12 Guerrilla Marketing Ideas for Gyms

Jenny Weller
09 December 19
11 min read

Are you looking to add to your traditional marketing strategy? Guerrilla marketing ideas are a great way to market your gym, retain current clients, and drive new members through the door. 

In today’s world of marketing and advertising, the one thing that can separate a regular marketing campaign to one that stands out is creativity. So, It’s time to think outside the box. Try out these 12 creative ideas to boost your word of mouth marketing and increase your membership base. In this article, we discuss what guerrilla marketing is and how you can use it to market your gym.  Skip ahead to:

What Exactly is Guerrilla Marketing? 

Guerrilla marketing is a marketing strategy that uses unconventional methods to inspire mass participation and make a statement to promote a product or service. Often, the term “Guerrilla” conjures up images of conflict and warfare. When you combine the word with marketing, it can lead to some questions. 

Guerrilla marketing works by making use of your audience’s current environment and repurposing it in a way that includes your brand. A reasonably low-cost marketing strategy, guerrilla marketing relies heavily on creative implementation. It takes time and a lot of out-of the-box-thinking to land a guerrilla marketing campaign that your audience will remember.  

Guerrilla marketing ideas can be beneficial as they are unique, creative, and cost-efficient most of the time. This type of marketing tends to be bold, attention-grabbing, and visible. You don’t accidentally come across guerrilla marketing; it tends to be distinct and placed for a specific reason.  

The Modern Marketing Podcast with Adam Erhart covers the basics of guerrilla marketing in episode #125 What is Guerrilla Marketing How it Works.

Types of Guerrilla Marketing 

Although guerrilla marketing is already a more defined area of marketing, it has its own sub-categories. Here’s an explanation of the different types of guerrilla marketing you can include in your marketing strategy.

Event Ambush Marketing 

With this type of market, you leverage the audience of an already in-progress event. This is usually done without permission and takes place during a concert or sports game. It promotes a product or brand in a very obvious way. 

Indoor and Outdoor Marketing 

In this type of marketing, you add something to an existing urban environment. This might look like putting something temporary on a statue or putting up artwork on the sidewalk. Indoor guerrilla marketing is similar to outdoor marketing, but as the name suggests, it takes place in indoor locations like train stations, shops, etc.  

Viral Marketing 

This type of guerrilla marketing uses social media network sites, games, and videos to grow brand and product recognition. This kind of campaign aims to create content that goes viral. It’s circulated amongst the target audience without the company having to pay huge costs.   

Experiential Marketing 

In this form of marketing, the idea is that the potential customer experiences the product or service in question. This allows the consumer to interact with your brand, product, or service. Experiential marketing is designed to enable the customer to make a more informed decision about their purchase or investment. 

4 Examples of Incredible Guerrilla Marketing 

When you’re standard marketing tactics aren’t cutting it, it’s time to send in the guerrilla campaign. The extra-special forces come out to implement a strategy that will take down the enemy and make your brand stand out from the competition. Here are some guerrilla marketing examples in the health and fitness industry.  

Anytime Fitness’s Purple Bikes 

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The 24-hour fitness club, Anytime Fitness, has more than 2,500 locations all over the world. It serves 3,000,000 members on five continents. In 2017, Warner Bay in Australia started noticing purple bikes around the city. Eventually, Anytime Fitness owned up to the marketing campaign. The brand claimed it was a way to encourage people to get more active.    

Burn 60’s Drawstring Bag 

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Burn 60 is a pill that’s meant to aid weight loss. The campaign used a drawstring brand to showcase the product. When the bag is closed, it resembles a woman’s legs becoming thinner. When the bag is opened, the legs become wider. The drawstring bag contained a bottle of Burn 60 pills. A dated concept that might not receive much positive media attention today, but creative non-the-less.

The Ice Bucket Challenge 

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Falling into the ’viral videos’ category, The Ice Bucket Challenge was created to support people with ALS. The sudden feeling of ice-cold water is meant to resemble the same feelings that people with ALS experience. The challenge was a smashing success and raised over $11 million for a good cause. The campaign became more than a challenge, and it was for a worthy reason.   

Nike “Just Do It” 

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Nike has used guerrilla marketing for a while now, and they continue to own it. A successful guerrilla marketing campaign incorporates the ideals of the brand and embodies its values. 

One example of Nike’s campaigns is its use of the tagline “Run” on a bench with no seat. It encourages its audience to get moving straightforwardly and effectively. Another great example is when Nike plastered a banner across an escalator with the brand’s infamous tick logo. Both campaigns are direct but straightforward, encouraging their audience always to get moving.    

12 Guerrilla Marketing Ideas to Grow Your Gym 

Many brands use guerrilla marketing ideas as a cost-effective marketing tactic. When executed correctly, you can generate buzz around your brand, product, or service while your business remains profitable. 

By capturing the public’s attention in the right way, you can create user-generated content and boost word of mouth marketing. Let’s take a look at 12 guerrilla marketing strategies to help grow your gym.  

