Using Local Events to Grow Your Gym

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community street fair

It’s not uncommon for gym owners to feel like they’ve done everything they can to promote their business yet still need more new members. Good signage, check. Referral program, check. Sweat Angels, check.

While all those marketing tactics are essential for growing your gym, you can still do more by having a presence at local events. Local events help you take your marketing to the next level. They give you exposure to a large group of people and allow you to connect on a personal level. To help get you started with event marketing, here’s our step-by-step action plan.

1. Find Your Events

To start, you need to be engaged in your local community to find the good events. Sign up for email newsletters from local event centers and your Parks and Recreation program. Monitor the Events section on Facebook, subscribe to community blogs, register on Nextdoor and follow fitness groups on Meetup.

nextdoor community events

Look for the opportunity to attend a wide variety of events. Farmers markets, community health fairs and fitness expos are just a few of the great places to meet people in your community.

2. Plan Your Setup

Once you find an event and register for it, you’ll need to start planning your setup. Find out exactly where your exhibit space will be. Since setups vary, your location will determine what you can and cannot do there.zen planner martial arts super show

Consider buying a table cover or banner with your gym’s name and logo on the front of it. You can have one printed for a couple hundred dollars, and it will last you several event seasons.

You’ll also need some handouts for your table, as well as a giveaway to entice people to walk over. You can buy handouts locally at places like a FedEx Office store, or you can find countless companies online to order from. Just remember to order early to allow for print and delivery time.

Finally, consider asking a few current gym members to attend and hand out flyers to encourage attendees to stop by your table. At crowded events it can be easy to miss an exhibitor, so having a few extra people pointing out your table will be a big help. Plus, your members will be able to personally endorse your gym.

3. Promote Your Presence

Although the event will do their own advertising, you should let your community know you’re going to be there as an exhibitor. Marketing and sales experts say that it takes six to eight touches to create a true sales lead. What this means is that people in your area need to hear about your gym six to eight different times to solidify your name in their mind.

We suggest running a targeted Facebook ad to announce you’ll be at the event. List your spot or table number in the ad, as well as the hours you will be there. Depending on what you plan to give away at the event, you might want to mention that you’re going to be raffling off a prize.

4. Be Approachable

Have you ever been to an expo and noticed vendors looking down at their phones or just giving off an uninterested vibe? What about when the people sitting behind the expo table are talking to each other without looking up? If you’ve experienced these scenarios, you know how uninviting behavior like that is.

As an exhibitor, you want to be open, cheerful and attentive. Make eye contact and say hello as they walk by. When attendees stop to talk, make an effort to listen to their question and comments so you can find ways to meet their needs. Avoid making judgments as to whether someone is truly interested or wasting time. You’ll be there to plant seeds that may not bloom for months to come.zen planner ipad

5. Collect Leads

Remember we suggested a giveaway? Giveaways not only drive traffic to your booth, but they also help you collect names and contact information you can use later. Giveaways don’t have to be big or expensive. You can do something as simple as offer to send a ‘workout tips’ newsletter in exchange for contact information. If you do that, attendees can give you their information on a sign-up sheet. Or better yet, on a tablet through a simple form setup.

6. Incentivize a First Visit

Many attendees will be at the event just to collect information. To give them the nudge they need to visit your gym, incentivize their first visit. Offering a ‘one free visit’ or ‘one free week’ pass is a good way to do that. You can either hand the passes out at the event or email them to your contacts after the event, using the information you collect while you were there.

Events are a great way to meet people and grow your gym. The more you attend them, the easier they are to plan and the more leads you’ll bring in.


Ready to take your marketing strategy to the next level? Get your copy of our 10 Step Marketing Guide for Gyms.

marketing strategies for gyms

Shilo Lucyk

Shilo Lucyk

In her spare time Shilo enjoys teaching yoga classes, doing CrossFit® and reading anything she can get her hands on.

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