Should you allow the BIG MARKETING COMPANIES to come into your gym, fitness center, or health club to do your marketing or use someone smaller who has been in the trenches?

Should you allow some BIG marketing company to come in and take over your gym and tell you what to charge, who to market to, and when to market, and then leave you with the cheap members that will never respect you when your prices go back to normal rates?

Well, you can guess what my answer is can’t you?


Here’s why

  • They come in and lower your rates to 19.95 or less per month
  • They intimidate your staff and members into doing things they will regret like, pressuring existing signing up for too long of a contract and causing them to not resign again, and making your employees feel like they have to pressure new members to sign up for longer than they want to thereby causing most of them to default on their contracts by closing their checking accounts or canceling their credit cards.
  • They also take all the income from all the first members that sign up until their initial investment is covered.
  • They then take 1/2 of the rest of the contracts they sing up or you  sign up anytime you run one of their campaigns.
  • Then lastly, they leave you with the cheap members that they attracted by their campaigns. This is the worst of all the above. I tried to be the low price leader for the first two years i was in business, and had tragic results. I got all the cheap people that were so cheap they would “look over their glasses to keep from wearing them out”. I had them fuss about everything from wanting a special piece of equipment to the color of the walls to wanting childcare when we told them we didn’t have it in the first place.


When you go to the websites of these big companies, and please do, you will see all the testimonials from “BIG GYM OWNERS” saying they made them $250,000 in 3 months. Well what they don’t tell you is that’s the total contract amount from signing up members for 2 years and that’s including the amount they paid the company, then they get their take. si in the end they might end up with $100,000 and that’s before taxes and then its spread out over 2 years in most cases.

I have increased my membership by 200% in 8 months and while raising my prices by 30% and lowering my labor by 300%.

I love marketing because I took the time to invent my own specialized marketing campaign for gyms of all types and it worked. From fitness centers, gymnastics clubs, karate studios, etc…   any kind of gym type membership club can use my system.

If you would like to ask Shannon Cook any questions, contact me by e-mailing



2 Responses to “Should you allow the BIG MARKETING COMPANIES to come into your gym, fitness center, or health club to do your marketing or use someone smaller who has been in the trenches?”

  1. 1 Tim Rueb 2008-10-10 at 5:58 p

    It sounds like you’ve done great job. As for your bias concerning BIG AGENCIES, the way I’ve always looked at is, you choose the best tool to solve your problem. Each company must decide who will help them the most, and in some cases, size does matter. (No pun intended)

  2. 2 Curtis Mock 2008-10-10 at 5:58 p

    I couldn’t agree more! I actually own a marketing company in the health club industry (and yes, some of our programs are percentage based), and it is the worst part of my job trying to convince someone we are not like the low cost crooks that have been prevalent in the industry for 20 years. The low prices kill the market and devalue the clubs. There are companies that still operate that I can’t believe haven’t been shut down from complaints to better business or through lawsuits!

    As per the comment about receiving expense money before splitting profits, I’ll have to disagree on this one. Imagine yourself as a club owner paying $5,000 this month to run a direct mail campaign. On your books you wouldn’t experience a profit until that $5,000 was received. Beyond that you are profitable. It is the same for a marketing company. If a company invests $5,000 in your club, why would they be expected to eat that cost, especially since they were likely hired because you couldn’t afford to pay the 5k yourself. So it definitely makes sense to cover expenses before profits are realized and a split is made, regardless of whether you pay for the marketing or you have an outside company pay for it.

    Other than that your article is dead on. I just ran across your blog and I’m impressed with your ideas. I’m always looking to chat with new professionals in our industry. Please go to and download my book. Shoot me an email as well at the email provided above. Or just contact me directly at and go to the contact page. Keep up the good work!!

    Curtis Mock

    P.S. I too am a student of Kennedy, et al. Good to see another person in our industry taking notice of the power of that style of marketing!

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