It’s everyone’s greatest fear in junior high – you have a birthday party and as the minutes tick by, NO ONE SHOWS UP. Your mother sighs. Your little brother snickers. Cake goes uneaten…
It can feel the same way for those launching a new business enterprise: What if we have a grand opening and no one shows up?
To help ensure this never happens to you, we've put together this list that will make any gym grand opening the grandest it can be. Read, reflect, and let us know your other ideas in the comments!
1. Optimize for local search
According to eMarketer 90% of people use search engines to find local businesses. Therefore, before you consider throwing open the doors to your new gym, you need to be certain people will be able to virtually and physically find you. There are two important steps you need to take:
- Make sure your Google My Business listing is up to date with accurate operating hours, contact information and directions
- Claim your Yelp, which allows operators to post information, updates, photos and reviews, then provides feedback to you via the page’s analytics
Remember, Yelp discourages operators from requesting reviews – they feel it compromises the integrity of their rating system. Instead, have a “find us on Yelp” badge on your website and link back to the appropriate Yelp page. Some businesses display the Yelp badge onsite for this purpose. (Don't forget to read more about our broader thoughts on SEO for gym operators.)
2. Promote locally
Focus on local promotion; after all, it does little good to hype your gym to people living in Austin if it’s in New Hampshire.
And though it’s the 21st century, you shouldn't ignore traditional promotions like dashboard flyers, stickers, ads in local weeklies and signs. The cost of printing has declined considerably over the past few decades and these may be among your best geographically targeted options. As with all advertising messages, however, it's important to provide something of value to your target – a deal, a laugh, information, etc. The best promotions contain all.
3. Be on social media
A social media presence is largely free and can help you build a community of fans around your gym. If you’re willing to invest some advertising dollars, consider promoted tweets on Twitter and sponsored posts on Facebook. The latter is especially terrific at geo-targeting and market segmentation.
4. Partner with a non-profit fundraiser
There’s no reason you can’t promote your new gym and a good cause. You’ll immediately prove your value to the community and attract your partner organization’s advocates. Consider a sign-up drive where you donate half of all membership fees for the day to the partner non-profit.
5. Match offers
People love to buy things for people they know… and for themselves. Offer 2-for-1 memberships and classes – attracting those with existing relationships to your gym will foster an environment of fun and friendship.
6. Host branded giveaways
Random or earned giveaways of branded equipment, gear, magazine subscriptions, and personal training will help grand opening attendees remember you and their great initial experience. And as a bonus, those attendees will likely use your gear in public – putting your brand in front of others and keeping you top of mind.