In the five years prior to COVID, CrossFit around the world experienced an unprecedented level of growth. New Boxes were opening up in one city after another. Then, with the lockdowns, everything changed. Now we find ourselves in a post-lockdown environment where there is more competition than ever and every fitness business is pulling out the stops to bring people back.
In order to thrive in this environment, your CrossFit Box needs to be more proactive, more innovative, and more passionate than the competition. We can’t do a lot about the passion, but in this article, I’ll lay out ten innovative CrossFit marketing ideas that will allow you to be proactive in attracting new members.
Here’s an overview of the ten strategies we are about to cover:
- Location changes
- Weekend workouts for beginners
- Email marketing
- Business cross-marketing
- Apparel sales
- Show your personal side
- Facebook ads
- Instagram and Snapchat
- Special promotions
Became a Better Seller
Marketing to generate a constant flow of leads is all good and well, but if you or your staff aren’t able to close the sale, you are not going to get new members. So, before you invest time and money into marketing your Box, make sure that your salespeople know how to close the deal.
Here are four quick tips to help close more sales:
- Be agreeable – too many salespeople try to sell from a negative viewpoint; they try to justify or defend a position. Instead, you should be agreeable. For example, if the person objects that the price is high, simply say, ‘I agree, Joe, it is a lot of money – now let’s go ahead and get you started.’
- Show your membership program to everybody – that includes every single non-member who enters your Box. remember that they cannot say yes unless you present the offer to them.
- Use a choice close – a choice close presents the person with a this or that offer rather than a yes or no decision. Keep it simple with just two options or you will confuse the person.
- Get other people involved – introduce the prospect to your staff and a gym member or two. Everyone should be invested in converting the prospect into a new member.
As the manager of your CrossFit box, you should be holding weekly sales training sessions for your team. During these sessions, have role plays and discuss other techniques to improve the closing percentage.
One of the great things about CrossFit is that you don’t need a lot of equipment to do it. You can take advantage of that fact to take your workouts outside of the four walls of your Box and showcase them to your local community. Schedule regular workouts down at the local sports field, on the beach or any other public area where there’ll be lots of people.
Public workouts are a great way to get yourself known. You’re bound to get quite a few onlookers who would like to know more about what you do and how it can benefit them. Be sure to have follow-up material they can take away with them. Better yet, run a giveaway where people enter into a draw to win a month’s membership. All they have to do is fill out a form with their contact details on it. This will provide you with plenty of leads to follow-up.
Make sure that, in addition to the trainer who’s running this outdoor session, there is another staff member available to handle public enquiries. Be aware, also, that you may have to get local authority permission to make use of some public facilities. Check this out ahead of time to avoid any complications on the day that would reflect badly on your business.
Weekend Workouts for Beginners
Many people are put off CrossFit because they think it will be too hard for them. Unless you break down this barrier, you will miss out on potential new members. One way you can do that is to hold weekend classes that are specifically designed for beginners. They should involve simple exercises that do not require a lot of technical skill.
The emphasis of these weekend workouts for beginners should be more on fun than on training intensity. Encourage your members to bring their friends and family down for a free session. People often wonder just what type of training goes on in a CrossFit and these weekend sessions provide the opportunity to find out in a non-threatening manner.
Make sure that every person who comes through your door fills out a form that will allow you to collect their contact details. At the end of the session, the trainer should offer everyone a free trial. Those who don’t accept it should still be entered into your marketing funnel for follow-up.
Even though there are many new and exciting forms of social media communication, email marketing remains the mainstay of any successful service business. To benefit from it, you need to develop an extensive email list. At its foundation will be your existing members. You should then have a separate list for prospects. This list can be fed by member referrals in the collection of contact information at events and when new people come through your door.
You should have an email marketing program targeted toward your existing members. This is an important way that you can keep your members engaged, fostering an atmosphere of inclusiveness. The better you are at communicating with your members the more likely they will be to stay with you.
