While there are a lot of ways to advertise here are a few proven marketing tips for a gym.
Sampling is similar to what you see in the grocery store. Your try a product and if you like it you are much more likely to buy. Use this same concept for your gym to get more sales. While many gyms will charge for a single visit, what are you going to gain, maybe a couple of dollars? Make it easy for someone to try out your facility for a couple of weeks or even a month (it doesn’t cost you anything extra afterall). Get their contact information for the free trial, give them the red carpet treatment and if they like it, they will get a membership. It takes three weeks to form a habit so if you can get them hooked, you have gained a customer and possibly their friends. Start off nickel and diming them and you are likely to drive the customer away. This is the cheapest and most effective thing you can do to drive sales.
Most people don’t like to work alone, so offer a referral program that gives the referring member a bonus like a free month, massage, tanning, or whatever amenities your facility offers. Give a reward and people will respond.
You can also do a special promotion with a referral program where you have drawings for prizes or cash on top of your regular referral bonus as a way of getting extra sales. This is usually done best during the summer months where revenues tend to dip a bit.
Don’t Forget Your Current Customers
First and foremost, the best way to get free marketing for your gym is looking after the members you have and providing over the top service. Make an impression on your gym membership, treat them like royalty since they are the ones paying the bills. Also reinforce that message to your staff. Making your gym the best in the area gives you a pricing advantage and loyalty advantage. People will pay more for a better service so make your gym the best and they won’t have a reason to try another gym.
What Makes You Different?
Most gyms (with the exception of the chains) are poor at marketing. They have no focus and don’t know what makes customers want to train there. Know your niche and spread the message. If you don’t have a focus you will blend into all of the other marketing out there and be invisible.
Build a great website. There isn’t any excuse for it anymore as there is so much free hosted software and cheap or free templates. For $100 a year you can have a great website. People search the internet and if you aren’t there you may get missed. There are also tools for getting your local business listing in Google and Bing which are free and highly effective.
What do you put in your website? Hopefully by now you know your niche. Put it on the site. Use pictures of your equipment and average people training. Use pictures of people training that match your target market. If you gym is marketing to someone who is wanting to lose a few pounds and have pictures of guys who can bench press a car, they are going to be intimidated.
Talk up you and your staff’s expertise and how you can help your client’s. Again if it’s the person wanting to lose a few pounds keep the conversation laser focused on that.
Add a blog to the site to give exercise tips, diet and nutrition tips, wellness, weight-lifting, sports, or whatever is of interest to those in your facility. It provides a great way for you to communicate what’s going on at the club and demonstrates your expertise. If you aren’t a great writer, hire this out to someone who is. People love to write about this stuff and will do it cheap.
The end result is a more engaged and active membership, which leads to more referrals and profits.
Direct mail is an effective advertising method (more so than found with television, radio or newspaper) but only expect a 2-5% response rate depending on your area, and it will probably take a few weeks before you start seeing any responses.
The professionalism of your marketing materials will be perceived by customers as how professional your services will be. Be sure to include a “call to action” like a free month or other amenity to get people to try you.
To do a mailing you can use the Post Offices Every Door Direct Mail which sends a post card to every mail box within a predefined area. Next there is the coupon packs like Val-Pak, Super Coups, etc which put your card in a pack of a bunch of different businesses. Good thing is that it is cheaper but bad thing is you are cluttered with a bunch of different ads. You can also do a more personalized mailing by getting a mailing list from a company that specializes in those lists and you can do a mailing to almost any demographic profile you desire (income, gender, age, race, etc)
The best advice for marketing a gym is to test and measure. To be successful, you will need to try lots of things and cut the things that don’t work and increase marketing spending on the things that do.