by Angela Reed Fox
You have your class timetable - and it works. Great. But sometimes it's good to add something a little different as an extra. We've found special edition 2 hour rides have been tremendously popular, booking out within days of posting them, and usually having riders waitlisted. Partly the popularity of course builds through riders enjoying the session and wanting to do more - and telling their friends.
But what if it's your first event and you want to make sure it's a must-book right from the start?
Here are 9 ways which we've used which work. Mostly, they're free, and just require a bit of planning. I would advise that although you don't need to do every single one, pick a handful that you know you'll be able to do well and go with those. If you just choose one, you're limiting your effectiveness unnecessarily.
Think about the customer journey
What are the points of contact along the journey between when a rider decides they want to do a session with you, and when they actually turn up to class? How many times can you reach them with the message that there's something they might not want to miss?
If you have an online booking system, there's usually a way of posting extra information directly onto the booking system, so riders will see this as soon as they log in - and they're then in just the right place to book your event! Booking systems also usually have a 'reminder' feature to email riders to confirm bookings or remind riders of their class - this is great to add a little extra bit to let riders know about your event.
In studio/venue promotion
Depending on your setup, you can post information about your event in the studio or around reception. This may take the form of printed flyers which can be cheap to produce - or, (and we found flyers tend to be a bit messy, and people still miss the message) you can create a graphic and post it on any promotion screens that you have in-house. Our heart-rate training screens when not in use, will show rider information, inspirational and motivational quotes, and also the odd reminder of upcoming events. If riders are present - they'll get the message.
What if they're not present? How do you get them then?
Blogs are good for websites; they show search engines that your site is up to date. They also drive traffic to your site, therefore making it more likely that search engines will look favourably on it and show it to more people.
Write a blog post, create an engaging graphic to head it, and post it to your site. Share it to social media. But also, don't forget to share it to your Google page if you have one (extra brownie points from Google there!)
But of course, had to be, right? But there's a way to do it. Actually there are several ways - but these are not the ways usually employed. Often a gym's Facebook page will look like an electronic noticeboard. All that's posted is details of classes or special offers - what I call 'Buy My Thing' posts. This is not a page that is going to attract visitors. An attractive page will show your brand personality, will be engaging and will give opportunities to followers to interact. Put out content - advice, how-to posts, motivational posts, and then followers not only won't mind the BMT posts, they'll engage with them.
When you're ready with your event, you can create a graphic and link it to your blog post. Share it to whichever platforms you use - pin it to the top of the page, promote it if you want to (there is a charge for this - so make sure you're confident with targeting and getting the best return on investment, otherwise just stick to the free ways for now).
We've also found it useful to change the Facebook header and also our profile picture. This creates a nice theme, and whenever we reply on anyone else's posts, our followers can see from our profile pic that something's going on, which directs them back to our page to satisfy their curiosity.
Yes it's true everyone gets too many emails. However, if you've got a friendly brand personality and you're not constantly clobbering people with a 'Buy My Thing' narrative, people will be happy to receive yours. We've found that our email open rate is far higher than the industry standard and this is because we think about what people want to receive, and how they want to be spoken to. Our style is always relaxed and engaging, and not formal, and we mix in useful advice that riders can apply straight away with offers, discounts, and special events.
Regarding our special 2 hour rides, we segment our riders. If they've been on one of our big rides before, then we put them in a special group so that they will always hear about similar events. Usually this is enough to fill the session on its own. If you're just starting out, you might want to email all your regular riders, and then keep a separate list or segment for those riders who are interested in your special editions to contact them directly next time.
We use MyZone heartrate training, and one of the features that tends to be under-utilised (but not by us because we're on it!) is the graphic you can add at the top of the app screen which will be seen by all riders who have not replaced your venue's graphic with a photo of their dog (most people don't change this, and therefore it's a good place to get the message out). Creating a graphic to fit the top of the screen and posting it there for two weeks before the start of the event is a good trick. Then of course change it to something else - we recommend changing it every week or two so there's always something new to look at for people using their app. Usually our app graphics are not promoting anything, they're just encouraging quotes. If you leave the graphic as just your company logo, there's more likelihood that people will change the picture to something else (like their dog) and then you've lost the ability to reach that person on the app.
Want MyZone? We recommend it for all studios. Contact us here if you'd like a chat about how it could work for you.
Although it's true that not everyone who books is necessarily going to see your homepage (particularly if they're frequent flyers and they've bookmarked your booking page, or if you don't have online booking), but it's good to have a congruent brand with the message reaching across the different platforms you have available to you. Often if you create one graphic you can either use that same graphic, or resize it for different functions across the internet.
If you're confident with this sort of thing, a chatbot is a handy thing to have. Embed it on your website and it will connect with Facebook Messenger and you can use this to a) get subscribers and b) let them know about cool stuff you ahve coming up (as well as thanking them by providing them with quality content.)