For most people, the summer means longer days, beautiful weather, and an abundance of pool parties and barbecues to attend. For gym owners, however, the reality is much different.
After spending half the year helping people achieve their beach bodies, they suddenly find classes half empty and dedicated regulars skipping days and sometimes weeks.
And the reason for this?
Well, very simply their members are out there showing off the results of their hard work!
But it’s not only that. Between summer holidays, outdoor parties, and the temptation of after work drinks in the sun, there are plenty of reasons why attendance falls around this time of year. Fitness businesses universally report a dip in traffic during the summer, and your gym is probably in the same boat.
However, summer doesn’t have to mean an empty gym. With a little bit of planning and creativity, there are a few marketing tactics you can implement to engage current members and even attract potential clients. In this article, we will go through 8 marketing strategies for gyms to help them combat that summer slump.
1. Host a Competition
Back in the day once some of your members up and left for large parts of the summer, it was just guesswork as to why they were ignoring your emails and phone calls. However, now that you will more than likely be connected to your members on one or more social channels, you have a better idea about what they are up to during the summer months!
But it’s not all about keeping tabs on what missing members are up to. Use this connection on social media to launch a marketing campaign based on a competition that your members can enter. Summertime is all about going on holidays and hitting the beach, so why not partner up with a local travel agency to offer a travel voucher or discount on a sun holiday?
To enter the competition, simply get your members to attend 5 to 10 classes to be in with a chance of entering. Not only does it bring up your class numbers, but it also gets stay away members back on track to hit their fitness goals. As well as that it gets the potential winner back in shape for their holiday!
This can be a great tool to generate enthusiasm during a slower season. But don’t limit yourself to one main competition. With social media, you can run smaller competitions over the summer. Here are some examples:
Ask a Question: Ask your followers an open-ended question. This could be anything, from feedback to sharing their favorite exercise. You can either choose the top response or use a random generator to pick your winner.
Take a Quiz: Test your followers’ competitive spirit and host a quiz! Perhaps it’s a snippet of an exercise, and they must guess what it is, or a fill-in-the-blank trivia question.
Like and Comment: Ask followers to like and comment on a particular post to enter. Randomly select a winner.
2. Put on a Summer Themed Challenge
In our article on 8 Fitness Challenges Ideas to Supercharge Acquisition and Retention, we talked about the value a fitness challenge brings in terms of attracting new members and keeping current members engaged. Summer is the perfect time to put on a challenge as there probably more motivation than any other time of the year to get in shape. Label the challenge something like ”Summer Shred” and put in on for 6 to 8 weeks just before or at the beginning of summer so members can achieve their weight-loss goals in time for the summer holidays.
Putting on a challenge also gives you the chance to change up your class and introduce new classes for the run of the challenge. Changing things up can be a good thing and can improve member engagement.embers often complain about a lack of different classes, and it is often found to be one of the reasons for low membership-retention rates.
Host workouts in the park, or even by the beach. Advertise these new classes in your newsletter, your email roundups, you can even promote these classes to people who are not members and use the summer months to attract new clients or even out of town visitors who are willing to pay a drop-in fee.
3. Get Outdoors and Host a Beach Day or BBQ
It’s not just inside the gym that you should be changing things up. As it’s the summer time its prime opportunity to get outside and we don’t mean for killer boot camp!
A great way to build a sense of community in your fitness business is to host a social event outside class hours. During the summer months hosting events like a BBQ or a trip to the beach makes excellent use of the weather. If you don’t have a beach close at hand, a hike can be just as good. The goal is to give you members the opportunity to get to know their fellow members in a fun and easy going environment.
Be family oriented with your events. Many of your customer base may have kids who are off school for the summer. This results in less time spent in the gym. Use this concept to your advantage and offer family-friendly events. You could even have kid-specific classes in the gym so kids and parents can go and train together. These events will appeal to parents who are looking to stay fit while keeping their children amused.
4. Partner with Another Business
Collaborating with a local business can be a fantastic tool for boosting sales for both parties. People often escape in the summer and get out of town, so finding a partner who could help to draw in new customers and who could provide your current customers with something new and exciting is hugely beneficial. Not only will a partnership like this incentivize buyers to visit both businesses, but they also afford each business access to a client base, it might not have had the opportunity to come into contact with.
