A Quick Guide to Improve Your Health Club's Word of Mouth Marketing

By Juan Ortega

Published 30 September 2016

Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) has been identified as the most valuable form of marketing. The form of marketing that consumers trust above all others and the one that is most likely to drive sales for your company/business.

The numbers don’t lie. 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising. In addition, 64% of marketing executives indicated in a study done by WOMMA and the American Marketing Association that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing.

Word of mouth creates trust, it builds your brand and it is low-cost. Sounds great, right? These tips will give you a great insight on how to increase your word of mouth marketing.

“If people are not talking about you, they are forgetting about you.” John Moore, Marketing Strategist

Identify and Engage Potential Brand Advocates

You have to acknowledge that people present a different potential for word of mouth. Some of your existing clients are likely to make referrals, while others aren’t. The key is to identify which individuals are most likely to recommend you to their friends, family, etc, and then engage those people.

How do you distinguish who they are? Turn to your best clients. Check your client data. Find the people who have purchased and interacted with your brand the most. Once you determine who they are, create a campaign to encourage word of mouth and referrals. You also need to do research on your top customers to figure out the best way to approach them.

Offer an Incentive for Referrals

Customers tend to be hard to motivate into quick action. It’s an unfortunate fact. They need some incentive to make sure they don’t forget about promoting your business. Incentives, scarcity, and exclusive content can all trigger people into taking action.

For example, you can offer special pricing, discounts, or free consultations to anyone that makes a referral and/or to whoever comes to you via a referral.

Furthermore, you also have to consider what the value is to the customer. Do you have a specific discount, free sessions, free nutrition consultation, or mini-service that you can offer to say thank you? If you do, is it valuable to your existing clients and will it be valuable for new prospects? This is something you have to research. Make sure that you know exactly what your client wants in return.The goal you are trying to achieve is showing appreciation, at the same time it is more likely that they will make a referral and also that they will repeat this process.

For example, some personal trainers and gym chains use credit systems and reward referrals by giving their clients extra free credits. They do this by the means of club management software that lets the client book their sessions by themselves using their credits, via the website or the mobile app. All they have to do is look at the availability on the schedule and then use their credits to book the session. Furthermore, this process is completely automated and hence it does not create extra work.

In addition, you should make your bonuses time-bound. Adding pressure and providing your clients with a specific time limit will make them think quicker about who could benefit from your services and it will encourage them to make the referrals sooner than later.

Create a Specific Referral Process and Remind them

You can leave it to your clients’ imagination, but this can be risky. It is always better to have a specific process in place. For example, you can suggest them to fill out a referral form on your website. You should encourage people to take this route to have a better control about what is being communicated. To incentivise this process, you could offer better deals than with a normal referral.

On occasions, it is good to give people a little reminder to spread the word about your brand. This can be done by placing subtle hints around your gym or on your website.
For instance, hashtag stickers in the dressing rooms or on the mirrors around the gym can encourage the sharing of photos and location.

Moreover, if you offer merchandise or any other goods, you could include a postcard with each purchase. In this postcard you can thank the customer and politely request that they support your business by posting a photo of them with the products or just the product itself on your Facebook page. With non-material goods, an email with a link after purchase would also be effective in reminding your clients to spread the word.

Build a community through social media to increase word of mouth

Social media is a must. It is the ideal channel for encouraging your customers to engage with you and discuss your business. A post or a hashtag has the possibility to reach a person’s entire audience. Family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and the more extended networks of contacts.

According to HubSpot, Consumers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals. Another study showed that 81% of social media users said that their purchases are impacted by friends’ social media posts.

Make sure that you maximize the effectivity by ensuring that when they click on a social media referral they get redirected to a personalised landing page that continues to build on that initial trust. They are a referral. Acknowledge this and use language that explicitly shows the incentives you’re offering to them.

Use social media to get people together through special events, challenges or group classes. Cater to what your customer wants as this alone can generate word of mouth.

Related: 7 Easy Tips to Promote The Social Media Reach of Your Fitness Business

If you have a highly engaged customer base, try building a community to boost initiative. Find the best ways to bring people together in a fun or even educational way. An activity that will cultivate relationships and get people talking.The best way to do this is to directly ask your customers.

When people feel like they belong to a community, they will be more inclined to spread the word.


First of all, before you dive into a word of mouth campaign or referral programs you need to be sure that you are offering exceptional products, services and customer service. If you are truly outstanding in these areas, your customers will talk you up all on their own.

That said, being talked about requires careful planning and strategies. It goes beyond ‘’likes’ ’and ‘’shares’’and it requires deeper insight about your customers. Study every aspect of your consumer base and offer them something to talk about, to boost your business’ success.

Juan Ortega

Surf, football, power lifting and general fitness enthusiast since I can remember. Hi, my name is Juan Ortega and I come from the best possible place in Spain, The Canary islands.


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