To increase gym membership sales, make the most of social media marketing, viral marketing, email marketing, TV and radio ads, and telemarketing. These are the most powerful marketing channels available, and when used correctly they can significantly increase your gym membership.

As summer comes around and people get ready to show off their healthier and fitter selves, gym membership sales are automatically expected to increase. In such a competitive climate, taking the right steps to increasing gym membership sales has become all the more important.

Due to global events of the past couple years, gym membership was down across the nation. However, this is quickly reversing.

To help you leverage the positive effects of this trend for your business, here’s a full guide on reaching your audience wherever they are and increasing your overall gym membership sales.

Let’s jump right in.

1. Smarter Social Media Marketing 

Today, you’ll find most of your potential customers on social media.

Regardless of age, social group, or location, chances are that your direct audience is on at least one social media platform, following their fitness idols or researching fitness.

In fact, according to a Global Web Index report, 54% of social media users research products on the various platforms they’re on. Additionally, 44% of users shop for products on platforms such as Instagram on a weekly basis.

Considering that, it may seem like catching fish from a bowl. However, that’s not the case, especially when you consider competition (from both local and chain gyms) and the availability of free workout advice.

Even more worrying is the fact that influencer marketing generally reaches more people than standard video and graphic ads.

That said, there is a right way to approach social media marketing when looking for greater gym membership sales. 

What to Do

Here’s how to approach social media marketing for increased gym membership sales:

Step 1: Create a few target personas for your potential customers

These personas can be based on both existing members and the demographics you want to reach. Member personas will help you focus your marketing efforts around a central target. This, in turn, lets you offer much greater value to customers.

Here’s an example of a well laid-out buyer persona complete with all the relevant insights a business needs to market its service. 

Step 2: Build interesting and entertaining ad content around them

You already have a general direction to go in. Now, you just need to put out ad content that will engage the people you’re looking to bring in. This is easier to do than other forms of marketing since social media is already built around member engagement.

Here’s an example of catchy ad copy that grabs reader attention while also informing them.

Step 3: Inform the customer at the first engagement

This means giving potential members as much of the information they’re likely to seek as possible, right there in the ad. Most businesses prefer to bring the customer to their website, which is great for online positioning. However, for greater sales, you’ll need to offer relevant information up front.

This is an example of an ad that puts valuable information front and center.

What NOT to Do

While creating a social media plan, don’t fall into any of these traps:

Creating too many ads

You may have a ton of content ideas for ads, but don’t put all of that into circulation because it’s not all guaranteed to hit. Remember, your gym may be open to all types of customers, but your messaging can’t be as diverse as your member base. Doing this puts your message at risk of being too convoluted. 

Focusing on a single platform

Today, almost every social media platform either has a marketplace feature or functions as one. Considering this, you should optimize your marketing for the platform you’re marketing on. This means you need custom templates for each platform.

Repeating your messaging

Focusing on a singular goal throughout your marketing campaign is understandable. However, don’t repeat the same ad copy or post wording for all your marketing output. Change up the messaging while retaining the fundamental goal or call to action.

Focusing on quantity over quality

When it comes to a channel such as social media, marketing is all about the quality of content. Boring ads become an inconvenience quickly, and you don’t want people to become so annoyed that they opt out of seeing your ads altogether. 

What’s Great About It

Social media marketing can be as targeted or broad as you like. Plus, it gives you a ton of room to play around with in terms of written or visual media.

Smarter social media marketing can do three things at once. 

It can:

  • Inform your audience while inviting them to join.
  • Reach your audience where basic online search marketing might not.
  • Help your audience further market you via word of mouth.

All of this helps you get ahead of the typical online business marketing tactics that competitors are using. Additionally, it prevents high marketing spend while generating decent ROI in the long and short term.

And tools like Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to schedule posts and tweets in advance so they’re sent out at peak times.

2. Entertaining Viral Marketing

Creating viral content is by far the shortest path to greater brand recognition. 