Chalk Art on Sidewalks 

Street art is a great way to engage your audience in a fun and exciting way. This one is definitely for warmer days when the sun is shining. Draw attention to your physical gym location with chalk art. Think of a message that’s enticing and on-brand. 

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The idea is to increase walk-by traffic. Keep your art positive so people walking past will want to be drawn in. Doodling on the sidewalks is also a brilliant way to boost brand recognition in your community. 

Live Stream Events on Facebook 

Facebook Live has made live streaming events super easy and cost-effective. As a business owner, it allows you to schedule events like the launch of a new fitness challenge or a behind the scenes talk with an instructor. You can produce straightforward content that helps potential members to learn more about your services, culture, and gym community. Live events are good for boosting member engagement

Host a Party 

Events and parties are perfect for creating buzz for your brand and gym. If you’re new to the scene or are about to launch a new product or class, definitely host a launch party. 

Invite your friends and potential members. Reach out to local radio and TV stations about your news to up the excitement in the community. Get social and create a hashtag for the event. Make sure every guest follows your Facebook and Instagram business page and posts a photo of the event on their social media. Facebook likes, and Instagram follows will soon start to tumble in. 

Partner with Local Businesses 

Partnering with local businesses can be beneficial in several ways. One idea is to find local organizations that are trying to raise money. Let them sell a couple of gym passes in exchange for $5. The organization keeps the money, which goes to a good cause, and you get a new lead. 

Another way to leverage local businesses is to connect with local retailers in your niche who sell things like supplements or sportswear. Let your members access coupons to local retailers on your website. In return for brand exposure, they can do the same for you by advertising your gym on their website or having your marketing material at their cash register.  

Walking Billboards 

Everyone loves a t-shirt, especially when it’s free. Create competitions and challenges where all members involved get a free t-shirt with your branding. Get t-shirts that send the right message are on-brand and that your members will love. By wearing shirts promoting your business, your members are transformed into walking billboards. 

If you hold regular fitness boot camps, create personalized t-shirts for each member that they can wear every week. Come up with fun nicknames to keep your group motivated and reaching their targets while supporting your business at the same time.   

Lead Boxes 

A few decades ago, lead boxes were the king of marketing in the health club industry. Although digital marketing trends have taken over, lead boxes can still be an effective form of marketing. If you place boxes in the right spots, you have the potential to reach a broad audience. 

Think about your members and where they hang out. Is there a coffee spot nearby they love or a juice bar you know is popular? The likelihood is that these would be great places to start. Aim for five lead boxes in your local area. If you can reach 100 new people a month and even if a small percentage become members, you can increase revenue in a very cost-efficient way. 

New Member Referrals 

An underrated guerrilla marketing tactic is to create a member referral program. A gym referral program can do wonders for your business. Attracting new members is one of the toughest parts of being in the health and fitness industry. 

A referral program is a systematic way of getting new clients through the door. You create a reward for both the referrer and the referee that’s too good to turn down. Check out this guide on creating an effective gym referral program. The article covers the basics and the steps you need to take to build a strong referral system.   

Hold a Contest 

Contests are a fantastic way to rally your clients together. Hold a weight loss contest or fitness challenge. Make sure to arrange some good prizes that will create some buzz around your gym. Contests have the power to boost word of mouth marketing as well as give your clients the competitive motivation they need to hit their targets. 

Community Health and Fitness Seminars 

Free health and fitness seminars can get the word out about your business while solidifying your position as a fitness expert. You also have the option to educate members through online workshops and videos. Spread the word about your events, whether they’re in-person or online. Use banners on your website and pin posts to the top of all your social media channels.    

Social Media Channels 

Social media marketing should form an essential part of your marketing strategy. These platforms offer businesses a free and simple way to market their business and services. 

Use high-quality and eye-catching imagery and video to spread the word and encourage users to share your content through their own social media networks. Capitalize on the opportunity to go viral through rapid online sharing. 

Flyers, Leaflets, and Promotional Items  

Promotional items are a fantastic way to promote your business. You can create products like mugs, notepads, pens, t-shirts, flyers, and leaflets. Flyers and brochures can be placed at local businesses and handed out on the sidewalk near your location. Promotional items like mugs and t-shirts are ideal for giving out to members as a reward for loyalty and hitting fitness goals.  

Sticker Marketing Campaign 

A sticker marketing campaign can be a witty and creative idea to draw attention to your brand. Give out window and car stickers to people who attend your events or participate in contests and challenges. Use stickers within your premises or venture out to the streets. Sticker marketing is scalable so it can suit any budget, large or small.  

In Summary 

When a guerrilla marketing campaign is executed successfully, you know about it. It’s something that sticks with you and makes you think about a specific brand. Guerrilla marketing can be a cost-effective strategy that uses a minimal budget and resources to raise brand awareness and get new members through the door. 

Creativity can make the difference between an average marketing campaign and an epic one. Keep it simple; keep it on-brand and start thinking outside the box. 

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