Fitness Marketing [A Step-By-Step Guide For Gyms, PTs & Bloggers]
Fitness marketing is a little bit different to marketing in other industries. It requires a unique approach in order to be successful…
This article will guide you through the entire process step-by-step. It covers identifying your ideal client, creating a strategy, pricing and positioning, channels and tactics, plus how to measure effectiveness. If this is more detail than you need or you’re just after a list of fitness marketing ideas, then check out our free ebook instead. Otherwise, let’s dive in…
Why Fitness Marketing Needs A Different Approach
The fact is, most people don’t enjoy working out or eating healthily… They like their Netflix evenings. They can’t face the idea of swapping pizza for salad. There’s a disconnect between the health-conscious people who promote fitness, and the reluctant audience they preach to.
Marketing health and fitness therefore starts with an uphill battle. Just 20% of the US population meet physical activity guidelines, so getting the other 80% to change their habits isn’t easy. It’s hard to sell something that people aren’t inspired by – and that’s the biggest challenge in fitness marketing.
The other issue with fitness-related purchases is that they don’t provide an immediate benefit. You don’t instantly look or feel better after buying a gym membership – it’s a longer term investment. Combine this aspect with Millennial needs for instant gratification, and it’s clear to see why selling health and fitness can be tough.
So how do we overcome this issue? What’s the most effective approach to fitness marketing? In this guide we’ll explain how to define your marketing strategy and create a fitness marketing plan. Plus we’ll cover 10 techniques for effectively promoting your products and service (including social media, advertising, and events).
So Why Do People Buy?
It’s important to recognise that people will only spend money for two reasons…
To avoid pain – if we’re hungry then we buy food, if we’re sad then we buy clothes (or more food), if it’s raining we pay for a taxi
To get pleasure – we buy cookies (even though we’re not hungry) because we like the taste, we buy holidays because we enjoy relaxing
Therefore you have two broad approaches to fitness marketing. Firstly you can make clients feel the pain of their problem. The idea here is that they feel so bad that they’re compelled to buy a product or service that’ll remove the pain and solve their problem.
Some gyms teach this approach to their membership sales staff… They emphasise the pain by saying things like “well if you don’t sign up then it’s likely you’ll gain more weight, and then it’ll be even harder to turn your health around”.
But for us, it feels a little mean – it’s like rubbing salt into the wound in order to sell medical help. It may motivate them initially, but will they keep going? And do we really want to make people feel bad about themselves, just to earn a bit more money?
We think fitness marketing should inspire people, not prey on their insecurities.
Which brings us to the second approach – tap into their need for pleasure and position fitness as enjoyable. Most people want confidence, motivation, and a long, healthy life. They want to feel strong, capable, and part of a community. They want to have fun, de-stress, and feel a sense of accomplishment. So let’s inspire people by focusing on these positive aspects.
Identifying Your Ideal Client
This is a step that people often skip, but it’s crucial for effective fitness marketing. Identifying your ideal client enables you to be very precise about who you target. Focusing on people who are a perfect match for your offering, makes the whole sales process much more efficient.
Your ideal clients are people who will see the value in your offering (and also have the funds to pay for it).
If you can understand your ideal client, then you can develop products, services, campaigns, and messaging that appeal to them specifically. You’ll know exactly which social media platforms to target, blogs to partner with, and problems to solve.
When defining your ideal client, there are 3 areas to consider – demographics, headspace, and hangouts;
Demographics – these are broad characteristics that people are often grouped by, such as age, gender, and where they live or work.
Headspace – this relates to what they’re thinking, such as interests, goals, and challenges.
Hangouts – these are places where they spend time, either online or in person.
Once you’ve defined your ideal client, the next step is to create a fitness marketing strategy that specifically targets them.
[Side note: for a step-by-step explanation of how to identify your ideal client, check out our online course.]
Creating Your Strategy & Marketing Plan
There are 3 basic elements of a marketing strategy – objectives, strategies, and tactics. Together these form a strategic plan, that supports your business goals…
Objectives ⇒ WHY are you marketing in the first place?
Strategies ⇒ WHAT are you going to do?
