Fitness is a good cause, and one that lends itself to great marketing. Fitness activism in your community is one of your club’s most effective marketing tools.
Corporate America has clearly validated the promotion of charities as powerful marketing. Savvy national vendors line up to support good causes that offer credibility, bring their companies closer to their market, and show a side that is warm, caring and giving.
Community service is a natural marketing tool for clubs because fitness centers are community-based businesses. The community is your market, and how you establish yourself in the community directly translates into how you establish yourself with your market. Community-based work is the best way to tap that ready-made, business network.
The number of choices for community service can be mind-boggling, but for the fitness business, the focus toward overall health and well-being is clear. Fitness professionals have an undying belief in the positive power fitness offers our bodies, minds, families, communities, country and economy.
Fitness offers positive solutions to many of society’s ills:
- It provides alternatives to circumstances that can lead to drug use, gangs and violence.
- It promotes health, self-esteem, relationship building and a positive focus among youth.
- It offers older adults a means of maintaining a higher quality of life.
- It contributes to one of the most strategically and economically viable solutions to the health care crisis — prevention.
- It increases productivity, creativity, health and well-being in the workforce.
- It can help to “mainstream” the physically and mentally challenged into society.
- It helps to make communities healthier, happier, more prosperous and better places to work, live and raise families.
Fitness evangelism is simply good business; marketing advantages include:
- Building credibility
- Seeding your market (youth grow up to buy
- Establishing your club’s expertise
- Free advertising and media coverage
- Direct exposure to your market
- Access to niche markets (corporate accounts and others)
- Direct sales opportunities
- Good-will building and word-of-mouth advertising
What does it take to start using this cost-effective marketing strategy? Most programs cost relatively little, and you don’t have to reinvent the “marketing wheel” to start this public relations machine rolling. The first step is to get on the phone and begin looking into existing programs and institutions such as:
Schools. Contact your local school principal and physical education teacher. Ask them how you can assist them in providing experts for talks, assemblies, mentoring programs and fitness-related events.
Fitness fairs & run/walks. If you aren’t already involved in the existing events in your community, call your Chamber of Commerce and find out who to contact. Sponsorships are usually available at different levels. Set up a booth for fitness testing, bring a team for a demonstration, or provide leadership for warm-ups and stretching.
The president’s and governors’ councils on physical fitness and sports. It is easy to sponsor the President’s Sports Award Program in your local elementary school. There are 39 Governors’ Councils, and the number is growing, each with an array of programs and events that can be built into your promotions. The National Association of Governors’ Councils (317 237-5630) can direct you to the council in your state, as well as provide information about national programs such as Employee Health and Fitness Day.
Civic clubs and local media. Draft a generic speaking proposal to send to your local civic clubs and radio and television stations.
Local and national special population programs. Wherever you are, your club can embrace an existing local or national program for children, older adults, inner-city youth, or the physically and mentally challenged. For example, the Inner-City Games Foundation, Cities in Schools, Operation Fit Kids, Senior Olympics and Special Olympics all offer opportunities to participate, mentor and train athletes year-round.
Community and senior centers. These centers can always use help, and they probably have existing programs into which you can breathe new life.
Boys and girls clubs. Besides donating equipment, mentors and operational help, there is the opportunity to run fundraising membership drives.
Fitness equipment vendors. Most of your equipment vendors also understand the power of fitness activism as a marketing tool and can help you leverage it in programs in which they already participate. They can help you donate old equipment and provide operational assistance for programs they support.
When you invite your entire staff to jump into the spirit of the cause and use their collective health and fitness expertise, public relations skills, organizational strengths and the belief in what they do, your club will be on its way to using this fundamental guerilla marketing tool to not only become the pillar of your marketing mix, but to bolster to your bottom line.