Are fitness consumers moving away from at-home fitness and back to brick and mortar fitness studios?
As the effects of the pandemic die down and the demand for at-home fitness dries up, a new gold rush is in swing for fitness studios competing for consumers tired of working out in their front living room.
Recent months have seen a host of cutbacks announced by digital and at home fitness companies who are beginning to stall due to the economic downturn and the desire of the market to return to an in-studio experience.
Take for example this recent New York Post story about Soulcycle attempting to attract Peloton members to its studio. Soulcycle launched a particularly aggressive marketing campaign where the first 100 people to turn up with their Peloton bikes to Soulcycle studio would get 47 free classes.
The campaign, called “F*ck it, let’s ride together” is seen by some as overly aggressive, but shows the lengths the best studios in the business are going to hoover up former at home fitness fanatics.
And with recent surveys showing that at least 80% of consumers are open to returning to an in person experience, it’s time you took a look at your current marketing strategy and make sure it’s fit for purpose in 2022.
In this article, we will look at what exactly a marketing strategy is, explore what you really need to know about marketing for gyms in 2022 and lay out 13 proven marketing tactics that will supercharge your fitness marketing strategy.
Skip ahead to:
- What is a marketing strategy?
- Marketing strategies for gyms in 2022: what you need to know
- 13 marketing tactics to surcharge your marketing strategy
What is a marketing strategy?
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make but the stories you tell”
This quote from famous marketing guru Seth Godin, perfectly explains the modern way marketing operates in 2022. Your audience isn’t interested in promotions, quick sells or desperate “buy now” messaging. They are interested in great stories about who you are, what your business is and what you sell.
A big part of getting these stories out into the world is a clearly defined marketing strategy – but what is a marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy is a business’s game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers. Typically a marketing strategy is made up of the company’s value proposition(what the product or service actually delivers to the customer), the overall messaging, target customer demographic and what the company wants to achieve with the strategy.
Marketing strategies vs. marketing plans
The difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing plan is that the marketing strategy is a longer term project. A marketing plan will detail what your marketing strategy is and lay out the activities, timelines and channels for completing specific campaigns.
When it comes to marketing plans and marketing strategies for gyms, it could look like this in a very basic form:
Marketing strategy: Life Fitness wants to use paid digital ads to increase awareness it’s top tier membership in Q3
Marketing plan: Life fitness will run Facebook and Instagram Ads specifically with messaging around its top tier membership with the aim of increasing lead volume for this membership by 15% from Q2 to Q3.
Basically, marketing strategies will cover big picture goals and messaging while marketing plans cover the logistics of how you actually achieve this.
Marketing strategies for gyms in 2022: what you need to know
For some people, marketing can be a mystery they struggle to wrap their head around. Why do some marketing campaigns work and others just flop? Why do some companies just seem to get it right all the time?
There’s no one set answer for any of this. A lot of different factors come into play but one of the main things is to be super aware of what is going on with your target customer, the wider industry and the world at present.
This means you can deliver relevant messaging that will resonate with your audience of potential customers. Here are three areas to consider when it comes to marketing strategies for gyms in 2022.
Be authentic: Fitness marketing expert David Steel makes an excellent point around the type of imagery you use in your messaging. In his Fitness Founders Podcast interview with us, he makes the point that you should use real, authentic images of your members, rather than trainers or stock photo models.
And the statistics back this up. According to data gathered by Oberlo, around 80% of consumers now expect authenticity from the brands they purchase from. In the fitness industry in 2022, projecting a real, authentic image resonates more than big muscles and toned abs.
Experiment with other platforms: Good marketing comes from tried and tested solutions. Great marketing, however, comes from experimenting and thinking outside the box. For a fitness studio, this could mean looking outside the normal social media channels like Facebook and Instagram.
In the last number of years TikTok has emerged as a lucrative platform for growing a business or your own personal brand. TechCrunch reports that influencer spending on TikTok will overtake Facebook this year and Youtube in 2024.
Follow through on the value you’ve promised: All the marketing savvy in the world won’t cover for a product or service that just doesn’t deliver for its customers. And in the fitness industry this isn’t any different. If your don’t actually deliver on the promise
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As fitness business experts Alex Hormozi and Chris Cooper have explained on our podcast numerous times, it’s the value you deliver to the member that matters. If you promise results and actual progression in your marketing message, you need to make sure you have the structures in place to do that. It seems simple but it’s where many fitness entrepreneurs fall short.
13 marketing tactics to surcharge your marketing strategy
When you have your marketing strategy in place, you need to start thinking about implementing the strategy. Here are 13 different tactics, tips and ideas to give you the best chance of success in a highly competitive market.
1. Connect and inspire on social media
Your social media marketing strategy should inform, connect, and inspire your audience. Social media is a fantastic place to motivate members and add value. You can use a variety of different posts and content to inspire others in a way that’s relatable.
Share user-generated content, success stories, virtual fitness challenges, and quick home workout tips. Tools like Facebook Live and Instagram Stories allow you to connect with your audience and boost engagement organically.
