Gym Marketing in 2021: 10 Proven Tips to Drive Memberships

Over the last year, the fitness industry skyrocketed to accumulate an impressive global revenue of $94 billion in total. While the industry has established a secure place in the worldwide market, individual facilities might struggle to connect via gym marketing with clients to secure long-term retention.

Some of the drop-offs in membership numbers are to be expected; come January 1st, the gym is filled with ambitious newcomers ready to make a positive change for the new year.

However, by March, that enthusiasm typically fades, and membership numbers balance out after that initial spike.

While we all know the new-year trend is bound to happen annually, other factors play into a gym’s fluctuating membership. By learning more about gym marketing and the proven techniques behind hitting retention goals, your gym can be busy and successful.

Why Do Members Leave Gyms?

Before you can implement our full-proof tips, you have to understand where the problems lie in the first place. Your audience is your potential and existing members. What do they look for in a gym, and why do they leave yours?

You Don’t Have What They’re Looking For

One of the main reasons members leave a gym is simply because it does not offer something specific that they require. A considerable component missing from a lot of gyms today is group fitness programs.

Especially for beginners, starting a workout program, or maintaining a fitness commitment is demanding. Group fitness programs, such as yoga or spin classes, actually make it easier for individuals to find the motivation to get up and go to the gym.

In fact, experts say that workout classes can make exercising less intimidating, boost accountability, and provide a necessary challenge.

So, you might be seeing a decrease in membership because you lack enough classes and group exercise programs, or you’re simply not implementing sufficient gym marketing to let people know about them.

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They Never Use Their Membership

No one likes to waste money, and that’s precisely what individuals do when they pay for a gym membership that they don’t actually use. An astounding 53% of gym members pay for a membership that they might not use. Depending on the cost of your gym, that monthly fee adds up pretty quickly.

Though there is a laughable stigma surrounding the effort it takes to cancel a gym membership, people will do it eventually if it costs them money.

A member that doesn’t show up to your facility hardly seems like a problem that you can fix. After all, you can’t force them to come.

However, you can step up your gym marketing tactics to draw them in. We’ll discuss these more in detail later on, but by providing simple incentive programs, you can encourage members to stay on board rather than calling it a waste of money.

They Can’t Afford Your Prices

Members will often cancel membership at one gym so they can switch to another that costs less. Even if it means a farther drive or fewer perks, the price is sometimes the most critical factor for an individual.

Pricing is another area where it seems like there’s not too much you can do. You can lower your membership fees, but it’s still important to make a profit as a successful business. Various sales, promotions, and reward programs can help with this problem, but you need to make these available and visible to your patrons.

You’re Not Maintaining Relationships

While it’s true that some gym-goers couldn’t care less if the desk employee greets them at the door, others notice the extra effort. And, they especially notice when issues are not taken care of or addressed.

In the marketing world, you have detractors and promoters. Promoters are clients, customers, and members who love your product or services so much that they brag about you to everyone they know.

Meanwhile, detractors are typically people who have had bad experiences, and so they don’t talk about your business or may even discourage their friends and families to go elsewhere.

Every business will have detractors, but the keep is finding a way to transform detractors into promoters. The best way to do this is to pay attention and maintain friendly, professional communications.

It might look like reaching out to a member who had a complaint about something and letting them know they’ve been heard and that action will take place. It may also look like friendly employees taking the time to ask questions about their fitness goals and offer assistance or advice.

Email marketing is an excellent way to gain promoters. Your email list already includes members, so take advantage of that to send out member-only promotions, upgrades, event information, and more. You can even just check in with the community every so often, asking for feedback on your service and business operations.

Forming relationships and building a community will make members feel more included, welcomed, and heard, and that will turn them into promoters quickly.

Most Gyms Struggle with Generating New Memberships...We Fix That!

Since 2009, we have helped many Gyms and Fitness businesses grow strategically. Let us do it for you!

Top 10 Gym Marketing Tips

Now that we have a better grasp on what the problem might be with membership data at your gym, it’s time to get into the gym marketing’s nitty-gritty. The following tips are proven techniques to get your numbers up and business booming.

1. An Excellent Rewards Program

Rewards programs are excellent ways to increase engagement with the surrounding community and spread the word about your facility. The best part about a rewards program is that you can be utterly creative about it. There’s no one way to design a rewards system.

For example, you can run a membership-only rewards program that incentivizes participation. If your members swipe their ID at the front desk 20 times in one month, they earn a free water bottle or a new gym bag from your gym’s store.

