The Power of Customer Voice: How Club One Turned its Satisfied Members into a Marketing Force

You may have already heard about the fantastic success of Club One, Inc.  This health club, which was started by a husband and wife team with only one location, has grown into 14 premium clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area.  By effectively utilizing customer voice, they generated large amounts of earned media and multiplied their ROI by 9X.  Here are some of the ways they managed to turn their customers into a formidable marketing force.

The Power of Word Of Mouth
As a testament to the power of earned media, 45% of Club One’s memberships are the result of personal referrals.

Their marketing effort has three primary objectives for engaging customer voice – first, to identify the company’s natural Brand Advocates, customers who are very satisfied with the company and are willing to spread the good word around, for free.  Next, to energize their Brand Advocates so they will tell others about their company.  Lastly, they put in place a tracking system that allows the company to monitor the progress of each Advocate and receive valuable feedback from them.

Identifying Brand Advocates
To identify potential Brand Advocates, they asked customer how likely they were to recommend Club One to a friend, on a scale of 0 to 10.  Those who answered 9 or 10 were considered advocates.  As an incentive, people who completed the survey were entered into a random drawing for a $50 dollar gift card.  They identified 5,000 Brand Advocates this way.

Energizing the Brand Advocates
To encourage the generation of earned media, Club One gave their Brand Advocates the ability to share a 14-day guest membership with any of their friends.  They made this very easy; it could be done in person or online, through social media and email.  Over 4,000 complimentary trial memberships were shared, mostly through email.

The Results
Club One ended up with over 2,000 inbound clicks and almost 100 new gym memberships, a number that is expected to increase.  In addition to their 9X ROI increase, they also found out some valuable things about their customers: Brand Advocates for Club One were found to be 5 times more valuable than the average customer.  In addition, new members generated by referral were found to be more likely to refer more people.

Club One plans to continue enhancing customer voice with this process, and also to energize it’s Brand Advocates in new and interesting ways.

From what Club One did, you can easily see the power of earned media to generate qualified leads. With this approach, the value of consumer opinion will only continue to increase.  If you’re not actively taking steps to empower your customers into such a marketing force, it is time to start.