By providing your members with in-depth, targeted, and relevant information through your newsletter, you will be establishing yourself in their minds as the local fitness authority.
Here is an email schedule for new members that I have used successfully for many years in my general fitness gym that is just as applicable to new CrossFit members:
- On Day 1, they should get a welcome message that spells out what their next steps are.
- On Day 7, they should get a congratulatory message that reaffirms their decision, and reinforces the benefits of it.
- On Day 12, they receive a message that provides tips regarding training, nutrition, and recovery that is appropriate to their training level.
- On Day 14, they receive another message with specific content that is at their level and usable.
- On Day 30, they have been entered onto your monthly email list hearing all.
I like to include an FAQ section in the first message to new members. You can say something like …
As a new member, I’m sure you have many questions. Here are the ten most common questions that our new members ask, along with our answers …
Your members should also receive a monthly email newsletter. In it you should include a couple of quality articles that provide actionable tips that members can use. This could be on a specific Olympic lift or pointers on nutrition or recovery. Whatever it is, try to include content that gets an ‘aha – I can use that’ response from your members.
If you have neither the time nor the ability to create killer email newsletter content, it’s worth spending a few bucks each money to get a professional fitness writer to do it for you.
In addition to these meaty articles, your email newsletter can also include notifications about recent changes or innovations you’ve introduced, special promotions that are coming up, and tips for staying motivated.
Other businesses within your community provide opportunities for cross-marketing. The people who make up your target market all need to get their cut, buy clothing and, probably, regularly make purchases from health food stores. Each of these business types can be partnered with.
Make a list of all of the local businesses in your area that your target market is likely to frequent. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Juice Bars
- Massage Parlors
- Acupuncture Centers
- Cryotherapy Centers
- Physical Therapists
- Hair Salons
You now need to establish relationships with the businesses you have targeted. Your goal is to get them excited about your CrossFit Box. Only then will they be motivated enough to promote it to their customers.
The best way to get them excited is to allow them to experience what you do. You should, therefore, offer free sessions to the manager of the business and, importantly, to the staff members who will be dealing with the public. Make sure that you provide a top-notch service workout experience that will challenge them at their level without crippling them.
Once you have buy-in from the complimentary business and they have experienced what you do, you should get them to display a lead box prominently on the counter. This is simply a box in which people drop their contact details. As an incentive for them to do that, there should be a promotion on the box regarding a membership prize giveaway.
You should, of course, be providing leads to the complimentary business in turn for the efforts they are making on your behalf. One promotion that worked well for me was for members to receive a $50 hair salon voucher once they had completed their first 10 CrossFit workouts. At the same time, the hair salon that was located in the same strip mall as my gym was offering its clients a week’s free membership at the gym after every 10th haircut. That promotion worked so well for both of us that we kept on doing it for years.
If they’ve got the space, you might suggest that you set up a mini display with a weight bench and a pair of dumbbells. Include a professionally made sign that offers a month’s free membership. Offer to have a similar display for your complimentary business in your Box.
Don’t limit yourself to small businesses, either. Why not reach out to large corporations in your city and offer special WODs just for their employees. You could even hold them right there on site if they have a room that will accommodate the workout. Promote it as a team-building experience in addition to selling the benefits of a healthy staff in terms of fewer sick days and better productivity.
Apparel Sales Revenue
Every time you sell a T-shirt with your branding on it, you have just created a walking billboard for your business. Getting into the apparel sales business is easier than you might think. You can outsource all of the work, display the clothing in your foyer and on your website, make a few bucks off every sale, and get your message out into the streets of your community.
I suggest starting out with just T-shirts. Promote them heavily in the months leading up to their release through your email marketing to members. Also, make sure that your staff wear them in the Box.
Show Your Personal Side
CrossFit marketing isn’t just about attracting new members. You need to also be constantly marketing to your existing members. The more things you can do to create a family atmosphere within the Box community, the less inclined your members will be to relinquish their membership.