2. Create a seamless user experience
Today’s consumers are savvy, time-sensitive, and want their demands met instantly. When it comes to delivering a successful digital marketing strategy, your user experience plays a significant role. Think about your online customer journey. Maybe a potential gym member reads your latest post on Instagram then visits your website before signing up for your next live fitness stream or booking a tour at your facility.
The online journey should be seamless. Anything that stops the user can negatively impact your marketing strategy. A user-friendly website optimized for mobile and top-quality customer service is just part of the user experience. As fitness brands lean heavily on digital fitness offerings and virtual training, your digital environment should be seamless.
3. Share reviews and success stories
In the fitness world, success stories are powerful. When a potential client sees how you helped someone who looks like them, it makes them feel like they can do it too. For example, WW (formerly Weight Watchers) regularly posts before and after images of customers. They share the customer story in a way that taps into the readers’ emotions.
After joining WW, they share how their life has changed. Although the brand is selling a service, they are also selling happiness and self-confidence. Success stories and reviews increase social proof, trust, and authority.
4. Take advantage of targeted advertising
By 2022, it’s estimated there will be more than three billion users on social media. The average US adult spends almost 40 minutes on Facebook every day. As people are spending a record amount of time online, take advantage of targeted advertising. Consumers are scrolling through social media to find ways to stay healthy.
You can use Facebook ads robust targeting solutions to get your content in front of the right audience on Instagram and Facebook. Target by location, interests, demographics, engagement, and more.
5. Create a referral program
A referral program is a great way to encourage referrals that benefits both your members and you. Turn your customers into brand cheerleaders and encourage them to share your brand with friends and family.
To create a referral program, you offer the referrer and the referee a treat that is too good to turn down. For example, you could offer members a personal training session or an individual fitness program for every referral. The best offer really depends on your members and their needs.
6. Offer transparent pricing
Transparency is key throughout your business. Unclear pricing is frustrating and will deter customers away. If potential members feel deceived about your pricing in any way, this can have a negative and long-lasting effect. Make your pricing clear and easy to find with no hidden costs.
7. Retarget to encourage a sign-ups
Retargeting is a great way to keep your gym at the forefront of customers’ minds. These are for the prospects who have visited your website a couple of times but are yet to commit to a purchase or sign up. The idea is that when they see your targeted ad, it gives them the encouragement to make the final step.
You can retarget the right ad by looking at the data you have available. If they have spent most of their time on your digital membership page and have interests in-home fitness, then marketing your digital services is relevant and more likely to convert.
8. Make data-driven decisions
You have access to more data than ever before. When you make decisions using data, you can increase your marketing ROI, find new opportunities, and make better marketing decisions. By understanding exactly who your members are, you can find out who is likely to stick around and who is the most likely to leave your gym or fitness club. From this information, you can determine who your best members are and target these types of people going forward.
9. Highlight your digital services
Digital fitness is still popular.åå Your marketing strategy should highlight your digital services and encompass this part of your business. Re-evaluate your current marketing strategy to make sure that it’s still relevant, especially if you have expanded into digital fitness.
The Fitness Business Podcast has an interesting episode on the value proposition for going digital. The episode discusses the need to go hybrid to compete in the ever-changing landscape of fitness.
10. Invest in digital content creation
Digital content creation is essential in your marketing strategy. Content marketing can create up to three times more leads than paid advertising and costs less. Content marketing is still hugely relevant and a great way to increase brand reputation and authority. From blogs to videos and podcasts, content marketing helps you stand out from the competition while sticking to your marketing budget.
11. Use an omnichannel approach
When it comes to marketing, you need to play it smart to maximize your budget and efforts. You interact with your potential customer across multiple devices and mediums. An omnichannel approach takes this into account so that you can create a seamless experience across all marketing channels. From local search to YouTube ads and Instagram posts, you need to be where your customers interact with you, both online and offline.
12. Personalization is key to marketing success
Personalization in marketing has been around for a while now, but it’s not going anywhere. It’s critical to your marketing success and communication strategy. Personalization is part of the brand experience. Ideally, you want to personalize each marketing campaign in a way that segments your target audience.
Different people have different needs. A gym has multiple member personas. The person looking to bulk up and get stronger may have different needs than the new mother looking to get back to fitness after having a baby. More brands are moving away from generic marketing and making the most out of their marketing investment with personalization.
13. Leverage user-generated content
User-generated content is a fantastic tool. This includes reviews, social media photo uploads that use your brand or hashtag, testimonials, and videos of members using your facilities. User-generated content has several benefits.
Firstly, it allows you to expand your reach and engagement. Secondly, you don’t have to create the content yourself. Finally, the content adds value and can be very influential in the customer buying journey.
In the current times of uncertainty, more gyms are reassessing their marketing strategies to make sure their gym is still engaging and attracting potential members. When it comes to fitness marketing, it can be difficult for your gym to stand out in such a crowded marketplace. By understanding exactly what the consumer needs and adapting quickly to provide the right services with a seamless user experience, you can implement an effective marketing strategy for 2021.