Today’s guest picks things up and puts them down (🏋️).

Leading the fastest growing fitness franchise in the world (F45), with 2,000+ studios across 70 countries, and business partners with Mark Wahlberg, meet Tom Dowd.

I sat down with Tom on the pod and talked all things community-building and how F45 is revolutionizing how to get people in their doors.

Let’s see what he had to say in his own liiiiiightly edited words.

1. Changes When Arriving:

“Before I joined F45, a lot of basics were being missed. 

Right away I realized we weren’t capturing any 1st party data from our membership base, and we had a HUGE membership base.

So one of my first initiatives was to collect email addresses, starting a newsletter, and a blog. 

The typical health and wellness consumer loves to share and engage with edutainment style fitness content, so there was a massive opportunity with the newsletter and blog.

But what really helped us level up was being specific in our targets, understanding SEO, making sure the content actually hit with our customers and not that we were just putting content out there for content’s sake.

We also kept this attitude with paid acquisition channels as well. Digital Marketing is instantaneous, making it the perfect avenue to test initiatives. We would put spend in an area, monitor it closely, and as soon as it wasn’t providing the results we anticipated, we pulled the plug and pivoted.

(Always pressure test everything you do.) 

2. F45’s Guerrilla Marketing: 

During the go-go years of F45 when we were just selling trying to get the business off the ground, there was no emphasis put on operational excellence, like being out there helping the franchisees from a condition and Marketing standpoint.

To reach this next level of growth over the last few years we really flipped the model and we’re investing in the idea that a healthy franchise group can be our best sales tool to sell more franchises.

A lot of building this strong franchise group has come from ground level Marketing, with me getting out to the physical locations to help get consumers through the door.

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We’ve run self defense and other classes that wouldn’t attract the typical gym goer, just to get unique people in the doors.

Getting our franchisees to understand the little nuances and how important it is to market their studio, be active on all socials, and invest in their community on socials is also at the forefront of our focus.

One thing we’re SUPER high on, it sounds so simple, but it’s the very fact of following back all of our members on social media.

This has untapped a massive lever for us to pull at F45. Suddenly our feed is full of our target audience/members, we know the lingo they’re using, the topics they’re talking about, and what they care about, which has all been instrumental in how we go-to-market moving forward.

It’s basically like having live ICP’s built in real time, able to access at any time (LOVEEEE this).

Not to mention, your customers LOVE to be seen and when they get a supportive comment on IG from F45, it’s a great feeling. We are super proactive when it comes to liking, commenting, and resharing posts from our members.

3. What It Takes To Win:

Before any go-to-market, I get into the weeds, I scrub everything on the website, everything on our app, I go through the customer and franchisee journey, and follow F45 on every social channeI. (ME TOO TOM. 🔥)

There are so many minute things that make up the overall customer experience, and it can be so easy to gloss over them. That’s why I go through the customer journey myself to pick out the subtleties that could be holding us back.

Once you perfect every square foot of your presence as a brand, you’ll start hitting singles, which turn into doubles, and once you hit some doubles you’ll hit the occasional grand slam. 

Every little tweak means something, every engagement with a member, answering back and communicating pays off.

We even use this motto when setting goals for the brand. We aren’t coming to our franchisees telling them they need 1,000 new members this year, instead we tell them: just get 20 new members each week. (Gotta love a little psychological move like that.)

My mindset having grown up in a family business is to act like you’re going out of business every day, always challenge everything and push harder. 

4. A Marketing Hill:

Knowing the KPIs that drive the business and focusing on efforts to reach each KPI is IMPORTANT (YES).

The problem with a lot of Marketers is they do a lot of things, but they’re not focusing on the right things.

Google reviews is a great example. Trying to get more reviews is a simple campaign that would often be paired with 10 other tasks and ultimately not be tracked or executed properly by the Marketer.

Instead hyper-focus on that campaign, set a goal, execute it, and reconvene to see if you hit your goal.

The big benefit with that is if it’s not working, you can measure it and analyze why it didn’t work since now you’re not doing 10 other things at once.

Ultimately, focus is a key lever we have pulled with our Marketing that has helped us become more calculated and efficient with our dollars and time.

5. Customer-Led Growth:

If you throw a bigger net out there you’re going to catch more fish, but you’ll also catch more crap fish.

The right approach isn’t casting a wide net, but pulsing in. What do I mean by that?

We have a brand called Performance Inspired Nutrition that Mark Wahlberg is the mastermind behind, but we don’t make him the star of it, which would be us casting a wide net since he is an A-list celeb.

Instead our approach with that has always been to make our customers the stars, actually showcasing that people who use the product (genius).

So we took that logic to F45, showcasing folks and now we have 13 athletes that work for us, love the product, and represent the brand very well. That is us pulsing in, these athletes aren’t famous, but they’ve become niche influencers in the world of F45.

We made them the faces on the screens and have them spend time with the franchisees training and engaging. We’ve had really amazing results from just doing that. 

But everything has to be real and organic, and I cringe when I see these influencers that are promoting things they obviously don’t love or use. We stay away from that with a 10-foot pole at F45.

We love organic Marketing, celebrating our membership, and we have such an amazing community.

Daniel Murray
Daniel Murray
Level up your marketing game

Zero BS. Just fun, unfiltered, industry insights with the game-changers behind some of the coolest companies from around the globe.

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