One of the key advantages that a CrossFit Box has over a general fitness gym is that there is more of a personal atmosphere. Whereas gyms can quickly become cold and sterile with hundreds of people coming and going every day, CrossFit sessions usually consist of no more than a dozen people. Rather than a bunch of strangers sharing the same workout space, they become a fitness family.
It’s up to you to foster this close, personal atmosphere to the best of your ability. One way you can do that is to share the personal side of your staff with members and potential members. Doing so will help to break down the formalities of the business-client relationship.
Have each of your staff members create a short bio and include a bit of personal information that they are comfortable sharing. Post this on the wall under their pictures and also on your website. Encourage your staff members to post blog articles about how they incorporate fitness into their everyday lives. Include video on your website and Facebook pages of your trainers introducing themselves and instructing on the Box floor.
You should also ask a few members if they would be happy to provide a video referral that you can post on the website and on Facebook. This type of social proof is a powerful asset to your marketing efforts.
A website is one of the most important marketing tools that your CrossFit Gym has available. However, a lot of Boxes fail to hit the mark when it comes to setting up a website that really works. Your goal with any sort of web presence is to get as many targeted people as possible in front of you so that you can sell them your service. You need to convert the highest percentage of viewership possible over to one-to-one interactions that lead to a signup.
The biggest problem I see is the overly flashy website. These may look great, providing a flash introduction with sliders, etc. But they will dramatically slow down the loading time. This is no different than having to wait for 30 minutes to eat when you’re ravenously hungry. If the visitor has to wait for 45 seconds for the site to load, they are not going to hang around.
So stay away from anything that is going to negatively affect the load time of your website. This includes using pictures that are too large or having too many pictures. I suggest limiting your website to just three or four pictures at most.
Another common problem is having too much information on the website. Rather than having the website focused on you, focus on what you can do for the client. Talk about how you are going to help them lose weight, build muscle or improve their cardiovascular health. Even on your About Page, focus on the client. Provide a succinct overview so that they know that you know your stuff, but then talk about how you’re going to help them.
Your website needs to have a blog page attached to it. This is where you will provide the in-depth, relevant and immediately usable content that engages the reader, provides that ‘aha’ moment, establishes you as a fitness expert and makes them hungry for more. Your goal should be to regularly update your blog with cutting edge content every week or two. Hiring a fitness freelance writing specialist writer from Upwork may be another good option here.
Another vital element of your website is your landing page. This is where you offer a free gift in exchange for the visitor’s email address. It is a key strategy in building your email list.
Once you have your website set up, you need to maximize it to get as many visitors as possible. All of your social media platforms, which we’ll also discuss in the next unit, should be utilized to drive traffic to your website. Yet, the majority of your web traffic will be driven by the commercial search engines, the biggest of which is Google.
Search engines are unique in that they provide targeted traffic – your visitors are actually looking for what you offer. If the search engine can’t find your site or add your content to their databases, you will miss out on an incredible opportunity to drive traffic to your site.
The key to search engine optimization is to create content that is compelling, engaging and relevant to your readers. Over the last few years, Google has made a concerted effort to value the overall experience of its users. As a result of this, they now place greater overall emphasis on the overall value of the content rather than on specific keywords. Here are some basic rules of thumb for writing content . . .
1. Write a minimum of 300 words per page but aim for a thousand or more if you can.
2. The first couple of paragraphs should focus on the core offering.
3. Talk about the benefits, not just the features of the service you offer. People want to know how you are going to solve their problem, not just read technical jargon.
4. Look at other high-performing websites to get ideas but avoid copying and pasting as Google recognizes duplicated content.
5. When you have written your content, take a breath, then take a look at your competitor’s websites and ask yourself if the content you’ve written deserves to be promoted above that of your competitors.
