Ed Tock is a partner in Sales Makers, a marketing and sales training consulting firm that has worked with more than 1,000 clubs and won the IHRSA Associate of the Year award. Tock is also a regular columnist for Club Industry’s Fitness Business Pro’s Focus On Clubs. He can be reached at 800-428-3334 or eddie@sales-makers.com.

Marketing your club for new members has become more of a challenge. You are required not only to work a little harder but a lot smarter. The traditional forms of advertising, such as print media and direct mail, seem to result in little, if any, response in many markets.

I recently attended the Fitness Industry Suppliers Association (FISA) meeting that brought together more than 35 experienced and multi-site club owners. At the meeting, I facilitated a roundtable that yielded many marketing ideas that you can use to help your business grow. Below are 26 of those ideas.

It’s All Fun and Games
1. Hand out a game card that has special promotions and participation boxes that get stamped whenever a member works out or purchases products or services. Have members fill out an entire game card to be entered in a monthly giveaway and in a longer-term big-ticket prize drawing. Many clubs call this WINGO, or Win When You Go Bingo.

2. New members love purchasing new products and services, especially when they get special savings. Give all new members a time-limited game card where they get special savings on personal training, pro shop purchases, etc. When they fill out one line of purchases (similar to tic-tac-toe), they receive a free T-shirt or are entered to win a monthly prize giveaway.

Go Guerilla
3. Hand out bushels of inexpensive golf balls to local courses with your brand and a guest pass printed on the surface.

4. Deliver baskets of apples to corporate firms with a cover letter, requesting a meeting to discuss corporate wellness initiatives. Make sure each apple has a small sticker displaying your logo and an invitation or guest pass.

5. Read your local newspaper for wedding announcements and handwrite a personal invitation to brides-to-be with a special training offer for her and her bridal party. (This is good for grooms, too.)

Retail Boosters

6. Give members an incentive to visit your juice bar by placing a decal with a challenging fitness question on your shakes or smoothies. If members answer the question correctly, enter them in a drawing to win a monthly prize. Place these decals on the tags of other merchandise to reward members for repeat purchases, too.

7. Give branded club money for referrals. You will keep the money in-house, and, chances are, the recipient will spend a greater dollar amount when redeeming the gift money.

Publicity Stunts

8. Hold a Dollars for Dumbbells fundraiser for your club’s favorite charity by having your members raise money for every pound lifted at your club in one day. Ask corporate partners to match pledges dollar for dollar. Invite community VIPs and news media to cover the event.

9. Get corporate partners to pledge dollars for every pound of body weight lost by your members during a six-month campaign. Prepare a large glass container filled with the money your members raised, and stage a photo-op with the media where you present the money to your charity.

10. Hold a testimonial competition called What Motivates You? Ask members to write about how your club has helped them reach their goals. Give a free term membership to the winner and a free smoothie (or other reward) for each submission. Stage professional photo shoots using your members as models and use them in all of your print ads featuring their testimonials.