15 Gym Promotions & Advertising Ideas to Increase Gym Membership
Build a Business, Not a Job. It’s an amazing piece of business advice that I’m sure almost all fitness business entrepreneurs can remember thinking when they started their first gym. You wanted to get out of the rat race and start earning money doing something you loved. Well congrats, if you’re reading this post, you’re most likely a successful gym owner looking for gym promotions and advertising ideas to help you increase gym membership. Gym marketing ideas are a dime a dozen on the internet these days. You need proven gym promotion techniques and ideas to get people back into the gym, and boy, do we have them down below.
Get out a piece of paper and make a list of your current gym marketing and advertising ideas. Have these efforts provided any substantial results? If so, which ones? How did you implement them? Did they cost money? Have you figured out your return-on-investment? Increasing gym membership sales is the ultimate goal of your gym promotions, so if you aren’t getting more gym members, switch your strategies!
Ready to rock and roll? Let’s get started. Here are 15 creative gym promotion ideas that you can use to to market and advertise your gym, boost revenue, improve your gym’s bottom line, and last but not least, increase gym membership sales:
1. Use FitnessTexter to Increase Leads & Sell Memberships
FitnessTexter is a texting code that gyms can put on anything; website, Facebook, Instagram, business cards, flyers, email signatures, anything! FitnessTexter gives people an easy way to get a promotional deal from your gym, and the gym gets a sales lead too.
When someone sees your texting promotion [example: “Text NYCFIT to 95577 for a Free Week Pass!”], they simply text your codeword to that number and hit SEND. They receive a text message coupon to their phone that says, “Come in and show this msg to receive your free week pass!” and you (the gym owner), get an email saying, “Hey [Gym Owner Name], at [time], phone number 555-555-5555 sign up for your deal.” If the person doesn’t come in within a day or two on their own to redeem their free week pass, your sales team can give them a call and close the deal.
2. Quit Being a Boring Gym: Offer Cardio Fitness Classes & Bootcamps!
How many classes is your business offering? One of the major complaints of most gym members, and also a reason for low membership-retention rates, is that their facility doesn’t offer enough unique classes. Offering a variety of classes is the easiest way how to improve your gym business. At my gym we have cardio kickboxing class, yoga, hot yoga, pilates, hot pilates, a Zumba-like dance class, a body-weight-only bootcamp, TRX and an abdominal class. Starting a fitness bootcamp is by far the easiest class to start having at your gym. All you need to do is sit down with your trainers and come up with an ass-kicking 45 minute cardio routine. Choreograph the routine to some music, put up some flyers around your gym and you’re good to go.
Giving clients clients more options, you’ll increase the chances that your members will stay motivated and continue to pay your monthly membership fees. Just like motivating employees, you need to motivate members as well. Increasing gym revenue is about getting the most possible gym members possible. If you aren’t offering a class for every type of client, you’re losing business. Plus, selling fitness memberships isn’t all about weight lifting. There are plenty of people who are not interested in lifting, but will happily pay for Zumba, yoga or pilates classes.
Adding classes doesn’t need to cost you that much extra either. If you’ve got some talented trainers on your team(here’s how to hire them), these people can teach more than one type of class. Having a nice class roster is also a good gym pre sale idea. People aren’t going to sign up for your gym during pre sale if they aren’t impressed with your class schedule.
3. Hire Trainers Who Actually Give a Damn about Client Success
Another proven idea to increase gym membership is to hire trainers who give customers ATTENTION. It’s no lie, good customer service increases sales and retention. How many times have you been in the gym and seen one of the “in-house” trainers barely paying attention to their client? They’re watching the sports on TV or the girl squatting across the room. They’re NOT giving their client attention, and believe me, the client noticed.
