As we look back on the year that brought radical changes to the fitness industry and left lingering effects in its wake, it’s important that we learn from the challenges and grow. As a result of the pandemic, pressures from new safety mandates, social distancing, limited capacity, and membership cancellations were more than enough to cause many health clubs to close their doors for good.
A total of 15% of gyms closed permanently by September, and one in four were projected to close by the end of 2020. Continuing operations were no longer feasible for many, leaving former members with no alternative for building community and getting the physical activity they want (and need).
Based on studies by MXMetrics and ClubIntel, 65% of respondents are likely to return. Many people have lost their gym because of COVID-19, and some have yet to find another club to replace their last. As an industry that relies heavily — if not exclusively — on memberships, use this new niche to your advantage when targeting new membership prospects.
Draw new members in with your health club direct mail
Direct mail is a fast and successful way to increase membership sales. It can be highly targeted to help you reach this new group of gym-seekers and is a powerful tool for marketing to a specified demographic.
Here’s our strategy:
- Do a survey of the gyms in your area that have closed and analyze their member demographic. Since you work in the fitness industry, you already know how vital proximity is to most gym-goers. A majority live within a 10-mile radius, with the average member traveling only 4 miles.
- Create a fitness direct mail campaign to target the neighborhoods nearby closed clubs. The former members will likely be looking for an alternative solution to continue their workout routine — show them you can be that solution.
- Use mobile geofencing to create a virtual fence around the residents to directly serve digital ads to prospects entering the area, or target specific homes around the recently-closed club.
Consider price-sensitive special offers
Because of recent economic instability, your prospects are likely to be more financially conscious right now. Incentivize them with value-driven offers or discounted sign-up rates.
People are facing reduced hours, pay-cuts, and even unemployment. An empathetic approach to your messaging will go a long way, strengthening the trust among your members and encouraging existing members to stick with you.
To give you a starting point, here are some examples of health club direct-mail advertising offers:
- “Never pay more than your previous gym!”
- Easy, contact-free sign-ups and bookings
- Special membership rate for annual enrollment
- Free trial class with one of your fitness instructors
Many are still eager to return to the gym, so get them excited about what you offer at your club. By sending a personalized piece of mail, you will be more likely to capture their interest while providing a tangible reminder to renew their membership at another facility. Show your prospects that you want to rebuild the community they lost and you will support them over the course of their fitness journey.
At UpSwell, we have years of experience with direct mail marketing. In fact, we specialize in fitness marketing, having executed over 25,000 campaigns for gyms and health clubs. Fitness direct mail has proven to be a successful strategy for generating more interest and increasing membership sales for fitness centers.