2nd Wind takes on tech with customer emails, web tracking, ads

Spending the last three years building a plan to better tackle business with today's technology, 2nd Wind Exercise is moving into areas that most specialty fitness retailers -- heck, many retailers of all kinds -- may not even think about or may believe isn't within their grasp.

Spending the last three years building a plan to better tackle business with today's technology, 2nd Wind Exercise is moving into areas that most specialty fitness retailers -- heck, many retailers of all kinds -- may not even think about or may believe isn't within their grasp.

Spearheaded by Rick Enrico, president of Enrico Technologies, the plan utilizes the company's website, customer emails and website visit tracking, and targets follow-up communications with customers based on what they bought and what advertisements they clicked on in emails sent to them from 2nd Wind.

"The web is making its push," Rick Enrico told SNEWS®. "If you don't have advertising wrapped around your website, it's like having a retail store in the middle of a cornfield."

(Let's get it over with: Yes, Rick is the son of 2nd Wind President and Founder Dick Enrico, and he happens to have built an independent media marketing business in Southern California based on his Mass Marketing Media and Communications studies. He also started working for his dad when he was a teenager refurbishing used equipment -- nickname "Refurb" -- so he also knows that business. We'll lay money he didn't cake-walk into this plan, though, but had to do a pretty hard-sell on Dad, who everybody knows is unashamedly technology challenged, to convince him this was going to be worth his time and money.)

"What we've been trying to do is build a customer-centric communications channel," Rick Enrico added.

VIP Club: Dick Enrico bobbleheads, while supplies last
All the pieces are wrapped up together, including the humor in TV ads and billboards done in 2nd Wind store regions that draw attention. They too are housed on the website (www.2ndwindexercise.com), so simple curiosity seekers can find them -- while, of course, also being forced to see what 2nd Wind is all about. The website in January 2006 had 75,000 individual visits, triple the number a year ago. Who wouldn't stop for a moment to stare at the smiling face of local personality Dick Enrico on the home page, at this moment holding a Dick Enrico bobblehead doll: Get it free (while supplies last, of course) by joining the 2nd Wind VIP Club.

Ah, the VIP Club … one of the cornerstones, really, of the program. Rick Enrico said it has more than 35,000 members and with about 6,000 more signups a month. Really. Members (everybody knows how people like to belong to something) are notified about special deals, and get fitness articles, recipes and exercise videos. What does 2nd Wind get? A huge database of potential customers and emails. What is it building? A place that is more than a store, he said, but rather someplace that customers will feel comfortable turning to months after a purchase to get advice and tips, while perhaps also looking at additional possible purchases.  

Tracking and targeting
Just like Rome, the system wasn't built in a day, but rather the tracking system took about a year, Rick Enrico said. What happens for example before and after someone buys some equipment?

1. Joe Wannabe Exerciser buys a treadmill. The fun has just begun.
2. The next day, he gets an email thanking him for the purchase, with the piece's brochure and warranty information attached, as well as a few training tips geared specifically for that piece.
3. Thirty days later he gets another targeted email asking how it's going, whether he has any questions, and offering a few more tips. Anything the customer clicks on -- if he goes to the website from that email and where he goes -- is tracked and logged, building a profile that is passed on to the salesperson and the store so they can better follow-up and target additional sales.
4. Ninety days later Joe gets another email tailored just for him, for example, if he bought a treadmill, this one would show a home gym or other complimentary equipment. Now, about 200 different and individually targeted (but automatically generated) emails get sent every evening based on a person's purchase and interests. If Joe opens the email, what he clicks on is tracked so the salesperson knows what might interest him.

Seems pretty tidy, but it's only just begun, Rick Enrico said: "We have a long way to go still."

On the horizon
Enrico Technologies now has its own studio for 2nd Wind commercials and spots so it can begin doing streaming video and other broadcasts. This ain't just a corner of the warehouse with a sheet hanging at the back, but is outfitted with the right equipment, including a screen just like those used on TV broadcasts so someone can stand in front of moving pictures and images.

It's partly about making exercise equipment and exercise more approachable, he added, since a lot of people are scared of it. The point of the emails and videos is to make the customer more comfortable.

"This helps the customer stay on the path," said Rick Enrico. "They wanted to achieve a certain goal when they signed their credit card receipt."

The entire program now has shape, and has taken a lot of work and financial investment, "and now it's paying dividends," he said. But the work continues.  

"We're building a relationship with this customer," Rick Enrico said, "and it's going to lead to a more informed customer…. I want our customers to be so informed on our products that the web sells them."

SNEWS® View:
Considering how scared of the Internet many in the fitness industry are -- as if it's a demon and something to shun -- this is a huge step forward. And, an admirable one, too. Why not harness the power of something that we can't escape and make it work for you? Of course, there is an investment on the front-end that may seem daunting, but the returns could make it well worth its while. This kind of business takes thinking in really broad ways since you can't just send an email and see what happens. You have to build an entire network from top to bottom that supports every other piece of the network -- and you have to have buy-in from all sides. We're sure the sales staff isn't afraid since this kind of information and customer tracking only makes their jobs easier -- and an easier job means more sales and more commissions. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have the character and personality of one Dick Enrico to push to the forefront (thanks, Dad), someone who is willing to make a little fun of himself and his name. Making him a real person who is friendly, funny, self-deprecating as needed, not too serious and not the picture of fitness makes the entire chain of stores approachable. This technological push is the power behind the front man that could keep him at the forefront.


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