I get it. Budget is limited, but you still need to market your gym. Having a limited marketing budget simply means getting creative and finding low and no cost ways of generating new traffic to your gym. Here are two good ones for you.
I looked in my car yesterday and counted my stack of gift cards. I have 19 unused gift cards. Starbucks, Target, a wine store, McDonalds (thanks Grandma), Best Buy, GNC, and many others.
Why do I still have these? Because I can’t throw them away!
We have been selling gift cards to our clients for seven years now through. Quite simply, because they work. In some of our client locations, nearly 100% of all new membership sales are being attributed to these gift cards.
They’re inexpensive, they can be used dozens of different ways, and your prospects will find it very hard to throw out a plastic card that has the look and feel of a credit card (with mag stripe on the back) and a dollar denomination on the front. Referrals, Prospecting, Renewals, Profit Centers, Expired members, Events, Face to Face, you name it, these things are super powerful.
Business of the Month
We love using this system. When a direct mail piece falls on its face, or we are running into a lot of cold leads and ineffective follow ups, focusing on area businesses has worked really well for us over the past year.
When you visit a local business, don’t just drop off a stack of flyers or gift cards, make it “bigger” than that.
Stop in and introduce yourself to the manager or owner. Let them know you want to feature them as the business of the month to all of your members. (Note: you’re doing something for them before you ask them to do something for you). Feature them on your wall, in your new member welcome packet, send out an email advocating them, etc. (I’ll bet they’ll hook your members up with a % off sale)
Then let them know that during their month, all of their employees get to work out for free, no obligations. Then you can provide them temporary membership cards, a gift card, a redeemable coupon, etc
When those employees come in, make sure you have an irresistible offer ready for them. The goal in any “trial” membership is to flip them into a sale, the sooner the better. So come up with a WOW offer that will be tough for them to turn down, and turn all of these employees of your business of the month, into paying members.
Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. Get started with these two strategies and start seeing a better return on your marketing inve
You might think that your fitness business isn’t newsworthy. Think again! Do something to help others, and you, in turn, will reap rewards. The opportunities are only limited by your own imagination.
- Canned food drive
“Free Enrollment when you bring in 5 canned foods!” You can partner with your local soup kitchen or Salvation Army, and then tell the newspapers and news stations about the partnership…they love the occasional feel good story! (And of course, you’re also helping those in need, which always feels good)
- Write for your local newspaper
Contact your local paper(s) and let them know you would like to write a weekly fitness tip/article for them. Look into other publications that are distributed in your area? Community newsletters? Free newsstand periodicals? What about online resources? Are there websites catering to your area? Write articles for them. If you can’t write, have one of your staff members write. Be sure to mention your business in their bio or article closing.
- Partner with your local radio station
You can have a radio station sponsor an 8-week weight loss contest. Get a DJ as your advocate. They can announce the contest to the listeners, have them submit applications, maybe even get teams set up between two DJ’s. All participants can have a free membership during the contest in exchange for many plugs for your club over the 8 weeks.
- Run a contest for charity
Get members to have friends and family pledge an amount per mile your members spend on the treadmill or for every step they climb on the stair master. Even if you only get two people to participate, it doesn’t matter. Tell the radio station about it and they will do a story on it. It’s different, it’s interesting, and it’s not negative news…which seems to be all there is these days.
- Provide free seminars
These can either be onsite at your facility or at a community center. If you call or visit your local Chamber of Commerce and ask about a listing of presentations they provide the community, you will be amazed at all that is offered. People give presentations on anything from basket weaving to coding HTML. If they don’t already have someone regularly presenting on fitness-related topics, just ask them to put you on the schedule.
They will then announce all upcoming presentations to their member and email list. Come up with a good headline for your presentation though. “Fitness Tips” just won’t cut it. How about, “How to lose that 10 Pounds before Bikini Season” or “Show Me the Diet You’re on and I’ll Show You Why it isn’t Working: A Round-table Discussion” or “7 Things You Can do Right Now to Begin Losing Weight Tomorrow”. If you hold your seminar at your gym, announce it to all of your members and allow them to bring friends. Then contact your local newspaper and have them announce it to their readers.
