Many fitness center owners take advantage of the warmer weather May brings to promote their gym. Of course, as the temperatures heat up, people will be wearing less clothing, so now is when the average prospect starts to think about getting in shape. Sure, you could use the warmer weather as a marketing tool for May, and it’s not a bad business advertising idea. The problem is that every other health club in town is using the same concept.
In this article you’ll learn about two dozen free advertising ideas and marketing tips that will help you sell more gym memberships this May. When you have a product to sell (which you do: health club memberships), event marketing can be a powerful way to boost sales. In other words, you can form a connection between a national event and your fitness center. By partnering with a national event or cause in this way, you gain the double benefit of helping a worthy organization while at the same time dramatically improving your own sales and profits. It’s the perfect win-win situation.
So without further ado, take a look at how you can use national events to create a marketing program for your health club this month.
Anxiety Disorders Screening Day, National (1st Wed)
Mental Health Counseling Week, National (1st full week)
Mental Health Month, National
There’s a renewed emphasis on mental health during the month of May, and any marketing consultant worth their Brooks Brothers suit will tell you that mental health is a perfect tie-in for a gym. Some psychologists and psychiatrists actually prescribe regular exercise for those who have mild to moderate depression (in addition to therapy and medication). It doesn’t really matter what type of exercise a person does, either. Any kind of aerobic or strength training activity seems to be able to help, releasing endorphins and elevating mood.
You’ve probably seen research that proves the same thing: regular exercise is great for mental health. Take the initiative to educate your gym members about this fact. You might also want to advertise ”better mental health through exercise” during May. Another marketing idea would be to call up a local psychologist or psychiatrist and ask them to be a guest speaker in your fitness center sometime this month. If they’re willing, you could also have some one-month free passes professionally printed up for their patients suffering from depression.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH
Childhood Depression Awareness Day, Green Ribbon Day (always the 4th)
Children’s Mental Health Week (1st full week)
Missing Children’s Day, National (always the 25th)
Although many health clubs don’t cater to children or even allow them on the exercise equipment, the bottom line is that most of your members care about kids because they have children of their own. With the added emphasis on kids during May, you might consider bringing in the local police department to do a ”missing kid” class. This is a service offered in many communities where the police will photograph and fingerprint children at no cost. The purpose is to assist law enforcement and facilitate recovery after a kidnapping. The police officers may also be willing to give a short presentation on child safety.
What does that have to do with exercise or fitness? Nothing. But it has everything to do with keeping your members happy and loyal (improved member retention), providing a valuable service to your customer, and possibly even saving the life of a child someday. If you set up an event like this, don’t forget to notify the local media so you can invite everyone in the community. A little public relations goes a long way. Be sure to do all the usual local advertising too, including signs, postcards, emails to each member, etc.
IN HONOR OF YOU
Emergency Medical Services Week, National (3rd week)
Hospital Week, National (2nd work week?)
Medical Transcriptionist Week (3rd week)
Nurses Week, National (always 6 to 12)
School Nurse Day, National (Wed. during Nurses Week)
Who knew that so many professionals in the health field were honored during the month of May? Here’s a strategic marketing idea that’s inexpensive, effective, and powerful: send a letter to every ”honored” worker in the area, giving them a free membership throughout the month of May. For example, send a letter to all the emergency medical workers in the local hospitals, and use this for your opening lines: “In honor of Emergency Medical Services Week, we’d like to invite you to use [your gym] for FREE throughout May. We appreciate the work you do to keep [your town] healthy, so please accept this free honorary membership as a token of our gratitude.”
You could have them turn in the letter to activate their free membership, or simply show their name badge from work.
Send a similar letter to the hospital workers, medical transcriptionists, nurses and school nurses. Before you know it, you’ll have a steady flow of health care professionals coming to your health club this month. A certain percentage of those will convert to regular paying members, and all it cost you was a little time and effort. What makes this marketing promotion so incredibly effective is that you’re actually reaching health care professionals in your local community – the very people who are best suited to create marketing leads for you via referrals.
SENIORS HAVE THE POWER
Older Americans’ Mental Health Week (last full week)
Older Americans Month
Osteoporosis Awareness & Prevention Month, National
Senior Health & Fitness Day, National (always the last Wed.)
If you’re not interested in selling gym memberships to seniors, you’re not interested in a having a successful gym. It’s that simple. Senior citizens are not only the wealthiest and fastest growing segment of our population, but they need your services more than the average person. Seniors typically experience more problems with osteoporosis, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. than younger people, so when you help a senior achieve true fitness you’re really making a difference.
Reach out to seniors throughout the month of May, emphasizing that it’s Older Americans Month and Osteoporosis Awareness & Prevention Month. There are entire volumes of information on how regular exercise can prevent many of the problems associated with aging, and you should take the initiative to get this information out to the public. It’s called information-based selling, and it works. Educate the local seniors as to why exercise is good for them, and then invite them to join your fitness center.
