With an ever-increasing emphasis on health and wellness, now is a great time to be in the fitness business. And if you’re the proud owner of a fitness franchise, you’re no doubt already enjoying the benefits of a surefire recipe for success and national brand recognition. When it comes to promoting your fitness franchise at a local level, however, you still have work to do. Here are seven helpful local marketing tips to get you started.
1. Create an Engaging Online Presence
Customers looking for a fitness center will typically browse your website and local listings first, to see if your facility is what they’re looking for — key word being looking. Show them how great your facility is with photos, video tours and sample workouts. Add a blog to your website with regular fitness tips and advice, diet plans, healthy recipes and news and events going on at your facility. Create a calendar page where you can post times and descriptions of your classes and keep it updated regularly. Customers know that if your online presence is engaging, chances are your facility is as well. Check with the franchise corporate team to see what they provide and what’s allowed.
2. Advertise Locally
Your franchisor is promoting the brand on the national level, but you need to handle the local fitness marketing campaign. After all, you may also be competing against other franchises or independent fitness centers that are operating nearby. Target your local market with ads on community radio stations, local cable channels, newspapers and circulars. Try sending out postcards via the USPS’ geo-targeted delivery service to select neighborhoods in your area.
3. Make Use of Flyers and Printed Materials
Design an attractive flyer — or get one from your franchisor if possible, and customize it with your location. Post flyers on local bulletin boards in community centers, libraries, grocery stores and local apartment complexes. Keep a stack on the front desk for customers to give to their friends, along with a coupon for a free workout, exercise class or other try-me incentive.
4. Offer Referral Rewards
Your national franchise may already have a referral rewards program in place, but if not, set up your own on a local scale. Offer freebies or membership discounts in exchange for referrals that become new members. Everyone likes a free tee shirt, health drink or fitness accessory, and if it’s imprinted with your logo and address, it’s free advertising for you as well. Try offering rewards on a sliding scale based on the number of referrals a member brings in.
5. Offer a Free Workout Session
Help your customers bring in referrals by providing them a coupon for a free visit, tour and workout session with a professional. This gives the prospective customer incentive to come in and get the full experience. Once they’re flushed with endorphins they’re much more likely to sign up than if they’re just dropping in to look around. Another great idea is to allow members to bring a guest to certain fitness classes. After all, when friends workout together, they’re much more likely to stick to their workout routine, so this is an effective way to bring in new members.
6. Add Lots of Variety
One fitness center cannot be all things to all people, and your franchise no doubt follows the model of the corporate brand when it comes to classes and equipment. But you can still add variety by changing things up and adding a new and unusual class now and again. Even if your focus is pure spinning, you can have a class or two in a different style or with a twist. Consider having various guest instructors come in on a regular basis to teach different kinds of exercise classes, and promote them well to ensure good attendance. You may want to add the most popular ones to your regular schedule.
7. Hold Fitness Seminars
Leverage the expertise of your trainers to put together a fitness seminar for the community, focused around diet and exercise. Tailor it to the demographics of the surrounding community. For instance, if you’re located in an area surrounded by golden agers, you could host a seminar based on fitness needs of seniors and exercise techniques to avoid hip fractures. If you’re in a community with a lot of bicycle clubs you could host a seminar on strength training and nutrition for bicyclists. Be sure to promote your seminars to your existing member base via email and sms as well as through liaisons, i.e. senior centers, bike clubs, etc.
Remember, of course, not to stray too far from the franchise brand, and make sure all of your efforts and activities are appropriate. When available, make maximum use of printed materials, banners and approved advertising content provided by the franchisor. All of your local marketing strategies should be geared to promote the brand as well as your individual franchise.