The internet has given you an audience of millions. Most of them don’t want your service, so how do you find the people who do?

Funnel marketing is like panning for gold: you wade into a stream, grab some gravel and filter, filter, filter. If you have unlimited time, or a method to sort thousands of pebbles at once, you might find a nugget or two–or not. Alternatively, you can focus your gym’s marketing strategy around human connections – in this case, the people closest to your current members.

Affinity marketing starts with your gym’s best members, and then focuses on the people closest to them: their families, coworkers and friends. This type of “word-of-mouth” marketing is powerful, but without structure, it’s just a wish. Your members love you, but they’re not salespeople. They need a guided process. In other words, they need you to ask, “How can I help?” Here’s the process to kick-start affinity marketing at your gym:

1. Identify your “best” members.

Use a process like “The Pumpkin Plan” to determine your REAL “best members”.

2. Next, consider their family.

Are they married? How can your service help their spouse? How can you help their kids? Make a clear offer, using a “Help first” mindset.

For example, “Mary, I know your husband is training for a half-marathon this spring. I’d love to give him a free 30-minute session to focus on his lower-body mobility and strength. Can you have him call me before Friday?”

Get your free copy of our 10-Step Marketing Guide for Affiliate Gyms
3. Consider their coworkers.

How does your service help your member at work? Does your member use your workouts to reduce stress? Does she visit your chiropractic office to avoid lower back pain? Does she practice martial arts to have more confidence when dealing with troublesome members? How can you help her coworkers experience the same benefits?

For example, “Mary, I know this is a stressful time of year in the accounting department! Why don’t we invite your staff in on Friday night for some fun team-building? Bring some wine if you like, and I’ll set up some little challenges for them.”

4. Who are their friends, and what do they do for fun?

How can your service make their recreation even better?

For example, “Mary, I know your golf league is about to start soon. You almost won last year – why don’t we invite your foursome in here for a bit of core work on the weekend?”

5. What other services does the member use?

Who is Mary’s dentist / florist / chiropractor / financial planner / hairdresser? These professionals have overlapping member lists, but non-competing services. How can we cross-refer? (hint: it’s not just dropping off business cards.)

For example, invite Mary’s chiropractor to give a seminar at your gym. Share email lists to cross-promote the seminar and future services.

6. What’s your member’s avatar?

What else do they have in common with other potential members?

For example, if Mary’s husband is training for a half-marathon, who ELSE in town is training for the same one? Is there a local running group he likes? Do they have a Facebook group? Why not post an article on stretching to that group? This is where a good Facebook targeting strategy comes in.

7. What was your member’s first goal?

Who else has that goal?

For example, if Mary started working out to lose weight, why not publish a free Weight Loss Guide on your site, and promote it to Mary’s friends through your social media channels?

With each step of the affinity marketing process, it’s very important to create a clear path to action and a deadline. The best help you can give your members is clarity. Our Mentoring program at Two-Brain Business provides this type of clarity with one-on-one guidance, a clear path to execution, and accountability to make sure the work gets done.

Looking for additional marketing tips? Get your copy of our free 10-Step Marketing Guide for Affiliate Gyms.

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chris cooper two brain businessGuest Post by Chris Cooper, Founder of Two-Brain Business and gym owner

A CrossFit Affiliate since 2008, Cooper began blogging his business struggles on in 2009. As he learned through the mentorship of others, he shared lessons with other gym owners. Over 1000 blog posts, a popular podcast and three books later, Cooper launched in 2016. His mentorship practice spans the globe and is the highest-credited CEU course for CrossFit coaches.