Attracting Former Members to Rejoin
Reaching out to former members to rejoin is very smart. These are the people who, for the most part, have had a good experience with your club overall, but have left because something about their life got in the way of their commitment to exercise. Exercise was once important to them — we just have to remind them of that and make it important again! I have seen good results with this effort and generally do it two times annually, in the spring and in the winter. Some clubs like to do it in the fall as well.
We usually send a letter with our letterhead that includes some exciting information about what is new at the club, as well as a strong joining promotion. The promotion often includes waiving the enrollment fee and sometimes a free month of membership, some complimentary personal training, or even both. You can also offer a 30-day guarantee, allowing them to leave if they don’t like it after 30 days. Of course, they should rejoin with a contract in order to get the guarantee.
The rejoining offer is our thank you for their previous commitment. In the letter we address issues that have benefit for them, such as losing weight, gaining strength, relieving stress and making friends. The letter is not too heavy on copy and includes some graphic design to make it visually appealing.
Sending an email blast is another way to go with this. In that case ,we upload a list of former members from our database to our e-mail marketing software and design a marketing piece either from scratch or from one of their templates. Within the e-mail we can include a link to a landing page on our website to gather their information so that we have good data for follow up.
Another way to go is with a direct mail postcard. We have done this with not only former members, but also members on a regular basis. In order to create an effective postcard mailer campaign, you may want to outsource the implementation of the mailing which can include concept, design, list development and mail services.
With former members, we try to appeal to the fact that they are losing out on some very important health and wellness benefits without making them feel guilty about leaving, emphasizing that it is always a good time to get recommitted. If you raise your membership dues each year (which we do) you may want to consider sending this out just prior to that so you will able to position yourself as doing them a favor by letting them know in advance.
Remember, keeping members and getting former members to rejoin is far less costly than getting new members to join. Depending on the club size a new member can cost up to $200-$250 each. Getting a former member to rejoin is the same as getting a new member, so it is a win-win.
Some examples of a letter and a postcard mailer to attract former members can be seen in the images above.
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 email@example.com.