Contact Now

April 18, 2018 Shownotes:

Orangetheory Owner Marc Thomas has grown a local fitness brand into a thriving franchise chain with locations across the country. In the latest episode of The 19: Retail, Marc sits down with Orange Label Agency Principal Rochelle to reveal the secret behind his successful marketing strategy.


The 19: Retail – Episode 7

Orange You Glad You Have Omnichannel Marketing?

MUSIC intro

Recorded Intro:

This is The 19. In 19 minutes or less, game-changing insights in Retail from Orange Label, the leading response marketing agency for established brands that are driven by a fearless entrepreneurial mindset.

Host Intro:

It’s true that the landscape looks very different than it did when I started my career – but one factor has remained unchanged – and that constant is the power of omnichannel marketing. Now, we probably didn’t call our marketing tactics “omnichannel” in the 1990s, but, we did promote it, because “omnichannel” is basically just another word for “multi-platform.” Promoting a brand on multiple marketing platforms – television, print, digital, social, radio –it expands reach and establishes lasting brand value. It’s up to response marketers to ensure media is consistent and optimized to drive response on every channel.


At Orange Label we are always on the lookout for trendsetters and retail brands that are using omni-channel marketing and so today, we are absolutely thrilled to have Marc Thomas as our guest on The 19. He is the Owner & Area Developer of multiple Orange theory locations, and, if you have yet to hear of Orange theory, it is a national fitness brand that has just skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years. When I first met Marc, his business offices were next door to Orange Label and they were just starting to make a footprint in Orange County, fast-forward a few years, and they now have 930 locations. Plus, we clearly have the same favorite color. Marc, welcome to the 19! We’re so glad you could join us today.

M: Thanks for having me.


So Marc,  what is the origin story behind Orangetheory?

M: The Orangetheory was started by a woman named Ellen Latham, ah, who in ah has been an exercise physiologist and ah, fitness instructor for decades since the early 80’s.  and ah, she in the late nineties and early 2000’s got involved with palates with one of the top palates instructors in South Florida.  And found that ah, with her ah, clients  that they were not burning fat, they were strong and very competent in their daily lives and but they weren’t burning the fat.  And so she just set out to develop a work out that would essentially lean out and burn fat off their bodies.  So she created what she called the ultimate work out.  It was a combination of cardio training and strength training.  Ah, based on a year or two worth of research.  And ah it immediately took off in a local studio down in South Florida.  Became very popular and people in the area saw results they’d never seen before.  One of her clients was a wife of a franchising specialist and she had seen unprecedented results for herself so she brought her husband in there.  And he met Ellen ah, he brought his partner and the three of them started Orangetheory based on this ultimate workout.  Ah, eventually the name was changed from the Ellen’s ultimate workout to Orangetheory.


Oh okay okay and what’s behind the name Orangetheory?

M: Yeah so the name is really based on obviously the color Orange …. Which ah known as the color of energy and the color of life and rejuvenation.  Ahum, so that was ahum, ah, you know where that came from.  And then theory part was based on the science of the workout.  So through Ellen’s research you found that metabolic change happens in people’s bodies when they achieve certain heart rate zones for a certain amount of time.  So the goal of our workout , our 60 minute workout, is to get people over ah 80% of their maximum heart rate, their individual unique maximum heart rate to their themselves.  Ahum for more than twelve minutes out of a 60 minute workout.  In the process of doing that there is a metabolic change that happens in the body that is called EPOC, or otherwise known as after burn.  And that helps burn fat more efficiently and over a longer period of time then ah, a typical workout.  So Orangetheory is based on that science, so hence the theory part. Ah, and so Orangetheory became the brand name.


What a great story.  So what made you want to join  Orangetheory and want to be one of the franchisees?

M: Well I first of all I was intrigued, I was a passionate ah, fitness enthusiast and you know a tri-athlete, and cyclist and things like that in my personal life, I came from a high tech background.  And ah, but wanted to find a way where I could pursue things I really loved ahum, in my personal life when I was working 70-80 hours a week.  When I came across the Orangetheory concept ahum, I met with the founders I visitied studios I took a bunch  of workouts.  I did some research on the science I analyzed the business model.  I did all the homework you could do on this company and everywhere I turned the results came back as ah, this was different.  This wasn’t just any other fitness concept this was something unique it was special.  It was different then what else is out there.  So I pushed all the chips in the center of the table and really made a huge commitment.  I left my career in high tech and went all in ah and ah, bought the area development rights for Orange County and Long Beach and California.   And ah, we opened our first studio just over five years ago in Newport Beach.


That’s great that’s great, and then you said on the phone that  you guys are going to be opening your 1000th store at the end of the summer?

M: Yeah so the brand is growing tremendously when I got involved in just under six years ago, there were about 18 locations involved with the brand.  And now we’re this summer we’ll hit our 1000th location.  So we’ve got just this explosive growth ahum, and one of the most successful franchises of all time of any brand in terms of how fast its grown and how successfully its grown.  Ah, not just in fitness but in you know any franchise model.


