Gyms and personal trainers across London have had a difficult year and a half with government restrictions affecting their ability to do business. On the other hand many people have now realised that they will have to balance out the sedentary lifestyle of the last 18 months with exercise.
People are looking to lose weight, gain muscle but also work on fixing their back and neck issues developed from sitting at their desks without much opportunity to get out and move.
Due to this reality now is as good a time as ever to discuss how local gyms that have survived one of the most difficult times for gym owners in living memory can move ahead and structure their marketing to set themselves up for success.
Online vs Offline
Much of what we are going to be discussing today fits in the Offline marketing category.
If one is to run a successful gym marketing strategy using both online and offline tools will be necessary. All techniques and methods mentioned in this article should ideally support each other. This will apply across domains as well.
Your online activities can direct people to some of your tangible physical materials and likewise your offline marketing can point people to various elements of your online presence.
The conversation about which of these methods is more effective is missing the point. Talking about online ads being superior to offline methods due to the ability to target clients in a granular way or about offline marketing being better due to the overcrowding on online platforms will not help inform us about how to construct a complex marketing strategy.
Both of these methods are effective and each has strengths and weaknesses. We need to find out what these are and use both the online and offline approaches to support each other with a single goal in mind. Acquiring customers.
Today we will be talking about the available Offline options and at some point in the future we can focus on various Online methods as well.
Let’s start our conversation in the offline world of tangible marketing materials and in person connections. These will range from taking part in local activities to flyer delivery.
Local community is important even in a place like London. There are very clearly defined areas with local communities all over the capital.
This is only natural. If one is to live their whole life in a city with a population in the millions and a high rate of people moving in and out, a sense of community becomes very important.
As such there are many local activities taking place that help strengthen local communities. Park runs, farmers markets, friendly football games and more.
As you’ve surely noticed many of these activities take place outdoors and are more or less health related. If you are taking part in these activities either directly by attending or actively supporting via sponsorships you can develop a real connection to the community from which you are hoping to attract people to your gym.
If you do this with a genuine interest there is nothing wrong or disingenuous about the process. Your gym has a physical location. It is within a community. You want to serve people in that community but in order to do so, they need to know about the fact that you exist.
Taking part in relevant elements of community life in your area is only natural and makes sense. Make sure that you always do this sensitively and with genuine interest in the event.
If you do this correctly people will recognize and get to know you personally. This kind of connection is hard to replace with any other more ‘artificial’ marketing strategy. Personal connections and trust are irreplaceable.
How do you ‘scale’ this?
The first question young business people and entrepreneurs ask when discussing a business model and/or a marketing strategy is. How do you scale this? In other words, how do you make this work when my business grows 10x, 100x or 1000x?
The answer to this is you most likely can’t. And there is no reason to. Unless your gym is very specialised you are most likely going to attract people from your geographical location/community. This can include areas that are within easy reach by public transport or by car.
This means that if you run a gym in NW6 you don’t need to be ‘scaling’ everything you do to include the whole city. The likelihood of people in East or South East London coming to you for classes or to exercise is not high.
Some caveats are worth mentioning here.
Highly specialised gyms
- This might be a little different if you run a gym that specialises in a very specific sport. You might be a world champion in Jiu-Jitsu and have a recognizable name and thus have people commute from afar for classes or you might be providing training for a unique sport that is not available elsewhere.
- You might be running a chain of gyms that has locations in many places in the capital.
Targeting office workers
- You might be trying to target office workers around your location. In this case where these people live is basically inconsequential.
These are obvious examples where not everything we’ve discussed applies. Most of what we’ve mentioned can however at least inform your approach to your local marketing methods. The idea that not everything needs to be scalable should be something we all can at least think about from time to time.
The relationships you have with your community and customers do not need to scale. They are important in and of themselves.
And now we can move to a marketing method that you can use both locally and that you can scale up if needed. And that is leaflet distribution.
Gym owners have used flyers to advertise gyms in London for decades. They are a very effective way to reach out to people in their homes with a physical piece of marketing that we also can scale up into hundreds of thousands or millions of deliveries but can also be kept very local with a few thousand households targeted.
So how do you start with flyer deliveries if you’ve never used them?
First you need to decide what you want your flyers to do. Flyers should generally focus in a single direction and deliver a single message.
- Do you want more people to come to your spinning classes? You should dedicate a flyer to this.
- Do you want more people locally to just know that your gym exists? You should focus your flyer on this only.
- Have you started a new type of class that focuses on pilates and you need people to know about this locally? Talk about this on your leaflet.
If you were to include all of this on a single flyer you would find it will end up being crowded and confused. Pick one main message you want to deliver with one goal in mind and focus your flyer in this direction.
