These marketing strategies are designed to be utilized on an ongoing basis and implemented by your front desk and sales staff. They are easy to implement and incur only the cost of the materials needed to market them.
1. Have the front desk staff greet every member by name, if possible, as they walk out the door. This is also a good opportunity to hand them a guest pass to bring a friend to the club. Even though this may seem innocuous, if done consistently, it will bring results. After a while, you may find that members say they have already gotten passes and don’t need any more. That is actually great, since you will know that they are aware they can do this and that their guests are welcome. Make sure that you hit all the different times of day, even the slow times and don’t skip any days of the week, such as Sunday. (Yes, of course you greet them on the way into the club, but the way out is when you can give them the guest passes.)
I will tell you in another blog about a referral program that we implemented in 2011 that gained us a net of 800+ memberships in one year.
2. In the membership sales office, every time someone joins the club, ask them to join your Facebook page. If you can, have them do it right there on their smartphone or have an iPad already set up for them to log on and join. As a reward, give them a small thank you gift such as a $5 coupon to your café, a water bottle or T shirt.
3. Include discounted coupons in your joining packet to all the auxiliary services you offer in your club. This should be a consistent inclusion in your membership joining presentation. This will enhance revenue generation from non-dues sources, which can help to support your business in the slow times. These coupons can be nicely laid out on one “sell sheet” and tracked when they come in to give you good feedback on the success.
4. To increase personal training sales, offer a point of sale discount on this service. This should only be available at the time of joining. If you want to extend it further, you can do so with a follow-up call in two weeks to extend it one more time, now that they have had a chance to get settled into the club. This discount is usually very deep to avoid any price objections. Once the new member is training one on one, they will see the results and one out of two of them will buy training at the full price.
5. Post a weekly quote at your front desk and sales area. This is a new idea that we are just trying out now. It really is a marketing idea that crosses over into customer service. The quote should be short, one that can be read in five seconds or less, and light in nature. It can relate to fitness, health or just life in general. The idea is to plant a thought in the member’s head that is uplifting, motivating or even humorous. This will set the tone for their experience at the club that day and in some cases prompt friendly conversation, which always offers opportunities for promotion or sales. This one activity alone will set you apart from all the other places they walk into that day and hopefully they will look forward to new quotes and even give you quotes to post. You can find quotes all over the internet — here is one site, www.brainyquote.com.
Here are some examples:
“A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me, I’m afraid of widths.” Steven Wright – comedian.
“A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” Paul Dudley White – The Father of American Cardiology.
“Exercise is done against one’s wishes and maintained only because the alternative is worse. “ George A. Sheehan – Author “Running and Being.”
You may already have some of these strategies in place, or they may be in place some of the time, but not all of the time. The key to marketing at the front-line level, is to make the marketing activities consistent. That is accomplished with good system design and management. Have all the materials always available and up to date. Make sure all employees know how to implement the systems and ask them often if they are doing the activities. You can also observe them in action, then praise and reward. You can even set up incentives, such as membership referral rewards when the guest passes turn into memberships.
Linda Mitchell is the director of marketing, public relations and charitable giving for Newtown Athletic Club in Newtown, Penn. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.