June is Gym and Fitness Month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! This means that in addition to our usual posts with tips on connecting with customers, marketing strategy, and growing your business, we’ll be sharing insights specifically for gym owners, trainers, and fitness professionals. If that includes you, it’s time to whip your marketing into shape by getting the most out of these high-ROI techniques. If not, don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing our usual resources that can help you effectively market your local business. And keep your eyes peeled, your industry might be the one we feature next month!
With countless devotees around the world, it’s clear CrossFit is here to stay. But with the success of the program, comes the proliferation of CrossFit boxes inundating local communities everywhere. While this consistent increase in popularity seems good for business, it also leads to increased competition over new athletes for your box. Fear not, these proven promotion techniques to grow your business and aid in retaining your current athletes, so you don’t have to sweat over finding new ones (save that for your WOD’s!).
First, it’s important to determine your philosophy and approach, as this will inform your marketing strategy. Do you want your box to be a place where those who are looking to get into CrossFit can confidently hone skills, and continually challenge themselves with WOD’s? Or, do you want your box to be an elite oasis for athletes who have been training for a long time, and looking to perfect their form so they can claim their place at the top of the podium in competition? This can dictate whether you hold larger classes, more frequently or focus on small classes to give athletes 1-1 attention and refine their skills. It will also affect how you approach marketing your business.
You have a website that is a hub for existing athletes, and a resource for potential new ones. It’s a vital starting point for anyone considering getting started at your box. Make sure you have contact and pricing info, address and directions, as well as anything that might be useful to your current athletes, such as posting class signups, membership FAQ’s, WOD’s, announcements, events, etc. Follow these rules for best practices, to ensure that your online presence will help new students discover your business. It’s worth investing in a good site, as this is the first impression your box will make on a potential new athlete, so you want to put your best foot forward!
Make sure you or one of your coaches is conveniently reachable. Your outgoing voicemail message should state your website and office hours so they can continue their research instead of skipping ahead and trying the next box on their list. If you’re really worried about missing a potential customer’s calls, consider forwarding your business calls to a work or personal cell phone after hours. Or, use a service that tracks incoming calls to your business and provides contact information so that you can follow up with them as soon as possible.
Activate your passionate athlete base to be advocates on third-party review sites. CrossFit athletes tend to be some of the most enthusiastic and positive reviewers on sites like Yelp, so make sure you’re taking advantage of these vocal advocates! Remind them to leave you reviews, so those considering CrossFit, know how much current athletes love about your box, and what sets it apart!
Partner with complementary fitness and wellness businesses. Start by taking a class at a local yoga studio, or a meditation class, so that you can experience it for yourself and make sure that they uphold the same high standards as your box. Keep in mind that any partnership will have an impact on and is a reflection of your business’s reputation (for better or worse!). Once you find one that shares a similar philosophy, propose an agreement where members can have a discounted class or membership to the other, to aid in their overall fitness goals. Your athletes will have a way to stay stretched, mindful and lithe in between WODs and you might even get some new members out of it! With the right partner, this can be an easy win-win!
Target larger companies in your area for corporate promotions and discounts. Corporations are always looking for ways to extend benefits to their employees that contribute to better overall health and wellness. Offer to have a trainer go to their office gym, or nearby park to hold classes. Hand out branded guides or information that has some background on the philosophy and approach of your box, as well as some good introductory info that they can familiarize themselves with, to help with the learning curve.
Turn visiting Drop-ins into advocates. Unique to CrossFit, many athletes looking to stay on track while traveling, often set up drop-ins ahead of time. Take advantage of these, and make sure to be a great host. No matter how your box handles these, introduce them around, or give them a small gift. Many times they’ll bring a T-shirt from their home box, but why not return the favor? This helps advertise your business while they’re in town and when they return home. They might not live in the area, but chances are they have family, friends or coworkers that do, and your hospitality will not go unnoticed. They can send you important referrals, and at the very least ask them to leave you a review or testimonial that you can use to further promote your box. Or, consider putting together a local guide of all your favorite healthy restaurants, nightlife or sites, so they can make the most of their time in town. These small gestures will go a long way.
Hold free weekend classes at a local park or community center. Give out fitness guides to help them keep up these best practices, and make sure it includes a special offer for your box that they can redeem. This should include an expiration date at the end of the month, to incite timely action while the efficacy of your session is still fresh in their mind. Attending an intro session, outside your box with seasoned athletes, can be less intimidating and make getting started with CrossFit seem more accessible.
Schedule marketing tasks during moments of downtime throughout the day. Whether in between sessions, or before they start/after the last one ends each day. This will optimize your efficiency and balance the demands of daily operations, coaching, and marketing efforts, but also keep you on track. Be realistic with the amount of time you allot to various tasks, so that you don’t set yourself up for failure.
Get involved in community events and organizations. Meet and network with local community groups and leaders, or join town clubs (Knights of Columbus, Rotary Club, Women’s League, etc.). Offer to do special introductory classes for the members, and hand out special offers or welcome gifts for those that become members. Make sure to get their contact info so you can keep in touch, and try to encourage them to become a member down the road when the timing might be better for them.
Use social media to stay plugged in with the CrossFit community. Join conversations happening online to add value and position yourself as an authority. Take advantage of the more visual channels, like Instagram, Periscope, Facebook and YouTube to show off your athletes’ progress and how-to’s or tips to improve and perfect their technique.
When planning team-building activities…think outside the box. People are often attracted to CrossFit because of the strong sense of community that it fosters. Use this as an opportunity to add more value to your athletes, as well improving retention. Encourage them to invite along any friends or colleagues who are considering a new fitness regimen, or have been curious about CrossFit in general. Seeing the close-knit ties that are forged in the box, and at events like these for themselves can be a strong, positive first impression. It will also serve to educate them on the philosophy and practice, as well as dispel any myths, misconceptions or apprehensions they might have.
Send periodical “check-in” emails to stay top of mind with lapsed athletes. Perhaps it’s been years since you last worked with them, but now the time is right for them to dive back into it. Make the decision easier for them by re-engaging at regular yet infrequent intervals so that you’ll be in front of them and on their mind when the timing is right. This can be a birthday email, a newsletter or a sporadic check in, or a gentle nudge to provide a referral.
Utilize intelligent marketing automation technology to keep current customers engaged, and drive new business. Signpost’s Mia does this by automatically sending out emails and SMS messages (text messages) to your customers that are likely to be brand advocates for you asking them to give you feedback, testimonials, 5-star reviews and referrals. It also allows you to send out new customer and loyalty offers.
If you concentrate on SEO, make sure that it’s optimized for local searches. It helps to get as specific as possible here, both in terms of your location or neighborhood, as well as the type of philosophy you emphasize. Instead of “CrossFit New Jersey”, target long-tail keywords like “best CrossFit for beginners in Sussex County, NJ”. Boost the results with the next tactic…
Invest time in a content strategy. Whether keeping a blog, or posting videos, it’s important to not leave these engagements to your social pages, alone. Let them instead live on your site, so that you can improve your visibility with search ranks, and link to them in your social media outreach.