonfire that I wanted to create.
Together with my sales manager at LivingSocial I created my first deal, one month of unlimited hot yoga for $29, usually $190. The deal outlined the benefits of hot yoga, the location, and linked through to other options available at the facility.
We run a pretty tight ship here at Bonfire so I knew that my staff would be able to handle the influx of customers as a result of the deal. My advice to other leisure facilities intending to run the deal would be to ensure that they have all their resources in order prior to launching. The last thing you want is to have unhappy customers as a result of poorly managed staff rosters or insufficient products to satisfy.
Businesses also need to be alert to the fact that getting people through the door is only half the job, it’s what you do when they are in front of you that encourages them to return. At no point were any of my customers, whether they purchased a deal or not, treated like second class citizens. Everyone was given superior service.
Customer service is something that is invaluable to a business. At Bonfire, it goes further than quick service and good manners. We work to create a community with our customers by chatting with them and creating a personal connection. At the end of every session we encourage customers to visit the organic smoothie bar, lounge on our couches, read a magazine or chat to other members.
This customer service and friendly social environment is leveraged to encourage customers who purchase deals to return. Small add-ons like discounted yoga mats and free goodie bags also leave a lasting impression.
At the end of the discounted period, deal customers were engaged to become ongoing members as we offered significant discounts to annual passes coupled with free gifts such as yoga towels and pre-paid cards for our smoothie bar. Having had such a fantastic experience at the studio through the deal, out of all the customers who purchased a voucher, we had a sign up rate of about 60 per cent. I was amazed by the result.
My advice to others considering running a group buying deal to market their business would be the following:
1. Have a strategy in place and know exactly what you want to achieve as your end goal
2. Ensure that your business is able to provide the volume of service that your deal may attract. This is an opportunity to showcase your best assets; you don’t want this to be ruined by poor customer service.
3. Be prepared to upsell – you have the client in front of you, now show them everything you have to offer
4. What makes you unique? – showcase your best assets. Push your mediocre products and services aside; this is your chance to shine.
5. Have a follow up plan in place i.e. offer return discounts, source email addresses for your database, provide giveaways on the day etc.