So, your small gym business is becoming less small, and you’re still spending too much of your time personally promoting your business. You ask, "could I get a marketing pro to do this for me?" Good question, it’s a positive development that you even need to consider this point; so what do you do?
There are plenty of marketing professionals who’d love to work for a fitness center. The problem is likely to be whether you can afford to hire them full-time and to keep them busy. The way that small gym businesses can bootstrap a solution is to be smart with the modest sums that they can invest in marketing and to measure the results.
Alternatives For Wily Gym Business Owners
If you invest in marketing activities, will it return more revenue to the business than if you spent the same amount elsewhere? Elsewhere might mean replacing the carpet, purchasing new equipment, or adding people who do other jobs, like a cleaner. Keeping clean is critical to your gym but that’s a different issue, and if the choice is that clear, a cleaner might be the right option to choose. The simplest way to determine if a marketer adds value to your company is to track the costs associated with marketing as part of your bookkeeping or financial record keeping.
As the owner and/or founder, you most likely have an accurate reckoning on what you do for marketing presently. You can get a lot of value by just delegating the time-consuming tasks to an employ or junior manager who has the enthusiasm to follow through. Volunteering to take on marketing tasks may be an excellent way for them to move their careers ahead.
List all of the tasks you do for marketing and create a checklist that contains everything that you want your marketer to do daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonally, which can help you get much more done and add value to the business at the bottom line. The one assumption here is that you are doing enough, you know what works, and you aren’t doing anything that is wrong or undermining your efforts. Mostly, you can grow your marketing department internally if your gym business marketing strategy is fundamentally sound.
Hiring Like The Big Companies
If you recruit a marketer externally it will certainly be a more challenging investment; you will have their salary plus any other overhead costs of a manager. What they will bring in is the professional knowledge and experience that they have accumulated in their education and career. Sounds expensive, right?
According to Glassdoor.com, marketing managers expect salaries around two to three times what a junior gym manager can earn, higher even than most top gym managers at corporate gyms. That doesn’t mean that you should dismiss the idea out of hand. What it does mean is that you need to develop a projection of what that marketer will conservatively add to you as a return on investment.
Give Your Marketer Some Rope
Assuming you hire your marketer at the beginning of the year you should be prepared to provide them with enough time for the changes and activities they implement to begin generating revenue; this should be a year or an absolute minimum of six months. Encourage your marketer to apply the 80/20 Rule and do the things that will generate the biggest quickest results first and then work on building out a long-term strategy.
You should also investigate hiring a marketing agency, but many marketing companies don’t want to sign you up for any less than the mid-five-figures per year. What that will get you is access to world-class professional marketers, who will be less expensive than hiring a full-time professional into your company, but not by much. However, a good agency will have a diversity of talent that can respond as needs change and opportunities appear. The test, again, is what they add to your ROI.
Your small gym business needs a marketing strategy. You should conduct marketing activities, but you need to be smart about how you spend the budget. It may be worth recruiting a marketing professional if you can be confident that they will improve your strategy and start initiatives that will grow your business. The bootstrapping alternative is setting the strategy yourself and delegating as much of the work to willing gym staff as you can. In any case, whether it’s time to hire a marketing manager or still too soon, begin measuring exactly how much marketing adds to your bottom line and do what you can to improve it.
Beattie, Andrew. How To Calculate ROI Of A Marketing Campaign. May 30, 2015. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/053015/how-calculate-roi-marketing-campaign.asp (accessed December 9, 2016).
Fagan, Lawrence. Get Gym Management Leverage With the 80/20 Rule . November 25, 2013. https://blog.gyminsight.com/2204-get-gym-management-leverage-with-the-8020-rule/ (accessed December 9, 2016).
Glassdoor.com. Marketing Manager Salaries in United States. November 28, 2016. https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-marketing-manager-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,20.htm (accessed December 9, 2016).
Harbourne, Emily. The Marketing Essentials. November 10, 2015. https://clubsolutionsmagazine.com/2015/11/the-marketing-essentials/ (accessed December 9, 2016).