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In this era of social media, the ability to spread the word and reach others is only a few clicks away. Naturally, many community rec centers have implemented a variety of social media platforms in order to market their fitness and wellness programs, but one old fashioned marketing technique still plays a large role: word of mouth.

According to Stephanie Dworkin, the marketing director at the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, word of mouth is a very successful marketing technique. “When a member has a rave review, we know they love to share it with their friends,” she said. Being in a close-knit community setting allows for this type of personal interaction where positive feedback is heavily noted.

Dworkin doesn’t only rely on word of mouth, however. “Social media marketing plays a large role in our marketing strategy,” she said. “We see value in a hybrid of organic posts, Facebook advertising and creating events for people to engage in.”

Organic posts might include posting about a trending topic, or sharing a video or photo you just snapped. These types of marketing show the community that you’re not only involved and personable, but can also provide real-time information they might be looking for.

One specific type of organic post Dworkin has witnessed a high engagement in is video posts, specifically Instagram stories. “Videos on all social media platforms are highly effective,” she said. Because videos are more eye-catching than a block of text or even just a photo, Instagram stories —videos that are only visible for 24 hours — are a valuable marketing tool.

Another popular marketing technique used by many is the traditional email, which also works for the team at the Katz JCC. “We find that email blasts are highly effective when it’s specific to a particular program or class that requires registration,” said Dworkin. This tactic enables them to reach community members who might not be coming in as frequently or maybe aren’t as savvy in social media.

Additionally, some community rec centers may go with an outside agency for marketing, but Dworkin has found that an in-house team has worked the best for their JCC. “We’re proud of the exceptional marketing put out by our in-house team, who does the majority of our marketing,” she said. “We do work with an outside agency for some design work, digital campaigns for retargeting and Google AdWords.”

Overall, the most important technique in marketing your rec center is to know your community. “JCCs are special because across the country, you will see similar programs, but each community is unique,” said Dworkin. “Knowing your members and what they want is crucial.”

More specifically, when marketing for programs related to fitness and wellness to your community, it’s also important to stay up-to-date and familiar. “A commitment to excellence and innovation is imperative — the fitness and wellness space is constantly changing and it’s so important to be ahead of the trends, aware of what your members are looking for and give them an exceptional experience,” said Dworkin.

Brittany Howard

Brittany is the editor of Community Rec Magazine. Reach her at brittany@peakemedia.com.

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