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Health Club Marketing Tips 
Monday, July 31 2006
Demand Full Fees: 
Never Discount Again

It may sound like a wish and a prayer, but owners who understand selling value
and have worked to establish their unique selling points (USP's) never have to
discount enrollment fees or dues.  In a few minutes, neither will you.
Every Guru has Told You to Compete on Price
Go to every website of our competitors.  All you see are tactical pieces
(postcards, banners, flyers, etc.) that slap your logo on materials that are
emblazoned with "Special Price"... "Lim*ted Time Offer"... "Join for $1"...
You get the point we are making.

Recently, we discussed the HUGE disconnect the fitness industry has created
with the type of advertising you see across the country and in every market;
regardless of size and demographics.  You learned that we confuse our prospects
by first telling them we are great, the best club to look and feel great and have
the best x, y and z.  We then get them scratching their heads as to why are we so eager to just discount and diminish the value of what we have to offer.

Why The Heck Do You Do This?

You resort to discounting for a number of reasons:
Fear- If we don't keep up with all the $19 a month gyms out there, we'll lose
   our membership base.
Herd Mentality- If everyone is doing it, it must be the right way to market. 
   You remember what mom told us about this logic "If Jimmy jumped off the
   bridge would you jump off behind him?"
It's Easy- Lazy marketing and advertising resorts to discounting on prices. 
   There are a number of ways to fix this quickly for a club owner.
No Other Solution- Our minds are so cluttered with an overload of marketing,
   offers, promotions, campaigns and specials we can't think straight.  Trust me,
   this "writers block" is common, but it can be overcome.
Your Prospects Are NOT Seeking Lowest Price
One fact that we cannot emphasize enough is for you and your team to
understand what your prospect is thinking.  Their motivations, fears, concerns
and objections change over the cycle of determining who is going to do the
best job of helping them look and feel great.
Do not confuse selling memberships with being the place where your prospects
can look and feel great.  You are not selling memberships.  The membership is
merely the vehicle to help your member look better, feel better, relax and reach
their personal health, fitness and beauty goals. You are selling benefits.
It is not about the money.  Whether you charge $39 a month or $79 a month
or more, it is the last thing that is of concern for 98% of the people who walk
through your front door.  What is critical to your prospects is:

Convenience- They want to be assured that you are close to their home or office. 
   This is more a decision about time commitment than a financial commitment.
Great Service- They want to feel important and not a number.  You are in the
   hospitality business whether you like it or not.
No Hassles- They want to get in, get fit and get on with their day.  If you do
   that better than the gym down the street; you'll be more successful.
Results- They want proof.  Proof that you can help them reach their goals
   quickly and safely.
Value- Not price.  People will pay more if all their needs are being met.  You can
   charge $150 a month, but you better back it up with great value.

Selling Your Memberships On Value
We were speaking with an owner earlier this week who has historically priced her
club at $39 a month with a $199 Enrollment Fee.  She explained that one of
her tactics was to run discounts each month; each month with a different theme. 
The bottom line, she tried to make the prospect feel like they were getting a "deal"
for acting quickly.  The problem was she built her business on a model that
assumed $199 plus $39 a month.  Because of her discount strategy, she only
averaged $79 in Enrollment Fees for each new member.  That is a 60% reduction
from her business model
.  No wonder she was only taking home $89,000 a year
as the owner!  She was giving all her margin away.  She was committing one of
the Cardinal sins in the business today.  She had lazy sales people, lots of
competition and she was petrified she would lose out to the gym down the street
once people knew they were cheaper.
Incentives...Not Discounts
Remember we discussed the confusion in the prospects mind?  They are told you
are the best thing since sliced bread, but it really isn't that great so we'll chop the
 price down.  There is a better way.
Apply incentives to the mix and you can sell at full price, project a great value and
make membership at your club the experience your members want it to be.  All it
takes is a thorough understanding of what makes you better, unique or different.
You can develop a number of great incentives to encourage your prospect to take
action and join.  It can be encouraging and motivating, as opposed to a feeling of
diminishing worth and value through discounts.
You will find what you need in a number of critical places:
Your Unique Selling Points
Your Competitive Advantages
Your Members Comments and Opinions
Your Inside Reality
Just like we showed you that you do not need to advertise to make a lot of money
in this industry, you also can avoid the Price War mentality.
   1)  Results are best achieved through targeted marketing, plus prospect hot buttons,
        plus competitive intelligence, plus USP's.
   2)  Market to a target audience for best results.
   3)  Use incentives to encourage and eliminate discounts that de-value. 

