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Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force by Rob Fuggetta

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Chapter 9

Advocates Shape Up Fitness Club Sales

Bill McBride, president and COO of fitness company Club One, is an unlikely innovator (Figure 9.1).

Figure 9.1 Bill McBride

Source: Courtesy of Club One.

8.1

McBride, 46, was born and grew up in a conservative military town, Fayetteville, North Carolina, best known as the home of Fort Bragg, a major U.S. Army base. McBride, who moved to California in 2003, still speaks with an easy southern drawl. And in an industry not known for innovation, McBride has pioneered new marketing techniques and technology. He's led Club One's push into digital, social, and mobile.

In 2010, Club One became the first club in the fitness industry to turn its social media-powered Advocates into marketers. “I saw the potential of advocacy for Club One and for the fitness industry right away,” says McBride, a 25-year fitness industry veteran and chairperson of the International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), the industry's leading trade group. “Most clubs get more than half of their business from word of mouth. And referrals are the number one source of new memberships. That is why I believe Advocate marketing is a perfect marketing vehicle for the fitness industry,” says McBride.

McBride's early bet on advocacy is paying off. In about a year, Club One has created an Advocate marketing force of 10,000 enthusiastic members. A staggering 70 percent ...

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