Pat Rigsby is the co-owner of several businesses in the fitness industry, including the Fitness Consulting Group. He also serves as an industry consultant focusing on the development of profitable personal training departments. To learn how you can improve your club’s retention, referrals and profitability through personal training, take advantage of a special offer for all Step by Step readers and join www.PersonalTrainerU.com free for 30 days at www.ptdepartmentprofits.com. Rigsby can be reached at pat@fitnessconsultingroup.com.

Having a marketing plan is often the difference between a successful club and an unsuccessful one. But when we talk about marketing, most fitness business owners focus entirely on external marketing and ignore the goldmine that is already within their walls.

Below are six simple strategies that you can use to create or improve your internal marketing plan.

1. Monthly Themes. Having a monthly theme makes internal marketing easy. Examples include New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. You could also do things like March Madness (basketball), Spring into Fitness (April), Open House (June), Back to School (August) or Food Drive (October or November).

2. Member Birthday Cards. You most likely have your members’ birthdays on their contracts. Instead of doing nothing with this valuable asset, use it to make your members feel special. Send them a card to let them know you appreciate them and consider including a gift certificate for a discount on a product or service.

3. Ongoing Orientations. Are you forgetting about your members after they join? Hopefully not, but one way to make sure they always can get back on track is to offer regular group orientations. Not just a benefit for new members, orientations can serve as a refresher for current members or a reason to pull inactive members back in the club. Offer some supportive nutritional advice, sound exercise guidance and some motivation to get your members going. Make a special offer for a starter personal training package and use the sessions as both a great retention tool and a source of personal training revenue.

4. Weekly E-mail Newsletters. Staying in contact with your members is a great way to keep them active, promote back-end sales and encourage referrals. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of doing this is by sending an e-mail newsletter. Send a weekly newsletter with tips, success stories and announcements. This will help prevent members from falling off the wagon and result in better retention and more referrals.

5. Reactivation Postcards. If a member isn’t using the facility, they’re certainly not referring others or spending money on personal training or on your retail offering, and they will probably be cancelling at the conclusion of their contract. For a fraction of what it would cost to acquire a new member, you can invite your current members back in the club, get them motivated and keep them as a member. Send a card or invite them to an orientation or a personal training session. Most members don’t hear from their club unless they’re about to expire or missed a payment. Be different and enjoy the results.

6. Welcome Letters. Many times, all a new member gets after they join a club is a pink copy of their contract and maybe a group fitness schedule. Not exactly a great way to start a relationship. Instead, send out a nice thank you card and include information about your club orientation, personal training or whatever gets your members acclimated to the club. Be sure to create a message that reflects the intentions of your club and genuinely say thank you to each and every member who entrusts their fitness goals to you.

There is a goldmine within your current members that you’re probably ignoring or at least not completely tapping into. Implement these six strategies, and the result will certainly be better retention, increased monthly member value and more referrals.