Any franchise wow.  And you mentioned that you never never closed a store yet.

M: Yeah so almost a 1000 stores and never closed a store so.


What do you think the success , what’s what’s the success formula in your opinion?

M: There are a lot of components to the success of Orangetheory fitness.  Ahum, there’s no one magic bullet I think its really a combination of things.  But you know first of all the workout is very effective and because its science based its and its results oriented.  People are seeing results people who worked out ten or twenty years are seeing results that they never saw before.  Ahum, its safe its ah, effective ahum, and its available to all different types of fitness levels.  So its not just targeted towards athletes it’s targeted towards the every man and the every woman.  Ahum, so we do have elite level athletes we have Olympic champions  and gold medalists and pro athletes and all that sort of thing in there.  And we have  people who haven’t worked out in ten or twenty years.  And we have everybody in between and we have old and young and all different shapes and sizes.  So I think that’s been a key component that we put all of these people in one room at the same time but they all walk out feeling like they got a great workout, they feel successful , they don’t feel defeated or beat down as in they might in some other sort of workout formats.  It’s a very convenient workout where we locate all of our studios in places where people are already living their daily lives.  In local shopping centers and things like that.  Beasue we have so many locations now and our membership is transferable to any location.  Whenever you belong to one studio you can use it wherever you travel around the nation or even the world now.  So you can ah, take advantage of over 900 locations to work out where where  ever you are.


Location is so important when I comes to retail and it sounds like you have.  So you have the right locations, the right product.  Talk to me about the marketing.  How do you think that that has impacted the business?

M: Ah, I mean Marketing is key for any successful especially new business.  Ahum, as you well know and one of the things that’s nice is a franchise brand is they bring in a lot of marketing expertise.  So I personally five or six years ago I did not have a lot of marketing expertise I was always in a business to business type model before.  Was not marketing to the public but they brought in a lot of expertise and other franchisees that did have a lot of experience.  And we all contributed to the same ah, knowledge pool.  And one of the things that I think Orangetheroy has done really well is is jumped on top of kind of the new media, or new paradigm in marketing.  You know ah, especially the last three to five years the the marketing paradigm has shifted greatly with social media, and connected TV and streaming radio and all these things that weren’t even really in existence ahum, as a as an advertising medium just a handful of years ago.  And we I think working at the forefront of that ahum, as a brand.  And now that our that we’ve grown and our budgets bigger we’re able to do things across all different media segments everything from TV, to terrestrial Radio, to billboards to you name it and spend a considerable amount of our marketing time and effort in the you know the new media if you will.


Sure sure based on my experience with franchises where the corporate handles a lot of the marketing and a lot of the big expenditures.  And then locally typically they’re they’re corresponding to a fund or putting money into a fund locally. How does that work with Orangetheory?

M: Yeah so we have kind a three different tiers for ah, our the way we handle our advertising.  We have our national brand fund, so we all contribute to that.  And that’s really focused on national brand building and to a centrally managedly  generation process.. ah, through a marketing firm that handles all that and has a great deal of expertise in all of the new media.  Then we have regional so we kind of a tiered approach ah, tier one we call it is a national, tier two which is our regional where we get our group of fifteen local studios together and we pool money to do things on a regional basis.  We do events, we do things like streaming radio, ahum billboards that sort of thing more on a regional basis.  And then we do the hyper-local we call it which is tier three.  Ah, where we really focus on a three mile radius from our stores our studios, and that’s much more kind of guerrilla marketing feet on the street type of marketing.  Ah, door hangers, ah, fliers, ah, direct mail you know a little bit of everything.


Yeah that media mix seems to be working well for your guys

M: Yeah you know it’s been ah,  tremendous to see the growth of the company.  And ah, for us because we are a different fitness concept than what else is out there are the key to our ah, ultimate success in growth is to educate people about that we’re not just another gym.  That we are something different.  And so ah, we had very little brand awareness five years ago, and progressively we’ve gotten a lot more brand awareness.  And with that brand awareness we’re not just trying to get recognition of our name but also education as to why we’re different and why you should come give us a try as opposed to just going to any other gym.


What form of media do you think sky rocketed you to get that the most awareness ahum, any of the traditional or do you think it has been more digital?

M: I would say especially in the early days and even now.  But especially in the early days, it was a combination of ahum, feet on the street marketing ahum, that kind of that guerilla touching that local community.  Ah, because our budgets were very limited in the early days.  Ahum, and then being really I think one of the first players in the fitness industry to aggressively pursue some of the digital marketing you know advertising on Facebook  and eventually  as Instagram made it available Instagram in being involved in streaming radio and some of those things.  But in particularly Facebook was probably a I wouldn’t even say probably definitely a huge boon to our business.  And ah, we were advertising there before any of the other fitness concepts in the area.


