Tag: gym marketing

Furious brunette looking at camera on white backgroundI remember the last time I joined a gym (about a year ago). Jared, a twenty-something college student and part-time membership sales rep was nice enough. He showed me the facility, had me sign the contract & release and smile for my mug shot.

I had already decided that I was going to sign up before walking through the door, so I was a pretty easy win for him. Our interaction was polite, but very process-oriented (vs. “me-oriented”; remember, it’s ALL ABOUT THE MEMBER!).

There was no rapport established. No trust. It was simply a transaction.

As Jared worked through his checklist for signing me up, he got to that dreaded last step and popped the question: “Would you like to suggest the names of three friends or family members that might be interested in joining the gym? You know, research shows that people who work out with a buddy are more likely to get results. So this would really help YOU.”


Ah yes … the “member referrals mantra” touted as gospel by so many fitness marketing professionals.

And it’s true. But that is NOT THE WHOLE TRUTH!

Trust me … in my case, Jared asked but he DID NOT receive!

Just asking is not enough. The “asking” has to happen at the right time.

The dialogue during the entire sales process needs be focused on:

BUILDING relationship capital
CREATING incentive

Otherwise, you risk a reaction like the one I had in both cases:

“I don’t know you. And I certainly don’t know you like that. So No. No YOU MAY NOT HAVE THE NAMES AND NUMBERS OF THREE OF MY FRIENDS OR FAMILY MEMBERS.”

Stay tuned for my next blog post where I’ll share some tips on developing the rapport I mentioned above – specific steps you can take to implement the A.B.C.’s of member referrals.

Brazil can teach us a thing or two about being singularly focused!

Brazil’s loss at the World Cup 2014 teaches us many valuable lessons … not the least of which is to be sure we’re not singularly focused when it comes to, well … anything!

Because the five-time winner of the World Cup hadn’t experienced a home defeat in over 39 years, they lost focus on tactics, their ability to adjust their strategy to compensate for the loss of key players and emotional preparation.

They were singularly focused on their track record vs. what needed to be done to claim another victory, and we see how that ended. Congrats Germany, by the way!

That very same concept applies to health club marketing. Focus your marketing efforts solely on new member sales and at best, you’ll be missing opportunities; at worst, it will be your demise! To be effective, your marketing needs to encompass at least three other key focus areas including member retention, personal training (including private and semi-private/small group) and other products and services!

The real impact comes from leveraging the right tools with the right message with the right audience: Online vs., offline. Informational vs., sales-focused. One-time vs., regular. You get the idea!

Compare your marketing approach with our “Health Club Marketing” infographic to see if you’re missing anything critical!

Health Club Marketing Infographic - Fitness Marketing - Exakt Marketing

Questions about how you can better leverage your gym marketing efforts? Drop me a line at joe [at] exaktmarketing.com or give me a call at 888-949-5487 x701.

Gym Members - Exakt Marketing - Fitness MarketingMember retention.  The ultimate challenge for club operators today. There is no doubt that retaining members is critical to your gym’s success. A deeper look into the economics paints the picture.

Recently I had to deliver the unfortunate news to one of our new gym clients that the first 30 members that they had signed up for the month didn’t even count. Translation – $10,000+ per year in lost dues caused by attrition!

Because they didn’t have a solid member retention strategy in place, they couldn’t even begin looking at gains in revenue until after the sales team signed up new member number 30!

The client I describe above is not unique.  Interestingly, we have found this to be a real problem for GMs who are so heavily focused on new member sales, that they forget that members have much bigger expectations from their clubs these days.

So giving them a reason to stay HAS TO BE A TOP PRIORITY!  When equal focus is given to member retention, more of those new member sign-ups move your gym toward growth mode, rather than just keeping you at the same level (talk about “spinning your wheels!).

If you happen to be one of those GMs that may not have been equally focusing on member retention, you may be wondering where the heck to even start. The answer might even seem to be a bit counterintuitive, but I’m going to walk you through it.

Member retention starts with the new member orientation.

Yes, that’s right!  Member retention starts long before the member has completed even one workout or one group fit class or one personal training session at your facility! Why?

It comes down to the top reasons why people stay at a gym (to name a few):

  • getting in shape
  • improving overall health
  • making progress towards fitness

As Nick Murtha, Account Executive of MBSC Thrive put it, ”If people are getting results, they are likely to remain members. So why not start new members off in the right direction from the beginning to ensure the highest possible likelihood that they will get results and meet their fitness goals.”

Seems like a no-brainer, right? But we can all agree that getting people to first, schedule an orientation and second, to actually show up, are quite a challenge!

What if I were to tell you if you make just one simple adjustment to your sales process – the secret member retention tool that the big chains use – that your new members will not only willingly schedule orientations … they’ll actually follow through and show up!

Here’s the secret: Build the value proposition for the new member orientation (aka fitness assessment) from the moment the sales rep comes in contact with the new member.  So technically, this means that the value proposition for the new member orientation has to be built before the prospect even becomes a member.

“Too often, I see membership sales reps go through the entire pre-tour, tour and post-tour process without even mentioning the orientation. Then as a last step of member sign-up, they say something like ‘ok, let’s get you scheduled for your orientation,’” commented Murtha.  “This rarely results in a successful outcome, especially in cases where the new member has belonged to a gym in the past and either believes that they do not need the orientation or that it is a loosely veiled attempt to sell personal training services,” he continued.

I’m going to share with you the exact steps we used to take the client that I mentioned earlier (that was losing $10,000+ in member dues) from losing 30+ members per month to less than 15: a 50% improvement!

Meet with your sales team right now and have them do this:

1.  When meeting prospects at the front desk, the membership sales rep should explain the process they will go through (“we’ll discuss your background and goals; I’ll give you a tour of the facility; we’ll review membership options; then I’ll get you signed up and scheduled for your orientation to make sure you start off with a plan in hand to accomplish your fitness goals”).

