Most health club operators are still marketing their services the same way they always have—and the same way every other club operator has. As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
We need to go back to the basics of outreach and guerrilla marketing. Too many health club owners and health club staff live by the door of their club rather than outside of it. Here are some great ideas to get your sales teams out in the community and keep a steady flow of new traffic coming. (Just make sure to maintain that traffic.) The more fishing poles you have in the lake, the more fish you catch.
Hold quarterly fundraisers. Pennies for Pounds is a fundraiser I came up with while in Michigan. Every pound lifted and every rep completed by members during a predetermined time frame is multiplied for a total number. The club then donates that amount to a charity.
Partner with restaurants and local retailers. Ask local restaurant owners and retailers to have their servers hand out guest passes with all the guest bills or retailer receipts. A busy restaurant can see 500 to 700 people in a day. Imagine if 500 guest passes went out each day over the course of 30 days. That would be 15,000 guest passes per month.
Flash mobs. Health club-related flash mobs in a mall will get attention. Once you have people's attention, you can hand out passes to your club. Obviously, you want to get approval to do this from corporate personnel at your local malls first.
Tag cars. Tag cars with flyers on a weekly basis in a pre-planned, logically determined manner around your club. Document where you have done so, and who is tagging cars in which area of town. I split towns into zones so the taggers are not crossing into each other's work zone.
Walk apartment complexes. Have your staff walk apartment complexes and put door hangers on doors or a special corporate flyer designed especially for that complex. Most apartment complex managers have staff that can do this, but if your team does it, you will know that they were going to every door. (This could generate 20 to 30 new memberships.)
Partner with tanning salons. Tanning salons often have large databases of customers. Partner with some to use their database to send an email blast.
Lead tables. Yes, you can generate traffic with lead tables if done properly. Work with local business owners to raffle off a free one-year membership to generate leads. (This could generate 30 to 50 leads every time, depending on location.)
These ideas vary in the number of leads and memberships they will generate, but if they are executed properly and regularly, you will have a steady flow of leads. If they are not executed properly and regularly, then you will not see a return on your outreach and prospecting.
Of course, part of this process involves having the proper materials to hand out—such as 4 x 6 postcards and guests passes. These products are inexpensive and can generate a lot of new leads and money for your health club.
We are in a social media world right now, and all the basics of guerilla marketing have been forgotten. Become a "gorilla" and really pound the pavement. I have lived it and had to pound the pavement all day every day to make myself successful. Many years ago when I was paid a $500-per-month base salary and my car payment was $589 per month, I knew I could not survive unless I got my feet moving all over town and made a name for myself. I had more fishing poles in that lake than you could imagine. I was coming up with a variety of marketing ideas to drive traffic. For me, prospecting wasn't a job; it was a passion—and it still is today. I have trained many sales teams across the country about outreach and living by the door. It is up to the owners and managers to hold their sales teams accountable every day to come back with 10 names and numbers and leads that should be logged and tracked and followed up.
Jersey Giambrone has been in the fitness industry for almost 10 years and has a strong tie to the fitness community. He has consulted with more than a dozen failing health clubs across the East Coast and helped them become profitable with his systems and procedures. He is passionate about the fitness industry. His strong suit is developing people and sales teams to make them successful. He can be reached at 704-907-3814 or Jersey@memberstoday.com.