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Pilates Marketeer

Powerful Promoting: How to Entice Clients to Participate In New Programs

by Dana Auriemma

One of the largest and most important parts of building a successful fitness studio is offering new programs. New programs include new services, events or promotions. When a studio is regularly offering smart new programs, they will enhance and grow their business and keep clients excited and active in their attendance. And when these programs are successful, both the studio and clients benefit.

But sometimes in our studios, we occasionally offer up programs that are NOT successful. Even though we know the program is a good one that our clients would love, it doesn’t get a good response. Why? What’s going on? Why don’t our clients seem to be interested? Why do great programs sometimes fizzle or flop?

Assuming it is truly a great program — one that fits with your clients’ schedule, budget and interests — then it may not have succeeded because it wasn’t promoted well. The famous line from the movie Field of Dreams — “if you build it, they will come” — is not true. Neither is the bad adage “it sells itself!” No matter how incredible a new program is, it still must be promoted in a compelling way to entice your clients to participate.

Effective and successful promoting involves three important things: copy, vehicles and timing. You must present the program in a captivating manner through your marketing copy, use the right communication vehicles to get the word out, and share the information at the right time. When you do this (and you’ve developed a great program) you’ll have greater success and client participation!

1. The Copy

Marketing copy is what a business says or writes to describe their services, products or programs. It is incredibly important because it’s the primary way for you to ‘convince’ clients to participate or purchase your programs. Well-written copy is customized to your clientele and presents the program in such a way that clients just can’t resist it! A studio could have the best program in the world, but if it’s not presented in the right manner then clients won’t find it interesting or want to participate.

When promoting a new program, try to craft a thorough communication that incorporates the elements below.

  • Can’t-miss excitement. Choose language that shows enthusiasm and excitement. Language that indicates clients are being offered something unique and special.
  • The why. Briefly tell clients exactly WHY you are offering the program. If you share why you felt the program was important to offer, then your clients will more likely agree and want to participate or purchase.
  • Who it’s for. This sounds obvious but it’s actually very necessary. Customers always need to know that a product or service is right for them. So tell your clients who your program is for (i.e. “this class is perfect for clients who…”)
  • A mental walkthrough. Before making a purchase, clients want to know exactly what to expect. So walk them through it. If it’s a service, explain the experience. Tell them how the time will be broken down, if they will sweat, what to wear, any props, etc. If it’s a package or discount you’re promoting, walk them through all details and logistics.
  • Potential concerns. Clients will often be apprehensive about new programs or purchases. They want to make sure they are making a good purchase. So think through every possible concern or doubt they may have and find a way to address it in your communication. And make it clear you welcome questions!
  • Real-life benefits. Don’t forget to tell clients how they will benefit from your program, but be mindful of exactly how you present the benefits. Avoid exaggerated promises. Clients will be disappointed when they fail to “lose inches and whittle their waistline.” Try to capture what is most unique or valuable about your program. Highlight the most immediate benefits (research shows it is more compelling than long-term benefits). And don’t limit yourself to body-improvement benefits. Include things like having fun, saving time, etc.
  • Visuals. Photos and even videos are a must! They allow clients to more clearly see what they will experience and imagine participating. But avoid stock photos when it comes to exercising photos. Clients want to see the REAL experience with REAL people in your REAL studio.
  • Concise language, clear formatting. While I’m mentioning a lot of content concepts to include in your communication, it still needs to be brief and concise. Spend time editing. Try to say something using a few good adjectives rather than writing out 3-4 full sentences. Also use clean fonts, colors, formatting blocks and white space to help clients quickly scan and see all of the important information.
  • Links or leads to purchase. Always include a link to more information (if relevant), a link to online purchase (if available), a link to the studio website, and full studio information including address, phone, website and email. The goal is to never make a client have to search for you.

2. The Vehicles

If possible, when promoting or communicating a new program, try to use all available marketing vehicles. Customers are not as observant or attentive to our communications as we would expect them to be, so we must use multiple methods of communication to reach them. Also, have a long and short version of your marketing communication and use multiple formats (web page or flyer, PDF, JPG) to best fit different marketing vehicles. The more vehicles you use, the more successful you will be in reaching your clients. Here is a checklist:

  • Email newsletters
  • Blogs
  • Website (feature on home page, studio news, classes or relevant inside pages)
  • Social media (Facebook, Google+ and Twitter)
  • In-studio signs (front desk, bulletin boards and bathrooms)
  • Word-of-mouth (from front desk receptionist, owner and instructors)
  • Mailings or flyers to handout in the studio
  • Any running ads (newspaper, radio, online)

3. The Timing

The timing of when you promote your new program is key to getting clients to participate. To win a spot on your clients’ calendars you have to start early and remind often.

  • Start with a long-lead, advance notice. You want to give plenty of advance notice so clients don’t already have prior engagements or a fully-spent budget for the month. It’s always better to start announcing programs as early as possible. You’ll build excitement and can take advance reservations or pre-orders to help make your program a success. Don’t know or want to disclose the details too far out? Then just start running early teasers about what’s “coming soon.”
  • Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat announcements on a regular basis until the event. You might opt to pulse communications using the vehicles listed above but also repeat your communications with the same vehicle when possible. A good guide is that clients should be exposed to the information in one way or another at least twice a week.
  • Give them a nudge. Give your clients a reason or incentive to get on-board and sign-up right away. Remind clients that space is limited and first come first serve, or send out an announcement when only a few spots are left. You can also offer an early-bird discount and set expiration dates for limited-time packages. Speak to the fun of being the first to try something new or remind clients how soon they will be enjoying the benefits of your program if they start or purchase right away.

Now put together all of these things and you will be promoting your new programs in a very powerful and effective way. You’ll see a stronger, more enthusiastic response from your clients and your programs will be getting the great response that they deserve.