You might have the most physically fit trainers in your city, but if your trainers aren’t customer-service oriented, you’re going to scare away clients. Quality trainers make the workout process more enjoyable. They offer both encouragement during hard lifts, as well as proper technique to keep members from becoming injured and canceling membership. A good fitness trainer should:
1. Be trained in various lifting, stretching and recovery techniques.
2. Have a body that proves that they themselves understand the value of hard lifting.
3. Be a nice person! A mean/angry trainer is the quickest way to get people to cancel their membership.
Hiring good employees costs money. Be prepared to pay an honest salary if you intend to hire quality employees. There’s no better way to lower the quality of your team than by low-balling all your employees on their salary. Employees that are not receiving good compensation will quickly jump ship and go somewhere where they will receive good money. One of the best marketing sales strategies for a gym is to have good employees. People like working out at a facility with nice, helpful employees. Look at In-n-Out. They’ve got wonderful staff that truly enjoys working there and you can feel it when you walk in the door.
4. Start a Refer-a-Friend System to Get Your Members to Bring in Friends
One of the most successful fitness marketing ideas that a gym can use to increase membership is to start a “Refer-a-Friend” program. Your current gym members are your best sales people. They’ve been coming to your facility for weeks, months, if not years. Why not leverage their happiness and results into new members and increased revenue?
The parameters of your program don’t need to be complex. Tell your current members that for every new member that they get to sign up for your gym, they’ll get a free month of membership. Free month?!? Yes, we said it, free month. None of that “Refer a Friend, Get a Free Class” crap. Make referring a friend worth it! Don’t worry, you’re not losing any money either.
Think of it this way; if Bill gets his friend Ken to become a member, Ken starts paying membership dues the month he begins membership. Bill gets that month free, so in that month, you’re not losing any revenue, you’re simply making the same one month of membership dues. It’s basically the same as if Bill was still just paying membership. The second month though, Ken keeps paying membership and Bill restarts paying for his month of membership. You’re now making twice the revenue you made the previous month, and the cycle continues.
5. Reach Out to Local Businesses & Create Partnerships…Now!
Business partnerships can pay the bills, no joke. Doing some outreach promotion to local businesses is a great marketing technique to increase membership and market share. Let’s say that your gym is focused on boxing or some other type of MMA fighting technique. There’s most likely a yoga studio in your town that offers only yoga classes. Give the owner of the yoga studio a call and ask them about setting up a fitness partnership. Your boxing members get 4 free yoga sessions per month at the neighboring yoga studio and the yoga students get 4 free cardio boxing classes at your gym.
The results of the fitness partnership are two-fold:
1. Your boxing students get the added benefit of increasing their flexibility as well as their mental focus. Many MMA fighters actively practice yoga to keep their bodies flexible and their mind focused. The yoga students get to try boxing and get a kickass cardio workout. They’ll enjoy the intensity and adrenaline that a boxing workout provides, something their yoga workout might be lacking. It’s also a way for the yoga students to experience a new style of workout. Most fitness people are interested in various types of workouts, so if there is something new for them to try, they probably will.
2. You’re probably asking yourself, How am I going to sell more gym membership by giving out free classes to the yoga students? Simple! They’ll get to experience a new type of workout that they have never tried before…and they’ll love it! Set up a cardio-focused boxing class that isn’t as much about fighting as it is about getting a solid workout. It’s only a matter of time until those yoga students sign up for your boxing classes on a membership-paying basis. The cross-pollination of the two businesses will benefit both businesses. Beyond this cross-pollination, you’re also going to increase your social media followers and website traffic. These are both positives that you should not discredit.
6. Be Open at Decent Hours for Pete’s Sake!
Have you ever gone to the bank at a “normal” time of the day and found it closed? The answer is probably not. Banks cater to their clients, not the other way around. Have you ever gone to a large grocery store on a Monday at 6pm and had it been closed? Probably not. Not everyone has the same work schedule. Some people really enjoy early morning workout sessions before the go to their day job. Others prefer to sleep in during the morning, and work out after they finish work for the day. With that said, it’s better to be open and well staffed early in the early morning and later in the evening.
By employing a full staff during your slow hours throughout the middle of the day, you’re paying more than you’re earning. Increasing gym revenue is all about efficiently staffing your facility. Cut down your staff to 1 or 2 employees between 9am and 3pm. Because it’s going to be slower during these hours, have your daytime employees focus on making calls to new fitness leads and selling memberships.