Visit the local senior center and put up some posters. Take a walk through the local senior housing communities and put flyers on doors. Volunteer to be a guest speaker for a local senior citizen group. The promotional advertising possibilities are almost endless when you start targeting seniors.
Finally, on National Senior Health & Fitness Day, consider hosting an Open House for seniors. Spend a few bucks and put out a light lunch, put on the oldies music, and be ready to give some tours.
WOMEN-ONLY CIRCUIT TRAINING GYMS, PAY ATTENTION TO THIS ONE!
Women’s Check-up Day, National (day after Mother’s Day)
Women’s Health Week, National (2nd full week with Mother’s Day)
You’ve all seen the research: engaging in consistent workouts has specific benefits for women. Put together some marketing materials that focus on women’s health and how regular exercise can dramatically improve the quality of life for any woman, and then use that information in your newspaper advertising this month. For example, you could run an ad saying something like this: “Ladies, did you know that regular exercise can do more than just help you look great in a swimsuit this summer? It can also lower your blood pressure, lower your risk of diabetes, reduce the symptoms of menopause, and so much more! Call or visit for more information.”
How about using National Women’s Health Week as an excuse to invite every woman in your entire town to exercise for free? What? Isn’t that risky, you say? Won’t that cost me too much, you wonder? Not really. Think it over….the cost to you will be zero with the exception of any advertising you purchase to get the word out. Again, a certain percentage of those ‘freebie’ ladies will join as regular members, and you’ll be signing ’em up!
You may even want to offer an incentive to entice them to join. For example, you could invite any and every woman to work out free in your fitness center during National Women’s Health Week. That will bring them in. Then you could offer 60% off registration, or a free t-shirt, or a free tan (or whatever) if they join before the end of the week.
You don’t have to own an advertising company or a marketing firm to know that these two women’s events are a marvelous opportunity for you to boost membership sales. All it will take is some effort.
NO SMOKING IN THE GYM
Breathe Easy Month, National
World “No Tobacco” Day (May 31)
The purpose of these national events is to help people stop smoking, and exercise can play a big role in that effort. “Studies show that smokers have an easier time quitting when they add exercise to their smoking cessation plan. There are some other benefits of exercise including stress reduction, reduced depression, improved mood, reduced craving for nicotine, an alternative idea for smokers who don’t want to use nicotine replacement therapy, improved confidence and motivation, improved physical conditioning and performance. It’s a good idea to add something to your life as you’re taking the cigarettes away. Exercise will not only help you control your weight, it’s a reinforcement for your commitment to be healthy and smoke free” (source: exercise.about.com).
ASSORTED MISCELLANEOUS NATIONAL EVENTS
If none of the marketing items and tips listed above peaked your interest, then keep reading for even more effective marketing and advertising promotions you can use in May.
High Blood Pressure Month, National
Use National High Blood Pressure Month to education both your existing and potential members about high blood pressure, and how regular exercise can not only prevent but actually lower blood pressure. “‘Weight control throughout life is certainly a key to the prevention of raised blood pressure later in life,’ said Dr Rebecca Hardy, an epidemiologist, who headed the research team” (source: The Royal Society of New Zealand).
Occupational Safety & Health Week, North American (1st full week)
Research has shown that healthy employees call in sick less often, have fewer medical claims and are more productive. Take advantage of national Occupational Safety & Health Week to communicate that message to the area employers. This is a great opportunity to push your corporate plan (if you have one) and/or to promote gift certificate sales for employees.
Physical Fitness & Sports Medicine Month, National
This national event is so perfectly suited for the health and fitness industry that it requires very little explanation. Here’s one quick marketing idea: Invite a sports medicine expert into the gym to teach some seminars, and don’t forget to invite the public. The speaker will probably pick up a few new clients, and if you’re successful in getting non-members to attend you’ll end up with some new customers as well.
Stroke Awareness Month, National
This is another example of how you can educate the public, educate your members, do some GOOD in the world and maybe just pick up a few new clients in the process. Show potential customers how regular exercise can help them prevent strokes, and you’ve just given them yet another reason to join your gym. “Just as regular exercise can reduce the risk of a heart attack, physical activity also may help prevent ‘brain attack’ — more commonly known as stroke. In its recently released guidelines, the Prevention Advisory Board of the National Stroke Association (NSA) recommends taking “a brisk walk for as little as 30 minutes a day” as one of 10 strategies to help prevent stroke, America’s leading cause of adult disability” (source:Los Angeles Times).
World Red Cross Red Crescent Day (always the 8th)
The Red Cross does so much for the world that it’s about time we do something for them. This would be an appropriate month to host a fund-raiser for the Red Cross, or perhaps to volunteer as a blood-drive site. Another option would be to host a gigantic community yard sale in your fitness center parking lot, with all the proceeds going to the Red Cross. No matter which option you choose, be sure to issue a press release to the local newspaper, television and radio stations. You’ll pick up some free publicity while at the same time helping to raise more funds for a worthy cause.
Well, there you have it, two dozen awesome and effective ideas for gym marketing in May. The opportunities are there. The potential is there. The only thing missing is you!