Tactics ⇒ HOW will you implement your strategies?
People often skip straight to the last part, and focus on tactical ideas like events or social media. But without clear objectives and strategy behind them, these things won’t be very effective. What’s the point in doing something if you’re not clear what you need to achieve?
Just like your fitness goals, these need to be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Your strategies should outline the approach you’re going to take. For example, if your objective is around launching a new program, then your strategies might be to target a specific niche audience, position your program as premium, and generate buzz and excitement in advance. Or you might decide to create a program sales funnel that turns new prospects into loyal customers.
Then your tactics should be the smaller elements that support each over-arching strategy. So in order to target a specific niche audience, you might create a lead magnet or email opt-in that’s designed to appeal to them. You might guest-post on blogs that they follow, or run competitions with businesses they already buy from.
Once you’ve identified your objectives, strategies, and tactics, then combine them into a simple plan. Include your overarching business goal, and how you’ll measure your success. We explain the exact steps in this gym marketing plan article, or you can download a template and sample plans here.
Pricing & Positioning
Pricing and positioning are fundamental to fitness marketing. A smart pricing strategy can boost revenue, and make closing sales 100x easier. The right positioning will attract your ideal client, and help ensure they’re willing to pay the price you’ve set.
There a lots of things to consider when deciding your pricing. The first thing to do is understand your costs…
If you’re selling a product – then this will include things like raw materials, manufacturing, overheads, and shipping.
If you’re selling a service – then this will include things like your time, equipment, professional development training, and insurance.
From this point, there are several ways to determine your pricing. You can look at your competitors pricing, and charge something similar. You can add a profit margin to your costs, which is what many product-based businesses do. Or you can flip things around completely, and begin by deciding how much you want to earn – then create an offering that’s worth it.
How you present your pricing will also influence sales. Often it’s less about the ticket price, and more about whether people perceive that price to be good value (or not).
One technique for improving perception, is to use the anchoring pricing strategy. This is where you ‘anchor’ your price between two others, so that people can compare the value. A $200 training program may seem expensive without any context – but if it’s next to a $500 training program, then it instantly seems better value.
Positioning is closely tied to pricing. If you want to charge premium prices, then your positioning needs to reflect and justify this. The first step is to think about what separates you from your competitors? How can you stand out in a crowded fitness industry? What makes you or your product different? Then build your positioning around this. We sometimes find it useful to use the following framework…
We offer [INSERT PRODUCT OR SERVICE] for [INSERT IDEAL CLIENT] that unlike [INSERT COMPETITOR OR ALTERNATIVE SUBSTITUTE] is [INSERT POINT OF DIFFERENCE].
Here are a few practical examples of positioning statements…
- I offer personal training for busy mums and dads that unlike most other PT packages is designed to fit in with family life.
- We offer wearable fitness trackers for health-conscious millennials that unlike GPS watches are super-stylish and come in custom colour options.
- We offer yoga classes for men of all ages that unlike traditional yoga classes are specifically designed to cater for the male physique and training preferences.
Positioning statements like these are usually used internally. They provide a high-level summary of your offering without going into detail. From here you can develop more specific talking points…
Developing Your Messaging
Once you’re clear on how you want to position yourself, you can build out your messaging. This consists of the key points you’ll focus on when promoting your offering. They’ll appear in your product descriptions, brochures, adverts, emails, flyers, social media, and any other marketing channels you use. You’ll also use them in your sales pitch, and when talking about your offering in person.
Peloton use phrases like ‘studio cycling classes from the comfort of your home‘ and ‘fitness at your finger tips‘. Their messaging emphasises the studio-quality cycling experience, and fact it’s a home-based workout. They consistently highlight quality and convenience as their key messages, because it’s this combination that makes them different.
Your messaging should also communicate the benefits, and not just the features. So if you offer a 4 week bootcamp package, then don’t just list the features or what it includes. Talk about why these features matter, why should people care? Think back to what your ideal client values, and try to make the link. It could be losing weight and toning up. Perhaps it’s getting their confidence back, and enjoying going out again in their favourite little black dress. Or increasing their life expectancy so they’re around to watch their kids grow up.
