When Anytime Fitness kicked off its “My Anytime Story” contest a few weeks ago, all CMO Stacey Anderson expected was that 500 or so of the chain’s most diehard exercisers would enter, generating nice internal buzz for its 2,200 clubs.
“I knew our clubs are filled with some beautiful, wonderful, great stories, and I was thinking a contest would be a fun way to get those stories out there, pull the emotion forward, and take credit, as a brand, for all this inspiration. But it went bananas,” she tells Marketing Daily. “And I knew that by the time I had gotten 132 stories the first day, we had hit a really deep vein.” By Day 13, they’d topped 1,000; so far, more than 1,500 members have sent in their stories.
The idea for the contest was simple: Members would share their personal fitness journey and submit it, for the chance to win a $1,000 weekly prize. And the story that is shared the most will win the grand prize -- $10,000 to keep, and another $10,000 to give to their favorite personal cause. By the second week, she’d gotten over 1,000 entries, and then 1,500.
“Without spending a lot of money, we’ve been able to tap into this really evangelical group of advocates, who are sharing their entries across all their social media channels. And the best part is that it’s all so entirely on our brand message -- we’re not about unleashing your inner champion, or elite fitness. We’re about being friendly and welcoming in our clubs, which we can do better than our competitors. We’ve got a smaller footprint. And it’s about making people feel good, inside and out.”
Among the weekly winners so far:
*A 450-pound man who wanted to lose weight to support his wife, struggling with leukemia, and be healthier for their two kids. While his wife died earlier this month, he’s lost 150 pounds, and hopes to lose another 100.
*A woman lost 125 pounds while fighting two kinds of cancer
*An 18-year-old refugee from Darfur who joined the local club at age 15, and has grown into a competitive high school runner.
The St. Paul, Minn.-based company says 29% of its Anytime Advocates have shared their stories with their friends, and that for each outbound share by advocates, Anytime Fitness is getting an average of 23 inbound clicks back to the advocate’s story. The company believes that about 20 times more effective than the average story campaign. “It’s probably because these stories are so personal,” she says. “These advocates feel connected to the club, and are eager to find a way to pay it forward somehow.”