A Guide to Fitness Franchise Marketing

Published on: 
03 December 19
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10 min read

The main challenge of franchising is maintaining a consistent brand the entire networks. This is what has made the likes of Orangetheory, F45 and Barry’s Bootcamp successful. No matter what branch you encounter you expect the same kind of marketing and branding, be it Los Angeles, London or New York.

graph with statistics on franchise marketing
Source: highervisibility.com

However, this also presents its challenges. In fact, a recent survey found that generating quality leads is across the franchise is one of the biggest obstacles faced by franchise owners.  Franchise marketing forms an integral part of the strategy for franchise growth. Although franchise marketing uses some of the same techniques as other fitness businesses, it’s a little different for franchises. 

When it comes to marketing your franchise, you have two elements that come into play. One part is attracting new franchisees and the second part is marketing your franchise locations to bring in new members. In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about franchise marketing and how to develop a killer marketing strategy. 

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The Basics of Franchise Marketing 

Fitness franchises allow other individuals to use your business model and branding for a fee. The franchisor provides support throughout the franchising process and still retains a certain level of operational control. The franchisee uses branding, trademarks and a tried and tested business model. As a fitness franchise owner, your franchise marketing strategy involves different elements to attract new franchisees and market your existing locations. 

Attracting New Franchisees

Unlike a gym or studio with just one location, the success of your franchising business is often in the hands of your franchisees. So, you want to recruit quality people that will continue to grow the business and be a successful franchise owner. Your marketing strategy for this will depend on who your target franchisee is. Once you have a full understanding of your perfect candidate, this will form a major part of your marketing plan. 

Marketing Programs for Franchise Locations 

As a fitness franchise, you tend to have multiple locations in different towns and cities. Each franchise location will need specific plans based on its demographics, marketing budget, weather, and local competition. All of these elements may change from one location to another, therefore, you need location-specific marketing underneath the broader corporate strategy. 

12 Ways to Create a Killer Fitness Franchise Marketing Strategy 

a person on a rowing machine in and f45 studio
Source: what-franchise.com

A franchise marketing strategy has multiple jobs. It needs to perform well in attracting new franchisees as well as bringing in new members. You need a marketing program for your franchisees to follow. After all, if they aren’t successful, you won’t be. These two areas need to work together in order to grow the brand successfully.  

1. Identify Your Perfect Franchisee 

Let’s start with the marketing plan to attract the right franchisee candidates. You want to attract the right kind of people. Before you start marketing your franchise, you need to identify your perfect franchisee. Figure out what qualities you want a person to have to own one of your franchise locations. Think about the following questions:

  • Do they share your passion?
  • What does their professional background look like?
  • What qualifications do they need?
  • Are you looking for a certain age range? 
  • What motivates them to work?

Once you start to understand what motivates your potential franchisees, you can start to craft the right marketing message. To help you find the ideal person, we’ve put together a guide on what qualities you need to look out for when searching for the best fitness franchise owner

2. Build a Strong Brand Identity 

A strong brand identity is crucial to franchise marketing. It’s essential for all parts of the business. To recruit the best people as franchise owners, you need a strong brand. To attract new members to your locations, you need a well-known and trusted brand. 

It’s vital to maintain consistent branding across your marketing channels. Create a marketing message that’s in line with your business, follows the right tone and features a strong brand message and logo. For potential franchisees, you want them to feel like your business is the best option available with good brand awareness, clear messaging and a fantastic reputation. 

3. Create a User-Friendly Website 

97% of consumers use the internet to find and research local services and products. Your website needs to be user-friendly and provide a positive experience to potential members and business owners. A great website is clean, simple, and contains a clear call-to-action (CTA).

In today’s modern world, a website is a non-negotiable business asset. Your website will form part of your online presence. When people are researching potential franchise opportunities, they need to be able to find your site. With a website, a franchisor often has one main website for the overall brand. For example, 24 Hour Fitness has one main site where you can input different zip codes and search for franchise locations.   

Your audience will always be divided between potential members and franchisees. You need to keep this in mind when developing your marketing strategy. Think about which channels your different audiences are using and prioritize your strategy accordingly.   

4. Trademark and Develop Marketing Materials 

One part of creating your marketing strategy will be developing a marketing program for your franchisees to follow. You’ve done the research and figured out what works for your business. As a franchisor, you’ve put in a lot of time and effort into building your business, developing the brand and creating an identity. Make sure that all that work isn’t put to waste by legally protecting your branding, name, and marketing materials. 

