The following are a few tips for promoting your fitness classes, although they can be applied to dance classes and martial arts classes as well, but that would have made for another really long title!
1) Enlist the help of the venue
If you are using a village hall, community centre or gym to host your fitness classes don't be afraid to ask the venue manager to help promote the classes. Now I know from experience that some are more receptive than others to this kind of thing. I have met many a village hall caretaker who regards the community noticeboard as sacred and wholly his/her responsibility and any unauthorised pinning of posters of leaflets results in a great deal of posturing and blustering. However, it's in both your interest and the venue's for your class to be successful and most people understand this.
So ask what they can do to help? Examples of how a venue can help include:
- putting up a poster/leaflet on the noticeboard
- leaving some leaflets or cards in the bar or cafe area
- including details of your class in their regular advertising, e.g. local paper's "What's On" guide
- adding your class to their website
- allowing you to put up an A-board or banner outside
- cross promotion with other classes and communities who use the centre
2) Include your classes on your website
So often I see websites belonging to personal trainers, dance teachers, etc. who have gone to the effort of having a website and promoting their main business but don't update or even list the times, locations and details for their classes. One of the problems is that they either don't know how to change their website or they have to approach their web designer each time they need to make a change.
To get round that problem, just ask your web designer to create a link to your business profile on Fit2BFit which lists all your classes. That way when you update your classes on Fit2BFit and your website visitors will know about the changes as well.
If you don't have a website yet, make sure you ask your web designer to build you one that allows you to update it easily.
3) Newcomers welcome/Friendly group
These two important phrases should be included in any promotional material you are using to attract new class members. This especially applies to the more physical (and thereby) more intimidating class types like martial arts, HIIT, Bootcamps, etc.
The majority of newbies will be nervous about attending their first class with you for a dozen different reasons, but they all essentially come down to the fear of the unknown. You can take a lot of that fear away if you reassure them about how welcome they are. Assuming it's true of course!
4) Keep it real
In your class description be realistic about what to expect. For example, if you are running a high impact and/or high intensity class don't say "Everyone welcome". Instead consider saying something like "While all ages and body types are welcome to this fun and friendly class a basic level of fitness is required. Please call if you are unsure."
Remember, it's more important to have a few committed people who turn up, enjoy it and come again (hopefully bringing their friends) than it is for a load of people to turn up once and moan about it to everyone they speak to.
5) Include your contact information
People always have questions and you can't always get all the answers across on a business card or an A5 leaflet. If you have a website then it's a good idea to add the line "For more details see website" and include some FAQs on there. However, there will always be questions and concerns that you have not anticipated so give people a number to call or an email to write to on your posters, leaflets and promo cards.
6) People love freebies
"First class free" and my personal favourite "Bring a friend and get your next class free" are great ways to get extra bodies in the room. People are more likely to try something new if it doesn't cost them anything. They are also more likely to promote you if they get something out of it too. If you have someone who goes out of their way to promote you then give them a small gift every now and then, e.g. towel, water bottle, pedometer.
You can even take it a stage further and reward people for attending x number of classes in a row. Don't forget that in this business getting new customers is not usually the challenge. It's keeping them coming (retention) that's key to success.
Offering discounts for block bookings, groups is another approach.
7) Tweet and post your location
I bang on about this one a lot on Twitter. People often tag @Fit2BFitSocial with their class information in the hope that we'll retweet it for them. Well we will if it includes the most important piece of information - where is the class? You don't need to give a full address, but include a town at least and if it's a big town, the sub district as well. Hash tagging the town doesn't do any harm either.
8 .) Tweet to people who will retweet you
On Twitter search for users who tweet about things going on in your local area: local authorities, community groups, churches, local papers and dedicated "what's on" guides are very often more than happy to retweet about classes and events in their area.
Make sure you don't leave it too late in the day or week either. Most people don't make a decision on the day to go to a class. Most will make that decision two to three days before. By the day of the class they will have plans and even if they haven't, by a few hours before they will have settled into the idea of doing something else even if it's just watching TV!
9) Networking events
I could almost hear the collective groan then. Networking events can be intimidating, especially if you have never been to one before. It's also true that there are probably more bad ones than good ones in terms of the amount of business they will generate for you. However, with a bit of judgement, practice and the right attitude they can also be fun, educational and a great opportunity to pick up new class members.
Currently, despite the massive growth of the fitness industry, which is showing no signs of decline, there are still very few personal trainers, group exercise instructors or indeed health professionals in general at these events. You can take advantage of that and when combined with "First class free" and a friendly smile you will likely get a few a more people to your class.
10) Be listed on THIS website
Fit2BFit is growing fast and we are regularly featuring at the top of search engines when people look for classes in a given area. The more classes we have more we will be at the top featuring YOUR class. So if you haven't already, sign up > add your business profile > add your instructor profile > add your classes! We'll promote them on the site and in our social media campaigns and we'll do it all for free!
Keep smiling. Keep training.