As a gym owner myself, I know too well the struggles of finding the best way to promote your business. The competition is fierce in our industry, with some gyms trying to undercut your prices just to fill their space with bodies, others speaking negatively about the methods you use to train your clients, while boosting their own ideas, and even more who just throw money at a everything under the sun to advertise to see what works. Every one of those Fitness Marketing strategies may get customers thru your doors, but none of these methods are efficient, or in some ways, ethical, business practices. The good news for you is that I have discovered a handful of highly successful ways to promote my club and boost membership and I want to share the top five methods that have gained positive results for me.
- Email Marketing – There are so many ways to get your name out there, but the truth is…email marketing is by far the most effective way I have found to communicate with both members and prospects alike. I ensure that I get email addresses from everyone I come into contact with – that includes local business owners (more on that later), friends, family, networking contacts, members, members’ friends and families and anyone who has ever visited our website and asked a question and put each email address into its own “bucket”. What I mean by that is that I categorize the email addresses into clients, past clients, and never been clients. Then, I can tailor email nurturing campaigns to the individual buckets. I can create a campaign that covers all three that just has general information about nutrition and fitness, then I can add calls to action for past clients and the never been clients buckets that offer an incentive for contacting us. Via email, I have conducted contests to win Pulse merchandise, discounts on memberships, a series of training sessions and have even created what is called “trip wire offers”. In other words, we offer a low cost offer, say on a two-week trial at the gym, and immediately begin sending them emails to get them to purchase something of a higher value, ie: 6-month membership. Regardless of how you decide to use your email list, it’s the best way to stay in front of your audience at all times. Sure, they may not open all of your emails, but make sure the one they do open is going to convince them to come in and give you a chance to earn their business.
Let me give you a golden example of one of our email marketing campaigns. Several years ago, we had sent out a series of emails and one such email included a recipe for salsa. We sent this recipe out to our entire email list. One man, a “never been a client” bucket guy, had gotten our email, printed it out and kept it for nearly a year. At the time, he was a member of another gym and was perfectly content, until his favorite trainer left and he was no longer satisfied. He pulled out our salsa recipe with our contact information across the bottom of it, and gave me a call. When I asked him how he heard about us, he told me that he had been receiving our emails for over a year and had printed out and used the salsa recipe frequently but had not been looking for a gym until recently. To be honest, I didn’t even remember that email when he brought it up, but I tell you what, I won’t forget about it now! He signed up for a year membership over the phone. It may take a while to nurture a potential client, but that same gentleman has now been a happy member of the Pulse Fitness community for three years now.
I’ve used this reference before, but it begs another mention. Email marketing remains tied for the number 1 most effective digital lead generation channel at 45%.  If you’re not using this medium to keep top of mind and to nurture clients and prospects alike, you’re leaving potential money on the table.
- Organize a Challenge – This is something we do on a bi-monthly basis at Pulse. It encourages friendly competition, which some people thrive on, but also creates a sense of community. People love to be a part of something they believe in and join to share a journey with other like-minded individuals.
- Build Local Business Partnerships – Make an agreement with your local dentists, chiropractors, healthy grocery stores, doctors, orthopedists, physical therapist offices and real estate offices to trade advertising with each other. What do I mean by this? Ask them if you can leave your cards, brochures or signage at their offices or stores for their patients and customers to see and offer to do the same for them. If they send out a newsletter, ask if you can be included in it and in return talk to your clients about them. Ideally, you would get them to send out an email to their list of contacts on your behalf offering a promotion or discount. It’s highly likely that other small local businesses would benefit just as much as you would from the cross-promotion…all you have to do is ask.
- Text Opt-ins – Like emails, nearly everyone has a cell phone these days and most people have data and texting plans. When you’re collecting email addresses, ask for cell phone numbers, too. A new trend for our industry is text opt-ins. I am sure you’ve seen it before in other industries, “text Chill to ‘Target’ to receive $5.00 off your Christmas Decoration Purchase”. We are trying this out now with a deal to text “Pulse” to a text opt in number to receive a free trial session. You’re able to advertise it everywhere from the bottom of your email campaigns to your social media accounts (Facebook page, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat). The best thing about this method is that it’s pretty much automated. You set it up using a service like “Off Day Trainer”, which is what we are doing, and it basically on-boards your new clients with a questionnaire without your direct involvement at all.
- Speaking Engagements and Webinars/Seminars – Do you want to become the real go-to person in the industry for your local area? You can join a local business organization and speak during their monthly meetings, of course, but even better, set up educational seminars or webinars from the comfort of your own gym or gym office. The sky is the limit when it comes to topics – take your pick: Nutrition, Back Pain, Strength Training, Massage, whatever it is you want to promote. Offer the seminar for free, explain the problem that people have when it comes to the topic and give them an answer to their problem. For example, we conducted a free educational seminar at Pulse Fitness with about 15 members and 25 non-members in attendance. We explained nutrition, macros and meal timing and sympathized with everyone who said it was very difficult to keep on track without guidance. We answered as many questions as the group collectively could come up with and offered them an easy solution – let us help you. We put together a nutrition guide with meal planning tips and recipes and charged $99 for the product. We solved their problem, became the local experts on the subject and sold products we may not have sold otherwise. We actually helped people in the community who probably wouldn’t have set foot in our gym otherwise, some of whom not only purchased the nutrition guide, but also memberships to join a challenge that night. The planning and scheduling of seminars and webinars does take time, but it’s worth it!
While this is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the different strategies we have tried to promote here at Pulse Fitness, these are the best ideas that we have used to date. If nothing else, try out the email marketing nurturing campaigns. It’s a great place to start!
At Profit Marketing Solutions, we are here to help your business grow. Schedule your call today to learn more about how we can help you.
 Nanji, Ayaz. “The Most Effective Digital Lead Generation Channels”. MarketingProfs. Web. 25 Aug. 2016.