These partnerships can come in many shapes and forms. A couple of ideas to get you started:
- Is there a juice bar in town? This can be a great opportunity. Perhaps you simply offer vouchers for a discounted juice, or you host a weekly event at the juice bar where customers are treated to a fitness class followed by a smoothie making class.
- Create a fitness partnership. Does your gym focus on CrossFit or Martial Arts? Are your clients in need of some mobility work or some yoga? Find a yoga studio who you can perhaps team up with and offer your members 3-4 yoga classes a month for free in return for offering the yoga students some strength or cardio classes.
5. Use Summer Inspired Promotions
The most difficult part about acquiring new clients is getting them to take the first step into your fitness facility. During the summer months, many people are seeking both fitness and nutritional guidance. Offer consultation to new clients where you can review their goals and then give them an initial workout session, free of charge.
You can advertise through your digital marketing channels, local press, and even through word of mouth marketing. Create a page on your site where non-members can sign in to receive their free one-to-one session with a personal trainer or even a free class. Take full advantage of these situations to woo in new clients. People need to feel like they fit in, that they will achieve their goals and feel at ease in their surroundings. Putting in the extra effort will make a massive difference between them genuinely enjoying the experience and signing up immediately versus ‘just liking it’ and not coming back.
This will also provide you an excellent opportunity to treat your current members by offering them rewards for referrals. Your existing customers may well have a pool of like-minded friends or family members who will enjoy the gym just as much as they do. This, in turn, forms more meaningful members for your gym. Consider offering a free month of membership or a personal training session in return for a number of referrals.
6. Host Pop up Bootcamps Around Your City
Summer weather presents a perfect opportunity to introduce outdoor fitness boot camps to your local community and client base. Bootcamp training is extremely popular and has seen massive growth in the past decade. It is also a great tool to bring in some extra money and to get your name out there. Offer a drop-in price and promote the class to current clients and non-members. Encourage clients to join and bring friends (perhaps even offer them a discounted rate for doing so).
Hosting pop up boot camps permits people from all over to experience your training style and to get to know our team.
Getting outside is very helpful for member engagement; however, getting equipment to the location can cause some difficulty. Avoid using weights if possible, and focus on bodyweight training or resistance work with bands. You’ll be surprised what kind of killer sessions you can create without a single weight!
7. Organize a Summer Corporate Challenge
Do you currently run a corporate wellness program? Do you have employees of local businesses working out in your gym? Run an organizational competition! Encourage local businesses to get ready for action and compete against each other. Offer the winning team free membership for a month, or group training sessions, or simply a trophy (let’s face it, who doesn’t love a trophy!)
Businesses tend to be naturally competitive, so encourage a little friendly competition between local companies that will get teams working together on a collective goal and will bring more sales and exposure to your gym. Your competition can be in any form. You could host a soccer tournament, a CrossFit Style competition with various workouts over the space of a month or so, or even encourage an obstacle course like Tough Mudder.
8. Plan for The Fall
Many of the above recommendations are centered around marketing and promotion. However, summertime may be the ideal moment to make a few little tweaks to your overall business approach and strategy. During the summer months, there should be a significant emphasis on how to hold on to customers who may be changing their minds. Use your downtime to revisit your unique selling points and come up with a few ways to position your company as a fundamental service, just in case you find yourself in a position where you are having to convince customers to stay. If you find that summer is a quieter period for you, take advantage of the extra time to revise your marketing strategy.
Summer doesn’t have to be perceived as the problem season, it is an opportunity to get a little creative, perhaps even getting to know your clients better and if things are slower, it can be an excellent opportunity to work on more long-term plans such as marketing strategies.
Find the silver lining, utilize the slower months to practice your marketing skills, generate further interest in your business, and keep the energy flowing. You will gain invaluable experience that you can apply at the vital moment and will help to deal with the stresses of peak season. This will help to boost your business in many ways. Marketing is a complex field, one that often has to be measured more than once to produce accurate results.
As a business owner, another essential component of your overall plan should be to remain positive throughout. You ultimately set the tone for employees, who then take that attitude with them in front of your customers. Be sure to avoid any negative language and find ways to incentivize staff by planning out fun summer activities for the team.
With any luck, your clientele will get into the habit of exercising ahead of summer. From here on, your goal is to capitalize on that progress by assisting your members to continue the momentum throughout summer. It is far easier to maintain a good habit than it is to start all over again, so find the best ways to keep them engaged!