Just make sure you’re open when most people will need your gym. There’s nothing worse than a gym that’s open from 6am til 9am, and then 1pm until 3pm, and them 6pm until 9pm. People need to be able to go to the gym when they’re able, not when the gym is open. If your gym has odd hours like these, you’re losing members, we guarantee it. Owning a gym is about catering to your members, and if they can’t come into your facility on their own schedule, you’re hurting your business.
7. Get Some Deep-Pocket Corporate Clients
A guaranteed way to increase gym membership is by giving large businesses rates to corporate clients. Sell a fitness studio membership to corporate businesses can be a bit of work, but the results are immense. Corporate wellness programs are all the rage these days. Just look at Google’s fitness plan. Businesses care about taking care of their employees, plain and simple. A healthy employee misses less days and is happier at work, it’s proven.
If you’re lucky enough to be located in a busy business district, it’s in your best interests to make sure that you’re in communication with the largest employers in your area. Most large companies, and even some small tech companies, are actively encouraging their employees to pursue more healthy lifestyles. Work out membership agreements with these big businesses. Perhaps offer them a discounted rate for any of their employees. Most companies will cover a percentage of this monthly fee for their employees as well. Say you usually charge $150 per month for membership. Cut the rate to $75 for employees of Company X, and see if they’ll cover the $75 per month per member that you’re discounting. That gives their employees a 50% discount on the usual membership rate, while also boosting your overall membership sales and revenue.
8. Give Out Free Gym Memberships and NOT Discounted Deals
There’s a lot of chatter out there about why daily deal sites don’t work.If you’re a gym owner, you’re probably well aware of this. Daily deal sites are great at getting people in your door, but they’re horrible at keeping people. Daily deal sites might be a great way to increase gym sales, in the short-term, but if you’re looking for long-term way to sell more gym memberships, daily deal sites are not the answer.
You’re going to be dealing with people who are more interested in a cheap gym membership than they are about getting in shape. That’s why it best to offer a free week pass. This gives someone the opportunity to give your facility a try, without putting an artificially low price on your services. As soon as you give someone a 75% off discount, you’re going to have a hard time getting them to pay full price. That’s why the free pass is the best. It gives them a chance to try your gym and if they like it, they’ll happily pay full price membership once their promotional offer expires.
9. Explore Google Adwords for Small Business
Most gym owners will agree, they aren’t too tech savvy. Nothing wrong with that. However, if you want to see that increase in membership, maybe it’s time to you looked into Google Adwords. It’s going to cost you money, at least a couple hundred per month. It takes money to make money. AdWords is a great way to get yourself into the search results when people search, “*gym in __________*”. First things first, figure out some good fitness keywords for your business. If people search your city name and the word “gym” and don’t see your business, you’re losing out on a ton of potential new members.
It goes without saying that AdWords is probably the most popular gym advertising strategy. However, be mindful that AdWords can be a pretty expensive investment and it’s something that business owners should research before they start using. We here at Boost Fitness Marketing do not provide AdWords consulting, but there are many respectable businesses that DO offer AdWords consulting. Watch out for anyone claiming they can get you a #1 result on Google. This is impossible and any business that claims they can do it is lying through their teeth.
10. Invest in Social Media Marketing (But Don’t Waste Money)
Most gym owners think that social media marketing is going to be the best thing for their business. We hate to burst your bubble, but Facebook and Twitter are not the holy grail when it comes to promoting your gym. In all honesty, many small businesses don’t see good results using social media advertising (ourselves included). It’s expensive stuff and you can’t always be sure if you’re getting more moneys worth. Yes, they’re a great way to market yourself, but if you’re relying them as your sole form of advertising, you’re missing out. You need to develop some gym marketing strategies beyond, “Let’s post pictures on Facebook. That’ll get us members.” People are interacting less and less with Facebook. Look towards Instagram, it’s a great gym marketing tool. If you’re going to enter the world of social media marketing, you’ll want to either consult a good book or a good agency. As I said above, there’s a lot that goes into social media advertising for your gym. You’ll need to create landing pages, banner ads for Facebook, hashtags for Twitter and the works. Just be smart about social media marketing. It’s easy to get carried away with it, when in reality, it’s not always the best medium for getting more gym members.