That’s great that’s great.  So Marc what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs about marketing a local business with a national foot print?

M: Ah, having a tiered approach like I described earlier is a really important part of the puzzle to ah, make sure that you’re complementing with the national ah, campaign is doing and not competing.  We actually found after doing some research a year or two ago that ah, some of the hyper-local marketing we were doing was actually competing with the advertising we were doing at a national level when we were putting ad dollars into things like Facebook or other sorts of ah, media.  So ah, we’ve pulled back from that and restrategize the approach with a better orientation on our tiers.  And with that we can work together and really complement each other rather than compete with each other for the same you know air space if you will.


Sure ah, a lot of collaboration it sounds like and communication… is the key.

M: yeah so we have a really strong level of communication from the top down from our national, to our regional, to our local.  And we’re all coordinating that on a consistent basis I think that’s key. I would also ah, you know recommend taking the time to really understand the new paradigm in advertising the new media, its changing rapidly.  So even when you think you’ve got it, in six months it might be different.  So you can’t rest on your loral’s and assume you always understand what’s happening.  Its one of those things you have to put time and energy into understanding.  There’s so much data that can be collected ah through this new media that was really never available in the former media ahum, that that is just hugely valuable to really understanding how to target the market you want and so that your ad dollars are being spent wisely and not just being spent.


Ahum, what would you say I know you work with agencies and then you’re a business owner.  What would you say your main role in marketing is as an owner and an entrepreneur?

M: So I think it ah, at ahum, regional level I’m a bit of the organizer of the agencies ahum, and so I help facilitate ah, and organize our our region into one kind of unified approach and ah, the agencies really bring a lot of the expertise, and I’ve learned a lot from them.  But ultimately we defer  a lot to them on kind of the details and we just kind of give them the big strategy.  And then at the hyper-local level you know we’re constantly if that’s much more of our feet on the street, you know guerilla marketing type of approach. So, we’re constantly just looking for opportunities ahum, you know everything from going to local events and ah, wine and food festivals, and ah, athletic events 5k’s 10k’s things like that.  To ah having sign spinners standing on a corner.  Ahum, to you know you name it anywhere where our brand can be seen ah is just something that we’re looking for an opportunity as.  And that’s really ahum, just being resourceful  and creative and and ah, trying to partner with others in the community to build the brand.


Would you say that Orangetheory is an emotional purchase for consumers?

M: I think it is for many consumers I wouldn’t say it is for everybody.  But you know health and wellness and fitness is ah, really important to a good good portion of the population.  For some it’s very important for others it’s not so important.  Ah, we feel like it probably should be important to everybody so ahum, for those who you know I think one of the things that makes Orangetheory really work is that we can connect to all those different levels of of fitness and engagement.  And we we found that people who say oh I hate the gym I don’t like going ahum, you know I don’t feel good about it I don’t get results.  They come into Orangetheory and they have a different type of experience.  So we can connect with those kind of people.  and at the end of the day our mission is to help the world be a healthier place and we have ah I think unique business model to ensure that that happens.


Yeah that’s great it sounds like you’ve got the omni channel response marketing down, you’ve got the product down, you’ve got the locations down.  And you’ve definitely got the drive to be a successful  entrepreneur

Okay Marc one final question what is one key take away or a piece of awesome marketing advice that you could share with our listeners?

M:  One of the key take aways that I certainly have learned in the last five years of doing this, is that there is no one magic bullet.  That the key to successful marketing is taking a multichannel approach.  You can’t assume that just doing TV or just doing direct mail, or just any one thing is going to work.  It’s about getting in front of as many people as possible wherever they are.  And sometimes that means  you have to go meet them and not just kind of broadcast from one place but be out there.


Very well said thank you again Marc we appreciate having you.

MUSIC transition

Host Close:

Thank you for listening to The 19: Retail – Orange You Glad You Have Omnichannel Marketing?

If you have additional insights on this topic, please share them with us. Visit our website, and contact us. Be sure subscribe to The 19 on iTunes and Google Play, and, if you like what you heard today, leave us a review! And be sure to tune in for our next episode of The 19: Retail, where we will discuss finding the perfect retail location.

MUSIC transition

Recorded close:

This was The 19. Brought to you by Orange Label. If you’re interested in MORE retail response marketing, visit our blog and subscribe to our content, where we share our response marketing expertise on current retail industry topics. Visit for all the details.

Explore more related industry podcasts

Blender Inquiries

Whether you’re the press seeking an expert opinion or talent with a desire to join the conversation, call or email us for more.

Phone icon Email icon

Founded in 1972

As Orange County’s longest-standing, privately held response marketing agency, we have witnessed dynamic shifts in the world of marketing. Through it all, we have ensured our clients stay at the forefront of communication and technology, driving response and value with every new endeavor.