It’s a well-known fact in the fitness industry that sales in January skyrocket to new heights due to New Year Resolutions. This is the month where literally millions of people nationwide are committing to lose weight. These folks are looking for somewhere to spend their money, and as gym owners it’s your job to keep them away from the ”get thin quick” gimmicks on the market and put them on the path to true life-long health: exercise.
This sample health club marketing plan includes three of the best January fitness center marketing promotions you’ll ever find.
New Year Resolutions:
A solid health promotion can easily be based on the New Year Resolution phenomenon. The easiest way to take advantage of New Year Resolutions is to simply offer to help people with their resolutions. For example, you could put up a sign outside your gym that says something like this:
- “New Year Resolution? We Can Help!”
- “Our New Year Resolution Is To Help You Achieve Yours.”
- “Happy New Rear! Join Now For Only $_____!”
You should also consider sending out a promotion letter to everybody on your lead list announcing that you’re ready, willing and able to help them achieve their New Year Resolutions. Not only will you capture those who have already made such a decision, but you’ll also subtly prompt everyone else to think about getting into shape this year.
The bottom line is that, as the owner of a fitness center, you need to remind people of their New Years Resolution and then offer to help them achieve their goals.
An open house is one promotion idea that is inexpensive, easy to administer, and almost always generates results.
Probably the easiest thing to do is set signs up outside the gym announcing “Open House Today.” Here you can copy the realtors, who are experts in the open house business! They typically place signs at all intersections around the home, as well as in front of the home. Flags and balloons on each sign are a nice touch, and help to draw attention to the message. Many realtors also offer light snacks during the open house. All of these are good ideas that you can use at your health club.
An open house is particularly effective because there are members of the public who think they cannot visit a gym. Perhaps they’ve never been a gym member before or used to be a member of a gym with strict visitation guidelines. For whatever reason, some folks think that gyms do not allow visitors. An open house sign (event) tells these people that it’s okay to visit!
To super-charge your own Open House, consider buying some small promotion gifts to distribute throughout the day. That way you can advertise that you’re offering free giveaways. The gifts don’t have to be expensive, either. Water bottles or t-shirts with your logo would work just fine, as would scented candles or even protein bars.
Be sure to let the locals know about your Open House by:
- Inviting members
- Asking members to invite their friends
- Both outdoor and indoor signs
- Press release to local media (newspapers, radio and television)
- Web site promotion
- Send email invitations to everybody on your lead list
- Send promotion letters (or at least postcard invitations) to everybody on your lead list
- Gym voicemail
- Doorhangers or other neighborhood posters
The bottom line is that an Open House can be extremely effective if you put in the effort. How big and expensive you make it is entirely up to you. For example, you could go all out with radio promotion and have a remote from your fitness center on the day of the Open House. Some health clubs have been remarkably successful with that strategy. On the other hand, some gyms have spent less than $100 on an Open House and have pulled in over $1,000 in new sales!
Perhaps the best source of new leads will be from your existing members. When you can get a member to refer their gym to their friend, all of a sudden it’s not you selling a gym membership…..now it’s the friend that is doing the selling, and that’s powerful!
Some ways to capture sales from your existing member base are:
- Sponsorship Program – when the member first joins.
- Free Month Contest – different from the Sponsorship Program!
- Prize Time! – prize for each referral.
- Drawing – everyone who makes a referral is entered in the drawing.
- Mother/Daughter/Grandmother – Mother’s Day promotion.
A Sponsorship Program is offered only when a member first joins the gym. After the new member signs the membership agreement and provides their first payment, then you will ask them for ten names of friends or family members that might be interested in joining as well. Depending on how many of these initial referrals join, the member may gain anywhere from one to twelve months free! This is the only time you will offer them up to twelve free months. The reason for this excellent offer is to draw out their best leads (referrals) as soon as possible. As the gym owner, your job is to then call all ten names and set up appointments.
A Free Month Contest is distinct and different from the Sponsorship Program in that you are not offering multiple levels of awards. In other words, for each new member that is referred the prize will be one free month. Unlike the Sponsorship Program, this is a one-to-one ratio of referrals to free months. There is no limit to the number of free months a member can earn.
It’s a fact that incentive promotion items are fun and exciting, and you’ll find that some people will respond to an offer of a small prize better than they did to a free month offer. On a ‘dollar basis’ it simply doesn’t make sense, but you will indeed find that some members will try harder to refer people and win a movie ticket than they would for a free month membership. This type of referral contest involves you giving out a small promotion product for each referral received. Good examples of prizes include: two movie tickets, scented candle(s), a $50 EE Savings Bond, a health club T-shirt, free month of unlimited tanning, etc. Try to keep the value between $10 and $25 per prize. By giving away clothing items with your logo, you’ll also be picking up some free promotion when members wear their prize around town.
While some members will get very excited about a small prize, others will respond better to the Drawing program. There are two ways to hold a referral drawing: 1) four smaller prizes will be awarded, one each week or 2) one grand prize will be awarded at the end of the month. Each time a member refers a new person, their name is ‘put in the hat’ for the drawing. If you opt for the weekly drawings, keep the value at $10 to $25. If the drawing is going to be at the end of the month, make it a nice prize in the $100 range. Either way, the key to this method is to purchase the prizes ahead of time and have them on display in the gym all month! People are often motivated by a physical prize, something they can see and touch. Besides, the display will be a constant reminder of the contest.
Finally, the success of the Mother/Daughter/Grandmother advertisement cannot be forgotten. Although this promotion is typically reserved for Mother’s Day or Grandparent’s Day, you may certainly use it any time during the year. There are many variations on this type of referral contest, but the most successful seems to be that if an existing member refers their mother/daughter/grandmother, then they both receive one free month.
Whichever methods you choose to employ, remember that the goal of any referral contest is to generate sales. By making the contests fun and appealing, you will essentially turn your existing members into ‘walking, talking billboards’ for you!
If you want to learn how to sell more gym memberships in January, you absolutely must use all three of these tools: New Year Resolutions, Open House and Referral Contests. January is the top sales month for gyms, and although this sample health club marketing plan is a good start, it is still just a start. To truly succeed and blow the doors off all sales goals, you should do more.
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