You can create and use heavily targeted ads that are relatively cost-effective. However, it’s essential not to put all your eggs in one basket. When you rely on one marketing stream and something changes like Facebook’s advertising guidelines, you may find yourself in a tricky situation. As ads are getting more expensive, in general, finding a range of creative and smart ways to market your services means you’ll always have a tactic to turn to.
When you think about alternative marketing strategies, you’re focusing on finding new places to interact with consumers. For businesses that have shifted to a hybrid business model, your marketing approach will need to adapt to suit that change. Using alternative marketing strategies that resonate with ever-changing consumer behavior means you don’t have to rely on a single marketing method for growth. With fitness businesses reopening in a post COVID world, it’s a great time to nail down your marketing strategy. Skip ahead to:
What is Alternative Marketing?
Marketers spend hours researching how to find new ways to reach their target audience. A powerful marketing strategy is essential for long-term success. As a membership-based business, member acquisition is critical. Whether you’re marketing new services to an existing member or acquiring new members for your digital membership, your approach is crucial.
Alternative marketing strategies are a way to generate interest with a unique and sometimes unconventional approach. This is usually a relatively cost-effective marketing strategy. Basically, it refers to anything that falls outside of traditional marketing definitions like broadcast, print, and electronic. These types of marketing methods require imagination and out-of-the-box thinking to create something unique. Different types of alternative marketing include:
- Buzz marketing – this type of marketing is also known as word-of-mouth marketing that focuses on encouraging customers to share positive information about your business.
- Guerilla marketing – this tactic focuses on finding a creative marketing approach with minimal resources. It’s about expanding your marketing reach without increasing your budget.
- Lifestyle marketing – interacting with your target audience in a relaxed setting, such as marketing your gym services at a local smoothie bar.
- Experimental marketing – sometimes called event marketing, this strategy focuses on getting the customer to experience your brand.
It’s essential to have different marketing avenues. Relying on one stream could potentially stall future growth. For more guerilla marketing ideas, we’ve pulled together the top 12 ways to implement it in your gym.
For further inspiration on marketing tactics, listen to this episode of our podcast with Stuart Brauer, owner of WTF Gym Talk, on “outside of the box organic lead generation.”
How Consumer Mindset Has Changed Throughout the Pandemic
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, consumers are spending considerably more and more time online. People have been told to stay indoors. The way they use the internet is changing. Many fitness businesses have taken to digital fitness to meet the recent surge in demand for home fitness.
With the rise of social distancing, people are searching for new alternative ways to connect online. Whether it’s a digital group training class or a one-on-one video chat with your personal trainer, the digital fitness revolution has arrived. By talking to customers in a different way that matches the current changes in the world, you can find low-cost ways to nurture potential customers and turn them into paying members.
One thing that has become apparent throughout the lockdown is that fitness is essential to mental health and physical well-being. It’s time to solidify brand loyalty and think about what your customers really need. Switch up your marketing strategy so that it fully supports your new business model as a hybrid business. Consumers’ attitudes and behaviors are changing throughout the pandemic, and marketers need to adapt.
The Association of Fitness Studios Podcast explores this topic further with Thomas Plummer. Plummer has been in the fitness industry for over 30 years and is a trusted advisor in the fitness world. He touches on how the consumer has changed during COVID-19 and what marketing message you should send.
8 Alternative Marketing Strategies for a Hybrid Fitness Business
As you start re-opening your business, you may find your marketing budget needs to stretch a little further than usual. Alternative marketing strategies are a great way to multiply your marketing efforts and show off your creative, out-of-the-box thinking.
Create a Virtual Community
Taking the time to build and nurture your gym community is an excellent marketing technique. It encourages members to stay with you, helping to increase retention, but it can also attract members to you in the first place. Building a sense of community will help members to feel welcomed. When they feel comfortable and a sense of family, it creates a very positive experience.
A positive and bustling fitness community can help to boost word-of-mouth marketing. When members love the experience and feel entirely supported, they are much more likely to tell their friends and family about it. With social distancing guidelines in place, many people are looking for community digitally. As well as developing a fantastic gym community, create an online fitness community where members can continue to interact and support one another.
Take Advantage of Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool that you can use to grow your business and organically reach potential customers. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses shifted from the gym to social media. They started to produce quick at-home workouts using Instagram and Facebook Live.
