As you know, here in the fitness industry, we have LOTS of extra revenue to spend on advertising and we are probably paying big bucks for ads on TV and radio right? Ha! Just kidding. We wish that were the case, but the truth is most fitness businesses have an extremely low marketing and advertising budget. That doesn’t mean fitness businesses can’t still get really great advertising. It’s true! There are great marketing initiatives that work and can even be free! The catch? You will have to work for it!
- Learn how to gather leads for press releases, what to say in press releases and how often to send them.
- Understand why hosting free educational seminars is a win/win/win for you, your clients and your bottom line and learn which educational seminars bring in the biggest crowds.
- Grasp why hosting racing events can be worth it when it comes to free advertising and introducing tons of people to your facility.
My 3 favorite and most successful ways to get free advertising are:
- Press Releases
- Hosting Free Seminars
- Hosting Events
Let’s start with Press Releases
So many fitness professionals ask me “how do I write and send out press releases that will catch someone’s eye?” Here’s how….
Create a list of key local media contacts in your area including print, radio and TV. You can do this by going to the website of these local media forums and finding the “contact us” section. Use an excel document to record the name, title and email address of the contacts you find. You want to look for the Health/Fitness/Lifestyle editors, publishers, producers etc.
Once your email list is complete, start sending out regular press releases. Tease them with some health and fitness information. Maybe you just attended an IHRSA or IDEA conference and you have purchased a new, innovative piece of fitness equipment that would be news-worthy. Or maybe you are hosting a free workshop or seminar at your facility. Maybe you have a client who has experienced some incredible results and has an inspirational story. Whatever you decide to include in your press release, just make sure it wets their taste buds and makes them want to contact you for more info! It might be slow going at first, but if you are consistent, your media contacts will get used to hearing from you and will eventually call you! Of course each time they run with your idea, you are mentioned as a Health and Fitness expert and you can also ask for your business name, website and phone number to be listed. Just remember when working with media, be sure to get back to them ASAP – they are always on a tight deadline. And try to be a great resource for them and make their job easy by sending them website links and relevant contacts when they are working on a particular story. They will soon start coming to you for any fitness and healthy story they are working on.
Hosting Free Seminars
Another way to get free advertising is to host free Educational Seminars at your facility. We host free educational seminars for 2 reasons.
- Great customer service – we like to offer our current clients the opportunity to learn about topics they have expressed interest in. We believe if our clients know better, they can do better. Knowledge + Action = Results!
- Advertising/Marketing – we encourage our clients to bring friends and family and we promote the free seminars throughout our community (at coffee shops, restaurants etc.). It also gives us something to talk about on social media and when writing press releases. This is a great way to get potential new clients into our studio in a no-pressure way where they can learn from us as experts and get enticed to try out our services.
After over 20 years of doing this I have found that different variations of these topics seem to draw the biggest crowds:
- Fat Loss
- Weight Loss
- Staying Young
- Pain Management and Injury Prevention
Try hosting a free seminar and see how it goes. Remember, making a big deal about it and letting everyone know about your free seminar will be a big part of what determines if it is a success or not!
Finally, let’s talk about why hosting events can really be worth the effort when it comes to getting more clients. Yes, hosting racing events is a lot of work, but what better way to reach new clients and engage in your community? We try to start and finish our races right outside our front door. We set up a stage, bring in a live band or DJ and invite vendors to be on site. It one big party and it all happens right in front of our studio. Great exposure! Think about it. There are the participants running the race, the spectators to cheer on their loved ones and the volunteers helping with the event. After the race they will all know exactly where we are, what we do and see what a wonderful, community-minded company we are.
Here are some other really good reasons to host a racing event:
Supporting Your Community
People tend to do business with people they know and respect. Hosting events gives the people in your community a chance to get to know you and many of them will choose your business over another because they see how you support the community with events that raise money for local charities.
Creating & Fostering Friendships
These types of events foster a fun environment that helps develop friendships. When people have a lot of friends where they work out they are more likely to come to work out. This enhances results and they are less likely to leave your facility and go elsewhere for their workouts.
Opportunity to Offer Feeder Personal Training/Group Services
For example we host a triathlon and we also host a triathlon training program and charge $199 for the program!
On top of all of this exposure we also get all of the participants’ email addresses so we can continue to market to them and promote upcoming programs and events! So, how do you tackle the job of reaching out to all of the participants of your event to follow up and remind them of your services? You want to make your contact with each participant be and feel authentic.
- Start by narrowing down the field – only reach out to participants that live near your facility
- Assign each trainer a list of participants to reach out to within a month of the event
- Set a goal for each trainer to schedule at least 1 comp session per week for the first month of the event.
- And believe it or not we call each participant. We have our trainers use a script for these phone calls and start by congratulating them on their accomplishment. The script will focus on discussing the individual’s current fitness program and their goals and assure they understand the benefits of what we can do for an active person like them.
- Let them try out your group classes for free for a week or two.
- Send out scheduled emails to all of the participants to remind them of any post-race info and the free 2 week offer.
Remember, hosting an event is an amazing thing to do for your community, your clients and for local charities, but it is also an opportunity to let people know who you are. Make sure to have a plan and how you will market to the participants of your event.
So, press releases, hosting free seminars and hosting events are 3 ways to get free advertising and they all work. Go ahead….give them a try!