It serves as a quick and easy way to get the name of your business across to your audiences, while being virtually self-distributing. It’s no wonder that around 80% of businesses are now using online viral marketing as part of their greater digital marketing campaigns.

However, that doesn’t always translate to higher ROI, especially if your messaging is more about going viral than informing potential members about your gym services.

That said, if you go about it the right way, viral marketing content can help develop the necessary brand affinity that you need to get new gym members.

It’s also the easiest marketing channel to scale, since it mostly requires creative planning and brainstorming instead of distribution spend. Depending on how well you create your assets, you can get away with spending nothing on paid ad boosting.

Overall, viral marketing is a great addition to a digital marketing framework. As long as you make it entertaining enough for the audience, you won’t have to worry about your message not reaching your target.

What to Do

Here’s how to approach viral marketing for increased gym membership sales:

Step 1: Browse the most viewed and visited platforms and analyze the content being shared there

For example, Instagram is currently being dominated by the Reels feature. In fact, according to HubSpot, 85% of marketers say that short-form videos are the highest performing content. Leverage the popular formats for better results.

Instagram Reels offer a great opportunity to produce long-form ad content, or even just advertise on Reels themselves.

Step 2: Center your message around people’s emotions instead of their intellect

Stirring your audience’s emotions is a great way to draw a (positive) response. An emotional response to an exciting, inspiring, or heart-warming ad can also leave a lasting impact that may influence buying decisions long after a person sees the content.

For example, the “Baby Yoda” image became a base for tons of viral marketing opportunities by some of the top global brands. 

Step 3: Make the content entertaining and engaging for the viewer

These two qualities are what really make a piece of content go viral in a short span of time. If your audience is entertained and engaged, they’re likely to share it with like-minded people, which fulfills the entire purpose of viral marketing.

Ryan Reynolds’ video ads are always a great example of how entertaining content can go viral without much distribution effort.

What NOT to Do

When creating a viral marketing plan, don’t make any of the following mistakes:

Being overly shocking or ‘edgy’

It’s easy for viral marketing tactics to be seen as “cringe,” obnoxious, or just plain “marketing,” instead of containing actual substance or intrinsic value. It’s very important never to make the messaging too over-the-top for your kind of business. Content that is tonedeaf or tries too hard to appeal to a certain demographic invites the wrong kind of viral fame, which is something you don’t want.

Sounding too desperate

When crafting your viral marketing asset, be subtle or nonchalant with the call to action. Don’t include an overly prominent CTA that takes away from the entertaining nature of the content itself.

Revealing your intentions

The idea is to create something that will go viral, without being too obvious with how you want it to go viral. Avoid making too many pop culture references or relying on stereotypes. These dilute the message and just make you sound out-of-touch with how trends work.

Confusing viral with influencer marketing

Viral marketing and influencer marketing are not the same, no matter how popular the influencer is. Yes, influencer-based ads can go moderately viral if there’s an entertaining element to them. But viral marketing influences everyone on the platform, even people who don’t follow a specific influencer.

What’s Great About It

Viral marketing is great for spreading your message as fast as possible. This lets you concentrate on building brand affinity and providing value without paying at every step of the distribution channel.

By far the biggest advantage of viral marketing is that once it takes off, you can cut overall investmentment in marketing by half and still get sufficient reach. Even better, if your content is great, you’ll start generating ROI faster than with any other marketing channel.

While unsuccessful attempts and even bad press are possible if your asset doesn’t strike the right chord with your audience, viral marketing is a great channel that has made a lot of brands and products extremely popular. You can do the same if you use the technique well.

3. Targeted Email Marketing

Let’s face it, almost everyone has opted out of receiving emails when given the option while browsing a site.

The initial opt-in often seems like an extra step to overcome when all the visitor needs is some quick information. However, when done right, it can generate up to $42 for every dollar spent, according to a Litmus report.

