One of my pet peeves in marketing is when someone violates the old adage “Never badmouth the competition”. Now, that normally refers to someone or some company that sells a similar product that you are selling and you want to get that sale so badly that you will slur the quality, integrity or some other adjective of that competitor. Bad move. But what about slamming your competitor’s customers? Is that above board? Well according to Planet Fitness, it is A-OK to make fun of the other gym’s members, and in fact, they go a step further by stating that no “Lunks” are allowed in their gym!
What the heck is a Lunk? Well, based on their advertising, I seem to be one. Not to the extreme that they depict in their commercials (I hope!), but I am a serious lifter who is much larger, more muscular, and lifts much heavier weights than the average seat warmer at your local gym. I am no Mr. Universe, but I do grunt occasionally when lifting a very heavy weight. I may have even used offensive language a time or two over my 40 years of weight training when a lift did not go my way. Mercy, call the Lunk police!
Anyway, Planet Fitness feels that they can attract the not so muscularly inclined and the hoarders of excess calories to their facilities by mocking the more serious, perhaps more intense, clientele that they feel intimidate their target market. Is that a good move? Let’s take a look. The first step of the Four Step Marketing process is to create a USP (Unique Selling Proposition). Basically, define a reason why someone should do business with your company. What do you do that is special. What is unique about your company that sets it apart from all of the rest. Is refusing to do business with a certain class of “losers” a special or unique quality that sets you apart? I would hate to think so.
I think Planet Fitness would be much more effective in their advertising if they presented their facilities as low key training environments that catered to the less intense weight trainers (USP). They would by in large only attract the type of clientele that they are looking for, and the Lunks would would be drawn to where the other Lunks train, which are more hard core gyms. And although Planet Fitness’ current campaign may draw the more timid lifters, it also antagonizes the more serious lifters, and as I mentioned, I am one. A lot of my compatriots feel that Planet Fitness is ridiculing the sport they love, and that, no matter what your intention, is bad for business. I for one would go out of my way to dissuade a new lifter from going to Planet Fitness. And I have heard others voice the same sentiment, many in print. Nothing special or unique about that.