The fitness industry is more competitive – and filled with more opportunity – than ever. Here are some vital fitness marketing ideas, tips, and strategies that will help you win more business in 2018 and beyond.
At Marketing 360®, we love the fitness and health industry. Our successful fitness clients can attest to our passion for these businesses. As a company, we’re basically a bunch of health nuts and gym rats.
But marketing is our game, so we know how to market fitness businesses. Here are our best ideas and tactics for 2018. Use these to keep your classes full and your gym pumping – with both muscle and revenue.
Fitness Marketing Idea #1: Develop a Strong Website
A website is the focal point for your fitness marketing, both on desktops and mobile devices. Most potential clients will get their first impression of your gym by visiting your website. Make sure it’s a great one.
This is also where a conversion takes place, which means that your content convinces someone to call, fill out a form, or drop by for a visit.
There are several keys to having an effective conversion-based website. You want it to be modern and professional, but also simple. Make sure you’re communicating your message clearly and it’s easy for people to find important information.
You want it to convey power, strength, and health. But at the same time, you don’t want people to think only Schwarzenegger would come to your gym.
Here is an example mockup from our UXI® templates:
It’s also important to have an enticing call to action. In this case, they offer the first session for free.
Business-level website design is not as expensive or time-consuming as it used to be. There’s no reason to be losing business because of an outdated website design.
Pro Tip: Use Infographics
Many people skim over website content, so if you have important points to make, it’s helpful to use visuals. Use infographics to highlight key ideas and to share on social media channels. For example:
Fitness Marketing Idea #2: Dominate Search Results
To drive traffic to your website, you’ll want to show up for fitness and gym related searches in your area. There are three ways to dominate the search results.
The first is pay-per-click advertising. These ads are run through auction-based systems like Google Adwords and Bing Ads. The main advantage here is that you show in the top positions (reserved for paid ads) and that you can control the ad copy and landing page. For example, you might want to run an advertisement for your spring training sessions. Your ad and the page it goes to on your website can match that offer.
Next, you need to set-up and rank for Google My Business. This is the maps listing and review platform Google uses for geo-targeted searches. It’s a free listing you can optimize with your descriptions and by getting customer reviews.
Then you have the organic website listings. These are also free clicks, with ranking gained by optimizing your website for keywords, gaining links, getting social media traffic, and adding content to your blog. For organic, be sure to optimize your location as a keyword (for example, “fitness centers Boulder CO). This will help you rank when people put the location in the search.
When you do it right, you can appear in three places on page one:
Power Tip: Use Remarketing
No matter how good your search listings and website content are, many people who click through to your website won’t convert. At least not on this first visit.
But that doesn’t mean you’ve lost the lead. You can use retargeting ads to keep your offer and brand in front of them as they surf the web.
Retargeting “cookies” the user’s browser to place ads in front of previous website visitors. For example:
Retargeting keeps your brand in front of prospects, giving them a gentle reminder to do the right thing. We’ve found it to be an effective marketing tactic for fitness centers.
Fitness Marketing Idea #3: Build a Strong Reputation
It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of your online reputation today. Reviews from existing clients may be the most persuasive content about you online.
Reputation needs to become a state of mind for your business. Provide exceptional, surprising levels of customer service. Ingrain the concept of being customer-centric into your staff’s minds and hearts. When in doubt, favor the customer, even if it means a short-term loss.
The goal is not just to be the best. It’s to have that reflected in the reviews customers write about you online.
How you treat people is your main area of control. Beyond that, ask your best clients to leave you reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and Top Rated Local. If you need to get reviews on a particular platform, try an email campaign.
A look at Google Places results shows how prominent review content is:
Expect people to check out your reviews and be influenced by them. Do everything possible to get them working in your favor.
Power Tip: Use Website Testimonials
Testimonials with before/after success stories are common on fitness websites – with good reason. They provide direct evidence that you get results. They’re like reviews in that they build trust, but since they’re on your website, you maintain control.
Images like this tell an important story, and also make great social media content:
Fitness Marketing Idea #4: Social Media Marketing
Social media provides an increasing number of marketing opportunities for fitness centers, gyms, and personal trainers. These provide visually appealing, easy, inexpensive ways to promote your fitness business.
