As every business owner knows, a good foundation is essential to success. A large part of this foundation is planning. For a fitness studio, this is no different.
An overall business plan should be the first official document you make. Lay out the vision for the business and the strategies you are going to implement to carry out this vision. One of these strategies will focus on how you are going to market your business. For this, you will need a separate plan to map out how you are going to achieve your marketing goals.
Whether you’re a personal trainer or running a gym chain in multiple locations, marketing your fitness center is one of the most important parts of running your business. The fitness market is a very competitive scene with local businesses having to compete massively for clients.
There are a variety of ways you can market your gym to get new members through the door. In today’s digital world, you can promote your business to the right audience through engaging campaigns. Successfully market your fitness club to raise awareness, attract new clients and ultimately bring in revenue. In this article, we will talk about the basics of a fitness marketing plan and how to create the perfect marketing strategy for your business.
How to Market Your Fitness Centre
Recent statistics show that there are over 38,000 health and fitness clubs in the U.S. alone. So, how do fitness businesses compete in such a crowded market?
From email marketing to paid Facebook ads, there are plenty of ways to get in front of your ideal customers. But, you need to know what to say once you’re in front of them. By understanding the basics of a good fitness marketing plan, you can create the right strategy for your business that meets your goals.
The Basics of a Fitness Marketing Plan
Before you start deciding on the perfect marketing plan or creating an offer you know your clients can’t resist, you need to focus on the basics. This section will cover the building blocks of a fitness marketing plan including:
- Research and develop a target audience profile
- Competitive analysis
- Set clear marketing goals
- Decide on your marketing budget
- How will you reach your target audience?
Your entire marketing plan is based on reaching your target audience. You find your target audience through your initial market research. Find out more about the specific audience you want to reach with your services. This can include where they hang out both online and offline, what they value most and what they need.
Next, find out who you’re up against. One of the best ways to prepare your market research is to investigate what your competition is up to and how they market their services. Take a hard look at your competition to find out what they are doing right or wrong with their marketing efforts. This will also help you to identify areas in which you can beat out competing businesses and really up your game.
Here’s some reading to get your marketing strategy started:
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
- How Brands Become Icons by Douglas B. Holt
- Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
Your marketing strategy is directly related to your business goals. You need a clear idea of what you would like to accomplish and what objectives you want to meet. Your marketing plan outlines what you want to achieve and provides details on how to do it and who to target.
Another factor to take into consideration is your marketing budget. This will dictate how you will reach your target audience and through what means. If your budget is limited, you may focus more on organic social media posts and word-of-mouth marketing.
Fitness Marketing Strategies From the Best
Technogym: The fitness brand focused on connecting wellbeing with lifestyles. Their “Let’s Move for a Better World” campaign not only motivated adults to be more active to enjoy a better quality of life but also encouraged them to be healthy role models for future generations.
SoulCycle: The brand focuses on teamwork with your #soulmates and #soulsquad, turning a room of sweaty bodies into a community. They also sell #soulswag that allows fans to be truly part of the crowd.
ClassPass: The service provides members access to dozens of classes in their area. They take content marketing to the next level with both a consumer blog and a B2B blog publication that targets studios and gyms.
Barry’s Bootcamp: creating an authentic and inspired community on social media is at the heart of this fitness brand. The strong and supportive community of #BarrysStories gives people a chance to share their own journey of fitness challenges and success.
Create the Perfect Marketing Plan with These 10 Elements
In order to stand out amongst the competition, you need to make sure your gym has something different, a unique selling point (USP). Whether you’re selling personal training services or gym memberships, fitness marketing is key to success.
1. Get to Know Your Audience and Target Market
During the research stage of your marketing plan, you should already have a good idea about who your target audience is. This is something that can constantly be improved on as you find out more information. The more detail you have the better targeted your marketing will be. Use demographic information so you know exactly where your audience is located and what the most effective marketing medium would be to reach them.
2. Know Exactly What You Offer
You need to know what it is you’re promoting. It may sound simple but it’s essential in targeting the right people with the right content. What is your USP and why will new members come to you for it over your competition?
