There seems to be a personal training studio, cycling studio, CrossFit or other specialty micro-gym popping up on every corner. Facilities like this all cater to a very specific demographic, each looking for something different in their fitness journey. So who is left to cater to the family? These clubs still exist, but it is essential for their survival that they do a tremendous job marketing to the public. These clubs must make the consumer aware that they are a lifestyle center, one that every person in a family can enjoy.
In today’s world, convenience is key. People shop online instead of going to the mall and order their groceries on the Internet. The easier you make it for every member of the family to get an activity accomplished in one stop, the more popular your business will be. After all, what do busy families spend most of their time doing? Taking their children to one activity to another. Make sure that activity is carried out at your club — mom can come take a group fitness class, dad can get a workout with some strength training equipment, and the kids can swim on the swim team, take karate or participate in summer camps.
Health clubs know how to market fitness to mom and dad, but how do they effectively market children’s programs to parents? The most important, and first thing you must do, is actually have a variety of programs that kids will want to participate in. DO NOT just block off a room, throw in a few staff members and call it a daycare. INVEST the time to hire the right staff to develop programs that will engage children and keep them wanting to come back to your club. Families come in all sizes, and children may range from toddlers to tweens to teenagers. Therefore, you need to make sure your club offers engaging programs for each age range.
A key to marketing to parents is through schools. There are many different marketing avenues to cover with schools. Build a relationship with the school districts around your club. Get permission to have teachers include your flyers in the information they send home with their students — parents will always read these materials. Help arrange a family “fun and fitness” night and send some staff to do fun fitness activities with the families in elementary and middle schools. If the kids are having fun, they will encourage their parents to come to your club so they can continue doing these fun activities.
High schools are a different story. While teachers and administrative staff are your key to marketing in elementary schools, coaches are the key to marketing to high schools. When marketing to younger children, you rely solely on the decisions of the parents. But when marketing to high school students, teenagers have a much bigger role in choosing the activities their parents support.
Have trainers go to team practices and do a one-day sports performance clinic. Show the athletes how they can improve their game by simply coming to your club and enrolling in sports performance training. They will relay this message to their parents and stress the importance of coming to your club so they can get off the bench and play this season. It is also a good idea to reach out to the recreational league coaches and offer a free clinic to get their teams engaged as well.
Hold “after prom” parties at your club and highlight all of the fun activities that teens can do. If parents feel safe sending their teenagers to your club after prom, they will be happy to send their teens back to your club.
In addition, I suggest you blog, blog, blog, and then blog some more. Most parents read information pertaining to their children off of the Internet. Know what the hot topics are and tie them into your blogs, and make sure you have programs or activities in your club that relate to these topics.
Social media plays an important role in marketing to parents and teens. Know the audience of each social media channel and tailor your message to fit each. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter may help you reach parents and teenagers, but apps like Whisper are mainly used by teenagers (parent excluded).
The biggest marketing source you will ever have is word of mouth, so when kids are in your club, keep them engaged and happy. They will become your promoters and drive plenty of business into your club.
By Donyel Cerceo, director of marketing for Merritt Athletic Clubs.