You Should Think About New Years Marketing Now
You read that headline right. Here at the Climbing Wall Association, I’ve been pouring over the 2022 calendar for the past month, planning out our content so we can continue delivering for our members.
You should be thinking ahead for next year too, and I’ll tell you why. But first, I’ll acknowledge that that sentence is kind of insane. To say the absolute least, it’s been a crazy year (or years?). Nothing feels certain at the moment. I find myself cautious about anything I plan far out. I’ll use phrases like “if I go on that trip,” or “well, depending on the situation...”. It’s okay to think, feel, and even potentially have contingency plans around that thought process. But it does not mean we shouldn’t look forward.
The New Year is a time when many think of starting over, starting anew, or maintaining their goals. In relation to our industry, that means potentially more clientele coming through your doors. Who will keep them coming back? You will – if you make a plan.
Make sure people can find you online, and find the information they need when they do.
First, your potential customers have to find you. It is naïve to believe that many of your members didn’t do an internet search for your business before showing up. Ensure your Google listing is accurate through Google My Business. This includes your COVID-19 policies. Do you have a mask mandate in your gym? A vaccine mandate? Do you have a counter of members currently in the gym? Once they find your website, will they quickly find the information they need? Make sure your page doesn't require lots of scrolling to find crucial information like hours and pricing. Take a look at what your website looks like on mobile, too.
Ramp up a sense of belonging for current members.
In addition to folks who may be joining, you can target your current members with New Year’s related content to reengage them. This doesn’t have to be exclusive to social media. Sure, you likely do have social media channels and you obviously want to design your content on there around New Year’s.
Go a step further from your classic “Happy New Year’s!” post, though. Ask your members to submit their New Year’s resolution, then blast them out in your newsletter (you do have a newsletter, right?). Ask your members to tell stories of their favorite climbs from the year. Share your staff’s New Year’s resolutions or goals, so your membership can get to know them.
You want to make your members reflect on what it means to be a part of YOUR gym, so they don’t second-guess their place on your walls.
Consider a New Year’s special.
This might seem simple, but a pop-up notification on your homepage inviting visitors to become members with some sort of deal is very likely to be effective. A 2018 NPR and The Marist Poll survey found that of the top five New Year's resolutions people make, three were related to health.
The problem comes with keeping new members at the gym. An interview with the data and analytics head at popular fitness app Strava revealed that folks abandoned their newly increased gym activity before the end of January back in 2019. This leads to the in-person side of your New Year’s marketing strategy...
Have programming specific to newcomers.
In my personal circle of climbing friends, people switch gyms more often because they don’t like the vibe or don’t feel like they belong, rather than something the gym actually lacks. And as an individual, I’m the same way. I am much more likely to stick with a gym that has a solid sense of belonging, even if they don’t have a piece of equipment I want to use.
People joining a gym for the first time, especially due to a resolution or a New Year’s goal, will want a clear path to that sense of belonging. Offer programming that is designed with that person in mind. Promote it in tandem with a new membership. You can even extend this to creating a specific email list for new members, which leads to our final tip.
Have an onboarding plan for new members.
Great, your membership bump survived January 2022. Now what? Put a note in their profile so your staff can ask them how their first month is going or how it went. Email them a programmatic offering related to being a newcomer. They likely will not stick around by accident.
Personally, the New Year is a scary time – and especially in Year Two of “two weeks to stop the spread”. I do not think I am alone in feeling this way. But this is even more reason to lean into your community and make them feel welcome. Many of us rely on your business as our “third place”. Make a plan to remind your current members why and to keep those New Year's resolutioners coming back and climbing high.
While you're looking at the calendar, don't forget to add the 2022 CWA Summit, May 18-20. Join us for three days of focused education and networking for indoor climbing professionals in Salt Lake City, Utah!
About the Author
Jake Byk is the marketing coordinator for the Climbing Wall Association. He's an avid hiker, mountaineer, lover of hard-to-reach places and long drives. He's spent four years as a journalist, then a public lands advocate, documenting the Great Plains and Mountain West before joining the CWA.