Need a fitness marketing strategy that really packs a punch?
We’re here to help.
Read on to find out a few tips only the top fitness marketing companies will tell you to use.
It’s not exactly a secret that the past few years have seen a serious upswing in the fitness industry.
Part of that is due to the rise of the Instagram influencer, the emphasis on all-things-organic, keto, or paleo, and the emergence of fitness trends ranging from CrossFit and HIIT to Yogalates and Lagree.
No matter which category your fitness company falls under, it’s clear that you’re entering into a crowded space.
The best way to stand out? By adopting some seriously good marketing tactics like the ones below.
1. Fitness Marketing 101: Master Local SEO
Before you look into fancy marketing tricks and tactics, you need to make sure you’ve mastered the basics.
The ‘basics’ here refer to local SEO.
More than likely, your fitness company is attached to a physical location. Whether it’s a standalone gym, a multi-location gym or even a franchise, a strong handle on your local SEO is what will get feet through the door.
The basics of local SEO look something like this:
- Claiming your Google My Business page for existing locations
- Getting on Yelp
- Collecting positive reviews
- Use citations in various online directories
- Optimizing your website and all content for local searches
- Building local links
- Linking to your local listing
Perhaps one of the biggest factors here is reviews. Reviews are huge for fitness businesses.
Because we all know that these days, there’s no shortage of clubs, gyms, and studios out there.
And one of the best ways to advertise yours? Is to let happy customers do it for you.
Ask your customers to leave reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, your website, anywhere. It’s also a good idea to offer an incentive program.
For example, you could offer an extra to any employees $20+ mentioned specifically in positive reviews. Not only will it encourage them to ask for more reviews, but to always be on top of their game and provide great service.
You can also offer incentives for guests who leave reviews, such as a free month at the gym.
2. ..But Look at Ways to Take Your Workouts Digital
While brick and mortar gyms certainly aren’t going anywhere, the number of people who visit them are dwindling.
Why? Because people are busy. At least, that’s the excuse they’ll give when you ask why they aren’t going to the gym.
So eliminate the excuse.
Home workouts and workout plans are bigger than ever, and represent a great way to market yourself where your customers spend most of their time – their smartphones.
How do you do that? One of the best ways is through an app.
Apps like Fitness Builder, Nike Training Club, and FitPlan offer users workouts of the day or specific workout plans to take with them so they’re ready when they enter the gym.
You can use it to connect customers with personal trainers and upload accountability trackers, set goals, create an exercise library, separate workouts by home-based and gym-based, etc.
While this may seem like a big investment initially, it will absolutely pay off in the end.
Consider adding it in as a complementary product to a gym membership or as a separate product in itself (honestly, why not both?)
Then, promote your app all over the place. Include it in your newsletters, business cards, hang a poster on the wall, everything.
If you want to take it a step further, consider building a Google Action or Alexa Skill. These are the apps of voice search, and perform like an app would on a smartphone, only they’re activated via voice and use digital assistants to deliver information.
Your Action or Skill could lead users through workouts, deliver a workout calendar or session, or essentially perform any of the functions used in a smartphone app.
3. Play to Your Strengths (Unique Value Proposition)
Look, fitness is a big industry.
And if you want to attract customers, you need a way to stand out. Pretty standard stuff, right? But actually finding a way to do it is anything but.
To start, you need to know exactly the kind of clientele you want in your gym/box/studio.
Take Gold’s Gym, for example. It’s known for its no-nonsense, meathead approach to fitness, made famous by Mr. 7x Olympia himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It’s no surprise, really, that it’s called the “Mecca of Bodybuilding.”
That moniker alone appeals directly to its target audience: serious bodybuilders. Its value is that it’s full of likeminded, fitness-first gym-goers, and addresses a common pain point faced by that audience: finding a gym of serious, experienced lifters.
And while that’s great marketing for Gold’s, it probably won’t work so well for your local yoga studio. Which is why it’s so important to really nail down your target audience and their pain points and create a marketing strategy that speaks to that.
One of my personal favorites is Nerd Fitness.
Its founder, Steve Kamb, built a fitness empire – all on his laptop.
He did it by appealing to an extremely niche group of people: nerds who wanted to get started in the gym.
The Nerd Fitness slogan, “We help nerds, misfits, and mutants lose weight, get strong, and get healthy permanently,” wastes no time. It addresses its exact clientele and puts its mission right up front.
The brilliance here is that it targets such a specific audience and their needs. Many of these “nerds” are likely pretty intimidated by a gym environment, and may be totally unfamiliar with equipment, different kinds of workouts, and proper nutrition.
So instead of braving the gym down the street, they can log into Nerd Fitness, where they’ll get introductions to workout plans, proper form, where to start in the gym, and even personalized plans in the Nerd Fitness Academy.
What have we learned here? That fitness is an industry that, when done right, can be marketed to almost any group of people, as long as you present a unique value proposition that addresses their pain points.
