5 Ways to Market for the New Year [plus a bonus]

 In Marketing, Opening a health club

Retailers have Black Friday. E-commerce companies have Cyber Monday. Health club and fitness professionals have New Year’s.

It is with good reason that January, the beginning of the New Year, is the fitness industry’s Black Friday. Every year, health and fitness goals top many people’s New Year’s resolutions lists.

According to online learning site Go Skills [https://www.goskills.com/Soft-Skills/Articles/Top-10-new-years-resolutions], the top two spots on the most common resolutions list are held by ones that drive millions of people into health clubs as the calendar turns (and some would say there are several more on the list that health clubs could lay claim to helping). Here’s the list:

  1. Exercise more
  2. Lose weight
  3. Get organized
  4. Learn a new skill or hobby
  5. Live life to the fullest
  6. Save more money / spend less money
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Spend more time with family and friends
  9. Travel more
  10. Read more

However, despite this demand, just opening the doors and lights on New Year’s Day won’t guarantee you will meet your New Year’s resolution to grow your business.

Here are five ways to make sure you not only make a list of sales resolutions this year but hit them sooner than later.

1. Stand out from the crowd

Odds are you aren’t the only fitness option in town. Odds are you are in competition with everything from infomercial products, to at-home streaming services to mega gyms and the omnipresent boutique fitness studios.

Before you invest any of your marketing budget into a New Year’s promotion, you must know the main reason those new — or returning — fitness seekers should pick you over the other guy, by understanding your health club’s unique selling proposition (USP) so you can let then know the following quickly:

  • Who you are.
  • What services you offer that make your gym special.
  • How you do health and fitness better than other choices.
  • And why you are in business.

With this special and unique messaging in mind you can now tell your story everywhere –and not just for New Year’s marketing on your:

  • Website
  • Promo mailers
  • Brochures
  • Business cards
  • Social media pages, posts, and ads

Specifically for New Year’s you can use your USP to let perspective members know how you can help them reach their goals faster because you offer a “get fit quick program or a starter’s training package” or whatever sets you apart from the crowded health and fitness market filled with often empty promises.

2. If you build it (around your USP), they will come

Sure, you now know your USP and want to shout if from the rooftops (or social media, or postcard campaign). However, now that you know what you do special, you still need to build a promotion or a special offer that will bring people in to look at your club. In the short-run, a special may ding your per-member income; however, the goal this time of year is to bring as many prospects into the club as possible. Once you and your staff “wow” these prospects (and if you aren’t doing that, you may need more than just a New Year’s marketing campaign), you’ll have more people to upsell and turn into loyal customers.

Your special New Year’s offer must be enticing enough to attract calls, leads, and eventual memberships.

Here are some special offers, tried-and-true promotions that work for fitness and gym ads:

  • FREE Trial Membership (7-30 days)
  • Discount on membership packages (month-to-month, 6 months for $99, 12 months for $99) or additional months added (join for 12 months, get 14)
  • Discount on enrollment fees
  • Join in January and pay no dues until 2/1
  • FREE gym services (classes, tanning, equipment orientation, personal fitness plan)

3. Make sure you are talking to the right prospect

Now that you know USP, it is vital to know who your perfect members are as well, so you aren’t pouring good money after bad into marketing your health club.

Sure, you could shotgun a postcard to the entire town or run an ad on the local cable channel. And while that method works if you have a rather large budget for marketing and simply hope that you reach your audience, by narrow-focusing your fitness marketing, you can see a much better return on investment (ROI) from your budgeted marketing and advertising endeavors. Knowing who your best clients have been traditionally can help you target new ones based on demographics, geography, and profession. You can even target your New Year’s resolution advertising  campaign to those that will be more likely to try your health club out and become members.

4. Get social with your prospects

Social media is a great way to get your USP in front of potential members quickly. Facebook marketing is becoming more and more popular every year, and with good reason. While you can (and should) utilize organic growth measures throughout the year to help grow your health club membership base, running ads on the popular social media platforms—primarily Instagram and Facebook— is especially effective for short-term promotions such as the New Year.

According to Pew Research :

  • 69% of adult Americans use Facebook
  • 37% of adult Americans use Instagram
  • 74% of U.S. Facebook users are active at least once a day
  • 63% of U.S. Instagram users are active at least once a day

Those are a lot of potential eyeballs on your social media marketing, but luckily Facebook and other social channels allow you to target your ad, unlike any other medium.

5. Put your customers to work as your sales force

Gyms get notoriously crowded after the New Year, even if it does take a while for many people to make the trek from the couch to the gym. So, who better to be surrounded by than friends. Getting current members to recruit your future members is always a great way to boost your sales numbers.

According to a report by Nielsen , 92% of people trust referrals from people they know, so they may just be your best recruiters.

Here are a few examples of what you could offer in exchange for referrals:

  • Free smoothie or juice (if you have a café on site)
  • Discount (% or $ off) your shop (if you have one)
  • Free towels for 1 month
  • A gift certificate to a juice bar or tanning salon in your town
  • Free partner personal training session
  • Free yoga class
  • Free gym t-shirt
  • A discount on membership fees
  • A free month of membership

Bonus. It’s never too late or too early to start selling

Whether you are reading this right before the New Year or stumbled across it in the middle of summer, the time is right to get resolutioners into your club. A targeted campaign before the New Year can bring in the most motivated. With 80% of people failing to keep their resolutions, market and run a resolution reboot (camp?) in February or March to bring in those that have fallen short, and a “do it early” campaign in the fall to get those wide-eyed resolutioners in early.