Do you want new members, but don't have a huge marketing budget to spend on lead generation? Here are 5 incredibly effective strategies to gaining new leads for your gym without breaking the bank.


1) Host Challenges

Do you put on challenges at your gym? Consider making them available to everyone, rather than members-only. These challenges are the perfect way to draw in your target market by offering them something they want. Who can resist a good prize and bit of group motivation to get healthier?

These people coming to your gym for challenges are hot leads that can easily be converted to members. When they come into your gym, instruct your staff to pay extra special attention to them and bring them into your community by introducing them to other members. Have someone from your staff follow up with each participant after the challenge is over to ask how it went and see if they have any questions about your gym that you can answer.


2) Start a Refer-A-Friend Program

It's no secret that people love working out with friends, so why not make it easier than ever for them to invite those friends to your gym? Not only does a Refer-A-Friend Program encourage members to endorse your business, but those people who they refer actually stay members longer than average. According to the Wharton School of Business, a referred customer is 18 percent more likely to stay with a company over time than the average, off-the-street customer.

Ambassador Referral Marketing Software and Perkville are two popular services for creating programs like this for gyms. You may also want to look into your billing software and CRM companies you work with to see if they have built-in refer-a-friend options.


3) Actively Promote Your Guest Pass

You probably have a free guest pass, but are you pushing it hard enough?

The guest pass is normally the best lead generator for gyms, so make sure you're using every trick in the book to promote your pass. Here are some strategies you should consider using to let potential members know about this valuable freebie:

a) Hello Bar

Keep it simple and use your guest pass as your free offering with the Hello Bar tool that shows at the top of your website. If you want to know more about why I recommend Hello Bar, check out another recent post where I highlight it in more depth.

b) Social Media

Many leads will visit your Facebook or Instagram before they even come to your website. One idea to try out is to include a sentence about your guest pass offer in your Instagram description and put a direct link to the pass as the link in your Instagram bio so people can easily click to get their pass from there.

c) Live Chat

Live chat is the perfect place to let your website visitors know about your guest pass. If you have live chat on your site, make sure they are letting the lead know about the pass whenever possible. Also be sure to follow up with an email to live chat leads with the guest pass offer soon afterwards. If you want an expert gym live chat team and don't want to hire and train staff, consider ClubConnect Engage.


4) Create Special Events

Similar to the idea about hosting challenges, try creating special events that are open to members and non-members alike.

First, decide on the purpose. It can be as simple as a costume party or a holiday dinner held at your gym. Once that's locked in, send out an Evite to your whole email list and encourage members to bring their friends. Just make sure to make the party is enticing enough for people to want to come!

The health club e3 Fitness in Denver is a great example of a gym that hosts a very successful event every year. Every November they create something called the "Turkey Donation Inferno," where you come take a free class a few days before Thanksgiving and each participant brings in a frozen turkey. All frozen turkeys are donated to families-in-need across Denver.


5) Try Paid Online Channels

You've probably heard that free, organic traffic isn't as easy to get as it once was. Based on a study from Edgerank Checker, organic reach for the average Facebook page has decreased to just 6.5% (a 93.5% drop)! The same trends are happening among other social networks including Instagram and Twitter. It's also getting increasingly hard for your website to rank for relevant keywords on Google. The solution? Create online ads so your gym's content shows up to the audience you choose.

Some great online advertising platforms include:

a) Facebook Ads

Facebook has the attention of your prospective members, with 1.18 billion daily active users and the average American spending 40 minutes per day on the platform. The key is being able to grab their attention when they are scrolling through their feed at lightning speed.

If you've never tried Facebook ads before, start simple by creating a visually pleasing ad with a great value proposition. Try to keep it short and focus your copy on why someone should click on the ad. Be sure to include a clear call to action, like "grab your free guest pass here" or "join the free 30 day challenge here" so that people know exactly what to do.

You can choose whether your ads show up in the newsfeed, on the right side bar, on Instagram and even expand your ad to show up on other websites and apps to the same target audience.

Pro tip: If you aren't a Photoshop wiz, you can still create beautiful ads with the free design tool, Canva. It's very easy to use and has templates already made for you to edit and pop in your text.

b) Google AdWords

Google pay per click (PPC) advertising is another great way to capture the attention of people who are actively searching for gyms in your area. As with Facebook ads, you can determine how much you want to spend at the start and only pay when someone clicks on your ad. These ads show up at the very top of Google search results and on the right side of search results for a given search term.

The most important part of this process is deciding what keywords you want your ad to show up for in Google results. Start by choosing a few keywords that you think people searching for a gym in your area would search for. Be sure to target your specific geographic area and target people within a given radius around your health club. Adwords has a helpful tool called "Google Keyword Planner" that can help you narrow down your keywords.

Businesses make an average of $2 for every $1 they spend in Google AdWords, so this is a great place to spend marketing dollars, even if it's a small amount.

c) Yelp Ads

Your gym may have a free profile on Yelp, but is your page being seen as much or more than your competitors? A key benefit to running a Yelp ad is that it will show to local visitors who are looking at your competitors Yelp profiles. In a BCG study, business owners who advertised on Yelp saw an average of $23,000 in annual revenues from Yelp.

Before jumping to Yelp ads, make sure that your gym's Yelp profile is filled out as much as it can be with your business hours and other relevant information. Then try to get as many reviews as possible from your most loyal customers. Once your profile looks enticing, consider posting an ad.

Hopefully these strategies spark some thoughts on lead generation for you. As with any marketing tactic, make sure to think through which ones make the most sense for your gym's current situation. I'd suggest making a lead generation plan for the next 12 months with specific ideas so that you can easily go back each month and implement your ideas quickly.


For more articles featuring marketing ideas to boost membership sales, click here.


P.S. Network with other gym owners and managers by joining our Top Health Club Owners and Managers Facebook group here.