4. Create Valuable, Relatable Content
At the end of the day, good SEO rules always apply: valuable content will win the day when it comes to the SERPs – and your audience, whether you’re a personal trainer, big box gym or specialized Pilates studio.
Even Instagram influencers know that the key to quality followers isn’t just through pictures of bikini bods and gym selfies; it’s the content and the value it provides that wins customers.
It’s equally true that the fitness industry is full of fad diets, sham theories, and quick fixes (celery juice, anyone?).
While that kind of content might prove momentarily popular, as soon as it’s disproven, your company’s credibility will suffer as well.
Focus instead on what we call evergreen content.
Evergreen content is content that stays relevant over time. It’s content that’s sustainable (hence the “evergreen” title).
This kind of content tends to rank high in search engines and offer more value to readers. It can be anything from “How to Get Started at the Gym” to “How to Successfully Track Your Macros” or “The 5 Best Exercises for Building Your Quads.”
All of these can be added to and updated over time (and absolutely should be) but they’re topics that will continue to be important in the industry and won’t lose relevance.
Of course, it’s impossible that you’ll be the only fitness company or gym producing this kind of content (type any of those article ideas into to Google and you’ll see what I mean).
Once again, you need a way to differentiate yourself from the pack.
I’m going to reference Nerd Fitness yet again because when it comes to content, they absolutely kill it.
Check out a few of their article titles:
- “5 Lessons Learned From a Skinny Nerd Deadlifiting 420 Pounds”
- “How to Get Rid of Man Boobs: The Science and Step-by-Step Plan”
- “The Wolverine Workout: Get Strong Like Logan!”
- “The Deadpool Guide to Self-Love”
Not only are they all intriguing titles in their own right, but they call out to the site’s specific, niche audience. The people who were on board as soon as “Wolverine” was mentioned and have a vested interest in how skinny nerds can get super strong.
That’s some pretty genius content marketing right there, and it’s the kind any fitness marketing company will tell you to craft to reach your customers.
A few tips:
- Create themes for your content
- Create a content calendar (and stick to it)
- Start with 1-2, in-depth articles a week
- Promote! Use email and social media to send out links
5. Personalized Communication
You’ve probably heard a lot lately about personalization in marketing.
There’s good reason for it. But plain old personalization doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s simply not enough to simply address your customers by name anymore. Instead, you need a strategy in place to segment your audience to better address their personal interests.
And while the traditional way of doing this – by asking clients and leads for personal information – is often shied away from by marketers, recent surveys suggest that people aren’t so protective of that information if there’s something in it for them.
In a SalesForce survey of more than 7,000 consumers, it found that “57% of consumers are willing to share personal data in exchange for personalized offers or discounts. Similarly, 52% of consumers would share personal data in exchange for product recommendations, and 53% would do the same for personalized shopping experiences.”
So there you have it, the green light to go ahead and ask away.
For fitness marketing, I highly suggest using this information to build a segmented, interest-targeted email list.
When people express interest in your newsletter, ask them a few questions before they submit their email. Those questions could include:
- What kind of workouts are they interested in?
- What are their fitness goals (muscle gain, fat loss, maintenance)?
- What is their level of fitness?
Once they submit their answers, you can sort them into the appropriate interest category using email software.
Then, instead of sending them general email newsletters with generic workout tips or nutrition plans, you can set up an automated series based around each interest group.
That way, the advanced lifters won’t be getting beginner workouts and those looking to bulk up won’t be receiving information on how to slim down for the summer.
Ultimately, you’re likely to build a stronger readership and base, and if they like what they see, you’ve just gained yourself a highly qualified lead.
After a series of informational emails, you can send out targeted promotions and discounts to encourage conversions.
6. Have a Strong Social Media Presence (And Use Stories!)
This one may seem a bit generic, but when it comes to fitness, the value of social media can’t be understated.
Let’s face it: fitness is a highly visual industry. People want to see the kinds of results they can expect, the kinds of foods they should eat, and the kinds of equipment and classes you offer.
The easiest way to show them? Through social media. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. are all ideal places to show off your gym, classes, trainers – all of it.
- Share links to workouts, recipes, workout playlists, etc.
- Encourage members to check-in on Facebook, and share their own content with your location tagged
- Post big announcements and teasers (free training sessions, workout challenges, diet bets, etc.)
Beyond that, you’ll absolutely want to take advantage of Stories and Stories Highlights.
One account that uses Stories extremely well is the Clean Health Institute. Outside of posting quality content on their feeds, they use Stories to show off highlights from their seminars, different workout techniques taking place in the gym, and host Q&A sessions with a few of their superstar coaches.
You can see how they break down their content in their Stories Highlights section:
7. Challenge Your Community
Everyone loves a challenge, right?
Fitness, by nature, is challenging, and by making an effort to stage community challenges for your members you’ll be able to better engage with them.
And the cool marketing part? Anyone involved in a challenge is less likely to drop off after a few gym visits; they’ll likely see the challenge through.