The tricky part about email marketing is getting people to opt in. This is even more true for the brick-and-mortar service industry, where people are likely in a hurry and the last thing they want to think about is email.

That said, if you manage to get people to allow emails, you’re opening a world of promotional opportunities.

HubSpot reports that 78% of surveyed marketers saw an increase in overall email marketing engagement over the past year. The reopening of facilities definitely has a lot to do with this, since people now want more information, regardless of when it is delivered. 

All of that said, it’s important to know that email marketing should never be treated as a one-size-fits-all approach. The better solution here is targeted email marketing, customized for the receiver.

What to Do

Here’s how to run effective email marketing campaigns for gym membership sales:

Step 1: Create engaging opt-ins that grab visitors’ attention and encourage them to delve deeper into your online presence

This is probably the hardest part, but it’s also the most rewarding. A more engaging opt-in message (with an incentive offer) is more likely to result in a membership.

This opt-in is smart because it technically doesn’t give the reader a chance to opt out. However, it does this while giving the impression that the reader will receive something good through either option.

Step 2: Use member personas to customize emails

Member personas are a direct model of all the people most likely to join your gym. You can use these models to create unique email messaging around. For example, older folks may be less likely to respond to messaging centered around younger members, so creating personas for each demographic and crafting emails specific to them helps diversify your voice.

This is an example of segmenting emails by personas, one of which can be someone who browses the offer but isn’t ready to buy.

Step 3: Customize emails for the viewer

Yes, it’s a labor-intensive process to find out what your potential members like and how they use gym facilities, but it’s worth it for the engagement this creates. It also has the added advantage of making your audiences feel more valued.

Emails such as these feel much more personal than the generic message that most businesses send out.

Step 4: Offer more incentives than your direct competitors

Look up which are the best reviewed gyms in the areas where you operate, and upgrade discounts as well as bonuses that will compete with theirs. However, make sure not to use language that vilifies competing services.

Discounts such as these are commonplace. However, you can look around at what competitors are offering and simply offer a better deal.

Step 5: Use inclusive language when creating email templates

Focus on making people feel good about themselves instead of suggesting that they may be out of shape. For example, instead of saying “lose those extra pounds and get trim for the summer,” you can say “get healthier and become the best you.”

Inclusive, uplifting language like this creates an emotionally positive response in the viewer, increasing the chances of them subscribing. 

What NOT to Do

Stay away from the following pitfalls while setting up or running an email campaign:

Creating a one-size-fits-all email

Consider the diversity of your audience when creating a campaign. This can’t be said enough, since it’s typically the biggest mistake businesses make with email marketing. Personalizing goes farther than using the visitor’s name. Make sure to craft entire strategies behind each member persona.

Not researching send times

Your email open rate depends a lot on when you send it. Considering that, research the best time for your automated emails to send out and create a schedule to help streamline the whole process. In case you’re worried about missing opportunities, you can use tools like Mailchimp or Marketo to automate emails.

Using complicated or lengthy templates

The best emails are concise, direct, and witty. Anything more and you risk boring or, worse, confusing the reader. To avoid this, create a simple template with the incentive front and center. Address the reader in simple language and avoid multiple CTAs.

Using divisive language

Today, the worst thing a gym can be is too exclusive or divisive in terms of language and messaging. Make sure not to use language that alienates certain readers or focuses too much on tired tropes such as losing weight or getting “in shape.”

What’s Great About It

Email marketing is a powerful direct marketing tool that you can personalize extensively.

It has stayed popular even with newer and higher populated channels such as social media, partly because of the high customizability factor. Four out of five marketers say they would stop using social media before they would abandon email marketing.

This is compounded by the fact that 74% of older people use email as the preferred channel of communication with brands. 

With that in mind, it pays to have a robust email strategy in place, especially if you want to build lasting relationships with your members.

4. Engaging TV and Radio Ads

Online ads do help capture a specific age demographic. However, since gyms are meant to cater to everyone, you should not discount TV and radio ads in the long run.

