Everything i did wrong in marketing my health club, gym, fitness center. part 1

My name is Shannon Cook, I opened Temple Gym in November 3rd 2003. to what i hoped would be a gym full of people just itching to join up.

Little did i know, people couldn’t find my gym that is located a mile off the main highway. So i sat off to find out how to get some attention and here’s what i did:

First i went and bought a book called running a gym for profit, which was actually a good book on equipment and layout of a gym. But, it was not at all good at marketing advice.

What the book said was to do what everything else does. lower your prices to be the cheapest, pass out cards that have a nice picture of a bodybuilder on them and a slogan and your name.

Please,Please, never put a picture of a bodybuilder on anything to do with your gym unless your going for only builders, which i haven’t seen a gym yet except Venice beach gym in California.  You want unfit people to come in, because they are the one that sign up and show up the least, and don’t wear out your equipment like bodybuilders do. The bodybuilders in my gym are the hardest to please by far, they are always wanting some piece of equipment to work one small muscle that no one else wants to use, and costing $2,000.

Little did i know that was the last thing you do to get attention. All the other fitness centers do this, you see it all the time in ads in magazines and the newspapers, and radio ads. They offer no sign up fees and have a special of $19.95 month and do a month to month deal.

What i teach, you never have to do any of these and you can raise your price to be the highest cost in town to look exclusive even if your the smallest gym in town as i am.

I fell in love with marketing when i started studying it 3 years ago. But, i didn’t study anything you see from the big marketers. I studied the old marketers, like P.T. Barnum and Claude Hopkins and Dan Kennedy.

I used to put ads in magazines in town that had a picture and a slogan and my name and phone #. But, no reason to come in. After all, i didn’t have even 1/2 of what the other gyms had to offer. But, lucky for me, they all advertised the same way i did.

I also put ads on the radio that were 60 seconds long and did nothing but repeat the gym name and phone #. I was told by people that they turned the radio channel after hearing the ad once because it was so annoying, and i must say, I turn the same kind of ads off everyday when they come on because they are annoying, and no matter what anyone says, repeating the name doesn’t make your name a good thing in the minds of people that get annoyed by that crap. I know when i see the sprite commercials on t.v. I cant figure out what they are trying to say until i see the name, but a guy playing basketball doesn’t make me think they are drinking sprite on the side lines and dunking because of sprite. Instead i see the players drinking Gatorade and then doing a commercial on a soad pop that doesn’t even have anything to do with basketball. I know they are going for the youngest crowd, but i haven’t found a kid yet that buys this drink because of the commercials, and I’ve asked.

The other thing i did was to offer no contracts. This was a bad mistake, and the sad thing was, all the other gyms started offering the same thing after i did. Now i don’t offer no contracts, but the other gyms still do. I now offer only 3,6,and 12 month contracts, and all at increased prices for the fewer months they sign up for.

Also, don’t put cheesy brochures out that have a picture of a bodybuilder and a slogan that has no reason to get someone to come in the door. my slogan was, “At Temple Gym, we’ve been waiting for you”, now that’s bad!

These are the things NOT to do. my next post will be how i went from 60 members to 200 in less than 3 months after being open 4 years and never getting over 100 members.

For consulting on fitness center, gym, health club marketing, you can reach Shannon Cook at templegym@comcast.net

shannon cook

shannon cook


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