3. Get Your Existing Members Involved
Turn your existing loyal members into fierce advocates for your gym or health club. Offering incentives to your members is a great way to gently push them to help you out with marketing. If a member has certain fitness goals, offer a rewards program that helps them meet their targets. Ideas for member incentives include:
- Free personal training session
- Discounted membership rates
- Free nutrition or workout plan
- Access to premium facilities not included in the membership
Incentives are another way to encourage members to leave glowing reviews. Reviews and ratings can go along way with bringing in new members. Aim to have lots of varied and informative reviews that can really make the process of picking a gym a simple one. Google reviews also help your business to rank higher than your competition in local SEO.
4. Standout and Be Different from the Competition
As you already know, there is no shortage of gyms out there. Don’t blend in with your competition, make your business unique and really stand out from the crowd. Over the past decade, the fitness industry has seen a massive shift into a diverse landscape with emerging new entrants.
Fitness boutiques have redefined the industry, combing lifestyle and wellness with fitness. According to IHRSA, boutique memberships expanded 74% from 2012 to 2015, compared to 5% for health clubs. Smaller niche gyms now have the potential to gain a cult following. Think the likes of SoulCylce, CrossFit, Pure Barre, and CorePower Yoga.
5. Use Branding Effectively
Your brand is everything. It’s what you will market and what people will associate you with. Branding goes far beyond the design elements of logo and colour. It’s involved with every customer experience. It takes five to seven impressions to produce a smidge of brand awareness but it takes just 10 seconds for a person to form an impression of your brand. Over time, consistency and repetition increase brand awareness.
6. Create a User-Friendly Website
Having a user-friendly website is crucial to your online presence. A website not only helps your business appear in local business searches in Google but provides a landing page destination for potential customers. An effective gym website includes:
- A clean and attractive design
- A clear call to action
- Branded domain name
A website is also a great place to house your blog and provide extra value to clients. Whether that’s in the form of new workout plans, nutrition tips or just posting about your latest news. Creating a website from scratch can seem a little overwhelming. To help get you started, check out our guide on how to create a killer gym website right now.
7. Make the Most of Your Online Presence
Make sure that your members and new clients can get all the information they need from your website and social media channels. In today’s digital age, social media will likely play a major part in your fitness marketing plan. Optimize your presence on Google and create a Google My Business page.
Whether it’s content marketing, email marketing, paid ads or a combination of mediums, using your digital reach to get in front of new members is essential.
Gym social media marketing helps to engage your current clients while showing new members what life is like at your fitness center. By creating a community and promoting your business through social media you can help build brand awareness and loyalty.
For some social media marketing inspiration check out these books:
- The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide by Rich Brooks
- Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk
- The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio
8. Run a Referral Program
Creating a referral program is a fantastic way to reward your current members while getting new traffic through the door. It’s natural for friends to talk about amazing experiences and recommend products and services. A referral program is a systematic way of getting clients to refer your business. This is usually done by offering an incentive for both the referrer and the referee such as:
- Discounted membership
- Free gym classes
- Gift cards
- Free gym apparel
Find out about the basics of a referral program and how you can create one today with our quick guide.
9. Create Special Offers
Give new clients an offer they can’t say no to. Use your marketing efforts to promote special offers and bring in new customers. When creating the offer think about the time of year and if you can tie it in with any holidays like New Year’s or Valentine’s day. You can get creative with this and use your marketing research to craft an offer you know your target audience will value.
Here are some fitness marketing ideas your business can use:
- Offer corporate wellness
- Free one-week pass for a Google review
- Fitness challenges with a catchy #hashtag
- Two-week free trial for new members
- Membership package deals
10. Track Metrics and Make Adjustments to Your Marketing Plan
Your marketing plan isn’t set in stone, it needs to adapt and grow with your business. Track the success of your marketing and keep improving it to land the best marketing campaign. To effectively track your marketing, here are some elements to keep an eye on:
- Website analytics
- Phone tracking
- CRM tracking
- KPI tracking
For top marketing insights and to get in the mind of thought leaders, check out these podcasts:
- Hootcast – the podcast explores how marketers can navigate an increasingly digital era.
- Rainmaker.FM – listen to a wide range of tips, stories, and strategies to accelerate your business. Definitely listen to What Every Online Marketer Must Know about Google Analytics.
Marketing is at the center of any business and the fitness industry is no different. In order to attract new members, you need to get the word out there about your gym or health club. Carrying out thorough research, defining your target audience and unique selling point are all essential in creating your marketing plan. This, in turn, supports your larger business strategy and goals, putting you on the path to success.