You just opened your new fitness club. You’re so proud of your new studio, state of the art equipment, and killer juice bar. As you sit and admire your work, you notice one small thing is missing — clients! You’ve maxed out your credit cards creating your new fitness club and didn’t leave any left over for actually letting people know you’re open.
What do you do when your budget for marketing your new fitness club is a big fat goose egg?
I have 6 proven fitness club marketing techniques to get your name out to the masses and market your fitness club that will only cost you your time.
1. Barter System
This is how I was hired where I currently work, the good old fashion barter system. I performed all the marketing for the studio and in return the owner offered to train me 3 times a week, which also served as continuing education for my own professional growth as a personal trainer. I did such an amazing job of increasing sales, he offered me the position of Director of Corporate Development and later made me a partner in the studio.
I don’t have a marketing budget to work with, so I needed to get creative. I decided that reaching out to the community around me to help promote my fitness club was my best bet. The number of small businesses that were eager to jump on board and work with us surprised me. By trading services, nobody had to come up with cash.
We have a small company who creates all of our print work (business cards, flyers, posters, etc.), we have an attorney who will draw up any paper work we may need for business purposes, we have another who creates business wear (shirts, pullovers) with the company logo printed on them.
We hand out fitness promotional items like t-shirts as prizes or as welcome gifts to our clients. Now our name is out there walking around the city, free advertising! In exchange for all these services we offer personal training. It’s worked out very well for both sides and now we have a handful of new clients who will refer us to their friends, family and clients.
2. Press Releases
Press releases are a great way to get your business name out to the media without paying a penny. Writing a press release does take some skill; perhaps you can find someone to barter with to write yours.
The trick to a press release is to make your “news” worth printing. I recommend holding a free event at your studio; create something that benefits the community. Offer a complimentary mobility clinic, free weight loss clinic, student athlete conditioning sessions, etc. It gets your name out there and shows that you have interest in your community. Once you get people in the door and they get a chance to see how awesome your studio is, you will gain clients. I have attached a template of how to create your press release.
Now to get your release out to the media — every newspaper and television channel has a website, under the “contact us” section you can locate the email address to send your release. Market it toward a specific department if possible — if it’s a sports related topic send it to the sports department, if it’s about health and fitness, forward it to the healthy living department.
Also, find out if your community has a local paper. Here in Columbus we have the Columbus Dispatch, but in my suburb of Pickerington we have a more targeted community paper called the Pickerington Sun Times, which is delivered to every household for free.
From Jon: Here are two good resources if you’re looking for help composing your press release:
Looking for partners in the community is a great way to spread the word about your business. I formed a very good partnership with the Subway restaurant owner in my town. He allows me to advertise my studio in his locations by displaying flyers, which we obtained through the barter system I discussed in the first point. In return we advertise Subway in our studio.
We did the same thing with a nail salon, a massage studio, and a frozen yogurt shop. Our flyers are displayed on their counters and theirs on ours. Our flyer contains pictures of our trainers with a short bio, testimonials from clients, our logo and contact information, with a coupon across the bottom for $50 off their first purchase.
From Jon: If you’re short on time, look for the mavens in your neighborhood. Here’s some more info on that to read after:
4. Doctor Referral
This one takes a little bit of time because you need to build up a trusting relationship based on your success with clients. The physician needs to see the work that you do and have accomplished with people.
For example, I myself was dealing with severe knee pain. I chose to work with a corrective exercise specialist to avoid unnecessary surgery if possible. Sure enough, the problem was solved because I didn’t have a knee problem — I had an issue with my hip. Once I was feeling better, I had my trainer send a follow up letter to my doctor about my progress. She now knows she can feel safe in referring her patients to see him.
You’ll want to put a proper press kit together to introduce yourself and your business to the practitioner. You’ll need to buy 2-pocket folders, preferably the one that has the small pocket on the inside for a business card. Insert a cover letter, your resume, and business card in one pocket, and in the other insert case studies of clients that you’ve helped, a flyer or brochure about your business and client testimonials.
Most importantly hand deliver it so they have a chance to meet you. Also, invite them to a free session with you at your location so they can see first-hand what you can do and share their experience with their patients.
From Jon: It’s important to respect a doctor’s time and approach them in a manner that they like with all of the information that they need. If you’re interested in learning more and getting a free template, follow the link below to watch a video and download the form:
5. Business Announcement
Most every major city newspaper will print a new hire or employee business announcement for free. In the business section of the newspaper there will be an email address located near the announcement column where you can submit your article. You can send a new announcement for every new hire or staff promotion within your organization. Again, getting your name out to the masses.
6. Client Referral Program
Now, by doing the first 5 things on this list you should have got some clients in your door. This is when you start rewarding them for telling people how much they love working with you.
Create a referral rewards program within your studio. Your current clients can earn free training with you for every person they send your way. A good way to get this started is to have them invite a friend join them for one of their training sessions.
After I’ve worked with a client for 4 weeks and they’re making great progress, I invite them to bring in a friend or relative to their next training session. Just for bringing in a friend we give them 10 points in our Pick Fit Rewards. If their friend buys a training package, the current client receives another 50 points and a gift bag filled fitness promotional items like; supplement samples, foam roller, and Pick Fit gear. The new client will receive 10% off their purchase.
I’ll conclude with a sample of our rewards program…
As a thank you for being a loyal client, we have created our own rewards program to say thanks and give back for sharing your experience with others.
Here’s what you can earn:
10 points – $5 gift card to Subway
20 points – 10% discount on any supplement orders over $50
50 points – Pick Fit merchandise
100 points – $50 Gift Card to Body Ache Escape
125 points – 10% discount on a 3 month unlimited training package
Here’s how you earn it:
Using your Facebook account (make sure you ‘liked’ our page and we are friends)
Earn 1 point for checking in at the studio
Earn 2 points for posting about your training session
Earn 3 points for sharing our page with your friends
Earn 5 points by writing a review on Yelp.com about your experience at Pick Fit
*Earn 50 points for referring a new client*
A referral is the highest honor our business can receive from a client. To thank you for sending your friends our way we want to give you both a little something in return. Refer a friend to Pick Fit and they will receive a 10% discount off of their first package and you will receive a very special gift bag filled with products dedicated to improving your health (A $50 value). Thank you again for being a significant part of Pick Fit!