- Write a Report
It doesn’t have to be incredibly long … perhaps only 10-20 pages. Write about weight loss myths, yo-yo diets, overweight children; anything that is a hot topic right now. Contact your local newspapers and let them know that you, a local fitness expert, have written a free report for the community.
It can be promoted as, “FREE Report Reveals the 10 Reasons Why Your Current Diet isn’t working!” or “FREE Book written by Smith Town fitness expert reveals why our children are gaining weight and what to do about it.” Your Free Report can also announce when your next seminar is, as well.
- Make one of your members a hero
Media loves success stories, especially ones that involve someone overcoming incredible odds. You probably know several members in your gym with an amazing story. Have these members submit a 300-word article on how they have overcome the odds and how your club has helped them. Once you select a winner, send a press release to the newspaper: “Local Smith Town citizen wins Hero award”.
Of course, give something to everyone who submits an application. Perhaps frame and post all of the success stories and create a “Smith Town Fitness Wall of Heroes” at your club to let all of your members be inspired. Think of how powerful this would be to show a prospect as you’re touring them!
Of course, these seven strategies only scratch the surface of how you can get free publicity in your fitness facility. Be creative and you will see your club become more popular the more proactive you are in your PR efforts.
As much as I’d love to tell you there is a magic bullet, or one special marketing strategy you can do to generate a ton of memberships, I just can’t. There is no such thing as a marketing home run. However, there is one strategy that I’ve found that works every time, 100% of the time.
Can you guess what that strategy is? I’ll have you know that it’s not direct mail. It’s not referral marketing. It’s not internet marketing, it’s not signage or gift cards, or text messages, or Facebook, or corporate membership arrangements.
It’s none of those things because it is ALL of those things.
In order to guarantee a steady stream of prospects coming through your door, you need to do lots of things, all at once. While that sounds simple, most gym owners, and small business owners in general, just don’t do it. Some have never heard of this theory, others don’t know where to start, and plenty of others who refuse to believe me and continue beating their heads against the wall trying to find that magic bullet.
From my experience, the gym operators that ignore this theory or choose not to put it to use rarely grow and often fail. It’s very sad. By the way, I say that it is theory, but I’ve put it to use in many many fitness businesses and 100% of the time it builds their business.
Using one marketing method after another is better than not marketing at all, but in order to get the absolute most out of your marketing efforts, you need to layer strategy upon strategy at the same time. Utilizing all of the various free and paid marketing methods may not always provide us the immediate ‘direct response’ that we are always looking for, but the cumulative effort over time will. This I promise you.
You don’t have to be perfect at implementing these strategies; you just need to do it. Many small business owners (even I have been guilty of it before) find themselves unmotivated from time to time. Marketing is often the first place we begin slacking, many times because we aren’t always sure if we’ll generate a response from our efforts. But I promise you that you will see an exponentially greater response from your marketing if you just do a little here, a little there, and eventually you’ll have so many marketing strategies out there that people will begin responding.
Growing your fitness business is purely a numbers game. The more marketing methods you have working for you, the more leads come in. The more leads come in, the more sales you make. The more sales you make, the more money in your pocket. The more money in your pocket, the better life you can afford for yourself and your family.
Bottom line: I don’t know of 1 strategy that will bring in 100 new members, but I do know 100 strategies that will each bring in 1 new member. If you do not have multiple marketing methods in place that run consecutively and simultaneously then you are not maximizing the return on your marketing dollar.
Here are 15 ideas that you can implement very quickly at your fitness business:
- Send a Direct mail postcard
- Send a mailer to new movers
- Run a referral contest
- Target prospects through Facebook advertising
- Call cancelled members and invite them back
- Distribute gift cards from
- Manage a lead box campaign
- Attend Chamber of Commerce event
- Distribute flyers at local University
- Run a canned food drive
- Member appreciation party
- Signage inside and outside your club
- Send a monthly newsletter
- Promote a “Bring a Friend” day
- Give trial passes to local employees
On their own, each of those marketing strategies will be good for at least one new member. But when you combine several of them at once and continue to promote to your market in a variety of ways, the response will be exponential and you’ll get a much greater return on your time and your marketing dollar.
- Contact all of your existing members
Too many gym owners are focusing on the influx of new members. Never forget that this is the time of year when your current members are looking to spend more and get better results. I’d rather sell one current member a big PT package or bootcamp upgrade than to sell 3 new members on a basic monthly membership. Your current members are your meal ticket next month!