2.  During the pre-tour process, make sure your reps are identifying and understanding the prospect’s fitness goals and looks for opportunities to relate them back to the orientation.

3.  During the tour, your membership reps should stop by the training area and introduce the person or people who conduct the orientations, saying something like “This is John. He’ll be helping you with your orientation to make sure you start with a plan that will get you the results you’re looking for.”

4.  At the close, your membership rep should politely “assume the meeting” and say “we can schedule your orientation with John tomorrow at the same time. Does that work?”

The goal is to make the orientation so valuable all through the process that by the end, the new member not only gladly schedules it … but they eagerly show up!  If you are getting 75% of your new members to schedule an orientation and 50% or more of them to show … you are making a significant investment in member retention long before your new members hit that plateau or get busy with life and stop using their membership.

Need help implementing the above changes into your membership sales process or want to discuss other ideas?  Please drop me a note at joe [at] exaktmarketing.com or call 888-949-5487 x701 to get a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation.

For some health clubs, paid trial memberships seem like a no-brainer: give people a low-cost taste of your product that goes beyond a complimentary workout in the hopes of their committing to a longer term membership when it ends.  But is your paid trial membership really helping to generate additional leads and full memberships at your gym, health club or athletic club?  Maybe not!  If your club meets any of the following criteria, it’s quite possible that a paid trial membership is simply prolonging the buying process!

  • Your monthly dues are $50+ per month
  • Your facility is “the only game in town” at your price point/value level
  • Your club provides differentiating amenities beyond your competition such as tennis courts, a pool, a gymnasium, functional training, etc.

Put yourself in the shoes of your perspective member and imagine you are making the decision of whether or not to join. Given the above circumstances, it is nearly impossible to “comparison shop”, meaning that your decision will either be a “yes” or a “no” vs. “should I join club A or club B”.  Does the gym offer the equipment, programs and amenities you desire?  Is it clean?  How is the energy?  Is it overcrowded?

Your facility stands on its own and either delivers or doesn’t.  You simply need to give people an opportunity to make this determination.  A 30-day paid trial is very unlikely to be any more effective in landing new members than a generous “all access” guest pass program.  So in this case, just offer the free trial!

Chicago Athletic Clubs, whose monthly membership rates start at $75 on the low end, does not offer a paid trial but instead provides potential members with a one-day all access pass to the club location of their choice.

Bill Higgs, General Manager of Shula’s Athletic Club in Miami Lakes for the past 33 years, agrees that paid trial memberships have their place.  “For us, [at Shula’s], we’ve concluded that paid trial memberships are simply not very useful. We offer a very known, unique product in our local market and the decision to join our club is unlikely to be impacted by a paid trial membership.”

Rather than offer paid trial memberships, Shula’s offers a one-day all-inclusive guest pass, giving potential members the ability to experience the facility, the energy and group fitness classes free of charge. And since their price point is on the higher end ($59 – $69 per month, depending) and there are no other options competing in that space, members who join Shula’s are there because they want to be. “Our product is strong and there are no other providers in the area which match our value,” noted Higgs.

Not sure if you should employ free or paid trial memberships to generate leads or to increase sales at your club? Drop me a note at joe @ exaktmarketing.com or give me a call at 888-949-5487 x701 to get a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation!

Pay attention to what your members are saying.  That’s it.

No really.  That’s it.  Pay attention.  Sometimes simple is just better, so I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail.

But I can assure you that in our experience of providing fitness center marketing services and health club marketing services, we have witnessed member retention rates improve. And as a result, recurring dues increase by simply paying attention to what our clients’ members are saying and developing ways to address their feedback if nothing else.

Online reputation management allows us to also monitor the feedback from members of our clients’ competitors in close proximity.  Think about it, if you already have a roadmap of what members want or are complaining about, then you have the prescription to improve your member retention – because they’re happy.

The opportunities are out there.  It’s up to you to seize them.


Happy New Year! My last blog, Evolve or Become Extinct was inwardly focused, providing some insight as to why Visual Alliance Media, Moonstruck Marketing Group and Good Dog/Bad Dog Creative Design decided to merge to form Tampa marketing agency, Exakt Marketing.

In this, my first blog of 2013, I’d like to instead focus on one of our clients, AussieFIT, a newAussieFIT Website Screenshot chain of fitness clubs in Columbus, Ohio launched in 2012 by Geoffrey Dyer, founder of the Lifestyle Family Fitness chain of clubs that Dyer built from 1 club to 56. (Dyer later sold the chain, which continued to operate as Lifestyle Family Fitness, prior to its recent purchase by LA Fitness).

Soon after Dyer started AussieFIT by acquiring two former Lifestyle clubs in Columbus, OH, he engaged Exakt Marketing to provide various fitness club marketing services including the development and management of their online presence.

After a series of visioning sessions, the team set off to design the new website and social assets, paying particular attention to incorporate clear calls to action focused on lead generation and membership sales within the confines of the target visual brand. The custom website, built using a leading content management system, includes an integrated calendar, locations map, an online store / e-commerce platform, links to the club’s CRM system to print guest passes, an online sweepstakes, social asset integration and a blog.

Shortly after launch, the number of online generated leads increased by over 200%, providing a steady stream of potential new members for the club’s sales team to cultivate. More importantly, the conversion rate of those leads is an impressive 14%, an indication of lead quality, among other things.

Services Provided:

  • Branding
  • Graphic Design
  • Website Design
  • Website Development
  • Website Management
  • Social Media Strategy Development
  • Social Media Management
  • Social Advertising
  • Sweepstakes Design and Administration
  • Online Reputation Management
  • Email Marketing
  • Search Engine Marketing