Fitness advertising can be a minefield. Done right, it’ll skyrocket brand awareness, create a positive image, and drive sales. But done wrong, it can do permanent damage to your business that’s pretty hard to recover from.

In this article – we share the fitness advertising best practices to help make your ad campaigns a success (plus common mistakes to avoid).

We’re a specialist fitness marketing agency with 15+ years of industry experience, so we know first-hand what works (and what doesn’t!). We’ve helped gyms, fitness studios, and personal trainers to successfully promote their businesses, so our marketing strategies are tried and tested.

Fitness Advertising Tips & Best Practice 

If you want to promote your fitness business, increase brand awareness, or attract more clients, then advertising is a great option. But fitness advertising can be a hugely controversial area of marketing.

Done correctly it’s an incredibly effective tool for generating leads and increasing brand awareness. But done wrong, it can have a seriously negative impact on your brand.

Some sectors of the fitness industry have a pretty poor reputation when it comes to advertising. Supplement companies and equipment manufacturers, in particular, have received a lot of bad press for their marketing approaches. 

So how can you avoid this kind of negativity? How do you ensure that your advertising gets the positive results you want? And how can you do this if you don’t have much experience with advertising?

Here are 5 fitness advertising tips that’ll help you get the best results from your efforts…

  1. Use ads as part of a sales funnel
  2. Target a specific audience
  3. Focus on benefits, not just features
  4. Maintain your integrity
  5. Ensure your ads stand out from the noise

Now let’s look at each of these best practice areas in more detail…

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#1 – Use ads as part of a sales funnel

Most people think that the objective of fitness advertising is to generate sales. And that’s completely logical right?

Except that people will rarely see an advert and immediately be compelled to purchase. It does happen, but usually for low-value items like groceries and toiletries.

Higher-value items like fitness programs and gym memberships tend to require more consideration. This means that the sales process is longer, since people need to weigh up the decision to purchase in more depth.

Example Anytime
Anytime Fitness offers a 7-day free trial in its adverts to get prospective members into their sales funnel.

The most common fitness advertising mistake we see is an attempt to shortcut this process. Companies drive cold leads directly to a checkout, when they really require warming up before they’ll purchase.

They need to get to know, like, and trust you before they’ll buy. They may need some education around your offering and why they need it (especially if it’s a brand new concept).

Companies who use Google Adwords and Facebook ads most successfully, usually try to establish a relationship instead of going straight for the sale.

Top tip ⇒ For higher-ticket items, use adverts to drive leads to a free opt-in, instead of a checkout page. Then use an email series to generate more awareness, interest, desire, and finally action (also known as the AIDA principle). Although the process takes longer, your conversion rate will be much higher in the end.

#2 – Target a Specific Audience

Another common advertising mistake we see is not targeting a specific audience. Companies take a blanket approach and try to appeal to the mass market, but not everyone is going to be interested in your offering.

So unless you have a national presence, don’t advertise in national publications. That means no airline magazines or country-wide newspapers.

Even advertising in local newspapers is questionable, since only a small proportion of the readership will be interested in health and fitness.

Instead target publications that your ideal client is likely to read. Not only will it be more cost effective, but you’ll get much higher quality leads too.

Top tip ⇒ Define your ‘ideal client’ and then select advertising channels that allow you to target them. Google AdWords enables you to target specific search phrases. Facebook allows you to pinpoint people based on their demographics and interests. So take full advantage of the targeting tools available.

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#3 – Focus On Benefits, Not Just Features 

Many companies focus on ‘features’ in their advertising copy. They list all the tangible things that a customer will get, in an effort to demonstrate good value. But features don’t tend to inspire people – benefits do.

Benefits address why the customer should care about the features. They demonstrate what’s in it for the customer – why should they care? Why should they value the features you’re offering?

People aren’t generally excited by the idea of ‘training plans’. But they are inspired by the idea of feeling strong, sexy, and confident on their summer holidays. So focus your messaging on benefits to get the best fitness advertising results.

