Brand Experience


21 May, 2019

Gym membership referrals can be one of the most cost-effective ways to generate new business for your gym, personal training business or fitness centre. In this blog we are going to provide you with some background on why referral promotions need to be a recurring part of your fitness business marketing strategy, and how exactly you can run successful membership referral programs to drive new leads for your business.

Why gym membership referrals are dynamite

You likely invest a significant amount of money into advertising your gym to new clients, perhaps you spend money on Facebook Ads, local radio or even printing flyers for letterbox drops. Well the big advantage of an internal promotion to your current clients, is that it requires very little marketing budget (and in some cases none at all!).

By running a fitness membership referral promotion, you are essentially asking your current clients to do your marketing for you. There is no better advocate for your business then a happy customer, and in a world where advertising is pushed at consumers from every angle, word of mouth cuts through the noise, and continues to be one of the strongest tools to lure in new business.

As consumers we trust what our friends and family share with us about another business, and market research has shown we are up to four times more likely to make a purchase if it has been recommended by someone we respect.

Referral programs work particularly well for the fitness industry and there’s a few reasons why.

– It’s local marketing. Your referrer would only suggest your business to someone who is in the local area. Therefore the lead is a strong one.
– A potential client can see first hand the results being achieved by the referrer, which often sparks something within themselves, and again the lead is partly qualified because they’ve identified what could be achieved and what they would like to achieve themselves.
– Creating a fun and welcoming gym environment is key to client retention, and if people are bringing friends and family along then you have pre-established relationships amongst clients which bring great energy
– Some clients really need support to achieve their goals, so having friends and family join them on their fitness journey is likely to help them reach goals easier, and stay engaged longer with your business. Again a huge win for gym client retention.

How to run a gym membership referral

1. Incentivise your Gym Community

Using a quality prize to incentivise your existing gym members will be key to the success of your promotion. To make the promotion successful you NEED your current members to talk about it amongst friends and family, and luring them with a prize is the best way to make sure this happens. Think about your audience and what pushes their dial. You could incentivise them in any of the following ways:

– A fitness related prize like a gift voucher for gym apparel or supplements
– A prize that uses local suppliers like a dinner at a popular local restaurant, or a spa treatment package (remembering that if you engage local suppliers they too might be interested in promoting your offer within their own business)
– Give them offers from within your gym such as a free membership, free personal training sessions or a percentage off their monthly payment.
– Make it a challenge. If you have a good camaraderie amongst clients at your fitness centre, then a challenge can be a great way to engage them and let them play off against one another to win the prize. Why not offer points for each person they refer and the member with the most points at the end of the referral promotion wins!
– Organise a social event. Let your members bring their friends and families in themselves, and they will even take care of the tour for you! Make sure to incentivise attendance with some giveaways and special sign up offers.

2. Incentivise your referees

Make the promotion beneficial for both the referrer and the referee. Perhaps you could offer your new fitness lead a special joining price or a complimentary welcome pack. Your new potential client already has an interest in your business, so now you want to off them something that will get them across the line, and convert them into a sale.

Whilst we are on the topic of new clients, they are a wonderful audience for referrals themselves. When a person joins a gym or new fitness program they are often excited, optimistic and sometimes a little nervous too. So what might help ease their nerves?…bringing along a friend! Offer gift vouchers or free passes to your new members to encourage them to refer, and also set the scene that your gym values referrals and will offer great incentives throughout the year.

3. Choose your marketing channels for your promotion

Think about all of the ways you can communicate this promotion to your current members. As a start, we would recommend posting the offer on your social media channels, sharing through email, print in your gym newsletter and visible signage throughout the gym. Depending on the size of your gym or fitness centre, whether or not you do have a small budget, then putting some paid spend behind a sponsored Facebook post that is targeted toward your current Facebook Friends and their network can also be beneficial to getting the word out amongst your community and people they are likely to refer.

4. Recording referrals

If you are giving away prizes, then you really need to implement a system for recording the referrer and the referee. Some simple ways to do this is to set up a referral form (hardcopy form at the front desk or online) so that current members can record their own name and the contact details of the person they are referring, or print some cards that current members can take away and print their name on, and give to potential clients to bring back into the gym on their first visit.

5. Some important legal stuff

When you are running any sort of competition, we recommend you check your local states requirements around competition permits, here’s a great resource for this: Broadly speaking, if your competition is considered a game of skill (the person has to do something to win, and isn’t just chosen at random) then no permit is required, but always good to double check.

Secondly Australian Consumer Law has some restrictions around Referral Selling, and again we recommend reading more about this here In summary your incentive shouldn’t require that a person refers someone who has to sign up for your product/service. If you simply incentivise them to provide details of a potential client, without requiring that potential client to join the gym for the referrer to win, then you will meet requirements of this law.

6. How often

How often you run a referral promotion really depends on the size of your fitness business, your membership retention rates and your requirements for new leads. For a standard size gym we would recommend running at least three times per year. Try a few different style promotions and find out what works best for your gym or fitness centre. Take key learnings from your membership promotions to then build regular and successful campaigns at key times of the year which align with your business needs.

If you would like to grow your fitness business with the help of one of Australia’s leading fitness marketing teams, then click here to make an enquiry with More Gym Members, and let’s get your fitness business pumping!