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I’ve heard it plenty of times and I’m sure you have too: If my product (gym, coaching, programming, community) is good enough, it will market itself.

I agree.

So Marketing doesn’t work, right? I’ll submit to you my favorite Family Guy clip as it pertains to Marketing:

Obviously, this is over-the-top. But, it’s not too far off from the gut reaction most have when they think of Marketing; Don Draper with his feet on his desk, on his 2nd Highball before noon – scheming of ways to manipulate the masses into purchasing products they don’t want or need. Kind of a nasty picture, isn’t it?

I have new obsession. Fine, addiction. Alright – problem. Spikeball. Not a day has gone by in the last month where we haven’t played a pick-up game at the gym.

I first saw Spikeball on an episode of Shark Tank. It looked cheap, cheesy, and far too difficult to play. Then, my brother-in-law sent me a video of some guys playing it in a park in Denver. I searched for it on YouTube and found that they actually have a board that sanctions official events. I sent a video to a coach and asked him if he’d be down to play if I bought one. 48 hours of Amazon Prime later, and I’m a proud owner of a Spikeball set.

Did Spikeball “market” to me? Honestly, who knows. Yeah, Shark Tank is a HUGE platform to make consumers aware of products. But, I didn’t immediately go online to buy one. Was my brother-in-law a paid ambassador for the brand? Not that I know of.

After I searched for a YouTube video of the sport, I saw other cool videos “suggested” to me as I visited other websites – including Facebook. Did they drop a cookie in my browser to follow me around the internet? I’m sure of it.

But, the videos were actually really cool. The people in the videos looked like me, were having fun, and appeared to be social and active. Check. I saw myself in their shoes. I related to their story.

Once it came in via UPS we broke it out immediately. I assembled the rig, attached the net, and began to read the rules of play. We were instantly hooked. The cool YouTube videos and social proof from my brother-in-law all lived up to the hype. I’ve had so much fun with the product that we even played it as an ice-breaker at a recent seminar at the gym. I post videos on Instagram almost weekly. I send Snaps to my teammates. Members of our gym have even begun to joke that it’s all we do all day long.

So, was this “Marketing”? Honestly, I don’t know anymore. Thankfully, social media and access to information has created the most savvy consumers ever in recorded history. “SMOKE” is no longer effective because I have access to hundreds of studies to the contrary at my fingertips.

Does internet marketing work for your gym? I don’t know… Do you share pictures of your members having fun? Do you post inspirational quotes on social media? Do you have opportunities for your members to bring their friends to social events? Do you send out a newsletter? Do you have a referral incentive (even if it’s a thank-you note)? Do your coaches high-five your members after a job well-done? Do you ask members to give you a review online?

These are all stories. Stories of your business. Stories of results. Stories of your product. The harsh reality is that there are a million things competing for our attention. You could have the best programming, coaching, community, results, members, and events of any gym in your city. Actually, I’m sure you do; the fact that you’re reading this means you give a damn. But, who hears those stories if they’re never shared?

A good product must be given a platform to be shared. Had Spikeball been a complete bust, it’d be in the trash and never spoken of again. Quality of product matters. Sharing the story of that product matters.

So, maybe we need a name change? Maybe instead of Marketing we call it Storytelling? Sharing? Social Proof? Branding?

Whatever you call it – share it. You, your members, and your community must have multiple opportunities to know your Story. I know your product is spot-on. Give your heroes a platform to share.
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