Promotion! Promotion! Promotion!

Business analysts claim that more than 95 percent of all professionals do not adequately define what it is they will do for their customers. For that reason, most promotions - what you do, what you say and how you deliver the message - do not reach customers effectively.

Your promotions will make or break a great sales campaign, a major program, a special event, a tournament, an open house, a pro shop sale, or whatever is happening or about to happen in your facility. In addition, your promotions may play a key role in increasing your retention rate because promotions become familiar images that remind people to buy or buy again.

Don't be part of the 95 percent of the professionals who are not connecting to customers. Here are several promotional tools to get your members to stop, look, listen and respond!

1. Stop! Your fliers and bulletin boards should only take two seconds to create an initial interest in a program or event. In that amount of time, your customer should be able to decide if he needs or wants to get more information.

How do you make an impact in two seconds? For starters, every flier or board should have a title or subject in big, bold, printed letters that draw immediate attention. Color coding according to subjects or events can also be a useful tool. Say, for example, that you always use blue fliers to announce group exercise programs; the moment you post a blue flier, members will know that it will list class types, schedules and instructors.

2. Look! Now that you've got your members' attention, what should you tell them? The facts! And only the facts! Professional promotions should not be too wordy, too detailed or too clever. That will only result in confusion. Remember, you are merely trying to create the initial interest. In contrast to bold print, leave enough white space between messages. Vary the letter size to separate ideas, and include clip art (only if appropriate to the promotion), borders or pictures (preferably of your members) whenever possible.

The power of pictures as a promotional tool is huge. People identify themselves in pictures, visualize themselves doing an activity and remember images longer than words. Always include pictures of people, places and activities in your newsletters, advertisements, promotions and campaigns.

3. Listen! Verbal communication is probably the most effective promotional tool of all, but just as in your visual promotions, your customers must decide within two seconds if they want to listen to what you have to say.

Your body language is 55 percent of your message. When speaking to someone in person aren't you far more interested in what they are saying when they are smiling? Body language (hand gestures, nodding, etc.) will not only emphasize the message to the recipient, but also create energy and sincerity in the speaker's tone of voice. Standing tall and looking attentive, interested and enthusiastic will be the only way to get immediate attention, have your customer listen to what you have to say, and, most importantly, hear the message you want him to remember.

Thirty-eight percent of your message will be heard and remembered by your voice inflection. Energy behind the voice, various tones or emphasis - such as "good MORNING!" rather than "good morning," "THANK you" instead of "thank you" - give the receiver a visual picture of someone who is smiling and friendly. Therefore, how you verbalize your message is as important over the telephone or P.A. system as it is in person. In nearly all of the clubs I call, the receptionists talk too fast, mumble and sound like robots, making me uninterested. I always tell my front-desk trainees that people can hear your smile over the phone.

4. Respond! Enthusiasm is contagious! Energy and enthusiasm can be conveyed through your written communications as well as your verbal communications. The objective of all promotions is to get an enthusiastic response from your customer. In your club or facility, promotion is everywhere you are and in everything you do.

The simplest thing to remember in promotions is to evaluate that you answer the following questions:

1. WHO is the promotion for?

2. WHAT is it about?

3. WHEN will it be?

4. WHERE do I register, or WHERE will it be held?

5. WHOM do I contact for more information?

6. HOW do I contact him/her?

7. HOW much does it COST?

Pictures for newsletters, ads, promos, etc., should include real people and preferably your members. People are naturally attracted to photos because they want to see:

1. Themselves

2. People they know

3. People like themselves (identification)

4. People having fun (then they will want to respond)