Start by just getting started. You don’t need an overarching marketing strategy to post on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Snapchat. Do what everyone does. Use your phone to take images and short videos of things happening in your gym. Use Instagram and Snapchat stories to show workouts and document client successes.
People interested in your gym will look at your social media channels as another way to feel you out. Your social media should have personality and flair that shows your unique side.
After you have a decent presence, you can also run paid advertisements to targeted audiences. We’ve found retargeting ads and lookalike audiences to work best on social media. Here is an example post:
Fitness Marketing Tip #5: Tap Into the Power of Video
Video is more effective than ever at getting your message across. You can use a short video commercial on your website homepage, landing pages, YouTube, and on social media.
Consider who your target audience is when you create a fitness center video. Most fitness centers show muscle-bound people maxing out with sweaty determination. However, make sure you cover what services your fitness center has and give the sense that you welcome everyone, not just people who are already super fit. Here is an example:
You can get a lot of mileage out of one 30 second video, so invest in professional production.
Fitness Marketing Tip #6: Develop a Unique Value Proposition
Put yourself in the position of a prospective member checking out fitness centers and personal trainers in your area. Do a search and check out the competition.
Now be honest. Do you distinguish yourself? Do you give people a clear reason to choose you instead of another gym?
Many businesses don’t because they don’t develop a unique value proposition, which is a statement where you:
- Communicate something specific of value.
- Clarify the benefit(s) customers derive from your offer.
- State or imply why you’re the best choice.
For example, this gym focuses on nutrition:
The value you offer is the core of your business and central to your marketing message. Work hard to define what makes you stand-out and make sure it’s clearly communicated in your marketing materials.
Fitness Marketing Tip # 7: Work On Retention Strategies
One thing we know in marketing is that it’s less expensive to retain existing clients than it is to constantly have to earn new ones.
This is very true of fitness centers. You have to fight two battles.
The first is against your competition. There’s always going to be a new trainer, gym, or fitness option your members could try. A new trainer in town is going to advertise aggressively and even low-ball on price to try and steal your best clients.
The second is your own client’s motivation. We all know how tough it is to stick to a fitness plan, so having methods to keep people engaged is key.
Keep your training offers updated so there are new options on a regular basis at your gym. Schedule special events and programs to maintain interest. Offer reward programs to keep long-time members coming back.
Have group fitness classes so members get to know and support each other. Encourage these to overlap into social groups with special events and success parties.
Also, offer deals for longer-term memberships that will help people commit to their fitness program.
Use email and customer relationship management (CRM) software to send out updates and personalize communication with clients (Marketing 360® offers free CRM software for small businesses).
Create a newsletter you can send out monthly that updates clients and has new offers and deals. Share this same information on your social media feeds.
The point is, never take a member of your gym for granted. Once they sign-up, your marketing work is just beginning. Work hard to turn them into a lifetime member.
Power Tip: Corporate Clients
One excellent way to build your brand and gain consistent clients is special offers for businesses.
Start by finding businesses that want to offer training and health sessions as a perk for their employees. This means that the business is paying for the sessions, giving the individual members a strong incentive to participate.
You can offer these classes at your gym. But also look for businesses that have an onsite gym since this suggests they have a commitment to providing fitness perks for their employees.
As you work with these classes, make additional offers for members who might want to expand their fitness regimens.
If you’re introducing yourself to a business, connect with their HR staff and find out if their offers insurance benefits/discounts. You might find your services will pay for themselves.
Fitness Marketing Tip #8: Keep Up With the Trends
There are a lot of resources that can help you build connections and stay abreast of what’s going on in the world of professional fitness and personal training. Join some associations like the Ideal Health and Fitness Association to keep up with the latest.
As a fitness professional, remember that part of your job is being a teacher. You need to keep up with medical innovations and new technology that affects how people address their health and exercise routines.
For example, today wearable fitness trackers are super popular. It’s to your advantage to know how they’re used so you can teach your clients how to take advantage of them.
Also, stay apprised of dietary trends. One prospect may come you overweight, needing to get off junk food. The next may be switching to a vegan diet and want workout recommendations. If there are questions that come up that you answer well, write blog posts and include them in your newsletter and social media.
The more you can provide info on health-related topics, the more people will trust you, which is a great way to win and retain business.