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Tricks of the Trade

What marketing strategy has worked especially well for you?

By Ideafit Authors
May 28, 2008

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.

Tim Borys

President and CEO,
FRESH! Fitness


Calgary, Alberta

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.

Kate Rogers, MS

Director of Personal
Training and Group


Exercise, State of the
Heart Fitness


Santa Monica,
California

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.

Dale Weber, MS

Lorraine DeLuca, MS

Owners, Bedford
Pilates & Fitness LLC


Bedford Village, New
York

SIDEBAR: QUESTIONS?

If you have a
question, send it to IDEA
Fitness Journal
via regular mail (see “Your Membership” page);
e-mail ([email protected]); or fax (858-535-8234). Include name, company,
city, state/province and phone number.

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