Create guidelines that ensure your franchisees stick to using the approved trademark in accordance with the rules that you set out. Every franchisee is responsible for upholding the reputation of the business. The majority of franchises create specific marketing and advertising materials that can be used throughout the business. Sometimes franchisees may create their own marketing materials. If this is the case, the franchisor typically has final say and approval before the materials can be used. 

5. Research the Competition 

To create an effective marketing campaign to target the right people, you need to research the competition. As with any business, you need to do your homework and find out how your business stands out from the competition. When researching your competition you need to think about your target demographic as these will be the businesses you are competing with. 

With franchises, you can open up new locations when there’s a demand. If you’re a franchisor of a kickboxing gym, you more likely to open a franchise next to a juice bar instead of 9Round Fitness. By studying your competition, it can help you make decisions on price, types of services, location, and marketing. 

6. Identify Your Target Audience 

Your target audience will consist of a few different audience personas. Your marketing plan to attract franchisees will differ from your marketing programs for franchise owners. 

When it comes to new members, think about your customers and where they will come from. Your potential members will all have specific needs and goals that will need to be met. By creating personas for your target audience, you can develop a marketing strategy that will actually connect with your audience.  

Listen to the founder and CEO of GYMGUYZ talk about his growing fitness franchise and how he got the business started. GYMGUYZ is leading the way in home personal training with 265 locations in 32 states in three countries. 

7. Use Content Marketing to Grow Local Franchises 

Content marketing is a major player in the digital marketing game. Content marketing is great for engagement. SEO-friendly content helps you appear higher in search engines. Generally, keywords in the fitness industry are highly competitive and it can be difficult to reach the first page of Google organically. 

To help you grow your franchise locations, focus on creating content that is location-specific. This will help you rank higher in local searches and position your business as an authority in the local health and fitness market. To create this kind of content, develop content specific to the local demographic and find keywords that are relevant to local marketing. Use different forms of content to engage your audience such as:

  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Infographics 
  • Audio 
  • High-quality imagery 

8. Encourage Recommendations 

Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool that every marketer and franchisor should utilize. When you’re happy with a service or product, you naturally tell your friends and family about it. Encourage and incentivize recommendations and referrals to grow your brand and spread the word about your fantastic business.  

What’s more, when your potential franchisee is researching opportunities, multiple factors will influence their decision. One of which being reviews and testimonials from customers and franchise employees. Both potential members and franchise owners will seek out honest feedback before committing to your franchise. 

9. Social Media Marketing 

Your brand needs a strong social media presence. Social media marketing is integral to your greater marketing strategy. 

When it comes to franchises and social media, it’s not unusual for franchisors to exert strict control over individual franchise locations’ social media pages. A franchise can benefit from local social media marketing. Franchisees are incentivized to run social media channels within the parameters of the brand. This helps to create a large network in a more cost-effective way. 

Social media guidelines can change from one brand to another, with some being more strict and not allowing individual franchise accounts. 

10. Keep Track of Your Marketing Efforts 

Tracking your marketing ROI can be more of a challenge for a franchises as the results are often split between different locations. If each franchise location has its own social media channels, you can use these insights to track location-specific social media marketing efforts. You can also use gym management software to keep track of franchise prospects as well as keep on top of member retention. 

11. Create a Support System

Developing a solid franchise marketing plan is one thing but its success on a local level isn’t guaranteed. Your marketing programs will be led by your franchisees. Provide a support system for all of your franchisees. All franchise owners should feel supported and understand what kind of training and ongoing support they will receive. 

Before any franchise gets off the ground, your marketing plans, materials, and support system should be in place. Can franchise owners create their own marketing materials? How do they submit materials for approval? What can franchise owners expect from your training? You should know the answers to all of these questions. The right support system, marketing materials, and plan give your franchise owners the best chance of success. 

12. Host Franchise Events

You have to be a big team player as a franchisor and franchisee. Franchise events are great for nurturing your relationship with your franchisees. Make sure your franchise owners know they are part of a bigger team by hosting regular networking events. For a fitness franchise, host group training and workouts around the country to get all your team involved. 

In Summary 

Franchise marketing can differ from traditional business marketing. There are several factors to consider and multiple tactics to implement in every location. With a lot on the line, a single mistake in one location can affect the entire reputation of the brand. By targeting both potential franchise owners and members, you can create a comprehensive marketing strategy that will help to expand your franchise and grow your business.   

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