Effective fitness marketing is about more than social media and advertising. It’s pretty different from marketing in other industries and requires a unique approach in order to be successful.
So, if you’re looking for fitness and gym marketing strategies that’ll boost memberships and revenue, you need to separate what works from what doesn’t.
In this article – we guide you through the entire fitness center marketing process in a step-by-step manner so you can replicate what works in your own club.
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 marketing fitness is different
- Why do people buy?
- Identifying your ideal client
- Creating your strategy and marketing plan
- Pricing and positioning
- Developing your messaging
- Marketing ideas, channels, and tactics
- Tracking what works
Fitness Marketing – Why A Different Approach Is Needed
The fact is, most people don’t enjoy working out or eating healthily… They like their Netflix evenings. They find the idea of swapping pizza for salad depressing. There’s a disconnect between the health-conscious people who promote fitness and the reluctant audience they preach to.
Marketing strategies for gyms face 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 why many gym membership sales strategies falter.
So how do we overcome this issue? What’s the most effective approach to fitness marketing right now?
In this guide, we’ll explain how health club marketing companies define a strategy and create successful fitness marketing campaigns. Plus, we’ll share lots of fitness center marketing ideas that’ll increase gym memberships and revenue in your facility…
Wellness Marketing – Why Do People Buy?
It’s important to recognise what every good fitness marketing agency knows… 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.
Many gym advertising campaigns take this approach and also teach it to their sales staff… Some 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 in our gym marketing campaigns.
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.
A good fitness branding agency can help you to clearly define your ideal client if you’re unsure about doing it yourself. After that, 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 & Fitness Marketing Plan
There are 3 basic elements of a fitness 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 things. They brainstorm gym event ideas or social media marketing for fitness fans. But without clear objectives behind them, what are these things supposed to achieve?
Your objectives are high-level goals. They could relate to business KPIs around client or member attraction, retention or loyalty, competitive differentiation, or launching something brand new.
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 new fitness classes, 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 fitness marketing 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 are 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 perceived value 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 next to a $500 training program 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 to 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 boot camp 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 Ideas, Channels & Tactics
When it comes to promoting your gym or PT business, there are a huge number of fitness marketing ideas to choose from. Here are 10 fitness marketing channels, tactics, and ideas to get you started…
- Social media – use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to attract new clients and increase retention.
- Email – build your list using lead magnets, send welcome emails, then develop the relationship by sending regular e-newsletters.
- PR – work with the press or local bloggers to get free coverage for your business. For awesome PR tips check out Janet Murray.
- Events – workshops and product launches are great ways to attract new clients and create a sense of community.
- Advertising – advertise online using Facebook or Google Adwords – check out more fitness advertising ideas here.
- Promotions – seasonal campaigns and price promotions can give your business a short-term boost.
- Blogging – boost your Google ranking and position yourself as an expert, whilst also creating educational content for clients.
- Testimonials – testimonials and word of mouth drive 20-50% of all purchasing decisions – learn how to write fitness testimonials here.
- Affiliates – get others to promote your business and only pay them a commission on sales they generate.
- Partnerships – work with complementary businesses and blogs to promote your products or services.
Tracking What Works
The last piece of the fitness 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 altogether.
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 sell more gym memberships, 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? Maybe you’re interested in how to sell more gym memberships or marketing ideas for fitness classes? If so, then download our free ebook which contains 80+ marketing ideas.
If you have specific fitness marketing questions, then use our contact form to get in touch.