Whether you’ve just opened your doors or have been in business for decades, one of your primary business concerns is probably attracting new students. Traditional marketing strategies like radio, television, or billboard advertisements can certainly be effective—but they’re also expensive and not guaranteed to get results. Luckily, there are better, more affordable ways to advertise your gym and bring in new business. Here are a few ideas to kickstart your recruiting process:
Snag them in a flash. Boost excitement and curiosity in your program by planning a “flash mob” (a surprise impromptu performance). Partner with community events or festivals, or find a venue that will let you stage your own flash mob—and make sure you have flyers on hand for audiences after the show! It’s also important to time the event strategically (such as around tryout time); for instance, the Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders were able to boost attendance for their annual “Making the Cut” auditions by staging a flash mob at Baltimore’s popular Power Plant Live! Entertainment complex just days beforehand (see picture on left).
Build a virtual tour of your gym. When visitors find you online, letting them “see” your gym can go a long way toward bringing them in for a visit. Many companies offer virtual tour software at reasonable prices or can build and install an interactive tour on your website. Another option is to follow Cheer Extreme All-Stars’ lead by filming and hosting your own tour on YouTube; hosted by owner Courtney Smith-Pope, their upbeat video currently has upwards of 23,000 views.
Get active in localized social media. While sites like Facebook and Twitter are great for national exposure, they’re also an extremely effective means of building a strong local network and keeping your community up-to-date on happenings at your cheer gym. (And did we mention they’re F-R-E-E?) Offer sign-up specials for brand-new Facebook friends or Twitter followers, and encourage your faithful clients to write reviews on Yelp. A recent Yelp study found that 27% of consumers read online reviews when making purchasing decisions, and 85% of consumers are relying on the Internet to find local businesses. Don’t miss out on being part of the “click!”
Give potential cheerleaders a taste of the all-star life. Contact local schools to find out if they have a “try it” sports program; you can also offer to participate in their physical education curriculum for tumbling. (For instance, the Pflugerville, TX school district offers off-campus credit for students who participate in Texas All-Star Cheer’s program.) Also, get connected with the Girl Scouts troops in your area via the national website’s “Find a Council” directory; many troops offer a “Try-It” badge for girls who want to try new sports.
No matter which method you ultimately use, make sure to maximize the opportunity to meet your intention: getting new business. At every event or appearance, it’s crucial to have plenty of promotional takeaway material on hand for potential customers; possible pieces include business cards, class schedules, flyers, postcards, and/or bumper stickers. On social media sites, make sure your website and contact information are clearly listed, and choose photos that best represent the ideal image of your program.
Put these smart strategies into practice, and watch your classes fill up in no time!