Marketing your business takes time and energy, but it doesn’t have to take money. In our last blog post, we covered a number of my favorite ways to keep and attract new clients without spending a dime. This week, let’s continue with some larger-scale tactics and fun referral strategies.
Love Thy Neighbor
When it comes to referral marketing, you want to recruit everyone nearest to you, and that can mean closest in industry type AND closest in proximity.
One of my favorite methods to reach out to my neighbors is the Coffee Run (when I lived in a resort area, I called it the Concierge Run). It’s super simple. With my immediate neighbors—the flower shop next door, the café across the street, the custom furniture shop three doors down—I would make a habit of bringing coffee to the employees just to say hello, maybe not every week, but at least once a month.
The goal was to get to know my neighbors, find out what they do, let them know what I do, but NOT to sell them anything. I was making connections so that when that neighbor thought about fitness, they automatically thought about that cool chick down the road who bring coffee.
It does take time to foster these relationships, but that’s just what you are doing—creating relationships! Once I felt like I knew them a little bit, I would drop by a class schedule, or special passes for the staff, or even broach the subject with the manager to host a mid-day stretch session for the staff. Get creative, but be genuinely interested or it won’t work.
I should also mention that I’m not super great with human connection, myself. I am definitely an introvert and would rather not talk to anyone, so these Coffee Runs did not come naturally. In fact, once I could, I would send my manager out to meet with concierges and talk about what we offer and hand out freebies, etc. The point is, you CAN outsource this type of referral.
Similarly, I made a point to reach out to similar industries and make as many connections in those businesses as I could. Massage therapists, salons, tanning facilities, nutritionists, physical therapists, even other gyms, I would schedule coffee dates and brainstorm ways we could cross-promote (running a fitness challenge, wouldn’t it be nice if you could gift a massage at the end of it?) or run programs together. You never know who will be the perfect fit and who will send you big business. These are your power teams!
Once you find a few power team members, you’d be surprised how quickly the referrals come in. The important thing to remember is that you all go up together, so if you want to get referrals, you have to try hard to give referrals. Give just for the sake of giving and know that good things will come.
Education is a powerful thing. Combine education and community and watch your business grow. When I was in the market for new clients, I would throw educational events—sometimes for free, sometimes for a small fee, sometimes for charity, and sometimes for big bucks. But whether or not you make immediate money, providing education to the community sets your company up as the authority in your industry. And being the best of the best is always a good thing. Bonus: educational events always make great press.
When I wanted to make a big impact, I would throw larger-scale community events like health and wellness fairs. You can charge for booth space to cover your costs, get your own name out in the public sphere, and raise awareness for a topic you clearly care deeply about. Win-win-win.
When I wanted to reach a warmer audience, I would host smaller seminars at my clients’ workplaces. Have a client who comes in regularly, but works at a high-stress job? Ask them if they think their co-workers would benefit from a seminar on stress relief and in-office exercise techniques. Not only do you have an “in,” but you have someone who will sing your praises long after you have left.
No matter what type of event you throw, always remember to get their information (name, email, phone) and have a planned call to action. Maybe it’s contacting someone to tell them they won a free class, or maybe it’s more formal, sending everyone a link to book a free 15-minute call with you where they can ask any specific questions.
Whatever your plan, make sure you reach out right away and start making more solid connections. This is what’s called nurturing a lead or nurturing your client. They may not be paying you yet, but at least they are listening and interested, so don’t blow it by ghosting them completely. Just meeting them once isn’t always enough to gain their full trust.
Ug, I know. For some people, this is so easy, and for others (*raising my hand*) it can be painful. But there is no doubt about it, creating helpful content goes a long way.
Blog posts, smoothie recipes, workout tips of the week, student spotlights, instructor shout-outs, YouTube tutorials, so much can go into content creation. Not only do these tidbits help create authority, but they also give your audience something to connect with and something to learn.
When you are creating content, the most important piece of advice I can give you is just to publish it already. Perfectionism is the enemy of progress—I should know! I have fallen victim to perfectionism countless times. But in the end, having information out there is far more important than having the perfect information out there, because, spoiler alert, there is no such thing as perfect.
So even if you don’t look 100% for your video tutorial, or your article just wasn’t hitting the mark, it’s important to move forward. There will always be time to go back and tinker, but you don’t want to miss an opportunity because you are obsessing over the use of a dash or ellipses.
Just do it. Progress is progress.
From there you will build credibility, you will start to list higher on google, and you will get more clients!
How do you market your business when you are on a tight budget?
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