The dog days of summer are nigh. You are bracing to maintain your foothold on your fitness center enrollment. You have tried everything, or nothing if you are lucky, to keep your existing membership enrolled at your center. You have spent an exorbitant amount of energy trying to tread water and retain your current gym members. Yet, you may find that it is just not enough. Now you need a plan.

Ask yourself how much you promote or need to promote your fitness center to the surrounding area, your target market and your defined customer base. Your center may, in fact, be riding the bubble and enjoying prosperous times. On the other hand, your center may be strapped down by diminished enrollment and you may be wondering what the next step may be and how the next bill will be paid. Regardless, center operators and owners need to begin to think like the best consummate salesperson would, promotion, promotion, promotion.

In your fitness center, personal training studio or any related business you can promote your services or products simply, effectively and cost effectively. Of course, it is always necessary to get your name out before your potential customers. One method may be a regular postcard mailer that fits your budget and complements your promotional goals. The end result is to brand your fitness center through repeated mailings and more important, to get “traffic” in your facility. In other words, the goal is to generate new fitness center inquiries. See, “Promote Through Postcard Mailings,” below.

Now you can feel comfortable that you put forth your best effort to create the structure for a successful, repeat mailer to either your existing clientele or potential clientele. At the end of the day, your goal is to continually strive to retain your existing members and to procure new members. This is only one model for promotion. There are other ways to expand your membership base. Your goal should always be to market to expand your business.

Frank Bentkowski is general manager of Exude Inc. in New York. He has a B.S. in Biology from Binghamton University, and is nationally certified by and is a member of the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. He can be reached at 212-644-9559 or at frank16e52@aol.com.

Promote Through Postcard

Mailings

A regular postcard mailer is quite simple if you follow these steps:

  • Choose the size of your mailer.

  • Choose a theme or set of themes to promote your center. Some centers can use the four seasons of the year as an engine for promotion. You may want to think of your end result for promotion and work with your strengths. You may choose your logo, you may have some nice pictures or simply text with you message. The coming summer period is a great place to begin with your theme.

  • Choose a printer that will provide you with graphics support, a decent price and a reasonable timeline for each mailing. Always keep in mind how quick the timeline is for each project turnaround time.

  • Choose a timeline for your promotion. For example, you can choose to send out a postcard mailer once every month or two months.

  • Choose your recipients.

    a. Send a frequent postcard mailer to your existing members. Here you have the opportunity to promote programming changes or fitness services. Maybe, you would like to offer an existing member a free month's membership if they bring in a new member. Your promotion ideas are abundant if you choose to be creative. Yet, frequent and pervasive mailers will brand your center and enable you to expand your membership through your existing members.

    b. Send a postcard mailer to people in your surrounding area and decide if your target recipient will be commercial or residential. Be sure to appropriately target them.

  • Choose a mailing list company and stick with them. You will have the ability to obtain a list that targets your specific needs. Most important, you will own the list. Keep the company that gives you the best results. Mailing labels can be pre-printed or data can be downloaded and imported into a database program that lets you print your own labels.

  • Choose how to label and post your postcards.

    a. Have your staff label and post the cards.

    b. Have a company process the mailing. There are non-profit companies that train and support opportunities for persons with severe disabilities that can label and place postage on your postcards and deliver them to the post office for reasonable fees. You will mail to expand your business and you will also help to employ the disabled.

  • Plan your follow-up.

    a. Keep track of calls made to your center from the customer database.

    b. Manage your salesperson's follow-up with every membership inquiry.