And then? They’ve developed a routine – they’re hooked – and you’ve got yourself a long term customer.
Anyone can put together a challenge, whether it’s an individual coach or hosted by a larger franchise or organization. But they all need to meet a few basic principles to succeed.
First, you need a theme. If you can tie this into something seasonal (30 Day Beach Body Challenge, New Year, New You Challenge, etc.) you’ll create some urgency and likely secure more participants.
Next, you need to be very specific with the details. What’s the time commitment? How long will it last? Is it home or gym based? What’s the support like? How will participants be held accountable?
You also need to decide how (and who) is in charge of support. Whether it’s through weekly check-in’s, special Facebook Groups, you need a way to for the community to interact with each other and share progress, tips, frustrations, etc., and someone in charge of leading the challenge.
Now here’s where the fitness marketing company part comes in: you need a solid promotion plan for any Challenge you conduct, and it needs to start well before the challenge itself does.
Again, all channels are a go here: social media, email, PPC ads, etc. If it’s something you’ve done before, you can use past results and transformations as marketing material.
8. Use Video – Q&A’s, Workout Libraries, Live Workouts
Video’s a pretty big deal these days.
Think about it: over 100 million hours of video are watched on Facebook alone.
And when it comes to marketing, it’s kind of a no brainer. A recent Renderforest study found that 78% of marketers who used video in their strategy saw an increase in site traffic, and 70% reported that video converts better than any other medium.
The good news is that when it comes to fitness marketing, video’s relatively easy to add into the mix.
Remember, fitness is a very visual industry. People want to see exercises and workouts in action.
For newbies, why not offer them a YouTube video library where they can access different exercises to learn about proper form and technique?
(Side note: that would tie in excellently with an email series).
For the more advanced, offer workout overviews that incorporate more creative, complex movements like supersets, drop sets, tempo changes, etc.
Same can be said for almost fitness type, whether it’s Yoga or Pilates studio or a Crossfit Workout of the Day library.
Having free resources like this is an excellent way to provide value to your member base and entice new prospects. You’ll be able to show off your expertise (and your trainers, premises, etc.) and they’ll get an invaluable resource to take with them when they do visit your premise.
You’re not selling, you’re providing value, and you can bet people will respond to that.
Another aspect of video you should be considering is live video.
Live is quickly becoming the way to do video, and 80% of consumers would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog.
So go live filming everything from Q&A’s (which you promote via social media, etc. beforehand), go on food hauls, meal prep, etc.
The possibilities are almost endless here, and all it takes it a little experimentation to find what fits best with your audience.
9. Fitness Marketing With Influencers
Influencer marketing is all the rage these days, and that’s especially true when it comes to fitness.
All you have to do is hop on Instagram to find newsfeeds full of fitness models, coaches, lifestyle gurus, what have you, many of which partner with larger fitness companies for promotion.
Take Gymshark, for example. The fitness clothing company has gained super fame primarily through its “athletes;” influencers its found with a large social following and then partnered with.
The athletes get clothing and other perks sent free of cost, and the company gets tons of exposure through its athlete’s massive followings.
They also host pop-ups around the world where fans can line up to meet the athletes. Talk about insta-famous, right?
But you don’t need a physical product to partner with an influencer. You can invite anyone in the area with a large following to work out at your gym – free of charge – or arrange an interview or Q&A to film for social media.
10. Cross-Promote With Other Companies
To amplify your message, consider partnering with other like-minded companies to help promote each other.
Planet Fitness, for example, partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of America and Stomp Out Bullying as part of a larger campaign push.
Gyms or other fitness companies should consider partnering with vitamin companies, clothing companies, fitness trackers (FitBit, etc.), to gain a wider audience.
11. Create a Client Referral System
Your absolute best advocates are your existing clients.
If you can get them to do the marketing for you, you’re in for a win.
Think about it: is someone more likely to visit your gym or buy your product because of the billboard they saw, or because their friend told them they had a great experience with it?
The latter, right? Right.
So encourage your clients and customers to spread the word by offering them a little something in return.
For example, my gym gives me a free month for every new member that signs up because I brought them in.
And as of now, I’ve enjoyed quite a few free months. Not only am I more motivated to bring people in, but it’s simply a nice gesture on the gym’s part that helps member’s feel appreciated.
So think about what you have to give that your members will appreciate.
Maybe it’s a complimentary workout, a free canister of pre-workout, or a discount on your class package.
Whatever it is, it’s one of the easiest (and oldest) marketing tricks in the book. Don’t leave this one out.
Wrapping Up Fitness Marketing Company Tips
Fitness marketing really isn’t all that complicated.
Because of its visual, interpersonal nature, there’s plenty of opportunities to get your company out there. The key is making sure you stand out.
Remember, anything you can do to add value to your customers, followers, or clients will give you an automatic leg up.
Combine that with a strategy to differentiate yourself from the pack and appeal directly to your specific audience, and you’ll knock your competitor’s right out of the ring.