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7 Tips to Increase Word of Mouth Marketing Efforts at your Health Club

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Word of mouth marketing can be much more effective at driving qualified prospects to your health club than some traditional health club marketing strategies. But getting people to willingly talk about how great you are is not an easy task. It takes a bit of planning and quite a bit of face time in the community and around your club to make it happen. Here are 7 tips to help set the stage for an effective word of mouth marketing campaign:

1.     Leverage Your Own Existing Social Networks

Before worrying about spreading the word in unfamiliar territory, focus first on the people you know and the people they know. The obvious first group to start with is your members, but also remember to consider other social groups you are a part of. Do you go to church? Are you active in your children’s schools or other activities? What are your hobbies? Are you a regular at a certain restaurant? Do you go golfing with your friends on the weekend? Are you a member of any local club or organization? Do you meet with any particular group of people on a regular basis? These are the first people with whom you should be sharing information about your club.

2.     Diversify Your Networks

If you want to build your business through word-of-mouth, you have to be visible and active in the community by participating in various networks and social groups. You have to manage by walking around. You have to get involved in the lives of your members and be accessible.

3.     Target People of Influence

Instead of focusing directly on attracting prospective members one by one, focus on the people who are in a position of influence within a subgroup of the community. Partner with heads of local networking groups, organizers of cycling clubs, find a meetup.com group and get to know the organizer. Talk to the board of condo associations or subdivision associations. Network with local bands, owners of businesses, event organizers, motorcycle enthusiasts, school boards, newspapers, TV stations, local smaller print magazines, teacher associations, churches, golf pros, and more. Word of mouth marketing from a person of influence within these groups is far more powerful than them receiving a random postcard in their mailbox.

4.     Micro Marketing

Get specific in the groups you are targeting and the methods with which you market to them. For example, get members who are parents to spread the word about your childcare offerings to other parents they know. Have members who tan tell all their friends to come get a fitness membership and tanning combined for the same price they are currently paying for tanning elsewhere. Allow your members who shop at GNC to get a special member supplement discount at the gym. You can send emails, letters, or phone calls to only those members who utilize one of your add-on services.

5.     Be a Farmer Not a Hunter

Word-of-mouth is often more about farming than it is about hunting. Building your business through word-of-mouth is all about cultivating relationships with people who get to know you and trust you. People do business with people they have confidence in. My father used to always say: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I’ve actually found that it takes more than that. It’s not what you know, or simply who you know; it’s how well you know them that counts. If you go into this process understanding this one key point, you will have a better opportunity to build your business through word-of-mouth.

6.     Develop Your Contact Spheres

These are businesses that are symbiotic and noncompetitive to you. For example, think about the relationship between a lawyer, an accountant, a financial planner and a banker. All of them have clients with overlapping similar needs. They can all work with and refer each other easily. What about a florist, a photographer, a travel agent and a jeweler. A referral for one of them becomes a referral for all of them. You should immediately determine what professions fit well with you and start developing relationships with them. Who delivers health, wellness, nutritional, feel good/look good services in your community?

7.     Promote Exclusivity and Scarcity

Make something a limited time offer or “exclusive”, and the response can be much greater. Exclusivity invites curiosity; scarcity can generate consistent demand and conversation.

Always keep in mind that negative word of mouth spreads even faster than positive word of mouth. So make sure your club is clean, automate as much as possible, have a friendly and well trained staff, maintain your equipment, offer programming your members want and be involved as an owner. Follow these tips and your word of mouth efforts can be much more successful.

Curtis Mock is an author, speaker and consultant to health clubs worldwide. He is the Executive Director of GymSuccess.com.

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