I talk to people all the time who are doing Free Events in their fitness studio, but aren’t getting the results they hoped for. It’s crazy! They are investing tons of money on food, drinks, prizes, and working themselves into the ground – but they have NO strategy to convert those clients to long term packages.
Here’s the thing – in my eyes a free event has THREE potential purposes:
- To bring in new clients
- To reward/thank existing clients
- To re-engage “lost/missing” clients
The absolute best free events that I have seen run don’t have tons of vendors. They don’t have tons of food and drinks. They have a few preferred goodies – and a purpose!
So, if you haven’t figured it out yet – the biggest mistake that I often see made with free events is that you aren’t focused on a purpose for the event, and that the event isn’t structured in a way to maximize that purpose.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into some examples:
An Anniversary Event to appreciate existing clients and bring in new clients:
They have an interesting dynamic – many of their morning classes are FULL with a waitlist, but there are some time slots that have some room for new clients – AND they really want to increase their prices in the studio! So we had a conversation about how to make their anniversary event a “get it while it lasts” type of event.
Because of the way their studio was built, there is room for classes in two studios. So the goal was to create “appreciation” classes in one studio for all their best members – but to be running the larger studio for all their clients that weren’t on their best memberships AND their new clients. So there were a lot of nuances to THEIR event:
- Creating special activities to appreciate their best clients and publicly reward them for their loyalty
- Determining which staff would handle the new clients and which would handle the existing clients.
- Structuring the schedule to ensure that all new clients had the opportunity to speak to someone one on one – and increase sales
- Create buzz PRIOR to the event that included a referral contest for the client who brought the most first time clients
- Having a KILLER first time client special that was available during the event that would convert all those freebies into longer term clients.
- Letting people know ahead of the event that after the event, prices would be increasing, so if they were on the fence – it was time to act
- Having a follow up strategy for the week after the event to increase the wow factor and sales!
A Back To School Event to bring in new clients AND re-engage lost/missing clients
Just last weekend, one of my best marketing clients hosted her Back To School event. She’s done a few of them with me over the past year and a half, but when she opened this one up and started marketing it, all of her classes were FULL – and she had expanded her schedule for the weekend to accommodate new clients, so she was a bit nervous! We got on Facetime prior to the event and talked about:
- How to coordinate the times of the events to get maximum engagement
- How to staff the desk and classes
- How to prepare the have the staff for communications
- How to get all the forms/waivers/information filled out despite sheer craziness
- How to create an experience that will wow
- How to create packages that the clients are eager to buy during the event
- How to approach the clients the day of the event and get the sale!
- How to follow up after the event to increase sales and leave a great impression
- How to publicly appreciate and recognize your best clients while inspiring your new clients to be one of them!
You see, one of the big challenges is that there are a lot of nuances around creating an event that CONVERTS! You can throw free events once a month and if you don’t have a marketing strategy to get people there and to convert them to sales, then you’re wasting your time and money!
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