What will it look like?
Designing the leaflet is the next logical step. Now that you know what you are hoping for your flyer to achieve and what message it should communicate, you can start putting it together.
The rule number one is for you to work with a professional that has experience with flyer design. Flyers are not the most complex thing that a graphic designer will encounter in their professional life but there are some very important principles that one has to adhere to.
These might not be immediately obvious to someone who mostly works on web design for example.
A professional online ad creator will know that by doing something as simple as changing the colour of the frame around the picture they are using they can impact the results of the whole campaign. A designer working on your flyer can have a great impact on your success by making small decisions exactly the same way.
At The Private Postman we run a flyer design consultation service that we use to help our clients that have come to us with a more or less finished flyer design.
We can have a look at your flyer and before sending it to print we can provide you with feedback on what changes we believe you could make to your flyer to maximise your results.
The Private Postman also has designers on staff and as such can help you develop your flyer from the ground up including the fleshing out of your basic concept.
It is imperative that you either consult or work with someone that has experience in flyer delivery and production to make sure that your flyer campaigns are as successful as they can be.
When you are designing your flyers and planning your campaigns you also want to consider whether you should be using discount or promo codes.
Promo codes can help give people an extra reason to try visiting your gym as the code diminishes the cost of entry. This is incredibly obvious. On the other hand, promo codes can also help add an extra layer of tracking to your campaign.
You can include different promo codes on flyers going to different areas or flyers that you are delivering at different times. You might also be AB testing different designs and using different promo codes can give you a better idea which design is working better.
You can make a note every time a new customer quotes a promo code from a particular flyer. At the end of the day you add these up and extrapolate which promo code has come back to you more and hence which flyer has worked better.
This can be valuable. On the other hand you might not want to be giving out discounts and lowering your rates following a period of such minimal business activity like 2020 and the first half of 2021.
Ultimately the decision will be yours but try to discuss this topic with your flyer distribution company as well. They might be able to provide you with another point of view.
Where to deliver?
So where should you have your flyers delivered to? How many households and in which part of London? These are important decisions you need to make before moving ahead with the printing of your flyers.
The first thing you need to consider is your budget. How much are you willing to spend on your campaign. That will have the ultimate impact on how many households you can reach. So first - plan your budget.
Then you want to look at which geographical areas you want to be targeting with your flyer campaign. Most often gym owners focus their flyers close to the physical location of their gym. Let’s say a 1-2 mile radius. On top of that we recommend looking at areas that are easy to access via public transport or by car from your gym.
There could be a great area with the right customers three tube stops away from your location. This could be quite far geographically but it takes no time for your customers to physically come to your gym.
After you’ve identified the areas that would be interesting for you to target with your flyers you can revisit your budget and see whether you can cover them all or if you need to pick a subsection and return to the rest later.
The way you’re going to find out about how many flyers you need to print and which areas you can cover using your budget is by consulting with a flyer distributor and their mapping system.
Maps and households
A good flyer delivery company is going to have an in-house mapping system that will tell you how many deliverable households there are in each area.
At The Private Postman we focus our main flyer delivery system on privately owned residences. This means that we do not include businesses, industrial areas and local authority housing in the numbers of flyers we need to cover a selected area.
This way we can make sure that we give you accurate numbers of households that are truly deliverable. Not inflated numbers based on inaccurate government data from half a decade ago available on the internet.
We regularly update our numbers and mapping systems based on real world experience from dozens of distributors we work with walking the streets and delivering daily.
Now we know how many flyers you need to cover the areas and households you have interest in. We can move to printing your flyers.
When you first go to print your flyer you will find out that there is a lot of technical language that is attached to the process. GSM, formats, different types of finish and more, gate-fold, z-fold flyers…
We can help you demystify this. In general it is best to keep your flyers to an A5 format, stick to around 200gsm, matt finish and do not indulge in any folded flyer formats.
This is the most efficient and effective format to print. You will not be spending more than you need to on the print of your flyers. At the same time you are sticking to a high quality paper and giving your flyers some extra protection when handled.
- Flyers below 150gsm are too thin and can build up some damage in transport and during deliveries even when the distributor is handling them very carefully. On the other hand flyers over 300gsm are too thick, heavy and can even have sharp edges that are unpleasant to handle.
- Matt finish is generally the way to go as it holds up well, is not slippery and is not susceptible to scratching when your flyers are making their way through the letterbox. Glossy finishes can work for some businesses but in general are less resilient and offer little benefit.
- A5 is the ultimate flyer format. It makes distribution easier, makes it through the letterbox without putting up a fight and gives you enough real estate to perfect your design.
- Folding formats can be fun and occasionally can be the right choice but in 95% of cases any folding format is an unnecessary expense.
