One investment you can make into your small business that has the highest return potential is a good marketing strategy. Thousands of businesses each year who fund with us invest in making their marketing more effective. Marketing can improve the process of sale for your small business, the volume your business takes in and even the quality of customer. In order to ensure you get a good return on investment for your marketing efforts, your strategy might need a few adjustments.
Both promotion through social media and word of mouth are great practices but not a complete marketing strategy. In order to ensure you have client or member retention, you first have to decide who your ideal customer is. That is how you will decide what marketing strategy your business will use.
Your gym, fitness center, yoga studio, personal coaching, cross-fit center, climbing gym, etc. all are focused on ensuring maximum membership at high retention rates. However, your industry is up against humans putting physical exercise and self-care at the bottom of their to-do list. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) pegs the percentage of people who meet physical exercise guidelines at just 23.2%. If you do try to motivate people with your messaging and it sounds like a, “workout or face a lifetime of medical issues” scare tactic, you won’t gain the loyal members you need for a sustainable business. So, let’s go over what you can do.
Methods for building a sustainable membership base
Use positive messaging
You might be thinking that some people need more of a push versus a nudge in the direction toward health. This is true, but the people you have to force to attend the gym will not get as much out of it, will subconsciously blame the gym for their ineffective results and trickle away. Instead, focus on the gym as a therapy, a way to live a long life with a positive attitude and confidence. A place where they will feel welcome and supported, rather than judged.
Humans thrive in community and you will enjoy positive feedback from marketing campaigns that have messaging that builds your fitness center’s unique community. Focus the messaging on what makes you different and what about you appeals to your ideal customer. Do they like to show off their #gains? Do they like to feel at peace, un-judged? Do they just want to come in to use the sauna? See how your direction will depend on your audience?
Now that we have covered messaging, let’s go over rewarding your members.
Make the best first impression
People who feel less than confident about where they are and where they want to be physically or mentally will be more defensive when visiting new gyms. It is your business’ and team’s job to ensure they feel welcome and a part of your “family”. People also want to try before they commit to a place they will hopefully be spending a lot of time at. Offer a trial period and maybe some swag when they sign up.
Your fitness or gym center’s trial can be for a day pass, a week or a free training session. Not only offer that online but also, go to places your ideal customer congregates and hand out your trial passes there. You might want to consider a farmer’s market, health food store, supplement store, sports retail establishment, sports park or anywhere that people may be getting active. Make connections with these other small businesses and work together to cross-promote. You can also connect with local health and fitness bloggers, content creators and more. If they trust them, it is likely that their first impression of your small business will be positive as well.
Referrals make friends
An estimated 2.4 billion brand-related conversations happen in the US each day, and referrals are a great way to tap into this. This Nielsen report shows that 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know.
So in addition to obtaining referrals from your partnerships, work on a referral program for your existing members to refer people they know. In marketing, this is called a brand evangelist. There are a couple ways to establish a referral system;
- Decide if you will be rewarding only the person who gives the referral or also the person they referred.
- Will the reward be a discount in membership or points to spend on swag items?
- What medium you will use to announce this program? In-center flyers, email newsletters, texts or all of the above? Make it easy for your members to share and easy for your business to track.
Use Content Marketing and Manage your Reputation
There are two main ways to use content marketing in your strategy. Specifically for the fitness and wellness industry; having a blog and reputation management are areas you should focus on. The reason you would want to have a blog or content/workouts/nutritional tips is to get in front of the customers who are still behind a computer. You can easily provide value for your existing customers as well and give them new ways to use the equipment in your business.
Reputation management is an integral part of using marketing to ensure you have a steady flow of new members coming in. Respond to your reviews, set up a sales team review system to automatically go to new members you sign up and use those reviews on social. Social proof is an effective marketing tool.
The Basics of Health and Wellness Business Marketing Strategies
Developing your Customer
We went over this already but in more detail, developing your ideal customer profile includes ironing out the answers to questions like this:
- Is your ideal member a man or a woman, or both?
- How old are they?
- Where do they work or study?
- What are their life goals?
- What is their current lifestyle? (You can check this by establishing where they shop, eat, and unwind)
- How much are they likely to spend on a gym membership?
- What are they looking for in a fitness center?
- Are they more likely to be interested in being fit, or looking good?
- What is their level of knowledge about fitness, health, and exercise?
- What are the programs that would draw them in? If you’re in a suburban school zone, maybe you can cater to full-time moms with a “yoga for moms” class.
Check your Local Listings
Google’s data shows that 80% of people looking for a local business check listings online for information like your address, business hours, and directions.A Facebook page and website alone won’t be enough.
Get on Yelp, Google Business, and Bing’s places for business. Make sure that details like your business name, address, and description are consistent across all of these listings. Check if the hours listed are accurate, and ensure that crucial contact information like phone numbers, website, and email ID are in order.
Don’t forget to check for consistency—having an old logo on your Facebook page listing while your Google places listing has a different one, can create an inconsistent message.
Nurture your Website
Too many gyms in the USA miss out on potential clients because they thought a Facebook page, local listings and an un-maintained website would suffice. Your ideal customer might not have a facebook page, they could only use google or businesses that have reviews. Further, a lot of people bounce off websites that take too long to load, so ensuring your website is desktop and mobile friendly is important as well.
Make sure your website is attractive, easy-to-understand, and visually inviting. (To ensure optimal load speed, compress your images.) Invest in a third party website developer to create a quality site, taking financial assistance if you need to. It should include an impressive home page, easily visible offers, schedules of classes, lead forms and a ‘Contact Us’ page.
Create Lead Forms that Convert
You should create an easy to understand, easy to fill out form for potential customers to fill out. These forms will give you the information your team needs to contact this person to help them through their membership on boarding process. You can test forms to see which are more effective. These lead capturing tools should include fields like name, phone number, and address. This is also another opportunity for your business to showcase the incentive people get when signing up or trying your gym out.
Create a strategy for Social
The difference between a random social media posting routine and a well-planned social media strategy, is often success and failure. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the primary channels for businesses like fitness centers. Facebook has local listings and groups, and is usually the best place to start posting. Offer a quality interaction, not just a sales pitch. Social channels have targeting capabilities, which means you can reach that ideal customer you have developed.
Your fitness center can use scheduling tools like Hootsuite to ensure that posts on various channels go out when you schedule them. Tools like this make social easier to manage and track.
Stay Digitally Competitive
Owning a fitness and health business almost requires you to be competitive. Other businesses in your industry are using AI to automate conversations online and answer questions. You can automate a lot of your marketing to reduce error and effectively track your effort’s effectiveness.
Activities you can automate:
- Sending emails to leads from your web forms, ads, landing pages, existing members and referred leads.
- Reminders for staff to follow up on leads and potential new members from that health event your business hosted.
- Analysis on data collected from various marketing campaigns.
In this mini guide for fitness and health small businesses, we have covered many ways to go to market. We have also uncovered how to be effective when you do so. Key takeaways are to; be creative, track your efforts, strategize with your ideal customer in mind and use digital marketing tools. If you want to expand your gym or fitness center through an investment in marketing spend to see high returns and don’t have the funds, let us know. There is no reason your small business shouldn’t be growing to its potential!