How the Internet and Social Media Have Changed Club Design Forever
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At one time, the sales and marketing goal of all clubs was to get people in the door so potential members could see the facility and interact with staff. The internet has changed this process entirely. Now, the goal is to get potential members to look at a screen: a phone, tablet or computer.
The process has changed, and seldom will someone come into a club without first "checking it out" and researching the club online. It may be the club's website, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest, Yelp or LinkedIn, or often, more than one of these social media platforms.
So, the question then becomes: How do you get people to bring your club up on their screen? The answer to that is quite involved in the new realm of internet marketing, and therefore, not the focus of this article. However, the next question is: How does your club look on their screen? All of the wonderment, professionalism, service and commitment initially come down to what people see, hear and read on a device.
Obviously, there are two key components of what people view: pictures and video. But, there are many things they can read, such as website content, reviews, testimonials, etc.
Therefore, the visuals of your club are key. The pictures and videos of what people post in your club are key. The proverbial saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words," has now morphed into, "A picture is worth 10,000 words."
Now, your club design is more important than ever. In the past, when someone would walk into a club, coming in from ads or referrals, no matter how the club looked, a staff person could inject a certain amount of enthusiasm and knowledge that would work to increase an individual's level of excitement. Nowadays, even if someone is referred, they will first research the club online, and "what they see is key!"
Here are some important points about having a club design that will work well with a website and social media presence to impress potential and existing members.
If you want great pictures and videos of your club, as a starting point, consider hiring a professional to design the club. The visual concepts, such as a "wow factor", inviting, exciting, soothing and state-of-the-art manifest when the variables of color, lighting, flooring, managing space, line of sight, texture, finishes, harmony and balance all come together successfully.
Often nowadays, the trend is to have someone with a cellphone take pictures, and these become part of the website. It is strongly recommended that a professional photographer or videographer is used to achieve the best possible "a picture is worth 10,000 words" experience. To show off a beautiful club, consider having no people in the picture. If there is a specific message the photo is trying to send, such as displaying your virtual classes, people can be part of the experience. Again, a professional shot of this makes a big difference.
Whatever pictures or videos you create, make sure they are all platform friendly. This is especially true with phones because most people will look at a club on a phone first. Web traffic on phones has increased from 11% in 2012 to 58% in 2022.
Always make sure that the lobby and locker rooms have extra attention in your design and result in attention-getting visuals. If you have a studio without locker rooms (just bathrooms), then focus on the studio experience of finishes, graphics and lighting. Unless an area looks really great, it is better not to have a visual of that area. You might consider using a combination of your pictures and stock photos to create a motivating "experience" for your club. Ask your non-club friends if your website and its visuals would motivate them to want to visit the club.
A picture/video should never show a cramped, dirty and cluttered space. None of these should be part of a design, especially in the post-COVID era.
Providing a dynamic "selfie" wall with a very visible location within the club is a must. Consider the club name and logo to be a backlit sign or even neon. Also, consider making the background an artificial plant green wall, wood or other eye-catching finish. Do it right, and more smiling faces in your club will start to appear on social media platforms.
In design, and in your images, always consider sight lines. This is especially true of the lobby/first impression view of a club. An exciting lobby welcoming people in a non-intimidating way (without equipment too close to the lobby) can make people feel like they would want to be part of that experience.
Clubs that are larger on an impressive property should consider a drone to view the club from above, and this can continue as a video going through the club. A video walkthrough of your club can be very instrumental in getting people to want to visit your club. However, if the walkthrough is not that great, it can have a negative, unwanted effect where people have already "seen enough" and decide not to come in.
If your club or studio has a high price point, your images should validate the higher prices. Don't assume great service is all that is necessary to charge more. One reason? Everyone says they have great service. Images will make you stand out from the crowd.
What if you do not have something good to take a picture of in your club? First, that is a weakness that should be corrected with some type of renovation. In the meantime, use stock photos of people enjoying exercise and add lots of testimonials. Testimonials and great pictures/videos are a wonderful combination to have people transfer from what they see on a screen to actually visiting the club.
More and more, we will be living in a world of viewing life on a screen. That is fine. However, a focused effort must be made to take advantage of this phenomenon. This is the new world of club marketing and sales. Some clubs do a great job and really stand out. Others just think taking a few cellphone shots, posting them or making them part of their website is all that is necessary. Always think about how your club looks on a screen. Add newer visual content when it becomes available.
Your club design and interiors have more exposure than ever before. This will increasingly be the case, so more focus than ever needs to go into a club's visual environment. Your club, no matter the size, should have an inviting "story" with pictures and videos of how people will improve their health and wellbeing as a member. The internet and social media are wonderful opportunities to help people more than ever.