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The Loveable Lead Bag
(and often underestimated)
A Simple Tool that Creates Visibility for Your Business
 
By: Kyle Zagrodzky
 
Throughout my years of owning many fitness centers, I found one tool to be more helpful than any other in boosting memberships at my clubs: the lead bag.
 
To me, a lead bag has always been a beautiful thing… so simple and always giving back more to me than I have to give in both time and money. Club owners and managers often underestimate the power of this very simple concept. I’d like to help you see how you can use it to your advantage.
 
The Concept
Try to think about the lead bag as an eye-catching billboard. If your bag is too busy or bland it will have less of an impact. Furthermore, some people aren’t comfortable putting their personal information into the bag. That is perfectly fine. Because whether or not they fill out a slip, the bag still works its magic. Here’s what I mean:
 
I have never called a phone number that I’ve seen on a roadside billboard. Truth-be-known, most advertisers don’t really expect you to. Their goal is to create “top-of-mind awareness” about their product or service. Then, the next time you’re shopping for something in their product category, you are more likely to remember them.
 
A potential member does not need to leave their information in the bag for you to necessarily get results. They just need to see it everywhere they go in town. Then, when they consider joining a health club, martial arts studio, gymnastics center, etc., they will think of you because you created “top-of-mind awareness.”
 
Construction
 
Bags are less expensive than boxes. Bags do not look as professional, but in my experience, they work just as well, so my personal preference is to go with bags. Here’s how you can make an attractive bag that will work its magic.
 
Step 1: Purchase glossy bright yellow bags that can be found at most any party, card or dollar store. They typically run around $1.00 each. Purchase as many as you can afford. I’d recommend trying to get at least 75.
 
Step 2: Create the lead bag ad. This will be affixed to the front of the bag with glue. You want something bright and colorful but simple. It should have your name and logo as large as possible with some simple text such as "Register for a Free One-Week Membership." It’s also helpful to put some information on there about where you’re located by landmarks, such as “Next to Starbucks on Main Street.” I don’t like putting the address on the flyer for two reasons. First, most people don’t think in terms of street numbers and names, so this won’t help them visualize where your business is. Second, you will distribute the bags within 2 miles of your business and chances are they will be familiar with the landmarks around that area.
 
Make sure your logo doesn’t look grainy or pixilated. It needs to be a nice, professional presentation.
 
You can fit two copies of the ad per sheet of paper so that you can print them in color and save money. It’s vital that you print them in color. This is what will attract needed attention.
 
Step 3: Create a form that potential members can fill out and put into the bag. These can be an eighth-sheet printed in black and white with your name and logo, “Register for a Free One-Week Membership” at the top and then a place for them to fill in their name, phone number and email address.
 
Planning Distribution
Step 1: Think about where you’d like to distribute your bags. Be creative! I once placed a bag in a local farm animal feed store. I checked the bag one week later and there were 20 names and numbers in it. The next week, it had the same; the following week, the same again! You never know where the best place will be. Just make sure you blanket the area around your health club within a 1-2 mile radius. I would generally put out 50 bags.
 
Step 2: Be sure you know what you’re going to say when you go into the local businesses. Your results will be better if you memorize your script before you even set foot out of the door. You want the words to flow like honey when you approach a business owner! Something like this worked for me:
 
“Hi, my name is Kyle. I’m with NAME of CLUB next to Starbucks on Main Street. I was wondering if it would be OK to leave this bag here so your customers could register for a free one-week membership at my club. It’s very important not hesitate right here. This is the key!!. In exchange, I would like to display one of your business cards or flyers at my business. Would over here be OK?” (While saying this, you move to the “perfect place” you saw when you walked in and you gesture to the location.)
 
“Great, I really appreciate it. Do you know of anyone who works here who would like to have an exclusive one-week (or any time frame longer than the standard one week) free membership pass?” If they say yes, then you get their names and phone numbers and issue the passes. That’s all there is to it!
 
Step 3: Allocate enough time for distribution. You should plan on getting them all out on the same day. It will probably take an entire afternoon. Knowing this up front helps you keep a positive attitude. If you give up in an hour or two, you aren’t going to have enough presence in the community to create the “top-of-mind awareness” that you’re trying to establish.
 
Distribution
Get out there and place your bags! Be sure you bring a few items with you when you hit the streets: your bags with attached lead slips, a large pad of paper, a pen, a small pad of paper and some certificates for a free one-week membership.
 
Use the large pad of paper to write down where you have left your bags and use it later to track when you checked the bags and how many leads each one produced.
 
Use the small pad to keep track of names and numbers of one-week membership certificates that you hand out while distributing your lead bags.
 
Follow Up
Step 1: Don’t forget to go back to visit your bags each week to collect leads, add more slips of paper and make sure the bag is still visible. Sometimes replacing a bag is quicker than fixing a bag.
 
Step 2: You promised to display the flyer or business card of the establishments that allowed you to place a bag. Be sure you do this in a nice way somewhere in your facility. In our businesses we made a big arching sign near the front desk that read, “We give special thanks to our supporters!” Under the sign we displayed the other businesses’ literature.
 
Another thing you can do is run an ad in the local paper that publicly thanks the businesses and lists them by name. Next time you check the lead bags, bring the ad in to show the business owner or manager. If they’ve removed your bag, just say, “I understand, and in kind, I’ll have to do the same. I have your flyer posted on my wall in appreciation of your support. Oh, by the way, did you see that I ran an ad in appreciation of your support in the newspaper? If it’s not too much trouble, I’d like to leave your flyer on the wall of my club in exchange for leaving my bag here…”
 
Step 3: Evaluate your bag placements after a few months. If you never get a lead in a particular bag you could move it to another business. Just don’t be too anxious to move it. If it’s in a good, visible spot you might just want to leave it to continue to create “top-of-mind awareness.” Remember this is your mini-billboard!
 
I know you’ll find that the lead bags achieve the “top-of-mind awareness” that you need to achieve to increase your membership base.  Good luck!