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Foundational Referral Campaign Tactics

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Referral Campaign Tactics

Ben Ludwig shares four foundational referral campaign tactics to apply to your fitness business.

When teaching franchisees from across the globe about what it takes to run a successful fitness business, I often find myself talking about referrals being my favorite word in the fitness business. It seems every owner and operator I speak to knows the value of referrals and makes attempts to get them at seemingly every opportunity. If this is the case, why don’t most fitness businesses have a systemized approach as to how they ask? The truth is, most depend on their relationship with their members and hope their loyal followers will bring people with them. Here’s the catch: your members will often bring friends with them, but your members aren’t salespeople.

As the business owner, you are responsible for creating the talk track for not just your staff, but your members as well. Here are four foundational tactics, if applied consistently, will produce month over month more referrals than you ever thought possible.

Have a Point of Sale Process

Almost every single fitness center I visit and join doesn’t ask me to bring friends until they offer a “special” membership rate. Others simply offer me a free t-shirt if I jot down some names and phone numbers of people they’re going to add to a text list and never actually call. So, what’s the right way to ask when I get a new member to join?

The answer is simple: tie it into client results. When a prospect is joining your facility, remember they are buying a dream, not a physical product they can take home. Because of this, it’s imperative you create clarity with how you will help them accomplish their goals. The best way to get referrals this way is to ensure the prospect knows the referrals they give will be a form of external accountability for them. As your coach, I’m only going to see you likely three hours per week. Your friends and family will likely see you so much more. Getting them to come alongside your new member will be a huge win for you and them. 

Add Referral Asks into Results Tracking

Another phenomenal opportunity to ask for referrals is when reevaluating your members progress. The best part about this process is the referral ask can be simple whether or not the member is getting results. For example:

  • If a member is seeing great results: The referral ask is as simple as keeping the momentum going and helping others get in the best shape of their lives just as your member is.
  • If a member isn’t seeing results: There is always a reason why. This could be because they need more consistency in getting to your facility, or it could be they need some help staying active outside the gym, or sticking to their nutrition plan. If this is the case, the referral ask should be tailored to who can help with accountability for them outside your facility. 

Add “Bring a Friend” Events to Your Yearly Calendar

Fitness is becoming a huge focus for people across the world. It’s a focus for physical health, mental health, mobility and quality of life. Because of this, more and more people are willing to pay for the best programs and the best results. Now more than ever, paid trials are the way of the future for the fitness industry. The way “bring a friend” ties into this is now there is a value placed on access to your programs.

With this value added, you can now market special events and open houses guests can come to “on the house.” The call to action becomes much stronger when you avoid the word free. Also, when you stick to a marketing calendar, you are able to build anticipation around events like this as well as avoid overdoing the same promotions.

So, what can I do immediately to implement these referral campaign tactics in my facility? First, consider what your referral offer will be. Create something that’s more enticing than your traditional trial. One example could be covering the cost of a paid trial for an exclusive referred client. Second, implement an additional step into your results tracking sessions. It’s easy and will yield huge results for your business and your clients. Last, ensure you are creating a marketing calendar for your business. We’re all busy in the fitness business and if you fail to prepare then you had better prepare to fail. The best owners and operators are the ones who believe in consistency. Now go practice what you preach.

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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 Senior team member with the fastest growing fitness franchise in the world: F45 Training Headquarters. He has held a major role in creating sales processes, marketing best practices, and operational systems within F45 across the globe including presenting at a global scale to franchisees in 60-plus countries. Ben also has a working hand in many start up businesses including owning multiple fitness businesses and founding fitness businesses featured on Good Day Kansas and KWCH Channel 12 News. He also contributes regularly to fitness business magazines, podcasts and presents regularly on Fitness Business Topics. Ben also volunteers his time on nonprofit Boards of Directors, presenting, preaching and public speaking and is open to contributing his time and expertise in causes he feels align with his values.

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