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Time for my 6 weekly hair cut.  Clippers, short back and sides, trim on top … just what is required to keep up appearances in business!  Now, although this has very little to do with this month's ClubMarketer eNews (which incidentally is dedicated to the importance of your website), on my visit to the local hairdresser I came across a novel marketing idea which I thought I would share first. 

On entry to the hairdressers, I was greeted and duly seated.  A black cover was wrapped around me to protect my clothes as per usual.  I noticed some writing and a logo on the cover, although it was strangely back to front.  However, on looking directly into the mirror in front of me it all became clear … for the next 20 minutes during my haircut I was going to be staring straight at the Vodafone logo and
their latest promotional offer in the mirror!  A relatively inexpensive and effective way to build your profile.  Perhaps an opportunity for increasing the profile of your gym?  It may only cost you the value of a set of black covers for the local barber!

Now on to more important things…  This week’s article is about the importance of your club's website.  Many, perhaps most of you already have a web presence.  But why does your club require a website?  Surely people know where your gym is and will walk in off the street if they are interested in joining. 

If you are in a small town, this may be the case.  However, we need to face the fact that in this day and age there are a number of huge benefits to being part of the world wide web.  Consider the following for example.

Attract new members to your gym
A huge percentage of the population now have internet access at home or at work.  Many people will use the internet as the first point of contact when searching for products or services, contact details and the like.  If, for example, a businessman is looking for a new gym then they will more than likely search for a website to get an idea of the facility first.  This is where your web presence can attract new members to your club ....  or on the other hand ... if you have a poor quality website, no website, or even one that is particularly difficult to find, you may be losing potential members.

Generate new leads for follow up
Your website can be a great source of new leads for your club.  This gives your membership consultants the opportunity to contact them and encourage them to join your gym.  Perhaps operating online competitions, offering a free trial of your facility, the ability to subscribe to a health & fitness newsletter, or even details of your latest promotions may be ideas for attracting new leads via the web.  Anything that generates interest and gathers contact details for future follow up.  Make it easy and rewarding for the public to contact you via your website and you will reap the rewards.

Increase the profile of your gym
If individuals searching for health information, a gym, personal trainer or any other fitness information in your area are constantly yielding your website in the search results, this will obviously increase the profile of your gym. 

Communicate with members
One of the best uses for your website is to communicate with your members.  This may be through supplying the latest gym information such as changes to class timetables, details of new staff, perhaps changes to opening hours during bank holidays.  Alternatively, it could include a members only area with all the latest in fitness articles, training programmes and health information for their perusal.  What an easy, and fantastic way to increase the perceived value of your service!

Sell fitness products
Some gym owners will also use their website as an opportunity for the sale of further products to gym members.  Perhaps this could include supplements, training clothing or other fitness related products.

OK, we know the benefits of a website.  Now how do we raise the awareness of our website?  Here are a couple of important tips when optimising your website for visitors.

1.  Firstly, make your website worth visiting and revisiting.  Ensure it is constantly updated with useful information for the general public and your members.  There is nothing worse than a site that is constantly out of date.

2Ensure all correspondence and promotional material you send out has your website address listed.

3.  List your website in the popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo etc.  Up to 85% of web traffic comes from search engines so you need to optimise your site for it.

4.  List your website in popular web directories.  This will assist you in increasing the visitors to your website.
For information on upgrading your listing in the Gyms.co.nz web directory to a profiled listing click here

5Increase the number of quality sites linking to your website.  This will improve your search engine rating. 
For information on having a link from Gyms.co.nz to your website click here

6.  Improve the quality and specificity of keywords in your website.  Keywords are specific words that you attach to your website to optimise the search engine listing when these terms are entered in Google etc.  Improving the quality of your keywords, as well as how specific they are will also improve the search engine rating of your website.

Optimising your website on the internet is not as simple as black and white.  It is an ongoing process of changing keywords, re submitting to search engines, attracting new links and more.  However, unfortunately with such importance placed on a good search engine listing these days .... everyone is striving for the same goal!