This might seem counter-productive, since you can already run video ads on social media and streaming platforms. But there is still a massive audience to be reached via TV and radio.

For people who are traveling or live in an area where consistent internet connections aren’t available, TV and radio are the primary marketing mediums.

Once again, all of this depends on how you go about it. TV and radio marketing requires a specific kind of marketing material, distributed at the right time, and containing the right content.

The best way to go about TV and radio marketing is to run it as part of a larger digital and conventional marketing campaign. Granted, not every gym has the budget to go all out on this front. However, it pays to have a wider marketing net. 

What to Do

Here’s how to run engaging TV and radio ads for higher gym membership sales:

Step 1: Know which audience the ads will reach

It’s no secret that people over the age of 35 spend more time watching TV and are more likely to listen to the radio than younger audiences. However, Gen X, boomers, and elder millennials represent a significant share of gym memberships. Keep these audiences in mind when creating your member personas.

Step 2: Know the ideal broadcast times

Knowing the ideal broadcast times for your area helps you reach an already primed audience with your content. Radio listeners who are driving to work or sitting in go-home traffic are a relatively captive audience. Many people like to sit in front of the TV after they finish dinner (and may be regretting their big meal and thinking about how they need to get back to the gym).

Primetime ads typically cost more, so follow what your budget allows. But try to buy the optimal air time for both mediums. Also, remember that quality over quantity rules in TV and radio since the airwaves are already crammed full of ads. 

Step 3: Be witty and clever with the content

Appeal to the comedic or thought-provoking end of the content spectrum, but don’t go overboard with the comedy. Make sure that the ad content doesn’t take away from the call to action, which is the primary moneymaker in the ad. You can also mention some important health stats in the content for increased urgency. 

What NOT to Do

Stay away from the following mistakes in your TV or radio ad campaign:

Appealing to specific groups

Don’t show images or say things that indicate you cater only to a specific crowd, even if you technically are doing so. Keep your messaging as broad and vague (in terms of target audience) as you can without being too disconnected from your objective, which is bringing in new members. 

Being too similar to competitors

The worst thing you can do is create ads that are too similar to what audiences already see and hear. This will cause them to completely forget about you, even if they see and hear your ads repeatedly. You need to be visible in the crowd via your content, especially if you’re aiming for membership longevity.

Subtracting from your online presence

Online marketing is important, and that’s a fact that every conventional marketer will admit. If you’re sticking more to conventional marketing, make sure to at least market your online presence. If you don’t do that, you run the risk of looking out of touch.

What’s Great About It

Advertising on the right TV channels and radio stations can increase your reach and create a well-rounded framework from which you can tell your potential customers and ideal audiences what your gym has to offer. 

While neither medium reaches quite as many diverse audiences as online channels do, they still have a large enough consumer base to be viable.

Since many of the most popular radio networks also broadcast over the internet, you can still reach some of the digital-only audiences without spending a dime on marketing to the latter.

All in all, make sure you have the right team with dedicated conventional media marketing experts on board for TV and radio. 

5. High-Level Telemarketing

Telemarketing is a tougher marketing channel to conquer, especially for a modern business or service. This is mostly because of little-to-no growth for the channel in the past few years, and partly because of technology replacing the human component in telemarketing.

Despite that, it can be a very beneficial channel if you know how to use it effectively. Telemarketing is still dominated by human salespeople, talking to human buyers.

AI is starting to replace this with machine learning protocols that learn buyer behaviors, adjust language and tactics accordingly, and reach more people as a result. However, for now people are still calling people, making telemarketing a great marketing channel for gyms.

Over 90% of Fortune 500 telemarketers say the channel is effective for customer outreach and lead generation. On top of that, it’s still the best way to directly prospect for leads.

With this in mind, it’s important to have a solid strategy in place when adopting telemarketing as part of your marketing framework. This is because it requires highly-trained and effective people on board to make any meaningful difference. 

