In-your-face marketing works for 2nd Wind Exercise

There aren't many exercise equipment stores that either, one, do a lot of marketing or, two, would dare to tackle the amusing, humorous and sometimes rather in-your-face ads and promotions that Dick Enrico's 2nd Wind Exercise dares to do.
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There aren't many exercise equipment stores that either, one, do a lot of marketing or, two, would dare to tackle the amusing, humorous and sometimes rather in-your-face ads and promotions that Dick Enrico's 2nd Wind Exercise dares to do.

"Nothing ventured, nothing gained," Enrico told SNEWS about his most recent campaign that rolled out earlier this month, including a couple that appeared above urinals in men's bathrooms in 600 bars and clubs around the Twin Cities area. But we jump ahead of ourselves….

When it comes to marketing and advertising, Enrico has a theory not shared by many fitness equipment stores or, for that matter, by a lot of other businesses: When the economy turns downward, Enrico actually pushes up his marketing budget. In fact, for 2003, he is spending 40 percent more than in 2002. Granted, he says, he also opened a few more stores, but not 40 percent more. And so far it's paid off, with year-to-date comp store revenues up about 13 percent, he said, and gross up about 35 percent. "It pays for itself," he said.

Enrico, who started 2nd Wind (www.2ndwindexercise.com) in 1992, has become a real personality in the Twin Cities area and Midwestern cities where his 25 stores are located (but watch that number jump up soon by another six, said Enrico, who is now busily planning their openings). Because of the character he's developed in the area, he's able to be more edgy with his out-of-the-box ads than others could, he admitted. But he said he still believes other stores should take on more marketing and think of it as a long-term investment.

"This violates a lot of the rules. It's a name identity campaign," he said of his ads. Still, "marketing has to be a part of any retail program. Most people who don't understand marketing think it means immediate results. It ain't gonna happen. It takes a lot of perseverance."

About his current campaign that rolled out just after Labor Day? The real talk is the one bathroom ad, placed strategically above urinals. (If you're reading a digest print-out or a PDF, you won't see the picture here, and we promise you really want to, so go back to your computer. Warning: It may insult some people.) This ad (note the tape measure showing 10 inches next to his body by the way) is in front of captive audiences -- men standing at urinals: "You're looking at a dick, hanging onto a dick," he said in his own Enrico-esque style.

2nd Wind also has a new campaign with a string of billboards around town (one is live on the SNEWS website, but again not in the PDF or print-out), this one being perhaps the most bold with two naked rather pudgy bodies. He said his office has gotten ONE call from a woman telling his staff there were -- gasp! -- naked people on the billboard, then the caller paused to add it was kind of funny. So much for that complaint. His newest ads actually take on area health clubs and call on people to "make the switch" while poking fun at things like crowded floors and broken equipment. Ouch.

But whatever a store does, marketing should not be slashed, although it's the easiest target, he said since you can't cut rent or utilities.

"They gotta do something -- name or brand or product awareness," he said, but many attempted campaigns make him grimace. "What most inevitably do is terrible. Then they complain they get no results."

SNEWS View: In talking to Enrico at length at the Health & Fitness Business Expo, we thought his view was refreshing. He's not telling retailers they all need to do urinal ads or billboards with naked people, but he's suggesting they think outside-of-the-box in their store's promotion. We think that's a great idea. What consumer doesn't like a little chuckle? Something they'll tell others about? Then, when it's time to buy exercise equipment, guess what name will pop to mind? You got it. Nothing ventured…

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