Attract New Members With Portals. Part 1

Imagine a long, narrow, terrifying passageway that leads to unseen obstacles and daily setbacks. This passageway is the start of a journey with no foreseeable end that you may never live to finish. This isn’t an excerpt from a scary novel, but an idea of what it can be like for a person to join your health club.

There are few ways for individuals to experience your club: memberships, guest passes or information on your website. Compare this to Amazon.com, which offers thousands of portals that lead individuals to its site to buy products. In many cases, individuals who think they are buying books, music or other products from one site, are actually buying from Amazon. Thousands of portals at other websites lead to Amazon and the chance to order its products.

For the fitness industry, portals can be different ways to experience your gym — other than a guest pass, membership or website. Portals can be defined as self-contained, all-inclusive courses offered by your club to expand its attraction to consumers who otherwise wouldn’t set foot in a gym. They are short-term fitness solutions, rather than fixed-commitment memberships, that get potential members in the door, and they may help you to speak these individuals’ language. For example, a potential member who wants to lose 10 pounds in two months for the wedding she is going to be in may not initially be interested in a fixed-contract membership. But if you offer short classes with the option to join later, she may just take that class and become a member after she realizes how much she likes your club.

Types of portals

An example of a portal is a six-week program for women (not just for women-only gyms) offered at $349. It includes six personal training sessions, nutritional guidance, supplements for the six weeks and $150 of day spa services. A club doesn’t have to have a day spa to offer this, but can make a deal with a local spa. In the example here, the club might pay a spa $75 for $150 of services. The spa is looking for business too, and can furnish its mailing list to help market this portal.

To use a portal such as this one, develop a mailing piece for the top 30 to 40 percent of your demographic population that is within 3 to 5 miles of your club. The strategy behind a portal is to attract a market that would otherwise never visit your club; therefore, this marketing should be done in conjunction with your normal ad program.

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