An innovative marketing campaign has helped Leeds City Council to conquer low cost competition boosting membership by a staggering 2,000 members.

The council have partnered with Alliance Leisure’s client support team after 14 budget gyms opened in the city, posing a big threat to the success of the council’s 16 leisure sites.

Launched in January 2017, the ‘We Are Family’ campaign was designed around the council’s brand values and wide offering for local families. Alliance Leisure adopted a multi-channel marketing approach to the campaign, utilising both offline and digital channels.

Tim Quirke, marketing manager for Active Leeds, says: “Our partnership with Alliance Leisure has enabled us to run a city-wide campaign targeting likely users of the leisure centres without stretching the limited resources available in the leisure marketing team. Alliance’s support and coaching has been invaluable in enabling these campaigns to be so successful.”

“For each campaign we use online advertising on channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to target customers in the local community served by each leisure centre. We also use search advertising on Google Adwords and YouTube to promote the campaign messages in addition to sending specific email and SMS messages to previous members or casual users of each centre. Coupled with other more traditional channels, this strategy ensures we target individuals located around each leisure centres and maximise the return on investment,” explains Paul Woodford, Director of Marketing and Partnership at Alliance Leisure.

To support the campaign, Alliance also provided training for over 600 members of staff. This ranged from management workshops focused on the sales process, coaching staff and monitoring performance to group training with frontline staff covering customer service, enquiry handling and up-selling techniques.

“The training has been superb. It’s really helped to unite the team and ensure continuity of messaging and process across our entire leisure portfolio,” says Quirke. “The campaign theme has also been very well received by the community, hitting home the message that what differentiates us from low cost operators is the sense of community and belonging. We Are Family is all about promoting a supportive, caring, inclusive environment where we all pull together to maximise the potential of each and every individual.”

The response to the digital advertising has seen three-quarters of a million people living in Leeds exposed to some form of online campaign advertising since January. This has generated more than 3,500 leads for the leisure centres.

Membership has grown from 17,500 at the start of the campaign to the current membership of 19,500 with sales up by more than 60 per cent some months.

Such has been the success of the campaign that it has been extended beyond the initial New Year period to front the introduction of single activity membership options, lower membership prices and the growth in the ‘Leeds Fitness Family’. Using the tagline ‘Our Family Just Got Bigger’ Active Leeds is positive this will be their most successful year on record.