Pat Rigsby is the co-owner of several businesses in the fitness industry including the Fitness Consulting Group. He also serves as an industry consultant focusing on the development of profitable personal training departments. To learn how you can improve your club’s retention, referrals and profitability, sign up for his free newsletter at www.fitnessconsultinggroup.com. Pat can be reached at pat@fitnessconsultingroup.com.

Sizzling sales copy. Dramatic headlines. Irresistible offers. Emotional stories. Unique selling propositions. A call-to-action that makes your reader dive for the phone.

That’s what a lot of people think of when they think “marketing.”

And they’re about half right.

Let’s look at it this way. What is marketing? It’s setting up systems in the total sales process that replace manual labor. These systems swarm out to the marketplace, put a bunch of prospects in your funnel and either deliver them to you marked sold or warm them up for the final close. It’s like having an army of hundreds or thousands of “almost free” salespeople go into the field for you.

However, in order for these marketing systems to work, they need words. That’s the visible part of the marketing process. That’s what the prospect sees. It’s also what your competition sees, and as long as they don’t understand what goes on behind the scenes, you’ll remain miles ahead of them, even if they do try to copy what you’re doing.

Why? Because the bigger part of successful marketing is keeping score. The real scorecard for any marketing campaign is money. After all, nobody takes headlines, great copy or irresistible offers to the bank.

Our scorecard will tell us precisely what to do with our campaign:

  • Tweak it for changes and run it again.
  • Run a test against it and see which one wins.
  • If you’ve got a winner, roll it out as fast as you can. (And keep measuring!)
  • If you have a flop, you need to kill it, bury it and move on to the next campaign.

Here are five things you want to count when you keep score in marketing:

  1. Common sense prevails. You need to keep your fingers on the pulse of a few vital signs.
  1. Cost per lead per source. One to four times a month, you might e-mail existing members and prospects with a newsletter or fitness tip. The cost per lead for those subscribers is virtually free. The cost to get the lead as a subscriber might not be free. If you mixed them all in the same analysis, you may never know if you’re making or losing money by sending out your newsletter. Hence, you can’t just measure cost per lead. You must trace the lead back to the source, and if you use multiple sources–email, newspaper, PPC, direct mail and so forth–close analysis gives you extremely valuable information.
  1. Cost per lead per source per event. Sometimes you can really put a medium to the test. For example, if you run a direct-mail campaign, send one half of the test group one headline and the other half a different headline. If one out pulls the other by 10 percent, over the course of a year that might mean thousands of dollars.
  1. Cost per sale per source. Cost per lead is important, but you must follow those leads to the ultimate result: sales resulting in members. And, of course, if you’re testing different events from the same source, you’ll want to see if you can trace them back to the original pitch.
  1. The ultimate test: return on investment. Marketing is the only place where you can go and get returns of not five, 10 or 15 percent, but 100 percent, 1000 percent or more. And that explains the ultimate measurement: return on investment. How much did you spend on your campaign, and how much did you make? (Keep this in mind: plenty of industries are thrilled to go “upside down” to get their first sale, because they know the lifetime value of their customer.)

So how much are you willing to spend to get a member? And how long will you keep them? One, two, three years? Longer? Keep investing in your marketing and measuring your return. Over the long haul, you can build a very, very profitable business.