Marketing: Guerrilla Marketing on the Cheap
I sold memberships at a major big-box chain many years ago. There were four or five of us, we were called “membership advisors” and the males had to wear ties — seriously. Those were the olden days, and though that makes me sound ancient, 2001 does seem like eons ago.
This big box also didn’t encourage or even allow us to leave the building to promote the gym. It spent so much money on television, radio and direct mail marketing that we received about 20 phone calls per day and at least 10 walk-in tours. The good ‘ole days.
In 2005, when I went to work for a start-up called Snap Fitness, things were much different. Peter Taunton, who had carved out a successful career as a medium-box gym owner with clubs in small towns around central Minnesota, had recently sold the clubs to start a franchise focusing on bare-bones locations, often less than 2,500 square feet.
It turned out to be a brilliant concept for many reasons. First, it allowed for many small towns across the country to finally be able to offer an excellent fitness product, simply scaled down to fit the population. Second, it enabled many folks to become business owners, as the total cost to open a Snap Fitness was very affordable compared to many other types of businesses.
Smaller, less expensive to own and operate, also means less marketing dollars.
So, we had to teach Snap franchisees how to spread the word about their gyms, without spending thousands of dollars per month on television, radio and other expensive mediums.
The answer: Boots on the streets. The franchisees and their staff were forced to get out of the gym on a regular basis and promote their gym all around town. Some of them embraced it, and some of them didn’t do it at all. The ones who did it on a regular basis turned out to have the most members.
Now, as a fitness business consultant who works with all types of gyms, but most of them with budgets closer to a Snap Fitness than a Life Time Fitness, I get to recommend guerrilla marketing on a regular basis. And I can tell you that it works, if you do it right. But it helps to have a plan and to understand some expectations.
The majority of your guerilla marketing will be handing out “passes.” Distribute 3-inch by 5-inch cards with a free or paid trial offer on it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for some specific examples.
You will be handing these out at your local retail business neighbors. Door to door, in and out in a quick amount of time.
You will not see many of these passes coming back in. You will see some, but don’t let it discourage you. This is also about getting a body and face out there creating awareness and impressions. When you guerilla market, it will make your bigger mediums (mail, door hangers, radio, etc.) more impactful.
You should spend at least two days per week for one hour going door to door. In many markets, this will mean revisiting businesses every six weeks or so. “Hey there, I am Jason with Awesome Blossom Fitness. I was in a few weeks ago, but I know that it isn’t always the right time for some folks, so I wanted to stop by again and give you a few more passes. Also, we have some new programs and equipment. Here you go. Please pass them out to your coworkers. Thanks!”
Visit five to 10 businesses per trip, two days per week with the goal of handing out 200 passes per week, or about 1,000 per month. Total cost: Between $75.00 and $150.00 per month.
Text me at 612.310.1319 with your email address and the words “marketing guide” and I will email you a document to help you get started on your guerrilla marketing.
Keep changing lives.