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Marketing: Top 5 Guerilla Marketing Ideas


Every gym needs to have a marketing plan. It should be in writing and cover 12 months at a time. This plan allows you to stay proactive and avoid being a reactive marketer. Email jason@jasonlinse.com with “marketing” in the subject line and I will email you back a short marketing guide to help get you started.

Your 12-month marketing plan should include a good mix of mediums such as mailers, door hangers and newspaper inserts. It should also include Facebook ads and money allocated for things like local health fairs and 5K sponsorships.

And it should include a few dollars dedicated for guerilla marketing.

Guerilla marketing: An unconventional way of performing marketing activities on a very low budget.

When I talk about guerilla marketing for gyms, I am mainly talking about the following five things:

1. 3-inch by 5-inch passes. You can get 5,000 of these for around $300, making each piece roughly 6 cents. You take these into nearby retail businesses, with the intent of getting them in the hands of every employee. In most gyms, doing this two days per week, for an hour each time, distributing around 100 at a time, would be a good goal. Total cost per year: $500 to $700.

2. Lead boxes. I know, I know, some of you hate the boxes. But they can be effective if you place them in the right spots and have proper expectations. Like all things in the fitness business, it is a numbers game. Your goal should be to have five boxes placed near your gym. Coffee shops, hair salons, cafés and smoothie shops are some of my favorites. You want to procure 100 slips per month of legible names and phone numbers, or roughly 20 per box. Four percent is the expectation. You will call 100, get ahold of 25, schedule a tour with 15, eight will show and four will become members.   But getting four new members per month means about 50 new members per year. In most gyms, where a membership is worth around $500 annually, this would mean about 25,000 per year. All for getting five boxes placed, collecting slips and making some telephone calls. Total cost per year: $500.

3. Tear off posters. These are fairly inexpensive, and are easy to manage on the days you are handing out passes and checking lead boxes. Coffee shops, pizza places and college campuses are great locations for tear off posters. Total cost per year: $200.

4. Post-it notes. Invented just down the road from where I am writing this, in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, these little pieces of paper are perfect to stick on top of pizza boxes. Sure, you get some pizza shop owners who don’t like it because they feel they are sending a weird message to their customers, but every town has a million pizza places, so keep asking until you get a yes. You may have to offer some free months to ownership, management and staff, but it will be worth it. Post-it notes, by the way, are crazy cheap. You can probably get 10,000 individual notes for less than $150. Total coast per year: $150.

5. Telephone calls. Yes, the telephone is still used for more than text messaging and tweeting. Every single name and telephone number of every single non-member should be called at least once per quarter. Leave a voice mail and call the next person. The key to this is to require staff to make a certain amount of dials per day. In most gyms, 10 would be a proper amount. Smile, dial, leave enthusiastic and positive voice mails, and when you reach 10, you can stop and go check your lead boxes and tear offs.

Keep changing lives.

Jason Linse

Jason Linse is president and founder of The Business of Fitness, a consulting company. He also owns a personality assessment company called People Plus+ Fitness. Contact him at jason@jasonlinse.com or 612-310-1319 for resources on scheduling more tours and personality assessments, or visit www.jasonlinse.com.

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