Tag Archives: fitness studio marketing

Marketing your cycling or official Spin® studio: 3 Core Planks

Advertising and direct mail used to be primary drivers of new fitness clients.  Yes, you should still do some of this……but we believe there are 3 Core Marketing “Planks” to help  build your business.

Marketing Plank #1:  making your business “findable” online is one of the best things you can do to get new customers.    To learn a bit about this whole topic, you can read the Spynergy Consulting blog post called “Hey, it’s your Google Rank” man, where we discuss the idea of an “online foot print”.   Getting found by search engines is not about spending a bunch of money on Google Adwords, or SEO services……it’s about:

a) doing some basics on your core web site
b) posting regular, relevant content posted to your site (blogging)
c) encouraging inbound links from  credible sites.
d) engaging selectively and actively in social media (Facebook, Yelp, YouTube)

Based on my studio’s 7-year history, along with online “findability” there are two other “planks” that are effective in spurring word of mouth to build your studio’s attendance.

Marketing Plank #2: Email marketing — Use Constant Contact (or Mail Chimp)  templates.  For $15 a month (free if you are an MBO customer) you can set up a Constant Contact account and start gathering names of potential customers.  This list of emails  will be highly valuable to you later.  If you are looking for content ideas for your email promotions, we have done hundreds at Spynergy and would be happy to discuss.

Marketing Plank #3:  Guerilla marketing — This includes a range of things like cross-promotions with neighbors, studio events, fundraisers, school PTA projects, and more.  Done well, these are powerful……and generally inexpensive.  It also connects you to valuable communities.  Be sure to plan some of this in your annual marketing plan…..and set aside marketing funds!!  Especially at the beginning

 

Summer marketing for fitness and cycling studios……take a deep breath

Summer Marketing?  Yikes….take a deep breath.

Whether you operate in the colder states of the Northeast, the Midwest and the West, or in the moderate climates of the South or the Far West…….the summer slows down.   Even in places where the summer heat is intolerable for outdoor work outs, the summer slows down.
Outdoor exercise and nicer weather is part of the reason, but more importantly the “rhythm” of people’s lives changes dramatically in the summer.  School is out which directly or indirectly affects a huge percentage of your customers, and of course it is a time where many people take time for special trips and vacations.  For most local business, and definitely for fitness businesses….the summer slows down.
|Can you change that?  No.  Remember that old saying about “Give me the strength to change the things I can….etc. etc. etc.?   It’s true!  Remember it this summer.  Can you take some steps to minimize the slow down?  Yes.   Here are five Spynergy Consulting strategies for dealing with summer.

  1. Target specialty niches. Even though your core customers are fewer, there may be groups you don’t typically target during the year.  Students are an obvious one, what about seniors?  Teachers?  Tourists and visitiors?  Town employees?  Others?
  2. Good time for discounting. Since your sellouts will be fewer, what about Groupon deals, or annual “sales” where you discount.  Make the offers limited time and for limited term (“40% off 10-class package, must be used by labor day”)
  3. Specialty classes. Heartrate training, outside ride themes, Tour de France, musical themes, anything to spice things up a bit.
  4. Customer events.  Informal outdoor “group ride” starting at your studio, or even a “thank you” beach party that you ride your bike to.
    .
  5. Most important….”take a deep breath”. It’s OK to be slower.  Plan for it to be slower, don’t beat your head against the wall.  Use it as a time to spruce up, organize fall marketing, complete long-delayed projects, work on your playlists and take some time off yourself to re-charge your own engine!  C’mon…give yourself a break.

Each part of the country and the world  has it’s own rhythm…don’t fight it.  After 7 years operating in Boston, we know we have 6 months of “high season” (Nov thru April)  4 months of mid-season (Sept, Oct, May, June), and 2 months of “down season” (July and August).  We budget and plan for it being sure to optimize efforts when they will do the most good —- and “taking a deep breath” when our customers do too.

Spynergy Consulting provides marketing and operational consulting to fitness studio owners and mangers. Contact Bill to brainstorm: billpryor@comcast.net

Targeting all types for your indoor cycling or official SPIN® studio

targetWho’s your target customer?   If your studio is like most…..there is not one correct answer and there are multiple groups that you can attract.   One way to think about the two broad communities your studio will likely serve is as Fitness and Training oriented riders.

Fitness riders are not outside cyclists, are not training for an event and are likely primarily concerned with conditioning and weight control.  Training riders have a sport, race or event they are thinking about, it could be cycling but it could be something else.

