As VP of Marketing for EOS Fitness, Shilpi Sullivan knows a thing or two (or a thousand) about connecting an offering with the perfect target audience. Here’s Shilpi’s take on what her role is like and how she found her way to EOS Fitness.
Shilpi Sullivan Working Her Way Up
Shilpi is a badass marketing professional, but she wasn’t always in such a promising place. She did, however, work her way up from what is essentially the bottom.
Here’s a rundown of Shilpi’s trajectory toward her role as VP of Marketing at EOS Fitness:
“I kind of started at the bottom and worked my way up. About 15 or 16 years ago, I started as a customer service rep at a marketing agency and moved my way up to account executive, to director of client services, and then I came over to EOS Fitness. At the marketing agency, we really focused on health club marketing. So that’s where I got the experience, the knowledge of just how to market for gyms.”
For Shilpi Sullivan, the Love for Marketing Is Simple
Shilpi has been in the marketing sector for her entire career.
So what keeps her going? What drives her toward it and helps maintain that undying attraction for the field?
“It’s just fun! I love what I do. There’s that whole ‘you should wake up, you should do what you love, but if you don’t, then find something else.’ I feel so fortunate that I’ve always loved this and I’ve never had to even think about a career path change or anything. It is so much fun.”
Of course, not everyone is going to have so much passion for their career as Shilpi — and that’s okay. But I think it’s important that we take what she says to heart.
You may always hate waking up on Monday mornings, but at the core, your career should excite you and give your life some meaning. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Shilpi Sullivan’s Day-to-Day at EOS Fitness Has Changed Since the Pandemic, But Her Mentality Hasn’t
Shilpi has made it as a VP of Marketing, and there’s no question about it.
Now that she’s been in the biz for a while and managed to get used to her busy and important role (even as EOS Fitness grew tremendously), she reflects on what her day-to-day is really like — even with COVID-19 in mind.
“The day-to-day varies. Obviously. I think the day-to-day lately for anyone varies. You never have any idea of what’s going on. For us, there have been days I wake up and think I’m going to have a good, solid day and then there’s a press conference at noon and we’ve got to close a bunch of gyms by evening.”
Shilpi isn’t the only marketer who’s had to pull herself up by the bootstraps this year. Other marketing professionals have had to pivot to get through 2020, ultimately paving the way for a different vision.
For Shilpi, this kind of mentality is something she’s always tried to keep.
“It’s roll with the punches. I’ve always kind of had the mentality, ‘don’t put off for tomorrow what you can get done today.’ Because you never know what tomorrow is going to be. You can have a plan for your day but you have to be able to adapt and quickly pivot.”
COVID-19 or not, curveballs and crisis communications happen. So does unexpected good news, and a professional marketer must know how to take advantage of each unique situation for the good of the company and the audience they represent.
“This past year of opening-closing-opening-closing every day, we were constantly thinking outside of the box and brainstorming. What can we do to get our gyms reopened, but also what can we do to provide content for our members to still help them reach their fitness goals?”
Shilpi Sullivan Explains How to Differentiate Yourself in Marketing
Shilpi has managed to help stand out from its competition. Head to their social network and you’ll see a tight-knit community vibe from the start (their IGTV is an awesome example of this!).
So how has EOS Fitness managed to differentiate themselves in a saturated realm?
Well, the story started back in 2014 when a private equity group from New York purchased a 16-unit Gold’s Gym franchise group and renamed it EOS.
“We kind of had a blank slate. We knew we had this Gold’s Gym background with very hardcore fitness — but after that we knew we could be and do anything we wanted.”
Shilpi, VP of EOS Fitness, adds,
“We decided, what do we want this company to stand for? What is it that is going to make us feel good about getting out of bed every day? At the end of the day, we’re helping people but it’s how you get there.”
1,000 Ways to Be a Company with the VP of Marketing at EOS Fitness
In Shilpi’s words, “There’s 1,000 ways to say something. There’s 1,000 ways to be a company.”
With that in mind, Shilpi Sullivan says you should do it in a way that makes you, your team and your audience feel good.
For EOS Fitness, this means:
- Being consistent
- Being honest and transparent
“There’s always going to be ups and downs, roller coasters, whether it’s a pandemic, political space, environmental, there’s always something. There’s competition you’re going to have to deal with. Don’t lose sight of who you are. Your primary messaging is still your brand and that’s your foundation.”
In other words, don’t let your foundation crack.
Shilpi says that EOS Fitness puts a major emphasis on their core values. They’re not one of those companies that has a mission state and core values they wrote and then shoved to the side. They live it every day.
“As long as we keep going back to our core values and who we are as a company, it’s easy. It’s easy to make decisions. It’s easy to build from an operation standpoint and a marketing standpoint.”
Fun. Easy. Consistent. That’s how Shilpi describes EOS Fitness marketing. From my perspective, that’s how it should be.
How to Keep Core Values at the Forefront
We know that core values matter, but how do you differentiate yourself in marketing?
EOS Fitness has their own core values:
Create loyal, lifelong fans and exercise practitioners.
Shilpi says she always keeps this in mind with everything she does in the company.
“We’re always looking to do new stuff, different stuff, test things out. At the end of the day, if it doesn’t support our core purpose, then there’s no point in even exploring it.”
She gives an example of this. Every time EOS Fitness opens a new gym, they do a kickoff meeting with most of the executives present.
During this meeting, they have a Q&A session on their core values and core purpose. Their team gets really involved and participates by shouting out the answers with pride.
“We’re living and breathing it every day. Every gym. Everything that we do.”
For Shilpi Sullivan, Lockdowns Waning Means Big Opportunity
We all have something we look forward to in marketing. For Shilpi, that something is a little different these days.
“I’m really excited that we actually have gyms that are open that I can market for.”
EOS Fitness recently hit a big milestone: 50 gyms in 5 different states. With this level of operation during a pandemic, Shilpi recognizes that communication has to run a little differently.
“You’ve got to be careful about the way you communicate. We still have some gyms in California that are closed, so it’s being sensitive to the members that don’t have access to their gyms and the ones that do.”
For Shilpi, this means communicating what’s open, what’s not and what the rules are for each location. Every state and county has different mandates for being in public places. The company is used to communicating from a corporate standpoint, but they’ve had to dial it in locally as a result of all this nuance.
EOS Fitness isn’t the only company dealing with political, health, economic and environmental changes and challenges. We all are.
Anyone who is a VP of Marketing must think about the overall business, and these folks really ought to get a lot of credit for it.
An Optimistic Outlook for EOS Fitness
All things considered, Shilpi has a smile on her face for the future of EOS Fitness to come.
“There’s still a demand, and that’s why I am excited about next year.”
With a fledgling 50th location, it’s clear that EOS Fitness is still growing. That’s a major accomplishment ever, let alone in a year like 2020.
Personally, I’m optimistic about next year for Shilpi Sullivan and EOS Fitness. As a VP of Marketing, Shilpi has so much wisdom for seasoned and fresh marketing professionals alike.
Some of those words of wisdom are here for the taking:
“One of the biggest things for us is having strong partnerships and partners that we can rely on and that kind of ride this rollercoaster with us.”
“Your team has been tremendous. I don’t know how they keep track of all our changes, but they do.”
If you want to connect with Shilpi Sullivan on how to differentiate yourself in marketing or see what she’s up to with EOS Fitness, visit her LinkedIn.