Okay, you’ve done all the demographic studies, traffic counts and competition analysis and you know the exact location to open your new club. The next challenge is how do you open your doors with enough members to make your club sustainable?
This is the first question you must answer after determining where to put the new club. Once you have decided on that number, make sure every member of your staff knows it. You must get everyone on the same page and make sure each staff member does their part to achieve that goal.
The most important thing to make your new club a success is marketing, marketing and more marketing.
Even if you have an active presale, area malls are a great source for getting the word out about your club and for selling memberships. If you have a local mall near your new club, contact the management office to get information about leasing a cart in the mall. Make sure the mall is not a big outlet shopping center because this type of retail facility is more of a destination attraction, and you will get a lot of people who don’t live in the area.
Many malls will allow you to do a monthly lease. Check your lease and make sure you are able to sell from your cart. Take plenty of contracts and be sure to have your cart staffed during prime time at the mall. Make sure your cart is professionally designed and will catch the consumer’s eye.
Despite what many experts say, traditional marketing does still work and is still important to get the word out about your club. Placing ads in the local community newspapers and mail targeted to your demographic are a must.
Grassroots marketing can also have an impact, but it must be done properly. Putting door hangers and flyers in local neighborhoods could have a negative effect: You could make homeowners mad for soliciting in their community and they will not want to join your club.
Instead, do some research on the community. Is there a community association your organization can join? Do they have community newsletters where you can advertise? If you join a community association, make sure a staff member from the club attends every meeting to answer questions and build relationships with people in the community.
Join local chambers of commerce to build your corporate membership base. Have staff attend the meetings and join committees to build relationships with local businesses.
Traditional marketing is important, but in today’s world digital media is key. Make sure your website has your new location prominent on the home page and that you have done the proper SEO to ensure your new club pops up in local searches. Purchase Google AdWords specific to the location of the new club.
Additionally, social media is critical. Use boosted posts on Facebook because these posts have become more effective than targeted ads. Linkedin can help you target businesses in your area. Make sure you have a product to sell corporations. A corporate weightloss competition is a great way to reach this audience.
You’ve done all of your presale marketing, and now it’s time for the grand opening. Having all of the demos, games and prizes is an important part of making your event a success, but it is a huge benefit to have a local celebrity or sports personality attend the event. Have that personality use his or her social media channels to promote their attendance at your grand opening. A tweet from a local celebrity with 50,000-plus followers is a powerful tool.
There are many elements that go into the successful openings of a new club, but marketing is one of the — if not the most — important aspects.
By Donyel Cerceo, director of marketing for Merritt Athletic Clubs.