You can also use rewards programs to drive overall online marketing by asking your members to share information about your business online. If they share your Facebook posts five times throughout the month, they earn a month of free classes.

As you can see from the examples above, you can truly think up some innovative ways to encourage your members to come while spreading the word about your location and services. Plus, when the reward is another service at your gym, you increase your chances of that member signing up for those services permanently.

2. Referral Programs

Word of mouth will always be a tried and true marketing tactic. Friends and family members listen to each other. If a friend tells another friend about a horrific experience at a gym, there’s very little chance that the other individual will want to rush out and sign up.

On the other hand, positive experiences can have a similar impact.

If you have good services, reliable employees, and high-quality equipment, there’s a definite possibility that your members have nice things to say about your gym to the people in their lives.

However, you’re more likely to gain members through referrals if you offer an incentive. Like a rewards program, many gyms employ Refer-a-Friend programs that bring benefits to everyone involved.

You might try offering discount services, coupons, and classes to someone who refers a friend. Sometimes even crediting a member’s account with a month or two of voided membership fees works as well.

At the same time, you can provide the referral with a discounted sign-up free, which incentivizes them as well.

A system like this benefits your current member, draws in a new member, and increases your business – which is a win-win-win.

3. Social Media

This one seems like an obvious answer, but the truth is, many organizations don’t take advantage of the marketing opportunities that social media offers. When used correctly, social media and digital marketing can really spread the word and increase your overall engagement.

Social media is an excellent gym marketing platform for many reasons. For starters, everyone uses it. Whether it’s Facebook ads, Instagram, or even Twitter, people of all ages, genders, races, and industries scroll through their accounts on a daily basis – sometimes even multiple times per day.

Access to social media means access to a significant and diverse audience.

Secondly, social media marketing is exceptionally cost-effective. It is much less expensive to run a social media campaign than a traditional marketing campaign that might involve printed materials, signage, and television ads.

You can also use tons of hashtags to target the specific industry. Hashtags can help your ads and posts get more views.

Finally, social media is engaging. When a driver rides past a billboard, not only do they only have a few seconds to glance at it, but they’re not as likely to do anything about it.

If a well-constructed ad pops up on Facebook, a user can immediately click the link and refer directly to your website in a flash. You also have access to vibrant designs, eye-catching videos, and other technologies that can capture a user’s attention.

Chances are if someone is scrolling through social media, they’re not doing much else. They’re not busy, so they may just have the time of day to give to your fitness club and check things out. Plus, if they really like it, they can share the link to their personal page for all of their friends to see too.

4. Personal Engagement & Relationships

Human interaction and connection are critical in fitness business success. An ad or a poster can easily be ignored, but it’s hard to walk past a friendly face looking to directly engage and get to know you better.

Many gyms miss out on that personal touch, with a scanner at the front desk that’s impersonal and workers that don’t talk to you. Call it old fashioned, but an excellent fitness marketing technique is to simply have your employees interact with the members more.

It might include a training class or two on face-to-face marketing and etiquette, but you can coach your employees to walk around the gym and engage with the members. Have them promote new classes, offer help with specific workouts, or offer them a complimentary bottle of water.

A touch of kindness, consideration, and help can go a long way from person to person. Rather than stationing bored employees at the front desk to sit on their phones, boast enthusiastic professionals who have a passion for both fitness and people. Doing so can drive a positive reputation for your gym.

5. Add Classes & Services

Some people are okay with a pretty basic gym setup, as long as they have access to weights and treadmills. But others will leave a gym if they decide they’d like a little more to expand their exercise options.

A marketing tactic you can try is to actually add more classes, services, and even equipment to your gym. If the budget allows for it, you can feature more complex machines, a wider range of free weights, and additional professionals to teach more classes.

The best way to add these items to your gym in a way that’s effective is to talk to the members and see what they want. Hand out survey sheets or email links for online questionnaires to get a better idea of what the community thinks you’re lacking.

Once you’ve gained a clear understanding of the types of fitness classes or features your members are interested in, you can allocate spending towards upgrades and additions. And when you do so, make sure you let everyone know about it.

6. Seasonal Promotions

A lot of gyms market promotions throughout the year, with waived sign-up fees or lowered monthly payments. It’s so common that many people will often wait for a promotional period before signing up for a gym membership.

Like we mentioned earlier, one of the most popular times to sign up for a new gym membership is right around New Year’s. It’s during this time when people are open to making new commitments and resolutions. Therefore, it would be a smart marketing ploy to advertise a New Year’s promotion.