Until next week...
Posted by: Profit Partner AT 01:04 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, June 05 2005
The Magic Bullet Doesn't exist.

You can stop looking for it. There is no such thing. We have tens of thousands of
advertising results to prove that. You have tried, we have tried, and corporations
which spend 100 million dollars a year on ads have tried. There ain't no such thing.
If there was, you could buy it for $50,000 and it would earn you $100,000 every time
you used it. We have ads that we have used in markets which have yielded the lucky
owners over $50,000. We rush that money maker right into the hungry hands of an owner
in different market, only to see it barely pay for itself. Why is that? It was a
perfect ad.

Here's why: NOISE. Every market has its own noise. This is created by the messages
used by all the companies which are competing for the same dollars which people spend
on health and fitness.

Listen to it... HOME GYMS, WORK OUT TAPES, DIET PROGRAMS, GYMS, HEALTH CLUBS, PILATES, PILLS, FITNESS CENTERS, 30 MINUTE WORKOUTS, 24 MINUTE WORKOUT, COSMETIC SURGERY, YOGA, WELLNESS CENTERS etc. etc. etc...   Get it? This noise creates confusion. When consumers are confused, they freeze. Do nothing. As consumers, we've all been there.

Make Money With LESS Advertising

Huh?  What marketing company in their right mind would tell you to stop advertising? 
Well, Profit Partners may do just that upon an examination of what you are doing today
to develop new business in your community.

You are probably asking yourself, "Why would we stop advertising and risk seeing all of
our prospects dry up and stop coming through our door?"  Good question.  But we want you
to think about WHAT you are actually sending as a message to your audience.  The notion of advertising "memberships for sale" breaks every rule of why someone wants to belong to a
club in the first place.

What Are You Selling?

Ask 100 owners of health clubs what products and services they are selling and 3 out of
every 4 will tell you they are selling memberships to their club.  Respectfully folks,
you are dead WRONG.  You are not selling "memberships"; you are selling a way to LOOK and
FEEL GREAT.  Your club is just a vehicle for people to achieve their health, fitness and
beauty goals in a way THEY believe are going to be most effective.

Think about the HUGE disconnect the fitness industry has created with the type of
advertising you see across the country and in every market; regardless of size and
demographics.  Picture this, every owner works hard to be the "best" club in their market. 
You want to hire top talent, have great equipment, and offer tremendous classes in a clean
and exciting atmosphere.  Those lucky enough to be members can look and feel great while
having a good time, too.

Now read your ads.  The first half will normally talk about how great the club is, how much
the members love belonging to such a fine establishment, etc., etc., etc...  The second half
of the ad will scream "Now taking anyone who reads this ad!  And, we'll even discount it for  you!!!  Hurry!!!"

Do you get what we are saying?  Belonging to a club or having a membership is considered an association, a common attachment, exclusivity to a degree, an alliance of people with similar goals.  Yet, we have confused the community by discounting it and diminishing its value.

The 4 Places Where You Should Spend Your Money

I wish I had a dollar for every owner who has asked us "Hey, can you guys write a great ad for us?"  Unless you understand where you are really getting your members from, anyone would make this request.  It is hard to get angry at owners who want "great ads" yet don't understand where there clients have come from and where their hard-earned money is best spent.

Here is where to  spend your marketing dollars:

  • Aggressively market our club in the community as "the" place for fitness and wellness events.
  • Sponsor local activities that emanate from inside our club and join up with other complimentary businesses.
  • Launch a well constructed Member Referral Program to encourage a client to "sponsor" a prospective new member.
  • Make our club more exclusive with benefits and resources only available to full members and not those on trial.  Make being a member something special. Establish a 12 month plan of internal and external target market oriented campaigns to promote value and incentives.  Eliminate discounting and demand full fees.

"Market to Your Target"

Don't advertise.  Identify narrow and specific target markets (want a few ideas?  How about
Teachers, Healthcare Workers, Student Athletes, Stay At Home Moms and Dads, Municipal Workers) and build a campaign and message that speaks DIRECTLY to that target.

No more broadcast radio or cable TV, no more ValPack Coupons and no more "let's throw this out there and see what sticks" approach.

Take that good money and focus.  Let your competition spend their budgets rattling the cages and waking up those sleeping on their couches.  We'll work with you to make more money in less time.  But, if you still believe there is a magic bullet ad out there. 

PLEASE don't call us. There are plenty of companies and sales reps out there to sell it to you
(it's right next to the pie... in the sky).

Posted by: Profit Partner AT 05:07 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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