11. Develop Gym Membership Sales Strategies for Your Team
The best sales ideas and marketing tips for gyms are a dime a dozen these days. Some guys say you should work the hard sell and never give out a free offer. Science say that it’s all about getting people in your door for cheap, and then asking more in the future (Freemium). Regardless of what you believe it, it’s about time you sit down with your sales team and create some structured sales strategies so your sales floor can sell more gym memberships.
Are you giving tours to promote your fitness business? Are you offering one-on-one conversations with a trainer to discuss fitness goals? If you’re trying to improve gym sales, you need to figure out ways to get people into your business. You might not consider your members to be users, but some of these tips for retaining app users work for gyms as well. Do yourself a favor and buy some teach some sales books. As much as you’ll hear employees say, “I don’t really like sales”, sales is what makes or breaks a business. You need to be good at sales and you need to believe in what you’re selling.
12. Improve on Current Gym Promotions & Marketing
Successful gym promotions come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe your gym had a marketing campaign a few years ago that worked well, and you haven’t thought to bring it back to life. There’s nothing wrong with using a proven marketing campaign more than once. Talk with your marketing team about breathing life into some of your old programs. Maybe you had a gym flyer program that never got off the ground. What about a sports sponsorship that fell through? Marketing your fitness center doesn’t need to be difficult. Figure out what worked to sell gym memberships in the past and keep doing it. No use reinventing the wheel.
13. Promote Your Fitness Business via New Media
Newspaper advertising isn’t dead, but digital adverting is getting even more important. If you’re still stuck on just using Facebook ads to sell more gym memberships, it’s time for a change. Look into doing some regular old print marketing to promote your fitness business. Marketing your gym isn’t just about getting it in front of as many people as possible (social media ads), it’s also about getting it front of the right people. Find a publication that is popular in your area with your gym’s demographic and start advertising. Print advertising is easily trackable with Google Analytics as well.
14. Build Community in Gym to Increase Word-of-Mouth Marketing
As I talked about in tip #4, starting a refer a friend program is one of the easiest ways to get your members to start “pimping” your gym out to their friends. Another easy way to build word-of-mouth marketing for your fitness business is to starting building community among your members.
Hear me out. Do you have any friends that do CrossFit? If you do, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. CrossFitters love to tell you about how great their box is. It’s almost like they’re a religious person trying to convince you to join their church. Why are they so fervent about their gym? It’s because of the community that they’ve built there. CrossFitters are friends inside the gym and many of them are also friends outside the gym. When you get two CrossFitters at a bar, they’re going to wind up talking about their workout and telling others about it too. If you can get that level of enthusiasm from your gym members, you’re going to build that word-of-mouth marketing.
So, how do you get started? Well, start holding events to get your members to know one another. The faster your members become friends, the faster the sense of community will build among your members. We wrote an article about it on the blog, so go give it a look.
15. Invest in Some Unique Marketing & Advertising Strategies
Last but not least. Get a little crazy with your marketing team. Start doing some research into guerrilla marketing strategies that gyms have been using around the US and abroad. There’s a good chance that you’ll find something that trips your trigger. As they say…somewhere, just keep throwing stuff against the wall, looking to see what sticks.
Selling gym memberships isn’t easy, but with some elbow grease, you’ll see an increase in membership sales in no time. We’ve worked with over 100 different types of fitness businesses to help increase their membership (and we have the testimonials to prove it).
We hope you have enjoyed these marketing tips, promotion ideas, advertising tricks and creative techniques to increase your gym membership sales. Remember, increasing membership of your fitness business should be a a long-term goal. Getting a quick membership boost isn’t the answer. You want a steady for of new members coming in your door, not a “daily deal boost” that will last for a month and then half of them go and disappear.