Each of these types of clients can become  dedicated loyal participants if you cater to their needs and construct an environment they like…..AND they can co-exist nicely.  Our studio has 48 bikes and 30+ classes a week and I have seen it every day in my studio.

Four Tips For Attracting and Retaining ‘Fitness’ Riders
1)  Provide useful articles and content regarding nutrition, weight control and how the cycling workout can be most effective
2)  Provide free “intro” sessions so newcomers can learn properly.  It is important to de-mystify cycling classes for many who think it may be too intense.
3)  Be careful the environment is non-intimidating to all fitness levels.  One of the reasons you will attract people who won’t walk into a large gym is because your place is friendlier and less intimidating.
4) Actively talk about and promote your appeal to beginners as well as to advanced cyclists and fitness levels.

Four Tips for Attracting and Retain ‘Training’ Riders
1)  Find instructors that are outside riders or active athletes and speak the language
2)  Educate yourself and your team on Heart rate, cadence, power and other metrics that help folks understand what they are accomplishing.
3)  Create and note special classes on the schedule that promote
specific training objectives (endurance, intervals, etc.).
4) Provide informative articles and content about the latest in training methods and technology

Launching your own indoor cycling or official SPIN® studio: 6 challenges to consider

In the last 3 months, I have had over 40 inquiries from around the country from people curious about starting their own indoor cycling or SPINNING® studios.  I am working closely with a number of these folks developing business plans as we speak, and several are launching studios this month!  Congratulations to Jody at Just Ride in Plymouth, Mass, Lorie at Joy Ride in Salem, Oregon, and Russell at Body Cycle in Philadelphia, PA……..I have had the privilege of working with each of them over the exciting (and nerve-racking) months leading up to their launches.

At some point along the way, each of these folks, faced challenges in each of 6 critical areas……and you will too if you are serious about opening your own cycling studio:

Pre-launch challenges:
1) Am I suited to being an entrepreneur?  A few months ago we posted on this topic.  In addition to a passion for fitness and the cycling experience, you also need to enjoy the business, planning, organization and marketing side of your new enterprise (or have a spouse or partner who does!).  Think long and hard about this, it is not insignificant.

2)   Where do I get the money?  You either have it or you don’t.  If you don’t there are some ways to get it, and they all involve having a compelling plan to show.  People with money to lend or invest,  whether it’s friends, relatives, banks or your own spouse —- need to see that you have thought through the issues, that you have a plan, and that the payback of the money is a reasonable risk.

3)   Location, location, location?  After money, this is the biggest stumbling block to getting a studio going.  The right location cannot be rushed.  It needs have 3 things, and 2 out of 3 aint good enough.  It has to have 1) proximity to the right target audience (that’s another whole discussion), 2) the right logistical traits like parking, noise sensitivity, convenience, and 3) be reasonably priced on your build out and your monthly rent.

Operating challenges:
4) Instructors…..ya gotta have good ones or the whole thing collapses.  You need to find them, recruit them, and keep them happy, all on an ongoing basis.    This will be a challenge as long as you are open.  A process needs to be developed.

5) Automation….this is not a business that can sustain a large or expensive staff.  It is critical to automate (via web) your key operations like scheduling, payroll, marketing, financial and others so that it is easy and cheap to administer.  The good news is that there are great online tools to do this now available.

6)   Marketing….word of mouth will be huge and important, but it is also critical to continue marketing even as you become more and more established.  There are are variety of online, offline and “guerilla” marketing tactics that need to be addressed on an ongoing basis.

Best of luck to Jody, Lorie and Russell!  They’ve made it through the first 3 challenges and are now moving into the really fun part!  Operating classes and making the world more fit……..one rider at a time!   If you have questions on any of this, give me a call at 781-254-3677 or email me:  billpryor@comcast.net.

Spin®, Spinner®, and Spinning® are registered trademarks of Maddog Athletics

De-mystifying indoor cycling and SPIN® classes

Whether you are writing a business plan for a studio, teaching a class, trying to run and operate a cycling studio — or just trying to “spread the word” about this amazing workout, you will need to address a pervasive perception that these classes are insanely intense.

“Those people are crazy”.  “I almost threw up”.  “It’s insane in there”.  I remember the first time I wandered past the door of a spin room back in the early 90′s, peeking in and thinking to myself:  what the @#$% is going on in there?

To have a successful cycling studio, you will need to break down the perception that these classes are insanely intense “suffer-fests”.  Yes, there are people who seek that experience, but as you know, a class does not HAVE to be that way.  The reality is that each individual can adapt the workout to their own fitness level.  This is a critically important concept to communicate in your marketing if you want to broaden your customer base.  In every piece of promotion we do, we are careful to stress that these workouts CAN be intense, but that each participant can determine the intensity level that suits their needs.

