When you manage a gym or fitness club, you look forward to the weeks after January 1st. People set health, wellness, and fitness goals and come into your business to help make those dreams a reality. As spring rolls around and the weather warms up, fewer people are making it out to the gym. By summer, your clients are spending more time outdoors and with family.

It’s easy to market to new clients New Year’s—people are setting intentions that clearly include your business. But other times of the year it can be tough to motivate new customers to join your gym or studio. Marketing your business in the right way, at the right times, and on the right channels is the key to attracting new patrons. And one of the best channels is through current members.

Let’s take a look at fitness-industry specific marketing ideas and how to set up a referral program.

Marketing Ideas for Your Gym, Studio, Club, or Fitness Center

Market at outdoor events in summer. Meet your potential clients where they are. Set up tables at farmer’s markets and set aside some time to do some demos with your trainers. If there’s a local music or arts festival, rent a booth and talk to people about staying active during the summer.

Post quick moves, recipes, and exercise tips on social media. Keep your social media channels up to date by posting several times a week, if not once a day. Mix up the type of content you post or start a regular schedule. For example, every Monday post a new workout for followers to try throughout the week. On Tuesdays, post healthy smoothie recipes, and so on. Don’t forget to include hashtags that will attract new customers and clients.

Speaking of Hashtags

Give current members a reason to advertise for you. Paint a fun backdrop on the wall of your studio or set up a corner with a life-size celebrity cut out for your members to selfie with. Ask them to use a certain hashtag when they post on social media.

Get a spot on the local morning show.  Most communities have some kind of early morning show that highlights people and businesses in the area. Contact the station to get a spot. Bring your best teacher or trainer and have him or her demonstrate some simple moves for viewers at home. See if you can make it a regular thing—pitch a “Workout Wednesday” segment to the station.

Partner with local businesses. Help create a company-wide workout challenge to motivate people at work all year long. Work with the company’s HR department to offer discounts on memberships to your gym. Or partner with a local juice bar or health food restaurant to add gym services to their juice cleanse or meal plan programs.

Sponsor charity runs. Host a 5K race or half-marathon and offer discounted training in the months leading up to the race.

Try These

Hang fliers at medical offices. Make sure to get permission first, but usually doctors’ offices have bulletin boards in waiting rooms.

Host a Meet Up. Partner with a group on meetup to host a fitness event. For example, look for groups of dog lovers and offer a doggie yoga class in the park.

Run a flash sale on summer holidays.  Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Memorial Day all fall in the slower season. Offer quick sales on social media or using traditional TV and mail advertising.

Move your classes outside. If people avoid the gym during the summer because they want to enjoy the weather, help them do both. Offer outdoor family classes that get the kids involved, too. Hold classes at local parks or schools and show families how to use playground equipment to get a great workout.

What You Need to Know About Customer Referrals

Getting your current clients to refer new customers is probably the most powerful marketing tool you can use. Many businesses have customer referral programs that range in complexity. If you’re just starting out, keep your referral program simple.

When planning your referral program, you need to consider these four things:

  • What do existing members get for referrals?
  • How will you let existing members know about the program?
  • What incentives do people who have been referred get?
  • How will you track the program’s success?

When deciding on incentives, ask your members what they’d like. It might be merchandise, like a free t-shirt or it might be a service, like training or a massage. Use their feedback to design your program.

Remember, the slower months don’t have to be wasted time. You can plan events for next year, get permits for races, and research health fairs and festivals to attend. You can also make sure that the summer slowdown doesn’t hurt your business by making sure to use solid marketing throughout the rest of the year.

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