Congratulations! One of the most critical hats you now wear as the owner of a children’s gym is VP of marketing!
Do not overlook marketing. It’s as strategic and necessary to the long-term financial success of your gym as smart fiscal management and providing excellent gymnastics training. The problem is marketing is easy to push to the back burner. You will feel the sting of poor financial management when you try to pay bills. You’ll hear from unsatisfied parents and see enrollment drop-offs if your classes aren’t up to snuff.
Marketing…. the pains of not marketing – or marketing poorly – don’t feel as immediate. Yet your gym will suffer from them nonetheless. The take-away: do not overlook marketing.
Your gym’s most critical marketing tools
The great news is that small businesses have never had so many marketing opportunities that fit their budget as the Internet provides today. The opportunities are endless, but these are your gym’s most critical marketing tools. In other words, these are must-haves.
- Your website is your marketing hub. Without a website, your gym doesn’t exist. When you need to find a local service, where’s the first place you look? Once you have the names of a couple businesses, what’s the first way you check them out? Exactly. That’s how people find and vet local gymnastics centers too. Websites are easier and relatively inexpensive to build due to the range of tools available today. Here are critical points to remember:
- Website visitors say not being able to find contact and location information easily is the most frustrating aspect of a poorly designed website. Put your address and phone number on every page.
- Make sure it looks good and is readable on smartphones.
- Add fresh content at least once a month. This is easier than you think. You’ll update class types and sessions. Add a simple blog where you post information about events and competitions.
Using a local search engine optimization (SEO) tool helps your website get found when people do local searches and will handle much of the tech side of things for relatively low investment.
- A contact database that contains names of prospects and customers. Your customers get into your database when they register with your gym. You can collect names and email addresses of prospects by asking for them on your website, collecting them at events, or running a raffle. These are just a few options. You want prospect email addresses in your database to send marketing emails to them about upcoming classes, offering discounts and other valuable information. Your gym management software should provide group email tools.
- Stay on top of managing your online reputation on local review sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Google. Online reviews are highly influential to consumers. Necessary steps include:
- Claiming your Google My Business. Google will create one for you anyway, so you may as well be in control of it.
- Encouraging students and families to post positive reviews.
- Responding professionally to any negative reviews that get posted.
Most of the tools that help you improve your local SEO also include reputation management tools.
- Setup profiles for your gym on the social media sites where your students are. If they’re on Instagram and don’t care about Twitter – don’t worry about Twitter. Focus your social media resources on the select sites that matter.
Understanding the most critical sales and marketing metrics
Marketing metrics can get out of control – no question. The one you need most to understand is a marketing tactic’s conversion rate. The conversion rate is the simplest gauge to tell you whether the tactic is working.
A conversion is the percentage of people who did what you wanted them to do in response to some marketing or sales content. For example, if you send an email to your prospects inviting them to a free tour/orientation night, your conversion rate is the percentage who accepted your invitation. If you send out a mailer to a targeted group with an enrollment discount code, the conversion rate is the number of people who used the discount code. Knowing the conversion rate is critical to measuring marketing campaign success and what changes in tactics impact that success.
To measure the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing, you want to know what your customer acquisition cost (CAC) is. The simplest formula to determine CAC is to take your marketing budget for a quarter and divide it by the number of new students acquired during that same period. That’s a CAC you can use as a benchmark to determine whether your marketing is cost-effective. The lower your CAC, the higher return your marketing is providing. Learn more about how your marketing ROI here.
Marketing is a team effort
You may be VP of marketing, but that doesn’t mean you have to do all this yourself. Delegate marketing tasks just as you do other tasks. You can subscribe to low-cost online marketing tools to do the heavy lifting of online reputation management or scheduling social media posts. Task an office manager or other support staff to manage social media or update the website.
In whatever ways you decide to allocate marketing tasks, get them done. In case we haven’t made the point yet – you can’t overlook your marketing and maintain a sustainable gym.