What to Do

Here’s how to use telemarketing for higher gym membership sales:

Step 1: Create customized scripts for different audience personas

You should have at least five to six detailed personas ready to create content around. Make sure you know what they like to hear, and have your salespeople address each persona with the right script. This is very important since a good script is the singular make-or-break factor in immediate sales.

Step 2: Get extensive training by high-level experts

Consistent training and development is necessary for telemarketers. Make sure yours are getting the right training and support from management. You can purchase subscriptions to online courses or have live training sessions, whichever better suits your budget. 

Step 3: Make a coordinated telemarketing run

Coordination is important because you want every relevant department to support sales around the clock. Contrary to popular belief, you can’t get away with a strong sales setup but weak lead-gen and email marketing. Every department needs to work together to ensure the customer gets the support they need.  

What NOT to Do

Stay away from these issues when you set up and run your telemarketing campaign:

Creating a singular script

No matter how effective a script is, don’t make it the center of your telemarketing framework. In many cases, an obviously scripted conversation can turn off potential customers. However, it doesn’t hurt to have some structure, at least at the start. Create several scripts for your various member personas.

Abandoning prospects

Realistically, you’re not likely to develop a relationship with a lead on the first call. It takes some follow-up to have a qualified lead, and conversion takes even more effort. Even if you think you have the best salespeople in the market, have a safety net of follow-up calls, emails, and messages.

Sticking to typical sales-speak

There’s nothing worse than receiving a call from someone who uses words like “value-added services” or “partnered” and other sales jargon. A gym is supposed to feel familiar and be a place where you can let your guard down. A sales call that sounds overly processed or salesy will reflect the opposite and can turn a prospect off completely.

What’s Great About It

You’re able to inform audiences a lot more about your services on a call, versus an email or social media ad. 

The direct communication aspect is necessary for people who have never set foot inside a gym. They might have information that would take too much time to relay over email. Telemarketing lets you provide maximum information while speaking directly with the person you want to sell a membership to.

Bonus: Expert Gym Marketing Services

All of the marketing channels we’ve discussed are effective if approached the right way. However, that is much easier said than done, especially today when basic online marketing is so easy and cheap.

Assembling a marketing and sales team, training and developing them, and investing constantly in ongoing marketing channels can become prohibitively expensive. Also, it adds to the number of people you have to manage alongside the actual gym facility.

This is where services such as Gym Rescue Marketing come in. 

What’s Great About It

Hiring a gym marketing service takes all of the guesswork out of effective marketing. You can get all you need in terms of marketing at a single point of service.

Here are some ways in which hiring a gym marketing service can help:

  • Automate the entire marketing process to where you don’t need to delegate any time or effort. The experts take care of business while you focus on improving the services you offer.
  • Get much better ROI in both the short and long term. Experts take into account the seasonal dips and rises in gym traffic, and they create a marketing strategy accordingly.
  • Build much more engaging promotional campaigns than you may have thought possible. This has the added effect of gaining traction via word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Focus on facility benefits instead of membership price. The experts know how to let your services take front and center, so that the price doesn’t turn the customer off.
  • Get a customized marketing strategy that’s tailored to your immediate and future needs. An expert marketing team will analyze your service offerings and create marketing assets around them. 
  • Gain marketing assets that are optimized for each specific channel. Instead of a single ad design, get content and design variations that are suited to the platform they’re running on. 
  • Get guaranteed results, regardless of what services you offer or how big or small your facility is. A customized marketing approach considers your current service capacity and contains the right number of assets for both your growth needs and your budget.
  • No marketing stone left unturned in your quest to reach any and all potential members. Reach the audiences via all the top-performing channels, and even some untapped ones.

Marketing experience goes a long way, and with a dedicated gym marketing service such as Gym Rescue Marketing, you not only get experienced marketers, but a well-oiled marketing machine backing up your service offering.

Contact us for more information.