Call them and offer them something special. Maybe offer to them that the gym is going to pay for them to have a personal training session this month. Allowing them to experience a workout with a trainer is the best way to get them to buy more.
- Contact all of your missed guests
I’m sure your guest registers have lots of people on it who will once again be thinking about making the decision to join a gym and get in shape. DON’T let them go somewhere else! Grab all of your past guest registers the past 12 months; anyone who never joined deserves a text, a call, or a letter…or all three!
- Call all of your JV partners and affiliates
JV’s and affiliates aren’t just for Internet marketers. You too have plenty of these. Call on any business who has let you place a lead box in their business, or market to their employees, or allowed you to participate in an auction, or let you conduct a lunch and learn, or was featured as a business of the month. Any local business who has worked with you in some way this past year, call and thank them and brainstorm with them new ways to work together this year.
- Contact anyone who has referred someone
Look back through your records and identify anyone who referred someone this past year. Call to thank them and let them know of any special referral incentives you have planned for the New Year. Ask them if they want YOU to do all the work for them. Ask for the contact info of anyone they think might join in January and you’ll make sure they get credit for any sales that are made. This group probably deserves a mailed letter stuffed with day passes or gift cards for their friends
- Get your upsell process ready
Remember that when someone buys a membership or basic package, their hot buttons have already been pushed. Asking them to invest in something else becomes much easier. If you sell a gym membership for $39/month, be sure to ask if they would like to upgrade to the bootcamp plus membership for only $99/month. If they say no to your first upsell attempt, you should also have a downsell offer ready. Maybe the new member says no to your 3 day/week bootcamp, but would be happy to try bootcamp once per week for only $59/month.
You lose 100% of the sales you don’t ask for. Don’t be afraid to ask for more. They’ve already committed to join, they want to reach their goals faster, and I’m certain they have more expendable income they can part with. Don’t feel bad…I promise they’ll find something much less important to spend it on if they don’t spend it with you!
While you’re busy helping all of your clients and members reach their goals and follow though with their resolutions, don’t forget to set your own goals for your fitness business marketing as well.
Adjust this list according to your specific needs or use it as inspiration to create a list of your own.
- Learn something every day. Guess what? You’re already doing that by reading this! Congratulations on reaching your first goal! When you wake up in the morning, or before you go to sleep, or at 2:00 in the afternoon when you need to relax, grab a book or an article or plug in your earphones and listen to an audio book. If you make it a point to learn one thing every day this year, think of how much smarter you’ll be one year from now.
- Organize Your Office. Nothing kills productivity faster than walking in to your office with stacks of papers piled up on your desk, file folders all over the floor, and sticky notes everywhere. Make it a point to organize and unclutter your office.
- Delegate more tasks, more often. I’m as guilty as you are. I think no one else can do as good a job as me so I tend to take on more than I should. Write out the tasks you do on a regular basis and find someone to do those tasks that don’t absolutely need your assistance.
- Know your numbers. Have one of your gym’s staff members send you the most important numbers every day. They can tell you how many total check-ins there were, how many training appointments, how many prospects visited, how many new members, and their progress toward reaching their monthly goals.
- Be more consistent in your marketing. This is incredibly important. Your team should be involved in community events, talking to prospects, introducing current members to your other offerings, distributing print marketing and gift cards and business cards. Never stop marketing your fitness business.
- Add social media to your marketing plan – Whether you like it or not, the world has gone social. Make sure you have, and are using, a Facebook page for your gym. Make sure you are getting online reviews, make sure you are blogging and tweeting and Liking and participating in anything you can. Not only will you connect with your members where they hang out, Google will also notice all of the social activity surrounding you.
Remember that a goal is really just a dream unless you put it within a system and put measurable objectives in place. So for example, to accompany each of the goals above, your goal could be: read one article every morning, organize one area of your office every Friday at 2:00, Have 25 different marketing systems in place at all times, post one new Facebook status update every Monday and Wednesday.
No matter what is on your list, always remember that imperfect action is better than perfect inaction. Lots of people set goals. Very few actually take action on them. I encourage you to just pick one of the things from this list and make it a point today to implement it.