Fitness Marketing 101: How to Promote Your Gym or Studio
As a member of the fitness industry, you want to help your community get in shape. First things first, your community has to know you exist, right? For that, there’s local marketing. Yet marketing is such a broad term—it encompasses everything from those annoying banner ads that cover the articles you want to read to giant billboards you see from the highway.
You need to know the specifics about how to market your local fitness business to your community without wasting resources that could be better spent helping your members sweat. So, to break down fitness marketing 101, let’s discuss two pieces to the puzzle:
- Part 1: Building your marketing framework—a multichannel communication platform
- Part 2: Pairing this framework with both traditional and digital marketing techniques
Ready? Let’s dive into some fitness marketing strategies.
Part 1: Creating The Marketing Framework
What does it mean to have a multichannel communication platform? Essentially, when you want to advertise a new promotion, call attention to a local fitness award, or highlight new services your gym or personal training business offers, you need to get the word out. Posting a quick blurb on your Facebook page is great, but you limit your reach and your local audience to whoever is following you on Facebook.
By building a multichannel communication platform, one blurb can be used cross-platform to hit six different audiences simultaneously.
Note: Creating these channels takes an initial time investment. Additionally, the amount of reach each avenue receives will start small and gradually build. Just like fitness goals, however, the biggest factor is “showing up” every day, every week, and every month.
What Channels Are Worth Focusing On?
Because there is an initial time investment, you want to avoid stretching yourself thin. So in a prioritized list, here are the channels you should set up to maximize your return on investment.
1. Nextdoor—the neighborhood hub
2. Website—the online face of your company
3. Social Media—the expanded communication network
Once these are in place, you will be able to utilize your multichannel platform for every marketing campaign, promotion, or service offering in the future. Until then, take it one rep at a time.
The Nextdoor Business Page
Word-of-mouth marketing is when a friend or loved one recommends a local business because of the great experience they had. It’s considered the most powerful form of advertising. Nielsen, for example, conducted a survey of trust in brand advertising and found that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other form of marketing.
This makes sense, doesn’t it? You yourself are probably far more likely to trust your best friend or sibling about a fitness class recommendation than seeing one on a billboard on the highway. The next question then is, how can you tap into word-of-mouth marketing?
Enter Nextdoor, the neighborhood hub.
Nextdoor is a place where people living within a local area can ask questions, swap items, and get recommendations for just about anything from their fellow neighbors. If you need, say, a plumber, you can ask your neighborhood if they’ve had a great experience with one. If someone asks about a beginner cycling class, your fitness business could be that recommendation.
Here’s a fun fact: 67% of Nextdoor users have made a recommendation.
That’s why this is front and center; you need to have your fitness club, health club, personal training sessions, or gym on Nextdoor. All you have to do is:
1. Set up a Business Page through the Nextdoor website.
2. To appear on searches, receive at least one recommendation.
To gain that first recommendation, consider talking to some of your long-standing members, or hold a promotion—recommend getting 20% off their next month’s gym membership fee. Doing so will grant you a clear communication line with the locals in your area and grant access to the most powerful form of fitness marketing there is—word-of-mouth.
Design An Intuitive Website
Next up is the digital face of the company—your website. Chances are, once you get recommended on Nextdoor, the next step for a potential customer is to Google search your fitness business.
Your website doesn’t need to be anything spectacular, although it should have all the basic pieces of information, like:
- Your name
- Your location
- Your hours of operation
- Your services
This can be done using a website building service like Squarespace or Wix; or you can hire a website designer to create a basic page layout.
Not sure where to hire a website designer? Betcha somebody in your neighborhood does!
Create Social Media Pages
Finally, it’s time to branch out—creating profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn will offer you the majority of online social media users. From there, it’s important to know how to get set up and what to post.
- Setting up your social media pages. Remember that with each avenue of communication you open up, you want to ensure it’s as professional as the last. To that end, be sure to use a professional photo and write an informative bio for each. Don’t worry about explaining everything here; exercise brevity and then provide a link to your website to explain the rest. (Here you can see the importance of going one step at a time!)