Top tip ⇒ Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and ask yourself ‘so what’? So what if I get a 6 week training program? So what if I lose weight? Keep asking yourself this question until you’ve identified the true benefit of your product or service. Then communicate this in your advertising.

#4 – Don’t Sacrifice Integrity For Sales

This is a mistake we see all the time in fitness advertising. From late-night infomercials to magazine ads, fitness companies are continually making bold claims about the effectiveness of their products that don’t hold up to scrutiny.

It’s a shortsighted approach, since people who purchase are soon disappointed, which leads to negative PR and a decline in sales.

Another way that this mistake plays out is through fear-based marketing. Companies use messages that prey on people’s insecurities, and make them feel they’ll never be good enough unless they buy X product to ‘fix’ themselves.

This negative approach to fitness advertising can have implications that go way beyond business, destroying people’s confidence, body image, and perceptions of what ‘healthy’ looks like.

“Fitness marketing should inspire people, not prey on their insecurities.”

Apple Fitness Advert Example
Apple Fitness used models representative of many different types of people in their advertising campaigns.

The most annoying thing about this mistake is that it damages the reputation of the fitness industry as a whole. Every decent trainer, honest fitness studio, and genuinely effective product gets tarred with the same negative brush as the crappy ones.

Avoid It By ⇒ Holding yourself to a higher standard of integrity than the average fitness brand. Stick to claims that are scientifically accurate to ensure that your customers don’t feel mislead or disappointed. Make an advert that you’d be proud to show to your Grandma!

#5 – Go The Extra Mile To Stand Out

People are busy and bombarded by ads from all angles. So whether it’s billboards, magazine ads, or internet pop-ups, people have become immune to interruptive advertising.

Think about your own experiences… when was the last time you actually paid close attention to an advert?

This shift in people’s attention means that you need to work even harder to stand out. It’s not enough to place a full-page advert in a magazine and expect people to read it – you need to find a way to differentiate yourself from the noise.

Top tip ⇒ Select your position and design carefully. Adverts tend to get lost when they’re surrounded by other adverts, such as in a magazine. So choose a position with no competition, like the back cover. You can take this a step further by choosing an arena where there’s little competition, such as an up-and-coming social media platform. Then create an eye-catching design that jumps out and grabs people’s attention. Bright colours, bold fonts, and surprising images can all help you achieve this.

Example Golds Pear
Gold’s Gym created this attention-grabbing ad that’s very different from a traditional fitness advert.

Effective Fitness Advertising

Using these tips and examples will help make your ad campaigns more successful and generate better business results.

Warming up your prospects, targeting your specific audience, and focusing on benefits, will lead to higher conversion rates. Maintaining integrity will establish your credibility, and help you avoid negative press. And going the extra mile to stand out will ensure that your efforts aren’t accidentally ignored.

For more tips and tools check out this article on gym advertising or download our free fitness marketing ebook.

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Your All-in-One Toolkit to Attract, Engage, and Convert More Clients – Tailored Specifically for Fitness Businesses Like Yours!

The Fitness Marketing & Lead Generation Roadmap is a comprehensive resource designed for gyms, personal trainers, and online fitness businesses. It’s packed with video workshops, marketing templates, step-by-step guides, cheat sheets, and more. We cover:

  • Fitness Marketing Strategy: Build a solid foundation and plan for success.
  • Lead Generation: Attract more clients with effective tactics.
  • Social Media: Boost your online presence and engagement.
  • Email Marketing: Nurture leads and convert them into loyal customers.
  • Advertising & Promotion: Get your message out there efficiently.
  • Content Marketing: Create compelling content that resonates with your audience.
Fitness Advertising Tips Techniques

Caroline @ Wellness Creative Co

Qualified personal trainer (BSc Sports Science) & nutritionist (MSc Human Nutrition) with 15+ years of fitness & wellness marketing experience working with global brands.