I am a small-business owner who has just launched a location recently. What are some of the most important steps to ensuring the best possible opening? Are there certain techniques as an owner I can use to drum up as much support as possible? How should I combine our marketing, advertising and PR efforts?

Jim Fisher



I assume that you have done some research before opening your location and know who your target audience is, how they choose fitness clubs, what the facilitators and barriers are, and who else (e.g. spouse or partner) plays an indirect, yet important role in your target's decisionmaking process. It is a good idea to revisit those insights about your target market before launching a communication campaign.

Once you have that under your belt, I suggest that you devise your campaign in three steps.

First, decide on your campaign objectives and the time frame. That is, be clear about what you mean by "drumming up as much support as possible." What do you mean by "support"? Are you trying to get your target audience interested in your services, or are you hoping to motivate nonmembers to switch from their current fitness club to your establishment. Further, what is "as much as possible"? How many new members are you trying to get and what is your time frame?

The next step is to develop a compelling story that is consistent with your objectives. Your story must be such that it provides your target audience a compelling reason to either take a look at your offerings seriously and/or choose your offerings over those of the competitors'. Think about your story through your customers' eyes and focus on what is in it for them.

The last step is to decide on which media you would like to employ. Depending on your budget, you may simply rely on word of mouth and social media, or employ newspaper, radio, or TV advertising.

About the author

Avinash Malshe is an associate professor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas, Opus College of ­Business.