It can be downright exhausting marketing to new faces all the time. There are certain personality types who thrive off traveling non-stop to always expand their social circles. That’s just not for me. I enjoy having lasting, meaningful relationships with people. That’s why I built my network of Fitness Millionaire pals who come to hang at my Vegas mansion every month. That’s what I got married. That’s why I have had many of the same personal training clients for over a decade. The truth is: it’s much more economical for you to spend a little bit of money on clients who stick around, versus constantly expending new capital to attract new bodies through the door. By this stage of the game, you should have your “number.” You should take your overall marketing budget and divide that by how many paid-in-full clients you have to know how much it costs (on average) to recruit one new client. So, by now, you know how much it costs to solicit new business. I don’t have to sell you on that. What we’ll talk about here is how to get started with lifetime fitness marketing and how to secure loyal clients for life.
Fitness marketing for life doesn’t come natural. We’re programmed by every “guru” we know to offer delicious deals that draw people from far and wide. We give people low-cost offers they can’t refuse, aimed at very particular goals, and attempt to up-sell them later. We’ll come up with crafty titles like “The 21-Week Bikini Fat Blaster” program or “The 3-Month New Year, New You” program. All this is effective at attracting new business, no doubt. But what we’re ultimately seeking is to up-sell these people on the idea of using our facilities, our personnel and our services to achieve their lifetime fitness goals. We want members for life. This is a harder sell.
We find there are several groups who are more open-minded than others. Seniors is one group we target heavily. They have the time to put into attending regular fitness classes now that they’re retired. They genuinely enjoy coming to the gym – not just for the work-out, but for the social nature of being around other people and talking with their new like-minded friends. Seniors also understand what a difference fitness classes can make in terms of their mental state, their mobility and their energy levels. We provide special targeted care for our senior members who may be suffering from arthritis or recovering from illness. Many seniors also want to lose a few pounds or get off their heart medications. These are all issues we talk about in our marketing materials.
Another receptive group receptive is the Baby Boomer “Gym Hopper” group. I know this may sound weird, but people who have been all over town looking for the right place to call “home” are more likely to appreciate you once they’ve found you. These individuals are middle-aged and well aware of how important regular fitness is to maintain their looks, stave off aging, and remain healthy for years to come. They may be disgruntled by impersonal big box gyms or tired of overcrowded facilities where they can never get onto a machine. If you can build trust with these clients and build a true relationship, they will stick with you even when less expensive alternatives exist.
The key to lifetime fitness marketing is to time your messages just right. Every brand spanking new client receives a generous “welcome” package. You might give them a free health and nutrition consultation, discounted smoothies, a free t-shirt and referral bonus cards or “free bring-a-buddy” passes for their friends. You want to send a letter (that uses the new member’s name) thanking him or her for the business. You’ll want to find out how this person prefers to communicate – be it text message, email, snail mail, or social media. You’ll then send out correspondence every couple of days to stay in touch. Send out blogs, recipes, articles, motivational quotes, customized music playlists, news announcements and coupons. We like to give our new members a brief questionnaire to find out their preferences so we do not offend or scare anyone away. After a week or two, we’ll let them know about an offer to extend their time with us.
We like to go over and beyond what people expect. That is the heart and soul of bringing in fans of your fitness club who are utterly devoted for life. We call people up just to see how they are doing. We send people flowers when they’re in the hospital and cards to commemorate their anniversaries. We surprise people with freebies out of nowhere. We run exciting contests giving away everything from vacations to iPads. We set people up on automatic debit plans so we don’t have to play the part of “bill collector” each month. Most importantly, we took the time to create a program that people simply MUST be a part of – and cannot bear the thought of living without.
We emphasize the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle – not just in the gym, but outside as well. This means making the right choices at the supermarket, laughing with our friends, planning meals ahead of time and cooking with healthy recipes. To back up our marketing messages, we offer Grocery Store Tours, Group Lunches (at healthy restaurants), and 5-K Team Races. We take field trips to parks to go hiking. We go to adventure parks for team-building exercises. We offer nutrition seminars. We go to the movies together. We go rock-climbing, take surf lessons and volunteer at charities together. We build these activities right into our boot camp program schedule to ensure engagement. We go to less formal settings where our members feel more at ease interacting. We build programs that attract people who are similar in demographics, age, weight and goals to create cohesive groups that get along and become friends. We ask that everyone bring a friend and that their friends bring a friend too.
For lifetime fitness marketing, you want to operate like the military with “no man left behind.” Keep a vigilant eye out for people who are struggling to meet their goals, missing sessions, or showing signs of waning enthusiasm. It might be the program they are enrolled in isn’t right for them or the trainer you set them up with just isn’t jiving with them. Intervening early and modifying the program is a great way to save these wayward clients and create loyal fans for life.