Nicole Wicks is the president of ReferNow.com, a Web-based referral-marketing program that facilitates “smart growth” for health clubs. ReferNow links customer loyalty and new member acquisition by rewarding members who bring you new customers. Nicole can be reached at www.refernow.com.

Personal trainers manage and track a client’s workout program so they can accurately measure weight loss and fitness goals. Measurement is a motivation tool. Measurement helps your members get fit by getting smart about their bodies because if you can measure it, you can manage it (shape it, tone it, improve it).

Measurement has a trickle down benefit for the gym owner because it keeps the customers more diligent in their workout routines, which then promotes more frequent usage of the fitness center and, for the gym owner, a more profitable customer. But how many of you are applying this simple logic to your own marketing and new-member acquisition programs?

If you are reading this and asking, “Who has the time to measure?” then you are not alone. Many club owners and personal trainers struggle to measure the success of their overall marketing programs. However, measurable marketing and smart growth go hand in hand. Conducted properly, it is not time consuming. Good measurement doesn’t require an advanced statistics degree. Many Web-based marketing tools include built-in measurement dashboards.

In fact, authors Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris in their book Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning, published by Harvard Business School Press, demonstrate how simple analytics are used effectively in marketing, loyalty programs and customer preference research. They state that every company uses some statistical analysis of its business, but that analysis does not necessarily need to be complex.

According to the book, good measurement can be accomplished by asking yourself two important questions: What do I want to happen, and what do my customers really value? I’ll go into more detail about them both.

What do you want to happen? Of course, you want new members. Everyone wants more members. But it pays to be more specific—much more specific. What specific behavior do you want to elicit from possible prospects? What behavior is your marketing designed to modify?

For example, let’s say you want more referrals from existing customers. Give real thought to how you will leverage your best customers to increase your customer/prospect database or how you want to re-engage your customers by offering a unique incentive to forward your offer.

For other marketing programs, make a list of your goals (and how they will be measured) and be as specific as possible. Make sure you can actually measure the progress you make toward achieving your goals. You’ll find that you can better manage things you can measure. Plus, measurement will keep you more diligent in your marketing execution, which promotes better marketing and a more profitable business. When you set specific goals and define specific behaviors you want to influence, you prioritize the things you believe are most important to your business.

What do my customers really value? What is the compelling value proposition of your service and your membership offer? Is there a true win-win proposition for your customer?

When you started your club, you learned about member wants and needs by interacting closely with the early customers. If someone commented on the fluffy towels, you made sure all the towels were fluffy. This is marketing measurement in action.

But as your business grows, keeping in touch with all your customer wants and needs becomes more difficult. Take the time to listen, and learn the aspects of your club that your customers value most. Is it a specific trainer? Certain types of equipment? Access to parking? A great pro-shop? Knowledgeable staff? Follow-up service? Fluffy towels? What do they get from you that they can’t, or think they can’t, from one of your competitors?

Look for ways to include the unstated benefits in some of your programs. If you think people value fluffy towels, reward referrals with “free towel service” instead of cash rewards. More often than not, access to exclusive promotional offers motivates people faster than cash or merchandise rewards.

Fitness centers and gyms that focus on running measurable referral marketing programs that focus on real customer value can be rewarded with increased revenue, improved margins, faster member acceptance of new services and programs, and competitive differentiation.

If you take the time to ask yourself these two important questions up-front for any marketing program, you’ll be able to develop and execute programs that work. In the process, your marketing will get stronger and you may even discover better techniques for growing your business. If you can measure it, your membership base will grow with less effort on your part.