Fitness Studio Challenge #1: Not Enough First Time Visitors

Fitness Studio Challenge #1: Not Enough First Time Visitors

In our previous blog post, we discussed three of the biggest challenges faced by fitness studio owners attempting to increase membership revenue. In this post, we’re going to take a look at the first of those challenges: Not enough new visitors.

If your fitness studio feels a little quieter than usual – and your revenue has started to stagnate – that could be your cue to switch your focus to getting more new people through your front door. But there’s more to it than simply pumping marketing dollars into Facebook Ads or leaving flyers on cars outside the local mall.

You need a plan, you need to execute, and you need to be able to measure its success.

How to track & boost first-time visitors

Most studio owners – and business owners in general – know that they need to market their business in order to succeed. But many tend to take a “see what sticks” approach to marketing, trying a bunch of different things and generally hoping for the best.

The truth is, you need to be a great deal more methodical when advertising your business.

John Wanamaker famously quipped: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” But, how do you know when you are wasting your money? If the whole point of advertising is to get people through your front door, you need to keep track of the reasons people are coming through the door.

Step 1: Establish a baseline

Ask yourself: How many first-time visitors do you currently get each month?

If you don’t know the answer then you don’t really know your business. And if you don’t know your business, how can you confidently spend money on marketing it?

Let’s imagine that you’re spending thousands of dollars on an ad in the local newspaper. In the days and weeks after it was published, you receive 100 first-time visitors. So, was the ad successful? Are those 100 visitors more or less than you get in a typical month?

So, the first step is to establish a baseline of your current visitor metrics – something that should be easy to get from your studio management software.

Step 2: Start a campaign

Now that you know how many visitors you get with your current marketing efforts, it is time to try something new. Beyond the usual advertising approaches, here are a few fitness marketing ideas to help you get your creative juices flowing:

  • Incentivize existing customers – Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful marketing strategies available to you. While you might think it’s a naturally occurring phenomenon, the truth is it’s something you can influence.

For example, if your existing customers are happy with their experience, turn that to your advantage and incentivize them to spread the word about your studio. Why not offer them a discounted membership or a free class when their friends or family join and reference them? Or create a reward program for members who share their love on social media.

  • Target local businesses – Instead of producing a blanket marketing message, narrow your focus and target local businesses. You could offer a discount or free taster session exclusive to their workplace to generate interest, or a corporate gym membership for employers to offer employees.
  • Strategic partnerships – A rising tide lifts all boats, and working with other businesses in your area will benefit all involved. Perhaps your new customers could enjoy a free iced coffee at the local coffee shop post-workout by flashing their membership card? Or maybe you could strike a deal with the local sports store for discounted equipment or workout gear after X amount of sessions?

A strategic partnership could bring some great incentives for new clients to pick your studio over your competitors, while also resulting in word-of-mouth exposure, and stronger relationships with other local businesses.

Step 3: Measure your success

No matter which marketing idea you try, you have to track your success. And the only way to do this is to keep track of new visitors coming through the door.

How did they hear about you? Where did they come from? Be sure to create options in your studio management software and train your staff on a consistent intake procedure so that all of this important data is recorded. If you don’t get this information on a customer’s first visit, it is almost impossible to get after-the-fact.

Using your baseline as a comparison, you will be able to tell if your first-time visitor numbers increased with the new campaign. And since you are probably running more than one campaign at a time, by tracking the specific source of the visitor you will be able to tell which campaign is bringing the best results.

Calculating the true return on investment of your marketing efforts involves a few more steps (something we will cover in a later blog post), but it all starts with capturing this first-time visitor information.

In summary

You don’t have the luxury of an unlimited marketing budget – so you need to know exactly which promotions are increasing the traffic of your studio. By identifying and monitoring the results of your campaigns, you can stop wasting money on the losing efforts and start experimenting with new ideas. That should go some way towards helping you overcome this first challenge, but don’t rest on your laurels just yet – there’s still work to do!

In the next part in this series, we’ll explain how to convert those first-time visitors into regular, loyal members.

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