For a lot of gyms, they will see a surge of members in the first couple months of 2020.
However, for Geo Rockwell, the owner of Industry Athletics with two locations in Maryland, this isn’t the case. And Rockwell likes it that way.
“Our best numbers come in the spring,” he said. “I have no data to back this up besides the gyms I own, but I think people get hit with heavy marketing from fitness solutions around New Years. A few months go by with no results and then they want to try out something that will hold them more accountable.”
In fact, Rockwell shared that in the traditional role, marketing does not play a large part in his business. While they’ll do internal pushes to encourage members to get friends to sign up, the advertising he does do on Facebook and Google simply builds brand awareness in the area.
“I used to wrestle with this, but I have come to realize that is not where I enjoy putting my time, money or energy,” he said.
What has worked for Rockwell are reviews. He explained they’ve built a large list of positive reviews which tend to act as a marketing machine when people are looking for a gym.
These positive reviews come from focusing on the member experience, as well as investing in staff and fostering great relationships. One way Industry Athletics does this is through challenges that hold members accountable. For example, prior to the holidays, members tested their max Clean and Jerk, 2k row, and a weakness workout. They then worked on those and will retest after the holiday season. Plus, Rockwell even found a way to tie it all to charity, donating based on each member’s individual progress.
However, that’s not to say you should ignore marketing. In fact, Rockwell is aware of how he comes across. “I picture the person reading this the same way I would: Another owner talking about taking care of his community and providing a really good product, so the marketing takes care of itself,” he said. “That is what we will do, but the marketing will not take care of itself.”
Quoting Mark Twain, Rockwell said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” Right now, the majority is looking for clues to grow in 10 to 20 members, and the majority totes community and coaching as highlights of their product. “What have you done to build community and when is the last time you evaluated a Coach? Having the same programming, equipment and Level One Coaches as the next gym is not pursing excellence. Take a hard look at what makes you stand out,” he said.
Rockwell shared he has been down plenty of marketing roads — whether it’s marketing programs or landing pages that deliver leads while you sleep — but in the end, he said it comes back to why the you started the business in the first place. That is where the true marketing success lies. “Give an absurd amount of your time to the people who are paying you and have trusted you with their health and fitness,” he said. “You will grow if you invest in relationships.”