How to Grow Your Gym with Effective Marketing Part Two—Utilizing Client Referrals and Creating a Dynamic Web Presence

7 min read


coffee cup effective marketing

In our first post on growing your gym through effective marketing techniques, we introduced the three legs concept and its importance in the fitness industry. We discussed how to avoid the commodity marketplace trap and how to grow a name for yourself through community involvement. In this post, we’ll move on to the second and third legs: client referrals and creating a dynamic web presence.

Client Referrals

Your goal is to turn your clients into “brand ambassadors,” that is, individuals who will not only speak highly of your gym, but also encourage others to join in for any number of reasons.

Some ways of nurturing your customers into brand ambassadors include:

  • Offering free gear as “milestone” gifts (i.e. after six months of being a member, a client receives a t-shirt or water bottle, after one year they receive a gift card for a local supplement shop, etc.)
  • Having a membership fee reimbursement program (i.e. refer a friend who comes for a free workout and get a free energy drink, or refer a friend who signs up and get a free month at the gym, etc.)
  • Hosting a “Bring-a-Buddy” day
  • Holding contests (i.e. hosting a gym-wide “Biggest Loser” style contest where the winner will receive a free month at your gym)

Get your free copy of our 7-Step Guide to Creating a Successful Referral Program

Apart from having some great giveaways and exciting events, it’s important to have the right fitness culture in and around your gym to support the clientele you’re targeting. This will make your gym a comfortable place for your key demographic to throw down and have fun.

Creating a Dynamic Web Presence

If you’re not online, you’re missing out on a massive marketing opportunity. With millions of Americans regularly using the Internet at home or from a mobile device to check out, review, and make decisions about what to do and where to go, it is paramount that the businesses of the twenty-first century have a web presence.

web presence multiple platforms

Build a Website

Also known as your digital calling card, your website should serve to entice potential clients as well as answer any basic questions, while encouraging them to contact you either by phone or through the web. Unless you’re a professional web designer, this isn’t the place to try to scrimp and save. Invest in your website by ensuring it’s well laid out, thorough, and professionally done. Include biographies of your current trainers, maintain a blog (this can be as simple as posting WODs), and have professionally taken images of trainers and clients in action at your gym.

Jump on Social Media

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest are fantastic—and free—sources of marketing. One single image that you post can immediately extend your virtual reach by hundreds, if not thousands of potential customers. Given that the average Facebook user has 150 friends, every tag made means free advertisement to 150 individuals. Best of all, this is advertising that has a credible and trustworthy familiar face attached to it.

We know what you’re thinking: who has time for social media? But with tools like Hootsuite, you can schedule posts well in advance and capitalize on your time. Or, you can even find and hire people to do this for you at minimal costs online through sites like oDesk.

Optimize Your Online Strategy

Search engine optimization, also known as “SEO,” is something worth learning if you want to take full advantage of your online presence. SEO is an ever-changing landscape and we are by no means claiming to be pros, but there are some basics that you can apply today:

  • Keywords: Knowing how and when to use the best keywords for your affiliate gym will go a long way in creating a competitive presence online. Include basic keywords in URLs (i.e. if you’re located in Seattle, the word “Seattle” and “CrossFit®” should be somewhere in the URL of your homepage), in web pages, page titles, and blog posts.
  • Quality Updated Content: Google wants to present their customers with the most relevant resources for any search term on the web, which means you need to be posting regular up-to-date content.
  • Videos: Videos tend to trump written content in terms of views and engagement, and search engines reward websites with video content by placing them higher in the search engine result pages (SERPs).

Where to Go from Here

Fitness businesses fail all over this nation because they fall into the commodity-marketing trap. Constantly undercutting your prices to compete with “the other guy” will create a financially unsustainable gym that will ultimately fail. Your success in the fitness industry lies in taking a unique three legs concept approach to marketing and building a brand both in your community and online. Network, identify, and foster relationships with the right customers and give them a reason to say good things about you. Community involvement and word of mouth marketing will take you far, but if you’re also able to crush your competition on the web, you’ll have a winning business.

If your fitness business doesn’t already have a website, or the one you have isn’t all it could be, consider letting us build a user-friendly, easy-to-maintain website for you. Our websites integrate with our software and include the essential features fitness businesses need. In addition to a homepage, our responsive website templates include key pages such as about us, programs, schedule, contact us, blog, testimonials and an area for members to login. To learn more about how we can help you grow your business with a new website, join us for a quick demo.

If you’re looking for more information on how you can build, promote and track a referral program for your fitness business, get your free copy of our 7-Step Guide to Creating a Successful Referral Program.

Referral Program Guide

About the Author: Kelli Sweeting

I'm Coach Kelli, a devoted CrossFit gym owner with 15 years of experience managing my facility, along with owning yoga studios and wellness centers. Beyond the fitness world, I have a passion for cooking, cherish moments with my children and family, and find joy in spending time outside. Having experienced the highs and lows, I'm dedicated to leveraging my expertise to help you grow and succeed on your fitness journey.