So, the little got less and less January 13 2014

Do you have a marketing plan? 

Do you know how to design a marketing plan?

If you answered no to both of those questions, no worries.  I have you covered.

This blog post will complement an article I wrote for Club Industry.  Go to

Click on the “expert advice” tab.  Look for the article titled, “Combine Print and Digital marketing to reach your targets demographic.”

This blog post is not going to discuss digital marketing.  I CAN help you with using Facebook and your website to gain an audience/tribe.  If you read the Club Industry article, you should learn enough to get started.  This blog post is about creating a plan and understanding why it is important to have one.

Rule number one of gym industry marketing:  Spend 10% of gross annual revenue on marketing.

Rule number two of gym industry marketing:  Spend 10% of gross annual revenue on marketing.

Rule number three of gym industry marketing:  Spend less than 10% of gross annual revenue on marketing, and you will not maximize profits.

It works like this:  2013 Gross annual revenue:  $236,000.00 (example)

10% of that amount is:  $23,600.00

If you divide that up equally among the 12 months you would get a few dollars south of $2000.00 per month. 

BUT, I don’t want you to distribute it evenly.  I want you to spend more in certain months, and less in other months.


January: 15% $3,540.00
February: 12% $2,832.00
March: 12% $2,832.00
April: 8% $1,888.00
May: 7% $1,652.00
June: 4% $944.00
July: 3% $708.00
August: 5% $1,180.00
September: 8% $1,888.00
October: 10% $2,360.00
November: 8% $1,888.00
December: 8% $1,888.00
Total: 100% $23,600.00


That was pretty simple, and did not take long.  Okay, now what do we spend it on?

Mailers, hangers, inserts, passes, billboards, signage, radio, television. 

Those are pretty much your options.  In most markets, TV and radio are out, as most gym budgets won’t allow for it.

Billboards maybe in certain markets, if you can negotiate a good rate.

But I recommend pounding your marketing message through mailers, hangers, inserts, and passes.

Rule number four of gym industry marketing:  You need to pound your marketing message at least weekly.

You cannot have 3000 mailer drop on January 4th, and then do nothing until February 15th.  You can’t.  Why not?

Rule number five of gym industry marketing:  People need to see something 27 times before they take action.  This takes about 4 to 5 months if you are pounding your message one time to two times per week.

I know at least a few gym owners are reading this and thinking to themselves:  “We pounded hard for 3 to 4 months and it just didn’t seem to work.”

You gave up just when it was about to start working. 

Okay, I have written a lot about marketing recently, so it is time I move on to another topic soon. But I wanted to get one more out there to hopefully help some people better understand how to spend.  Let me end it with some FAQs.

1)     “Jason, do you we have to spend 10%?  Where does that number come from? I have heard other people say 5%.

You don’t have to spend 10%, but the reason I recommend it, is that in this industry, that amount will prevent you from under spending.  It is my opinion that 5% is too low, BUT I would be ok with a gym compromising at 7.5%.  This is part of the reason that gyms, and other businesses, struggle.  They don’t want to overspend.  And sometimes it simply takes an expert’s advice on what to do.  So, let me be that expert:  Spend 10%.

2)     “Jason, it seems that when we market and advertise, we get the same amount of traffic as when we don’t”

I am going to predict that if you are experiencing no change, or very little change when you market, and when you don’t, then you are not being consistent.  You are being reactive and sporadic. 

Spend 10%, pound your message weekly, track it for at least 6 months, and then get back to me about the increase, decrease, or neither, of the phone ringing, door swinging, and inbox dinging. 

3)     “Jason, what should we offer?”

I want you to have a trial membership as an offer.  And you don’t like them.  You want to conflate sales and marketing.  You want the marketing piece to do the selling.  But it won’t.  Or, I should say, it will, but only for a very small percent of people. 

If you do free enrollment every time, you are screaming to people in your area:  “Come and join! And don’t pay an upfront fee that you probably didn’t really think existed.  Act now and save!”

I get why gyms do that one.  First, they don’t care about charging and enrollment fee, because they don’t know how to sell it.  They don’t see the value in it themselves, and their salespeople see even less value in it.  Second, that offer seems to work the best.  What else do you really have?  50% off of enrollment?  Who are you fooling there?  Jack it up, and cut it in half. 

30 days for $19.00 (or whatever half of a single simple access membership is)

4)     “Jason, we let people try it, and very few join.  Why is that?”

Probably because you do very little to give the trial member a reason to stay. 

First, charging an amount, like $19.00 is proven more effective than 14 days free, or 21 days free.  They have to part with some money, so they are more likely to use the product at least once.  Second, you need to get them some coaching to go along with that.  Many gym owners do not know how to properly lead and nuance that process properly.  Third, you need to follow 8 steps during the 30 day trial to help hit the maximum number of conversions. (I have those steps for you. Fourth, you need to be realistic about the conversions.  If you get 50% of all 30 day trial members to convert to a longer term membership, you are doing awesome. 

When you first open a gym, and even for the first couple of years, you can send out a mailer once or twice per year with a free enrollment offer, and it will have some effectiveness.  After a while, however, you will see a point of diminishing return. 

A paid trial offer, if done right, and pounded weekly, will yield solid results. 

I can design a 12 month marketing plan for you for only $99.00.  Per location.  If you have several locations, we will figure something out, as you can take the plan from one of your clubs, and use it for other clubs with a little tweaking. 

One hour on the phone together.  30 minutes of me asking you questions.  30 minutes of you asking me questions.  3 to 5 pages of a 12 month plan, 3 to 5 days later.


Keep changing lives.