Not-So-Crazy Ideas from Three Unique Brands

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williamtaylorkeynote-200.gifWhat can health club operators learn from a bank, a hotel and a technology company? How to differentiate by offering more than your customers expect, according to William Taylor, speaker and author of “Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry and Challenge Yourself.”

Taylor (photo to the right by Les Kamens, The Photo Group, courtesy of IHRSA) addressed about 1,000 attendees last Wednesday at the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association conference at Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

Taylor shared how three businesses offered their customers something unexpected that helped differentiate themselves and develop their brand while building loyalty.

Umpqua Bank was a chain of six banks in Portland, OR, that decided to change the banking experience for its customers by redefining how its customers experienced their five senses when walking into their buildings. Visually, the bank offered a high-end interior design and decorated its walls with art for sale by local artists. To thrill the auditory sense, the bank hired local musicians to play their music and sell their CDs. They also placed cappuccino machines by each teller, which created a pleasant scent in the air, not to mention satisfying the sense of taste, which was also satisfied with the chocolates offered to each customer. And for the sense of “feel,” the bank opened its buildings after hours for community events, such as meetings and book clubs.

Taylor also shared how Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts can teach club operators differentiation, much like it did Toyota. When Toyota decided to redefine how its luxury car brand, Lexus, was viewed and bump Mercedes from the top spot for high-end cars, it studied what Four Seasons did to create a sense of luxury and leave a lasting impression with its customers. Among other things, Toyota's study of the hotel chain led it to put marble countertops and flowers in its bathrooms and to place a bottle of water and a box of chocolates on customers' car seats after a tune-up.

Toyota was not finished studying other brands. The company then turned to Apple to see how the technology company created its brand loyalty. Toyota found that Apple wasn't just about selling products, but it was also about educating and helping its customers learn how to use all the technology at their fingertips. Toyota discovered that its Lexus brand offered a lot of technology that its customers did not know how to use, so the company began to teach customers how to use it, increasing satisfaction with the car and the company.

Due to the lessons learned from Four Seasons and Apple, Lexus increased its sales of luxury car sales, hitting the top for several years.

Taylor's advice to attendees was to look at other businesses that have great brand loyalty to discover what makes them unique in their industries—and how to incorporate that into the fitness industry.

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