All in one service
At The Private Postman we offer an all in one service. We can help you design your flyer, arrange for the print of your flyers, store your flyers in our warehouse and execute your distribution as well.
This way you don’t have to worry about finding a different company for each of these steps and you especially don’t need to worry about storing tens or hundreds of thousands of flyers at your premises. Not everyone has the ability and space to store and move multiple tonnes of paper.
In general you want to look for a distribution company that can handle all of these elements in-house and let you focus on your gym and the overseeing of your campaigns.
We now have your flyers printed, stored and ready for deliveries. Flyer distribution generally runs six days a week. At The Private Postman our distribution systems are capable of delivering hundreds of thousands of leaflets every week for some clients.
However there is no need to rush the process. You might want to organise your distribution schedule in such a way that your campaign lasts multiple weeks. This way you can monitor the response, make tweaks if necessary and process your leads as they come in.
There is very little to be gained from having all your leaflets delivered in one week compared to three or four.
Door to door
As we’ve already mentioned we focus most of our business on door to door distribution that targets residential privately owned households. There are other ways of getting your leaflets out there but none can compete with the cost effectiveness, sheer numbers and in most cases the results of a traditional door to door campaign.
There are a few reasons for this.
- The ability to run shared flyer distribution is one of them. When the distributor delivers your leaflets through the door under a shared distribution system he or she will deliver it together with one or two other non competing high quality clients.
This means that if you are running a marketing campaign for a gym the leaflets that we will be delivering together with your flyers will be those of companies and organisations like estate agents, restaurants, schools or churches.
The obvious advantage of this system is that we can split the cost of flyer delivery between multiple clients and thus each delivery becomes more economical for everyone. This way you can keep the same marketing budget but run larger flyer distribution campaigns.
This would of course be worthless if shared distribution marketing campaigns produced worse results and had lower response rates. After much testing however we’ve established that campaigns with up to three leaflets show no difference in response rates when done correctly. More of your marketing budget can be spent on larger campaigns with no downside.
(The alternative to shared distribution is ‘solus distribution’. This method of flyer delivery stands on your leaflet being delivered through each door on its own. This is sometimes requested by clients and sometimes it is necessary if the client selects unusual areas for delivery where no other companies are running campaigns at the time.)
- Door to door leaflet campaigns have a great advantage compared to other methods in that they can be very well tracked. This means that you can not only see when your leaflets are being delivered and where but that we can provide you with a proof of delivery following the end of your campaign
This is all done in multiple ways. Our live tracking system informs you in real time about where we are delivering your leaflets in real time. This means that approximately every 400-500 leaflets delivered you get a new update and can come see your flyers being delivered without notice.
On the other end we will provide you with GPS files that come from GPS trackers that our distributor carries while delivering. These files will show you each distributor walking up to each individual door in high resolution. These files act as a proof of delivery and are the same files we use to check for any irregularities in movement and delivery patterns on our end.
On top of this our trained supervisors are checking on deliveries and giving constructive feedback to our distributors every day as the flyer delivery is happening.
All of these methods are not really available in other leaflet delivery systems like ‘hand to hand’ and others. They are unique to door to door deliveries and marketing and together form a fantastic system that ensures the quality of each delivery.
- Another great advantage of door to door flyer delivery systems is the fact that you can use it to deliver great numbers of flyers. Getting your marketing in front of a lot of people is an important thing in and of itself.
If you are hoping to target an area with 50,000 households which would be an average local gym marketing campaign there is no better way to do this in the offline domain than a door to door flyer campaign.
As there are multiple distributors working at the same time on predetermined routes the process can run smoothly and we can deliver many flyers in a short period of time. The speed of the progress of each campaign is also more or less predictable barring some extreme weather events.
Reaching these numbers of potential clients by any other offline marketing method would be incredibly expensive and difficult.
- When you are running a large marketing campaign hoping to generate new business for your gym the last thing you want to be worrying about are things going wrong.
Errors can find their way into any system but delivery companies have worked out door to door flyer delivery campaigns into such a level of detail that you are very unlikely to experience any complications.
Even if some complications arise you have a flyer delivery company that is fully dedicated to solving these. Even in the case of an unexpected event you are not going to have to start resolving every element of the issues.
Your distribution company will do that. You can focus on all the other elements of your marketing campaign with a peace of mind.
There are many offline marketing methodologies a gym owner can take advantage of. Engaging in the local community events and flyer delivery are the two most effective available to gyms right now.
Offline marketing methods provide a unique kind of connection with your customers that when combined with clever online strategies can help you keep your gym full for years to come even through difficult times.
If you have any questions or want more information about flyer delivery please feel free to get in touch with us here . We’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.