Globally there has been a renewed interest in health and fitness in recent years. While it may look like gyms and fitness studios have profited the most from this, a sub-set of industries has gained also. Think fitness apparel, nutrition, at-home fitness and so much more.
The growth of so many related industries has allowed businesses operating in similar markets to collaborate and share resources. One particular area is marketing. Partnership marketing has the power to boost your studio’s business by increasing your brand awareness as well as leveraging the reputation of another brand for your benefit.
No marketing strategy is without cost and risk, but partnering up can lower both these factors. It’s something every studio owner should think about incorporating into their overall marketing strategy. In this article, we will go through what a partnership is, how it can grow your business, and lay out how you can build a partnership yourself.
Skip ahead to:
- What is Partnership Marketing?
- How Can Partnership Marketing Grow Your Fitness Studio?
- 3 Great Examples of Partnership Marketing
- 5 Steps to Building Partnerships That’ll Scale Your Studio
What is Partnership Marketing?
If you think about bees for a moment – they need nectar from flowers to survive. Flowers, in turn, need bees to spread their pollen. Therefore, the two support one another’s goals – the bees get their nectar and the flowers get pollinated. It’s a fair deal and a real win-win for everyone involved.
Partnership marketing is similar. The basic idea is two businesses coming together to work on strategic marketing campaigns to help each other achieve their business goals.
Good partnership marketing is mutually beneficial for both parties, while partnerships where the two companies share similar values, work best.
In practice, this might involve simply holding a fitness event or partnering with a nutrition company to offer your fitness studio’s members a better deal on their supplements.
Really, there’s a lot of ways that you can collaborate with others to increase your exposure to new audiences, build awareness and discover new sales opportunities in previously untapped target groups.
How Can Partnership Marketing Grow Your Fitness Studio?
Working with one or more businesses to cross-promote each other’s products and services offers several benefits. Co-marketing lets you pool talent, time and finances. This is turn makes building an audience of people who are interested in your brand a lot easier. Here are the main benefits:
It Saves Time & Money
Partnerships are an excellent marketing tactic for fitness studio owners because rather than leaving all of the marketing leg-work up to you, it shares resources and spreads both the workload and the cost so that everyone can grow faster.
Additionally, when compared to other marketing efforts like taking out a print advertisement or running a radio ad partnership marketing is relatively low-risk. You’re not putting huge swathes of money down for a one-off promotion with no promise of a return. But rather, you’re building a relationship that’ll increase the value proposition for your fitness business and your partners’ business too.
Broadens Your Reach
There’s plenty of consumers out there who might be interested in joining your studio, but they simply don’t know that you exist. One of the more obvious benefits of partnership marketing is that your brand gets introduced to another brand’s customer base. You may find that you have a whole lot of new attention overnight.
And given that 63% of business owners identify generating traffic and leads as their biggest marketing challenge – partnership marketing represents a relatively easy route to boost your reach and bring in new leads like clockwork.
Leverages Your Partner’s Reputation
But it’s not just eyeballs you’ll be getting. Marketing partnerships allow you to leverage your partner’s reputation to build trust and credibility with cold target audiences. After all, if a business you already think is great vouches for another one, why wouldn’t they think you’re great?
Good partnerships let you boost your studio’s profile by associating yourself with other reputable and trustworthy brands. Similarly, your partner will benefit from tapping into your reputation too. You’ll both be reaching new customers who are interested in your offering and already have proven loyalty.
3 Great Examples of Partnership Marketing
When two great companies decide to partner – the results for both can be outstanding. The great thing is that usually when one business succeeds the other to grows too. In that way, businesses that have similar values can pull each other up. So, let’s take a look at some excellent examples of strategic partnerships that helped profits soar.
GoPro & Red Bull
GoPro started out just selling cameras and Red Bull began just selling energy drinks. However, over the years, both transformed themselves into something much bigger – recognizable lifestyle brands with an emphasis on adventure, fearlessness and living your passion.
The companies came together, with GoPro supplying equipment to action-sports athletes that allows them to record previously unseen perspectives while undertaking incredible stunts, races, and challenges. At the same time, Red Bull uses its expertise and reputation to host and sponsor these adrenaline-pumping events.
The two companies have collaborated on many campaigns and projects, but one of the largest and most impressive was the ‘Stratos’ campaign in which Felix Baumgartner jumped from a space pod at almost 25 miles above the earth, setting 3 world records in the process. Not only did they break 3 world records that day, but the resulting exposure cemented both companies’ reputation as leaders in pushing the limits of human performance.
Nike & Apple
The relationship between Nike and Apple began way back in the early 2000s around the time the first iPod was released. The original partnership allowed Nike’s customers to enhance their workouts with music supplied by the tech-giant, and together they created the first fitness trackers that went into clothing and shoes.
Nike & Apple went on to create Nike+, which tracks activity data and synchs with Apple’s iPhone or smartwatch to collect and track workout data – everything from calories burned to average heart rate. The partnership works so well because it helps both sets of customers have a better experience – they’ve worked together for the mutual benefit of each other.
Starbucks & Spotify
A central party of what makes Starbucks so successful is the atmosphere they create around their coffee. They formed a partnership with Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming service with the goal of creating a ‘music ecosystem’.