Advertising on Facebook allows you to target specific market segments. The massive Facebook algorithm allows you to create specific niche audiences for your ads. You are able to, for instance, create a custom audience that lives within 5 km of your location, is aged between 25 and 37, earns more than $60,000 a year, and is interested in keeping fit.
Before spending any money on Facebook advertising, you should sit down and make profiles of all of your target niche groups. Think about your existing membership and the types of people that make it up. You’ll probably have a cross-section of all age groups, professions, and interests. What motivates one might completely turn another off.
So, rather than having a blanket ad to appeal to the general public, you need to target your ads to each of your target niche groups. Remember, too, that few people will be influenced enough to sign up after just one viewing of an ad. Most people need to see it at least seven times before they actually take action. Fortunately, Facebook ads are not expensive, especially when you consider the targeted aspect of them. So, don’t skimp on your Facebook ad marketing budget.
Instagram and Snapchat
You need to have a presence on Instagram and Snapchat in order to reach the younger generation. To do it, use your phone to film some awesome workout content as well as some cool pictures from different angles with great lighting. Now post them on your Instagram and Snapchat story pages. Add some hashtags and keep updating with new content regularly and you will soon create a following.
LinkedIn is a hugely underutilized resource for gyms and CrossFit Boxes. Yet, it is an effective way to reach the 30+ professional crowd. Create posts on the platform that are appropriate for a professional audience. You could, for example, post a clip of a female member achieving a PR and then add the comment …
If Josie can get in great shape while pursuing a professional career and being a mom of three, you can too!
While we’re discussing social media, it’s a good idea to poll your members to find out if any of them have expertise in such areas as photography, videography, and writing. Don’t do this in the expectation that they’ll do it for free. But giving jobs to your members will only cement your relationship with them.
Offer special promotions to attract new members. An example could be a CrossFit Start Pack for newbies that is offered at a substantial discount. Within each promotion create a sense of urgency that will provide an incentive to act now. That can be done with a price offer that will expire in a few days.
You should also hold referral promotions to existing members. Run a ‘Friends and Family’ promotion whereby existing members get extended membership when they introduce someone else. Other options are to bring in a family package deal as well as a Buddy Rate, whereby training partners get a reduced membership.
If you aren’t actively seeking referrals, then your Box is missing out on a cost-free way to boost membership. Make sure that your sales process includes a referral request as standard practice.
Actively train your staff to ask for referrals in a way that seems natural but that will also bring results. One way that works for me is to ask the new member if they know two or three people that they could introduce you to regarding the gym. Asking for an introduction is much simpler than asking for a referral. Sometimes the word ‘referral’ can create a negative connotation in the person’s mind.
Once the person gives you the contacts details, ask them,
‘Do you happen to have their phone number handy?’
More likely than not they’ll have the number right there on their phone. Once they’ve given you the numbers, say,
‘Ok [name], who should I contact first?’
Once they tell you who to contact first, ask …
‘[Name]. Would you mind giving them a call and letting them know that I’ll be contacting them?’
This may sound a little pushy but, if you’re doing all the other things right, providing you a new member with excellent service, and displaying passion and enthusiasm, the vast majority of people will be happy to help you.
Far too few CrossFit Boxes are serious about getting referrals. Yet this is a strategy that, if consistently applied, can double your membership in just a few months.
With more than 15,000 CrossFit Boxes worldwide, you have got to compete to stay relevant. By taking the proactive measures outlined here, you will be able to create a steady stream of qualified leads that are ready to invest in their fitness future. Here’s a reminder of the strategies we’ve considered:
- Location changes
- Weekend workouts for beginners
- Email marketing
- Business cross-marketing
- Apparel sales
- Show your personal side
- Facebook ads
- Instagram and Snapchat
- Special promotions
I suggest creating a marketing plan that allows you to make use of each of these strategies. Start with those that are cost-free, such as business cross-marketing and referrals, and work from there. Even if you only get to implement half of these proven tactics, you will see significant membership growth for your efforts.