What is the number one goal of any brick and mortar small business? Getting warm bodies through the door, right? This is especially true for us as gym owners…we don’t have a business if we can’t continuously get new clients to come in and try our classes, join our challenges, or purchase our memberships and supplements. For most gyms, the turnover rate is high, so what do we do to keep our revenue stream going? Seek new avenues for leads. Unfortunately, not all leads are equal and let me tell you why.
Let’s Start with the Basics…
Any marketer, online or otherwise, that is worth their salt, will praise the benefits of warm and qualified leads over cold leads every day of the week. But, what are they, what difference does it make and what makes them so much better?
Have you ever been in the middle of dinner and gotten a call from the cable company offering you the deal of the century for switching over from your current provider and giving them a try? Usually, you never contacted them, showed any interest in their product or services and tried to shut them down by either telling them “thanks, but no thanks,” or screaming one epithet or another at them for interrupting your family time for no good reason.
Anyone can get a list of uninterested people and hand it over. Heck, most marketing companies out there can get you a 500+ list of names, phone numbers and/or email addresses in a matter of minutes, but it’s a complete waste of time. Why? Because, then you’re going to become the guy who calls in the middle of dinner, peddling wares nobody wants or asked for. Don’t set yourself up for hours of agony and failure.
I admit that when I first started out, all I cared about was casting the widest possible net and was thrilled to get 1-2 new clients from it. Not anymore. I don’t have the time nor the patience to continuously call and email a list of people who will take so much of my time and never commit to anything. Because I have learned the hard way, I highly advise clients to avoid them at all costs. It’s a time sink with very little ROI.
The next level of lead is called a warm lead. These consist of people who have shown some level of interest in your facility or services. They might have signed up to receive your newsletter, liked your company pages on Facebook, or been referred to you. They still have not purchased, but they have allowed you to capture their name and contact information, so you can reach out to them a little easier. Still, though, they have not expressed genuine interest in a particular product or service, just general information. You will have to do some nurturing over time to gain their trust and spur an actual trial or purchase.
As far as leads themselves go, these are the best to have. These people are the most likely to purchase from you in the near future. They will have found your company through a specific online search or clicked through on an ad, interacted with you via comments on a blog post, or in some way reached out to you directly to find out more information without just signing up for general emails.
They, too, pose a little bit of a problem because you need to find out more about them to close the deals. You need to know if they live or work in the general vicinity of your location. You need to be sure they can afford to become members and that they are able to make that determination on their own. And, you need to find out how soon they are ready to get started. So, some nurturing is needed for this level of lead as well, but not nearly as much as the first two.
For our clients, we offer qualified leads via eBook downloads that capture names and emails. From there, we have created a nurturing email sequence that is tied into a marketing for fitness challenge that will be running soon in our clients’ gyms. But, that’s definitely not the only way to get qualified leads. You can offer your own downloadable pdf’s about anything relating to your business as well as ensuring you are keeping your websites and company pages up-to-date to ensure interaction with potential clients and keep you top of their minds.
Now, be honest…if you had a choice between following up on any of the leads above which would you choose? For me, it’s easy. None. I don’t want a lead. It doesn’t pay the bills. I want an actual living, breathing, paying client to visit my gym. A “warm body”.
We’ve been doing this a long time and know, for a fact, that there are a ton of “tire kickers” out there. These are the people who will sign up for every free trial at a gym and just jump from one to the next without ever committing. That’s why one of our main marketing mediums is running fitness challenges. People sign up for and pay to participate in the challenges. With skin in the game, they are more likely to show up on a regular basis and they know what they’re getting. This does several things. 1. It takes the need for follow-up and constant, one-sided interactions out of the equation. 2. The sale is done prior to the client coming into the gym resulting in serious participants who will have a greater interest in joining after the challenge ends. 3. The people who join the challenges are more than qualified leads. They are actual, paying clients.
Leads are great, but warm bodies coming through the door for a pre-paid challenge are better. Learning how to properly leverage and nurture your leads into paying clients through social media will ultimately lead to increased ROI and that’s at the heart of every marketing play.