As people worldwide start to get creative with their at-home workout, it’s a great idea to encourage user-generated content. Ask your members and followers to post their at-home workouts and creative home equipment ideas. Encourage them to tag your brand and create a shareable hashtag. You can then re-share user content on your own social media channels. Fitness challenges are a great strategy for building your online fitness community, check out this blog for 10 fitness challenges for a hybrid fitness business to give you some inspiration.
Leverage technology to focus on keeping your services running smoothly, especially your digital fitness platform. When you have a superior member experience across all channels and social media platforms, it encourages member referrals and makes your brand easier to market. Apps can be an excellent way of achieving this; check out this blog for 6 fitness apps that will improve your member experience. As technology evolves, it rapidly pushes the bar higher for intuitive user interactions and user-friendly interface.
Technology gives businesses the ability to pivot and shift quickly. With some fitness brands launching digital streaming and on-demand video platforms in less than a week, technology is often at the heart of innovation. By creating online fitness platforms and fitness apps, your boosting customer experience, which can keep your members loyal and increase referrals.
The Fitness Founders Podcast has a recent episode on fitness experience. Barry Ennis and Shay Kostabi, who support fitness studios with their online offering, talk about the fundamentals of a great online class experience:
Strong Appetite for Content
In March, Zoom topped the free app download charts, knocking down giants Facebook Messenger and Netflix off the top spots. With screen time increasing, more people are spending time on their phones and computers. Whether it’s to connect with family and friends or to find a way to spend the time, online content consumption is on the rise.
It’s the perfect time to push out relevant and helpful content. With a strong appetite for content, you can help both existing members and potential members combat the issues they are currently facing. Starting a podcast is a great way to establish yourself as an authority in the fitness industry. Roughly 144 million Americans listen to podcasts. So you can see why it has enormous potential. Other content ideas for your business include:
- Workout tips
- Nutrition guides and recipes
- Behind the scenes photos
Depending on your position and what you’re looking to achieve, there are a few different options for educating others. Workshops are a great way to educate potential members on a specific problem while giving them a taste of what it would be like to join your gym. This way, you don’t worry about giving away lots of private sessions free of charge. You could offer a free 30-minute healthy eating workshop to establish yourself as an authority.
You also have the option to host paid workshops for helping members hit goals or educate other fitness professionals on how to overcome certain obstacles. As a hybrid business, you have the opportunity to offer both in-person and digital workshops. A digital workshop may be ideal for those short on time and looking to work out from home. While a workshop in-person may go into more detail and provide more support.
When exploring partnerships, think about both digital and physical businesses. Through affiliate partnerships, you offer an incentive for a small business to send clients your way. Try to think of businesses that naturally fit with your brand. For example, as a yoga studio, you might explore partnerships with a yoga clothing brand, an organic cafe in your local area, or even a spa.
The partnership should feel like a good fit for your business. First, reach out to an initial list of 10 potential partnerships to set up an incentive program for referrals. You have the chance to expand your partnerships as your business grows. As a hybrid business, you can reach out to online businesses and local brands in your area.
Team Up with Local Micro-Influencers
Micro-influencers are ordinary people with a large number of followers on social media. In general, they are experts in a specific niche like travel, health, or fitness. Their opinion holds value and has a significant impact on the thinking and perception of their followers. Micro-influencers can be very beneficial to a business as you can reach a large number of people. The followers tend to trust the opinion of the influencer and value their advice.
When searching for potential influencers, you can use a combination of local and more national influencers. If you’re trying to increase members at your gym in a specific location, it’s good to work with a local influencer. Focus on finding people who are established in your niche and would connect well with your target audience. Whether influencers have 500 followers or 20,000, you can leverage their credibility to reach a potential new membership base.
Update Your Referral Program
A referral program is a way of asking your current customers to refer friends and family members to your business. It’s a systematic way of growing your business by offering incentives. A referral program is a proven and cost-effective way to bring in new members. When a new member arrives based on a friend’s recommendation, they will be more likely to trust it. They have chosen to come to you. In general, it takes less time to close the sale with referrals.
If you think about how many people trust recommendations from a friend, it’s essential to consider how your members can become brand cheerleaders. A great referral program consists of a compelling offer, excellent communication, and a simple program. Make sure to include both digital and physical membership options for your referees. The referral program should be relevant to a hybrid business. For example, for every digital membership referral, you may offer one-month access to premium digital content.
When a lot of businesses are following the same marketing techniques, it is difficult to stand out. The result is consumers end up scrolling past your content without a glance. Alternative marketing strategies make you step back and evaluate how you can interact with your target audience in a new and exciting way. Using clever and imaginative marketing tactics, you can expand your marketing reach while sticking to your budget.