Do you know your target market inside and out? In this industry, there are certain people you will just “click” with. There are personality types that will instinctively LOVE you and sing your praises like a canary. There are individuals that do not require more than a subtle nudge to say “yes” to one of your offers. These people are naturally friendly to you and compliment you every chance they get. These people know your fitness club provides maximum value for their money. They are sold on the very essence of YOU. These are the people you want to focus your fitness center marketing efforts on.

It sounds kind of odd, doesn’t it? Why would you focus your marketing on people you are already giving you their business? Well, for one – you don’t want to lose their business. It’s always cheaper and easier to retain a client than it is to solicit a brand new one. That’s a fact. Secondly, the easiest conversions are always the referrals that arrive eager to learn about your program and join with their friends who are already members. These loyal clients are FREE ADVERTISEMENTS. This sort of network will multiply exponentially until you’ve created a vast empire.

So how do you find the right crowd that will eagerly absorb your content, you may ask? Well, we find there are certain core components all our best clients have in common. They are all action-oriented “doers.” They’re willing to work hard because they know the pay-off is great. They are willing to invest time, money and energy in pursuit of a goal. Many of our best clients are entrepreneurs themselves, so they understand what we’re trying to do when we ask for their referral. They are courteous and know how to treat others with respect. These clients care about others and are natural goal-setters. They may need our expertise, our facilities and our social club, but they are – in a sense – self-motivated too. Our favorite clients know that quality service is the foundation of a successful enterprise.

Conversely, you’ll find there are people who are a total waste of your fitness center marketing resources. They’ll waste all your time and drain your energy without even feeling sorry for it. You play the fool. These people are lured by the price of a low-barrier-entry type of offer. Maybe they just move from $1 boot camp trial to $1 boot camp trial until they’ve exhausted every possible option. By that time, they’re probably sick of trying to lose a few pounds anyhow. These people feel like any sales offer is predatory or trying to “scam” them with fine print somehow. They are short-sighted and only able to set immediate goals. They are not very motivated and it probably took everything they had just to take a step to come see you in the first place. Some people will wander into your consultation and quickly wonder, “What am I doing here?” These are not the people you want to see.
Not everyone will be a good fit for you. The good news is: you can weed out many of the lousy prospects through targeted marketing efforts. You can automate your email marketing process and let many of the “No” people unsubscribe themselves. You can focus on relationship building and referral marketing, which will bring like-minded people to your classes. You can avoid tactics that tend to cast a wide net and bring in many undesirables. Some methods I do NOT generally recommend include: lead boxes placed in area businesses, daily deals, Facebook ads, and billboards.

Lead boxes are one of the classic fitness marketing tactics still employed by many businesses. Unfortunately, this dated method of advertising often wastes much of your time. You’ll get kids who put people’s contact information in just as a joke. You’ll get people who filled out a ballot just to win a prize or receive some type of incentive – that could care less about your training program. By the time you collect the lead box contents, many of the people who entered a ballot have forgotten all about you. They may react in a hostile manner – demanding, “How did you get my information?” Other times, their interest has waned.
Don’t get me wrong: I know a fair amount of people who have fared quite well with Daily Deal sites. However, several complications can arise. First of all, you need the manpower to support the massive influx of leads. The juicy offers you create for Groupon and Living Social should be so low-barrier that most people who stumble across your deal simply can’t refuse. If you don’t have enough staff members to facilitate smooth redemption, you’ll end up with customer service problems, chaos, negative press and lost opportunity. Another thing to consider with this strategy is how difficult it may be to convert some of these people to your premium services once you get them into your club with such an inexpensive offer. A good portion of this crowd ONLY surfs deal sites and will NEVER pay full-price, no matter how much value they perceive is there.

Facebook Ads yield great click-through rates. However, my network of millionaire personal trainers has found that these clicks generate very little sales. People may be clicking your ad on accident or they may just click out of curiosity, with no intent to buy. Generally, people do not come to Facebook to buy. It’s not what they’re accustomed to. The come to Facebook to read brief snippets of information, to socialize and to interact – but not to buy. It’s best that you use all the free Facebook tools at your disposal.

I describe fitness center billboards as similar to finding a girl’s phone number in the men’s room at a bar. You’ve seen those messages scrawled on the walls. They say, “For a good time, call….” Would you expect to find a long-term girlfriend by calling that number? A wife? No way! The announcement may have gotten your attention, but you’re not likely to take it very seriously. By the same token, billboard ads do little more than capture someone’s eye to make an impression. It’s not necessarily an impression that leads to a sale or brings in the most devoted crowd. Fine-tuning your fitness center marketing messages and channels will cut down on waste and improve your conversion rates every time.