As a health club owner, marketing and advertising are two major functions that consume much of your time and budget. From newspaper ads to internet marketing to direct marketing with 1-week free passes, this is a task that never ends. But as all gym owners know, the job of bringing in new members is only half the battle. The other piece of the puzzle is keeping the members you already have. It’s about having a new member retention plan that works, and it’s often the most difficult challenge faced by fitness centers.
Poor Member Retention Devastates Health Clubs:
If you’re going to survive in the health club industry, you simply must be utilizing a member retention strategy. All the business marketing courses in the world won’t help you if you can’t keep the members you already have. You can generate new leads by attending network marketing meetings faithfully every week, but you still will not find financial success until you improve member retention. Even hiring a high-priced advertising agency to bring you new customers won’t help if you don’t get a handle on keeping those new clients. In short, if your marketing plan doesn’t include member retention, we’re willing to bet that your health club is in financial straits.
Member Retention Strategies for Gyms:
Once you’ve decided that your marketing strategy needs to include member retention, the next question is obviously “Okay, so how do I improve member retention?”
There are many tried and true methods to keep your members happy and coming back regularly. Some of the more popular techniques include:
- Assign an employee to mentor new members during their first month.
- Call members at home periodically to ask if you can assist them in any way.
- Sponsor member contests, with prizes for frequent gym attendance.
- Carefully track the member’s progress toward their fitness goals.
- Keep the fitness center fun and exciting to minimize boredom.
This list certainly isn’t exhaustive, and there are many other ways to improve regular member attendance and allegiance to your gym.
A New Member Retention Plan Using Greeting Cards:
Another powerful and inexpensive way to make your health club members more loyal, and thus improve retention, is with the use of greeting cards. Cards are simple, inexpensive, and appreciated by everyone. Although most gym owners don’t think of cards as a small business marketing tool, they most certainly are.
One good gym marketing tip is to send birthday cards to your members. To save on costs, you might consider using postcards. Your clients will be flattered that you remembered their birthday, and if you make your card clever or funny, you’ll really make an impact. Savvy gym owners might want to turn their birthday card into another marketing tool by offering the member a free tan (on their birthday only). The cost of a free tan is minimal, and it gives the health club the opportunity to sell a tanning lotion or upgraded tanning package.
Once you’ve designed the birthday card you plan to send out, it’s best to order quality cards in bulk to save money.
Missing Member Cards:
Another addition to your greeting card marketing program is to send out ”missing member” cards. In other words, send a card to every client that hasn’t been into your fitness center for two weeks. Make the message simple or even funny, and take great care to not point the finger and make them feel guilty for not exercising. Something like this would work: “We’ve missed you! Hope to see you soon at XYZ Fitness!” Members will appreciate that you’ve noticed their absence, and they will also be subtly reminded that they’re not going to see any results if they don’t get into the gym.
These missing member cards are the ones you’re going to send the most frequently, so it’s best to use postcards for this purpose (the postage is lower).
Any advertising company or marketing agency worth their slogan will tell you that it’s a good idea to market to your best clients just as often as you target potential customers. With this in mind, it’s important to send some type of greeting card to those members who have achieved a milestone. For example, you could send a ‘Congratulations’ card to all clients who have lost ten pounds or more during the last month. You might even consider creating a new advertising slogan for these high-achievers. Something like “You did it at XYZ Fitness!” might be appropriate, or perhaps “Congratulations on being the biggest loser at XYZ Fitness this month!” No matter how you convey the message, it’s just smart business to applaud your members who have met their health and fitness goals. People like to feel (and be) successful, so when you send them a ‘Congratulations’ card you’re going to generate more loyalty and increase member retention. Now that’s a marketing idea with power!
We’ve all seen the holiday marketing materials from insurance agents and banks. It seems like they send you Christmas cards more regularly than your best friend! Ever wonder why they do that? Because it works. Sending Christmas and other holiday cards is a fantastic advertising idea that will help increase member retention and engender goodwill towards your health club. If it’s at all possible, try to create a customized card that ties into health and fitness somehow, which will help your creative advertising piece stand apart from other mass-produced cards.
Price and an Affordable Alternative:
Sending cards is an advertising technique that will increase member loyalty and improve retention. However, some gyms may be concerned with the potential costs.
One way to minimize expenses is to purchase bulk cards, which are much more affordable than singles. Alternatively, you may have your own personalized postcards printed professionally. If you order in sufficient quantities, it’s possible to get full color postcards printed on glossy cardstock for as little as 10 cents each. With this method, not only do you save on the card itself but you also reduce postage costs.
Finally, another way to save money is to utilize a professional mailing service. When you’re sending out cards to a fairly large list, it can sometimes make sense to use a bulk mail provider.
Sending cards to your members is one of those new member retention strategies for gyms you haven’t considered before, but it is inexpensive and effective. Start sending cards today!