Someone recently made a very excellent comment on the Gym Insight Blog. The commenter posted that, while walk-ins are great, they don’t just materialize out of thin air, clubs have to work for them.
Yes, that is absolutely true, you are going to have to invest some time and effort to generate walk-in inquiries. The result you want is a new face loitering by the front desk asking questions and taking the tour.
Advertise and Brand Building
The old school concept of marketing is as valid as it ever was, you need AIDA: attention, interest, desire, and action, to cultivate prospects and convert them into paying members. The process moving your prospects along that path are often called sales or marketing funnels. The further down the funnel that walk-ins are when they make contact, the easier it is to close them on a new membership.
To get walk-ins, you need visibility; you need to build awareness and capture attention in your local community. The process is a funnel that starts before prospects walk in, and ends with new paying memberships. Generating walk-ins depends on how far you can extend your funnel out into the local environment.
Bricks and Mortar Signs For Marketing
So the term funnel has a lot of variability, marketers often mean digital media such as web-based advertising and email marketing. Also, we are just talking about bringing people in through your front door. A complete sales and marketing funnel is really beyond the scope of the objective.
However, it is perfectly valid to talk about things you do in the physical world with a funnel as part of your sales system. The point is that you want to get the attention of the general public in your vicinity and build their interest. Once they have developed enough curiosity to inquire, they are likely to walk in.
Signs on the sidewalk – If you can claim some sidewalk space purchase an A-frame signboard or two.
Sign spinners – The guys and gals who dance on street corners with signs will get attention all right. Commission a suitable signboard or hire a local agency.
Be an event sponsor – Connect with your fellow local business owners and sponsor events in the community. Ask that in return, they allow you to display a banner prominently during the activities. Your local print shop will be happy to make up a suitable banner sign for this purpose.
Digital Connections Count More Than Ever
People spend so much time looking at digital media these days that you cannot ignore platforms like Facebook and Instagram. If you have enough discipline to generate a consistent and fun presence, you can win some recognition on social media. Post daily and respond to comments. Encourage your team to use hashtags on social media.
Use targeted advertising on social media platforms as well as physical media to get attention and build awareness. People are very attached to their digital devices now, so you should think of digital and physical ad space as the same.
With a small advertising budget, you can expand your promotions with paid Facebook advertising, which is extremely precise in it’s targeting. You can set your requirements in very fine detail, and the network will only charge you when it shows your ad to members who fit your criteria accurately.
Also, encourage members to share their opinions on review sites like Yelp.com because people trust this information as authentic, more than any slick copywriting you can buy. Make a habit of asking for reviews from members.
The Millennial Generation is an exceptionally valuable target audience, and they jump from one information channel to another without even thinking about it. They will see your signboard and immediately check digital sources like Yelp for more information.
Walk-in Strategy Summary
- Remember AIDA
- Treat bricks-and-mortar and digital information channels as the same
- Use free digital media and hashtags to your advantage
- Put out signboards and banners that bring attention to your presence
- Ask your members to “like, comment, and subscribe” to your gym on social media
- Also, ask to share their experiences on local review sites like Yelp.com
- Sponsor local events in return for display ads and banners
- At the front desk be prepared to follow up on ever inquiry
Fagan, Lawrence. Gym Businesses Win By Investing In Millennials. May 25, 2017. https://blog.gyminsight.com/4427-gym-businesses-win-by-investing-in-millennials/ (accessed May 27, 2017).
—. Hashtags For Gyms And How To Use Them. December 14, 2015. https://blog.gyminsight.com/3623-hashtags-for-gyms-and-how-to-use-them/ (accessed May 27, 2017).
Uhuru Network. How to Build a Full Inbound Conversion Funnel. 2017. http://uhurunetwork.com/inbound-sales/ (accessed May 27, 2017).