As part of the partnership, Starbucks employees get a premium subscription to Spotify. In their accounts, they’re able to curate music to play throughout the day in the coffee shop. The partnership allows up and coming artists greater exposure to Starbucks’ customers and return, Starbucks gained access to a huge selection of music. It’s a real win-win.
5 Steps to Building Partnerships That’ll Scale Your Studio
So you like the sound of partnership marketing so far and you think you want to get a partnership working for your business.
Well, while partnerships can bring in easy business once they’re established, they can sometimes be a little tricky to set up. To help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls, here’s a quick step by step guide to get you going.
1. Locate a Suitable Partner
Often the largest barrier to forming a fruitful partnership is finding a like-minded business partner in your industry. There’s no point in joining forces with a business whose customers aren’t interested in your services. Or jumping into a partnership with a business that offers you little to no exposure.
So, when forming a list of suitable partners, keep your eyes peeled for the following characteristics:
- Similar brand values
- They have a similarly sized business (or better if theirs is slightly bigger)
- They have a large and engaged customer base
- Not a direct competitor
Suitable business partners for fitness studios are often companies like supplement companies, equipment manufacturers, fitness podcasters, fitness youtube channels, Instagram influencers, and other local businesses such as cafes, health food shops or physiotherapists.
Finding suitable partners often comes down to old fashioned networking. It’s often much easier to get a partnership off the ground by leveraging your current contacts where rapport is already established.
The Top 10 Barriers Slowing Your Fitness Business Growth
Having said that, there’s a huge amount of partnership opportunities available online too – so do your research and compile a shortlist of potential companies who fit the bill. Once you’ve identified a few businesses, you’re ready to move onto step two.
2. Reach out to Your Potential Partners
Outreach is the part of the process that can make owners hesitant. But there’s no getting around it, you have to put yourself out there to move forward. Ask and you shall receive as the old saying goes!
There’s plenty of ways to reach out – email is probably the most traditional, however, there’s nothing wrong with hitting someone up on LinkedIn or dropping them a DM on Instagram if that’s where they’re frequently active.
Spend some time before you click send developing some ideas to pitch to your recipient, making sure to highlight whats in it for them. The key to forging a partnership is by tempting your recipient with an enticing offer.
If you’re suffering from writer’s block, here’s a basic outreach template that’ll help you get a move on things:
I’m the owner/founder/head of marketing at [Name your studio & link to your site].
We’re a [Brief description of your brand & values].
I’m reaching out about a partnership with your business because [Mention a few things you have in common]
So, here’s what I had in mind: [Briefly outline partnership Idea].
I’ve no doubt we’d both benefit from such a partnership, but specifically, I think it’ll be great for [Insert benefit(s) for them]
I’d be keen to hear your initial thoughts or any other ideas you may have.
3. Develop Your Proposal
Now that you’ve caught the attention of a potential partner, it’s time to work on developing your ideas further and it’s important to involve them as much as possible in the process.
Set up a meeting, either in person or by video call and hash out the particulars of your budding arrangement. Talk about how you’ll both mutually benefit from the relationship – because if just one party stands to gain it won’t last very long
Nail down exactly how you’re going to work together – if you’re stuck, here are some simple examples to get your creative juices flowing:
- Mention each other in your emails or social media channels
- Share complementary skills (e.g. a 12-week yoga and vegetarian cookery course)
- Guest post/interview on each other’s blog/podcast/youtube channel
- Host monthly workout & coffee mornings at your local cafe
- Offer membership discounts: Physical therapy, nutritional consulting, supplements, etc
- Develop co-branded physical products like water bottles or apparel
Whatever type of partnership you come up with, decide who’s responsible for what from the get-go. Then set up goals so you’ll be able to measure progress, make changes on the fly and understand the returns your making from your efforts.
4. Trial the Relationship
Hopefully, your new partnership will bring great business to both parties for years to come. However, life isn’t always perfect. For that reason, it’s perfectly acceptable to trail a relationship for a few weeks or months and call it quits if things aren’t working out.
Maybe your customers simply aren’t interested in your new offer. In some cases, you may need to return to the drawing board and iron out a few details and in others, it might be time to put your energy elsewhere.
You can never be certain how your members are going to react, so there’s no shame in returning to the drawing board to concoct a new angle of attack if your partnership isn’t adding any value.
However, in the meantime make sure you’re committed to the partnership and pulling your weight too – it’s important that all parties put in the effort so that all parties can benefit.
5. Continue to Look for New Marketing Partnerships
There’s an endless stream of partnerships out there. Many of which have the power to boost your business to new heights. That’s why it’s important to keep your eyes open for new opportunities as they arise.
The most successful brands are always looking for ways to collaborate with exciting companies for mutual benefit. They’ve understood that forging successful partnerships is a skill that may take many attempts to pull off. It’s a little bit like a numbers game – the more times you try to form beneficial partnerships, the more likely you are to succeed. And with a little practice and the right approach – you’ll develop a network of tight-knit partners who’ll help each other grow for many years to come.
Partnership marketing is a proven way to grow your studio’s audience size by tapping into another brand’s influence and followers.
Whether you want to just promote each other or collaborate and build something together, partnerships are a very intelligent and cost-effective way to market your studio.
By taking the time to selectively choose a suitable like-minded partner and working together to create an actionable plan you can grow your customer base, increase your membership sales and boost the value proposition of your studio.