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Harnessing Multichannel Marketing to Reach New People

How 17th Street Athletic Club used multiple channels together to grow their audience and recruit new members.

A portrait of 17th Street Athletic Club co-founders and fitness coaches Shannon Boughn and Marissa Axell.

When Shannon Boughn and fellow fitness coach Marissa Axell co-founded 17th Street Athletic Club, they set out to create an inclusive place in their changing neighborhood. For What’s in Store we traveled to San Francisco to learn how the 17th Street team used a combination of channels to grow their audience and encourage more people to join their gym.

As residents of the Mission District for over 20 years, the duo saw trendy studios from other cities popping up in their area. “We’re just anti-fad,” Marissa says. To build a diverse community that reflected their neighborhood, they knew they’d have to reach more people. “Marketing has been both of our Achilles’ heels,” Marissa says. She’d been using Mailchimp for emailing existing members, but the 17th Street team knew they’d have to revisit their marketing strategy if they wanted to attract new patrons.

After about a year and a half into the business, though, Shannon and Marissa knew they had to do more to overcome their membership plateau. So they decided to promote a 6-week transformation challenge, which included a meal plan and grocery list, plus unlimited workouts. That’s when Marissa decided to turn to the marketing platform she had been using all along—and add some new channels to the mix. “All of a sudden Mailchimp opened up some really great avenues for me,” she says. Here’s how.

Photo of 17th Street Athletic Club co-founder and fitness coach Marissa Axell
Illustration of a stork carrying shopping bags

The tools: Landing page + Facebook ad + welcome automation

First, the 17th Street team created a landing page for the challenge where potential members could sign up to learn more. From there, it was simple to create a Facebook ad to lead people to the landing page. Once someone input their email on the landing page, they immediately received a welcome email automation. “That was a simple, linear way for a prospective member whom we've never talked to get on our radar,” Marissa says. “I didn't have to have a marketing degree to use it. I didn't have to have a coding degree to use it,” she adds.

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The result: A 250% increase in signups

Within the first week of running the Facebook ad, 17th Street collected more emails through the landing page than they would have during the span of a month. Out of those, about 50% signed up for the challenge. Year over year, the team has also seen online bookings up 37%, attendance up 30%, and new members up 37%. “In essence we hit 2 birds with 1 stone,” Marissa says. “We increased our membership because people that joined the challenge tend to become members. We get a really good return on that. So getting a lot of people into the challenge was huge.” Like working out, she says, the key to marketing is consistency.

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The goals: Grow their audience and get signups for the challenge

“Our goal was twofold,” Marissa says. Not only were they looking to grow their number of subscribers, they wanted to introduce these new fans to their guided, no-frills transformation challenge. “At the busy time of year, it’s one of our favorite ways to get new people into the facility.”

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