- Post relevant, informative content. Above all else, use “relevancy” and “informative” to guide your decisions about what to post. If you have a new type of training you offer or a promotion for New Years, this is both relevant and informative. If one of your core values is providing incredible workout tips with seasoned trainers, you can do a “spotlight” session of a trainer and post their headshot with it. These posts can then be shared across all platforms.
Sticking with these simple, yet effective strategies will ensure that over the years, your brand will grow, and you’ll be better equipped to communicate with your local neighborhood.
Part 2: Combine Traditional and Digital In Your Marketing Strategy
Now that you have all of your channels in place, it’s time to naturally infuse your fitness marketing ideas using both traditional and digital means.
Take Advantage of Holiday and Seasonal Campaigns
Everybody knows that New Years is the time to make bold fitness goals and run off a few pounds. That’s why fitness marketing companies stress the need to increase the late-December, early-January marketing budget. And according to a survey done by Citylab, this strategy works. Almost 11% of gym memberships for the year are signed in the first month alone—the highest membership rate of any month.
New Years, however, isn’t the only time to reach out to your community and inspire them to sign up and get fit. Consider all the reasons why people want to exercise and create holiday and seasonal marketing campaigns.
For some ideas to get the creative juices flowing:
- Summertime fitness – As April turns to May and May turns to June, people are beginning to spend more time outdoors. This time of year serves as an opportunity for your gym or personal training business to help customers feel confident and motivated during the summer months. Attract members by implementing summer workout challenges! Ideas can vary, but choose workouts that will challenge participants’ stamina and leave them feeling accomplished. Encourage participation by offering the winner of each challenge an enticing prize. Possible prizes can include a month of free fitness classes or gift cards to local healthy eating spots. These tactics will not only promote positive health and wellness among the community, but will also guide people directly into your gym all summer long.
- Mentally fit - Spring is approaching and with that comes Mental Health Awareness Month in May. It is scientifically proven that exercise can reduce stress and has positive benefits on mental health, so encourage a strong mental and physical connection during this time of the year. Consider teaming up with other local gyms and workout studios as a way to be inclusive of the whole fitness community and boost participation in your own gym. For example, partner with a local yoga studio and offer a promotion to both their members and yours. Doing so will motivate participants to exercise, fostering a healthy mind and body. Becoming a part of Mental Health Awareness in May is a perfect way to impact both your community and your business.
These campaigns don’t have to be big or particularly flashy. Consider the channels you have available to you and create a campaign across them. By hiring a local graphic designer (ahem, through Nextdoor), you can have an inexpensive graphic to rehash across both physical and digital channels:
- Print a large poster to hang in your front window.
- Put the image on your website.
- Post the picture across your social media channels.
- If you have an emailing list, send it out!
Share Your Expertise
If you run a fitness studio offering classes like yoga, dance, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), offering a donation-based outdoor class at a local park every Saturday and Sunday is a great way to meet the community, inspire people to try your classes, and encourage monthly memberships.
Kelly, creator and founder of Kelly Bryant Wellness in Stuart, Florida, eases new members to try her classes with a professional consultation. She tells us, “Always offer a consultation first. Even if 99% of your customers buy the same package, you should never recommend that or try to sell that package before having a deeper conversation with them. Maybe you'll discover that they really do need something different. The buyer will feel like it's actually a custom suggestion designed to meet their needs. They'll also be more likely to believe in the program and therefore, more likely to succeed.”
The key is to get out and share your expertise. That said, holding donation-based classes isn’t the only method; consider these online marketing ideas too:
- Create a blog about the importance of health.
- Start a video series showing proper stretches and exercises.
- Host a podcast and talk to personal trainers about their challenges of staying fit.
Whatever your expertise, make content around it, share it across all the channels you’ve set up, and create value for members and potential members.
Finally: Be Creative and Stay Consistent
Now that you have your multichannel communication platform in place, there are just two final marketing ideas that will guarantee long-term success.
- Be creative – Have fun with the way you communicate. With the headache of creating the platform done, now all you have to do is come up with new, creative ways to talk about your gym.
- Stay consistent – Social media platforms reward businesses that stay consistent in their postings (whether that’s once a day or once a week). Think of how far behind you get on your fitness goals when you take a week off. Use this mentality toward your marketing goals as well.