Fitness Marketing Channels & Tactics
When it comes to promoting fitness, there are a huge number of tactics to choose from. Sometimes this can lead to people feeling overwhelmed by marketing – there are so many choices that it’s hard to know which is the right one.
This is why we encourage you to identify your ideal client, and create a strategy from the outset. These two things will inform which tactics you should choose. If you’re targeting amateur triathletes, then that’ll help you narrow down which magazines to advertise in, blogs to guest-post on, and Facebook groups to participate in.
Here’s a list of 10 fitness marketing channels, tactics, and ideas to get you started…
- Social media – use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter strategically to attract new clients, or increase retention and loyalty.
- Email – build your list using lead magnets and opt-ins, then develop the relationship by sending regular emails full of valuable info.
- PR – work with press, magazines, blogs, and your community to get free coverage for your business. For awesome PR tips check out these articles by Janet Murray.
- Events – seminars, workshops, and product launches are all great ways to attract new clients and create a sense of community among existing ones.
- Advertising – advertise online using Facebook or Google Adwords, or with niche publications that your ideal client reads – check out more fitness advertising ideas here.
- Promotions – seasonal campaigns and price promotions give your business a short-term boost. So if it’s a traditionally quiet time of year, or you aren’t on track for monthly targets, then use promos to get over the line.
- Blogging – this helps boost your Google rankings, and positions you as an expert in your field. Creating educational content also provides existing clients with extra support to reach their goals.
- Testimonials – you might think these are a bit old-school, but testimonials and word of mouth drive 20-50% of all purchasing decisions, so they’re a crucial element of your marketing mix. Learn how to write fitness testimonials here.
- Affiliates – get others to promote your business, and pay them a commission on sales they generate. If they don’t perform, then you don’t pay anything, so it’s a relatively low risk marketing tactics.
- Partnerships – work with complimentary businesses and blogs to promote your products or services. Choose partners who target your ideal client, and run competitions or challenges together.
Ensure You Have An Online Presence
However you decide to promote your business, you’ll need an online presence. For most prospective clients, Google is the first stop when researching fitness options. So if you don’t have a website or blog, then they’re not going to be able to find you.
Creating your website doesn’t need to be time-consuming or expensive. We run a free mini course on how to start a fitness blog, that walks you through the exact steps you need to follow. But even setting up a Facebook page is better than having nothing at all.
Whether you have a website, blog, or Facebook page, you’ll need to include the same core elements…
- About section – which explains who you are and what you do. Use the wording you developed for your positioning in this section, so that visitor immediately know how you can help them.
- Products or services section – explain what you offer and why it’s awesome. Use the phrases you developed for your messaging in this section, so that people understand features, benefits, and why you’re different.
- Contact info – this is the most important element. The whole point of an online presence is to drive leads and inquiries. So make it super-clear how people should get in touch with you, either via phone, email, or in-person.
These three things are the absolute essentials. Of course there’s a LOT more you can do with your website to promote your products and services. But if you don’t have time or it’s not a priority right now, then at least get these elements sorted.
Tracking What Works
The last piece of the marketing puzzle is to track your activities, so you know what works and what doesn’t. This enables you to decide which areas to double down on, and which to stop all together.
In order to track your success, you first need to have a measurable goal. It’s another reason to set SMART objectives from the start. So if you’re aim was to generate a certain number of leads, then measure your activities against that outcome.
If you’re doing digital activities like social media and online advertising, then it’s really easy to track your results. Most online platforms have built-in analytics or allow you to easily run reports.
It’s sometimes harder to track offline activities, or at least takes a bit more pre-planning. This is why it’s important to define how you’ll measure success during the strategy and planning stage. If you begin with the end in mind, then you can ensure that you have the right tools in place from the start. These could be promo codes, call tracking numbers, or good old-fashioned feedback forms.
Learn More About Fitness Marketing
Want to learn more about promoting your fitness business? Then download our free ebook which contains 80+ marketing ideas.
If you have specific questions, then feel free to send us a message using the Get In Touch tab on the right.