When you hear the name Planet Fitness you immediately think of the brand. Planet Fitness understands the saying, “You can’t be everything to everyone.” And because of it, you know exactly who they are, and you also know how (or if) you can connect with them. However, many entrepreneurs fail to realize that you can’t be everything to everyone. This is especially true in the beginning stages of their startup. In an effort to appeal to everyone, they offer nothing that makes them stand out or that makes them unique.
Planet Fitness caters to a very specific audience. When you consider all of the gyms that exist in your area of the world you may observe that in most cases there is nothing substantially different between one gym and another. Yes, one gym might offer more classes than another, one might be a bit less expensive, one might have an indoor basketball court, etc., but the reality is, when it comes to the marketing of those gyms, there really isn’t much that differentiates one from the other.
Planet Fitness, however, not only has a very distinct target market, but they have studied and know their target customer well. And because they know who their customer is, they have found unique ways to market to them and ultimately to connect with them, both online and in person.
Here are some of the key, foundational steps they have mastered that you, as a founder of a start-up, should master as well, especially when it comes to reaching your target market and connecting with them through your marketing:
- Planet Fitness is focused on their customer: If you conduct a Google search about Planet Fitness, you will find a variety of articles. The opinions within the articles range from stating that Planet Fitness is not a real gym. Most of the opinions are written by fitness enthusiasts. However, that is NOT who Planet Fitness is trying to reach. That is NOT who their target market is. “Planet Fitness got its start in 1992 when Michael Grondahl acquired a struggling gym. He reduced membership prices to compete against better-known brands and focused on serving “occasional or first-time gym users” (Entrepreneur.com). Did you catch that? The target market of Planet Fitness is “the occasional or first-time gym user,” not the “fitness enthusiast.”
- Planet Fitness has a unique message: Planet Fitness has a very unique message, that is different from what you see in other gyms. They are all about having a “Judgment Free Zone.” That is the primary message that they convey and they are not afraid to broadcast it on a regular basis. It’s this one message that you see throughout their marketing and the message resonates with their target market, “the occasional or first-time gym user,” not the 5-7 day a week fitness enthusiast (although, you will find fitness enthusiasts in Planet Fitness also). Visit a Planet Fitness and throughout the gym, you will see signs that read, “Judgment Free Zone,” “Planet Fitness = No Critics,” and of course, the “Lunk Alarm.” Because Planet Fitness has thoroughly researched their customer, they are able to create a message that resonates with them.
- Planet Fitness has a unique price: Unlike most gyms, you only pay $10 a month for a gym membership at Planet Fitness. Again, this goes along with who their target market is, “the occasional or first-time gym user,” who (a) doesn’t go to the gym as often as a fitness enthusiast would, (b) isn’t quite sure yet if the gym is for them and (c) doesn’t want to spend an arm and leg to go to the gym. Walk into any Planet Fitness and you’ll find that their gyms consist of basic equipment. Why? Because Planet Fitness caters to the “occasional or first-time gym user” who may not have a lot of experience using upgraded Planet Fitness has created a unique price point that not only keeps their occasional gym users as long-term customers but also allows them to provide what those customers need and want, at a price point that works for both the customer and company.
What does all of this have to do with you, your start-up and marketing?
- To experience success, you have to know your target market, inside and out: You can’t be everything to everyone. If you want to move from idea to concept, venture to scale and then to harvest, you have to hone in on who your target market is. Customer discovery is one of the first and most vital steps you should take. Who are you trying to reach? How can you reach them? What keeps them from connecting with you and what you have to offer? How are you providing the solution that they are looking for? Additionally, a key component to success as a startup is knowing that your budget is different and will be different than some of the big box companies.
- You have to have a unique message: What is your primary message? What differentiates you from your competitors? Planet Fitness states that they are a “Judgment Free Zone.” They have created a unique message that speaks to their target market and as a start-up, you should consider doing the same thing. You need a unique message that causes you to stand out from your competitors. You have to offer something different and it all begins with the core message that you will share on social media and throughout all of your marketing materials.
- Their price point matches their target market: Pricing your products and services can be tricky. But if you don’t know who your target market is, then your pricing won’t click with them and you’ll find yourself lacking sales. Planet Fitness has created a unique price point that keeps their occasional gym users as long-term customers and allows them to provide just what they need and want for their fitness needs.
Remember: The key to reaching and connecting with your target market includes knowing from their viewpoint what really matters. This happens when you take the time to engage in customer discovery which will lead you to create a unique message that resonates with your target market and will allow you to create a price point that fits with the customers you want to reach.