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Written by Josh Unfried

You’ve got a passion for health and fitness, and you’re ready to open a new gym. You’ve created your business strategy, crunched the numbers, and purchased your equipment. You’ve got your grand opening date on the calendar. But there’s a crucial component you can’t afford to overlook if you want your launch to be a success. 

It’s the pre-sale, period. 

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What Is the Pre-Sale and Why Does It Matter?

Too many gym owners make the mistake of opening their doors without doing any preliminary marketing or sales. The harsh truth is that it can take months to generate a healthy profit if you don’t actively promote, market, and sell memberships before your gym opens. 

If your immediate response is, “Oh, no. Another thing to add to my to-do list,” we’ve got two pieces of good news for you. First, a strategic marketing plan will contribute to your gym becoming profitable sooner because you’ll have a ready-made list of members and prospects before you ever open your doors. 

Second, it’s not as hard as you think, and you don’t have to do it alone. We can help you build a marketing plan that addresses questions like these:

  • How long before we open the gym should we start promoting it?
  • How can we sell more memberships before the gym opens?
  • Once it does open, how can we use the momentum to sell even more memberships?
  • What should our digital ad strategy look like for a successful opening? 
  • How can I align the club opening marketing strategy with the buyer’s journey for pre-sell? 
  • What should campaign strategy look like leading up to and through grand opening?

As you consider these questions, you’ll want to weave in strategies that address all the stages of the buyer’s journey, from awareness to conversion. It’s also essential to address foundational elements such as building a location page on your website, creating buyer personas and targeting them strategically with your marketing content, building interest, and creating a retargeting list based on interaction with your ads and website content. 

But how exactly do you create a marketing strategy that gets results? I’m glad you asked. 

How to Master Each Stage of a Successful Pre-Sale and Opening

Marketing is a lot like designing a personal training routine for a client. You wouldn’t just give them a list of weight machines and tell them to have at it, right? You have to take into account their current fitness level and goals, incorporate both cardio and strength, target different muscle groups, and help them tackle the plan one workout at a time. 

Preparing for your club opening is the same. Start by being strategic rather than reactive. Give yourself enough time to put foundational elements in place and align your marketing and sales strategy with the buyer’s journey. 

Let’s take a look at six stages of a successful pre-sale strategy.

1. Build Your Launchpad

Think of the foundational elements of your strategy as your launch pad. These are the things you need to have in place before you can start any ad campaigns or marketing events. Your launchpad should include:

  • Location page - Build a location page on your website with as much info as possible, including location hours, specific services, a map, and a phone number.
  • Landing page - The landing page is your golden ticket to collecting contact information from prospective clients and building an interest list.
  • Facebook location page - If you have more than one location, each one should have its own Facebook location page with hours of operation, phone number, and website address.
  • Google Business listing - This listing improves your visibility. You can add photos, location information, and updates about events. Customers can also leave reviews, which is an important way to establish credibility.
  • Budget for awareness and lead generation - Determine how much you can invest in advertising, including pay-per-click ads, social media ads, and any print advertising you plan to do.

2. Generate Awareness

The next step is to let your target clients know you’re coming to their neighborhood by generating buzz. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Create digital advertising campaigns targeted to the new neighborhood
  • Announce that a new club is coming
  • Get involved in the community so that people recognize your name
  • Build excitement with email marketing

3. Build Your Prospect List

Prospects are people who have expressed interest in what you’re offering. They may have clicked on an ad, responded to an email marketing campaign, visited your website, or signed up for your mailing list. Here are three ways to pad your prospect list:

  • Build an Interest List - Generate buzz about your new location by establishing an email list of people who want to stay in the know. You can send updates about your expected opening date, grand opening event, promotional pricing, and services to your subscribers.
  • Community Events - Build visibility and name recognition by participating in community events. For example, sponsor a 5k or host a drop-in.
  • Giveaways - Giveaways are tried and true ways to encourage people to interact with you and share your content. Try giving away a free one-month membership, a personal training session, or some branded swag. 

4. Nurture Your Prospects

Once you have a list of interested prospects, keep them engaged by updating them on your progress, getting them excited about the new club, and sending information about your grand opening. Develop digital ad campaigns and marketing emails designed to maintain interest and encourage sharing. 

5. Promote Early Membership Sales

During the pre-sale stage, your goal is to get as many people as possible to sign up for memberships before you open so that you already have a steady stream of income starting on Day One. You can do this by promoting pre-opening offers and deals to incentivize early sign-ups. You can also develop a tiered pricing model that goes up as you get closer to the grand opening. 

6. Pitch Your Grand Opening

It’s finally here! You’ve built awareness and developed an audience. You’ve pre-sold memberships and started to establish a presence in the community. Now pitch your grand opening like crazy! Offer special deals, give tours, have your personal trainers on site to talk to people, throw a cookout in the parking lot - whatever it takes to get people on site and show them how awesome your gym is.  

You would never tell a new client to start benching 150 pounds on the first day if they’ve never lifted before, right? They have to build up strength gradually over time. In the same way, don’t wait until the last minute to promote your new gym location. Have a plan, build momentum, and get the club off on the right foot from Day One. 

Josh is the founder and CEO of WindFarm. Josh enjoys helping brands navigate the transition from traditional to new media and preparing their organization for digital-social marketing lead generation and success.
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