As a practical matter, there are several ways to get this across.  You can run “intro” sessions (we do them for free at our studio), that provide an overview without all the distractions of a full blown class.  We have also produced a tri-fold informational brochure that explains the work out and attempts to de-mystify it.  Your website should address this issue in an “FAQ” section or in some other way.  The reality is that in order to attract a broad audience to this workout, it has to be marketed as something folks of all fitness levels can enjoy and benefit from.

Indoor cycling and SPIN® instructors….studio lifeblood

Early this year, we conducted a survey of over 500 active customers of the Spynergy cycling studio in Wellesley, Mass.  This was a tremendously interesting look at the demographics, activities, attitudes and preferences of our customers: spinners and indoor cyclists.  Among some of the interesting findings:  less than 30% of  studio visitors are regular outside cyclists….WOW.  Some studio owners might find this surprising, but the reality is that the hard core outdoor cyclists are often……you guessed it, outdoors.  To build a critical mass of customers to a studio like this, you need to attract outside cyclists AND others seeking a great workout for cardio fitness and/or weight control.

Revelation #2.  When asked what was the single most important factor in keeping them coming back for more classes?  The number one factor was not the quality of the bikes, it was not the studio, it was not the parking, it was not the pricing model —– all these were important, but the number one most important reason people return to an indoor cycling class is….THE INSTRUCTORS.

When you think about it, and when you think about your own class enjoyment, you know this to be true.  If you own or operate a fitness studio, cycling studio, personal training center or any group exercise that is instructor-led, it is absolutely critical — from a customer retention standpoint that you have well defined practices for a) recruiting teachers, b) training teachers, c) evaluating teachers and d) replacing teachers.  This is not an HR issue, nor an operations issue, this is a marketing issue as teachers are the single most important factor in retaining customers.  In a future post, we will address training, evaluation and recruitment.

Note:  one of the best resource for indoor cycling instructors to get ideas is a website called Indoor Cycle Instructor the good ones go there to become better.

Social Media for Marketing — users of facebook and social media are older than you think

Once your business is established — or even as you establish your business, you should be thinking about using social media to market.  There is quite a bit written about social media (Facebook, Blogging, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) as a social phenomena, but businesses are increasingly finding ways to use it successfully for marketing.  One thing that may surprise you is the age of social media participants!

What’s the demographic sweet spot for users of social networks? Not what you think. According to a study released by Pingdom, a web monitoring provider, 25% of users of social networking sites are between 35 and 44, and 57% of the users are older than 35!…….”

To read more check this post from Dan McCarthy, a leading thinker on social media as a marketing too.

Fitness studio website, energize it, optimize it.

Late last year, the websites for our studios underwant a radical transformation…….By switching over from a traditional static website — to a Blog, we dramatically energized our “google juice” (our search engine rank) and upgraded our online footprint.   While this was a radical change “behind the scenes”, we retained the established look and feel of our brand and for many customers, the change was invisible.

Today’s blog platforms like wordpress, blogspot, and squarespace are amazing tools for small businesses like our cycling studios.  In my opinion they are amazing for 2 primary reasons.  First, they are very easy to set up and manage — which alleviates the need to call an outside web expert once they get going….and second, they allow you to build a large archive of searchable content (blog posts).  This cranks up your google juice!  This biggest challenge is finding the time to keep cool content flowing into your blog…..you need a commitment.

If you would like to hear more about how Spynergy uses a blog platform to communicate the brand and find new customers—-cheap….contact me at billpryor@comcast.net

Using social media to market fitness studios

Are you using social media to help build your business?  Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social media are growing in usage every day by your customers.  Using these media for marketing is a relatively new concept, but the potential is enormous.  Social media is the “next layer” of Internet marketing.    First you get a website, then you “optimize” it with words so people can find it, then maybe you buy Google search words.  The next step is to ENGAGE people.  To get your customers and prospects to interact with you and with eachother!  This does several important things:

1)  Gets you into a fun and interesting dialog online with your community

2) Increases your “Google – rank” in relevant searches in your area

3) Increases traffic to your website

4) Increases word-of-mouth and referrals

At Spynergy, we have experimented with a variety of social media marketing programs and found some things that really work.  With a minimal amount of time (and money) you can get this kind of thing going.  If you have an anecdote you would like to share, please let us know.  If you would like to brainstorm around these ideas, feel free to call Bill at 781-254-3677.