The best-and most cost-effective-form of advertising is, and always will be, word of mouth. In the fitness industry, we stay in business over the long term because we get results for clients. Without those results, throwing money at costly marketing and advertising initiatives is futile. At FRESH! we focus on doing what we do best (getting our clients the results they desire and need). Once we do this, they are more than happy to speak our praises to their friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances or just about anyone they meet. Of course we help the process by formally asking for referrals, testimonials and feedback on our performance. With this invaluable information at our disposal, we can easily add it to our e-mail newsletter, our website and any other marketing materials we generate. As a small business, we can't afford "brand marketing," so we focus on specific population segments with cost-effective strategic marketing options that utilize our community alliances and social networks. Most personal trainers and clubs approach marketing backwards and try to attract large groups of people without proof of the effectiveness of their services. People won't buy unless they know us, like us and trust us. Accomplishing this task is very difficult without a strong history of getting results and having "raving fans" for clients.
When we decided to collaborate with another business and package our services together, we doubled our database and exposure. My company provides personal training and group exercise classes with a holistic approach. As exercise specialists we feel confident prescribing exercise programs for all populations, but sometimes our clients need extra assistance with dietary modifications. To help our clients and also to broaden our marketing base, we decided to work with a group of local dietitians. We created different package options that enabled clients to see us for the exercise component and go to a dietitian in the group for help with their diet. This strategy was highly effective because we attained all of the dietitians' database contacts, to whom we now send our newsletter and promotional information. In turn, we have a great referral source and are listed on the dietitians' website as the exercise specialists to go to; essentially every person who visits the office of these dietitians is exposed to our company name and services. This marketing strategy has proved lucrative and helped build more community awareness for us.
Over the years we have tried many marketing techniques-some more successful than others. The trick is to evaluate your market and determine the best way to access it. Newspaper ads hit a wide population but may miss your target audience. At the very least, they serve as good name recognition and remind the community that you are there. Timing is everything. Typically, after the New Year, when people are more apt to be looking to start new fitness habits and when the papers run special health and fitness sections, is the best time to invest in these ads. Whether you decide to do the more expensive direct mailings or simply to put up fliers in your location and surrounding towns will depend on the numbers you want to attract. If those numbers are relatively small, you would do better focusing on your immediate residential area. This is an effective and more economical method. Often, local merchants will allow you to post fliers or leave color postcards printed with your schedule and other information in their stores. Dry cleaners, nail and hair salons and even grocery stores are good places to leave your contact information. Take advantage of this opportunity and offer to do the same for them if appropriate. Higher-tech communications like e-mail or newsletters via e-mail are a great way to stay connected to present and past clients. You can use these vehicles to inform clients of upcoming events as well as schedule changes or to relay any announcements. No matter which advertising method you use, its effectiveness is only as good as your follow-up. Make sure that when a potential client makes an initial inquiry, you respond quickly. The sooner you call back, the sooner you can get that client to come in. And that, after all, is the goal.
I did a Groupon type promotion for my boot camp and I gave 1 month unlimited classes for $19. That is crazy cheap, however, my goal wasn't to make money off of the Groupon....my goal was to get my name out to a whole bunch of people that I would never have been able to get my name out to. It was an AMAZING experience. I am a one man show and I had 108 buy my deal and out of the 45 that bought the deal, 27 have signed up after their deal was up. By giving 1 month I was able to build a relationship with them.
Word of mouth. Worked miracles.
Friends, Facebook, Craigslist, Word of Mouth are some of the least expensive ways to start marketing that you are a CPT. Just like in outside sales, the more you meet people, the better your odds of growing a client base.
Public speaking. Whether someone asks me or I create opportunities to invite people in for a 'seminar series' on evergreen topics of interest, getting in front of potential new clients in a way that is non-threatening for them has been the best "other" way of getting qualified clients. You deliver the message of what you do and how you do it by showing them and because of that you're going to attract the exact kind of client who wants what you have and is likely to become and remain a satisfied client for a long time!
Networking, word of mouth and a couple of daily deals I did with Groupon.
I need to add donating to local fundraising events and also been on IDEA fitness. Especially lately, these two strategies have helped me get some new clients in ways I haven't thought about it before.