Gyms will hold promotions periodically throughout the year. You can hold quarterly promotions, or spread them out a little further. It’s an excellent way to boost your sign-up numbers, and then you can use other marketing ideas to maintain new customers.

7. Free Training Days or Trials

There’s a reason why so many events will market their “free” days. It’s because everyone loves free things. Whether it’s free admission, a free meal, or a free t-shirt, consumers will always show up for free.

Try advertising a “free” day, where anyone can workout in the gym for free or have access to a free trainer during a trial period.

During that day, you can really amp up the sales pitches for a full-time membership sign-up. Once people are in the doors, you can capture their attention and show them why they should choose your gym.

Have all of your best employees on the floor of your fitness center that day, and make sure you have all of your personal trainers present as well. Display a friendly atmosphere with a strong focus on fitness, health, and community.

Make sure you also have all of your classes running, the place is clean and organized, and any other facilities you have are ship-shape. You can even go the extra mile to provide drinks or snacks for anyone who shows up that day.

Not only does this provide a special day for your current members, but it draws in a new crowd who gets the opportunity to test out your facilities at zero risks to them.

Finally, be sure to have a sign-up station where potential customers can commit to a membership that same day, quickly and easily.

Most Gyms Struggle with Generating New Memberships...We Fix That!

Since 2009, we have helped many Gyms and Fitness businesses grow strategically. Let us do it for you!

8. Show Off Your Services

What makes your gym unique? Do you offer a spin class, or perhaps a kickboxing course? Perhaps you have trainers available to members throughout the day. Does your facility have a sauna or massage room? Have you gotten any new equipment through your doors recently? A smoothie bar?

All of the things above are features that make you and your gym unique, and they will help you stand out from the competition.

When a potential client is looking for a gym to go to, they are likely going to compare various gyms in the areas and see what each has to offer. If you’re not advertising your best services, then you’re not living up to your gym marketing potential.

Show off what you’ve got! Use social media, television, email marketing, and other forms of advertising to showcase programs, equipment, classes, shops, and more. If people don’t know that you have things like a juice bar or line of workout clothes, they can’t make informed decisions. In the end, both you and that individual miss out on an awesome opportunity.

You never know what someone might think sets you apart from another location, so make sure you use marketing strategies displaying all of the fantastic things your gym has to offer.

9. Online Education & Resources

These days, working out from home is truly a popular trend. Whether someone is a stay-at-home mom or simply prefers to work out alone, many people are dipping their toes into buying equipment and watching home workout videos.

Why not step into the game and offer online resources for your members to gain access to? Providing home workout videos and virtual classes broadens the scope of your target audience. With online options, you can reach gym buffs, homebodies, and those in-between who sometimes show up and sometimes can’t.

Not only can you vamp up your website with workout classes and videos, but you can give each member their own personal login with access to an online profile. Here, they can sign up for classes, save instructional videos, and scroll through other helpful resources.

Then, on days when the roads are icy and dangerous, or a child is home sick from school, a member can still have access to the gym in a virtual way.

10. Optimize Your Website

SEO plays a massive role in the marketing world today. Because so many people use the internet to access products and services, it’s critical that your website ranks well with popular search engines like Google.

With so many different gyms on the market, you want to ensure that your gym’s website is one of the first to pop up when someone is searching for a facility. In fact, the first search result gets over 25% of people’s clicks on average.

You can optimize your website for online searches by implementing industry keywords, using appropriate headings, sticking with a simple website URL, and having a descriptive meta description.

There are tons of courses and professionals who can help boost your website’s SEO.

Aside from that, you should make sure your site’s landing page is attractive and captivating. Your website should also be easy to navigate with good organization. If your site is too busy or confusing, it will discourage people from wanting to click through. That’s when they miss all of the awesome things you have to offer them.

Make sure all of your social media is linked to your website and vise-versa. Your members and potential clients should be able to easily click from one platform to another based on how they prefer to view your content.

Gym Marketing Done Effectively

Promoting and content marketing for any kind of business is going to take a lot of research, hard work, and trial and error. What works for one company may not always work for you.

In the fitness industry, you’re in an ever-competing market that’s always fighting for the same client base. Therefore, you need to do what it takes to real in members and hold onto them to keep your facility up and running.

The above examples are proven industry techniques that can help you get people in your door and keep them there. Remember, you’re there to promote healthy and happy lifestyles. It shouldn’t be stressful for potential and current members to work on their fitness and personal goals.

Most Gyms Struggle with Generating New Memberships...We Fix That!

Since 2009, we have helped many Gyms and Fitness businesses grow strategically. Let us do it for you!

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