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5 Strategies to Small Budget Marketing for Health Club Owners

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Small Budget Marketing

Five strategies to advertising and marketing on a small budget.

Are you tired of hearing about every “get rich quick” marketing scheme and “online fitness guru” promising to teach you how to become a millionaire fitness business owner? It’s no secret the fitness business has changed over the last 18 months, but it seems there is a huge shortage of businesses sticking to the basics of what made them successful to begin with. And worst of all, there are voices all over your social media feeds and in your email inbox promising to make you a millionaire overnight so you can be on a beach drinking margaritas. 

So there has to be some middle ground, right? Business is different now but there are still tried and true marketing and advertising strategies that can work without paying thousands of dollars every single month when many owners just don’t have that to spend right now. The good news is the below, small budget marketing strategies can be utilized easily with any staff and the right implementation plan.

With marketing and advertising, it all starts with an outlined strategy. Let’s look at five strategies to small budget marketing.  

1. Point of Sale Referrals

I’m sure you may have heard of the infinite return principle, defined as referrals being the gift that keeps on giving. The problem with most businesses is many will say their business is mostly made up of referrals. So why aren’t they wildly successful if they’re so good that “almost all of our clients are referrals?”

The problem is most businesses wait for members to bring friends and hope their member experience is good enough to make people want to refer friends. Instead, the way to turn this into the infinite return principle is to have a process outlined. Have a new member onboarding checklist that incorporates adding friends and family members to a registry for a fantastic offer, only given to referrals. This can be a free t-shirt, extended access or reward to the referring member. 

2. Partner with Causes

Another extremely easy way to drive leads and exposure is to partner with local non-profits, positive businesses or organizations your members are involved in. For example, during a given month, for every guest who activates your intro offer, you will donate the proceeds to a local non-profit where one of your members is on the board of directors.

This drives exposure in multiple ways. It allows you to promote your partnership with the cause, shows goodwill from your business, which creates a positive reputation, and also allows you to be promoted by the partnering business, as well as the members that stand with the cause.

3. Be a Resource

Reach out to your local news stations and newspapers to be a resource they can use for fit and wellness segments. Most broadcasters and reporters are responsible for finding stories to report on. If you can be active in reaching out to them and offer to be their go-to person for fitness-related subjects, you can get absolutely free publicity to your community.

The second great step here is your members love seeing you in the news. Create some content around your segment and ask your members to share it. You will be able to capitalize on broadcast exposure as well as organic social media exposure from your members and followers liking, commenting and sharing these posts. 

4. Find Local Events

Recently, one of the studios I own got a group together to take part in a mud run. We created special shirts so everyone who saw us knew who we were. We asked to be a corporate sponsor of the event to get our name out there on all the shirts, posters, announcements etc., but also as a part of the paid sponsorship, we negotiated to do a quick warm up on display for everyone to see. We had all eyes on us right before the race started.

Most business owners are so caught up in the day-to-day minutia of their business they forget to strategically plan. If you can find these events and get creative with how you can participate, you are ahead of nine out of 10 business owners in small budget marketing. 

5. Offer Challenges for Businesses

Business owners often miss opportunity because they overthink community outreach. You don’t always have to come in hot with a big sales presentation. But realize, other owners see through the lazy approach of “dropping off some passes for your staff.” The best answer is to offer a no cost, or low-cost challenge for their organization.

A “60 day, results-based programming for your staff” is a fantastic way to allow on average, 10 to 50 leads access to your gym or studio and is also a chance to build rapport and trust with these prospects. Additionally, it can be a ton of fun for the staff. Create an outline on what is included with the challenge and then execute. Biweekly on-site bootcamps, creating teams within the challenge and a one-on-one check-in to set up an individualized plan goes a long way for a prospect.

The big key here is to have a continuation plan for these leads. This is best outlined during the wrap up of the challenge around the final results measurements. After you tell someone how they reached their goal, it’s easier to lead the conversation to “now let’s keep these results going.” 

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Ben Ludwig

Ben Ludwig currently serves as the Growth pastor for CrosspointNow network of churches across Kansas, acts as the Subject Matter Expert in Sales for Fitness Revolution, sits on the advisory board for the International Strength Training Organization and is currently a stakeholder, shareholder and consultant with the fastest growing fitness franchise in the world: F45 Training as well as working a hand in many start up businesses, including owning multiple fitness businesses and co-owning Beatz Fitness featured on Good Day Kansas and KWCH Channel 12 News. He also contributes regularly to fitness business magazines including Club Solutions, IDEA fitness magazine, Personal Fitness Professional (PFP), Gym Owner Monthly Magazine and Boutique Fitness Solutions. Ben also volunteers his time on Non-profit Boards of Directors.

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