The fitness market is pretty crowded… With so many gyms, trainers, and fitness bloggers around, it can be hard to stand out. But differentiating yourself is crucial if you want to be successful. So what should you do? How do you distinguish yourself from the competition?
For people who are starting out this can be quite daunting. How are you supposed to compete with more experienced professionals? Or businesses with bigger audiences?
“Sometimes you gotta zig when everyone else is zagging”
Sir Richard Branson
In order to stand out you need to be noticeably different. When it comes to positioning your brand, you need some awesome points of difference (PODs) as well as the usual points of parity (POPs).
Points of difference are the things that distinguish you from the competition. They are the things that separate you from others, and make people more inclined to choose you. Your PODs can be anything you want them to be, from whether you charge a joining fee, to what’s included in your training packages.
Points of parity on the other hand, are the things that make you equal to your competitors. They’re the things that are fundamental to remain competitive alongside them, such as great customer service, a 30-day refund policy, or convenient opening hours. They tend to be a given, but definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.
In a crowded sector like fitness, it’s sometimes tricky to define your point of difference. It might feel like everything’s been done before, so how do you make yourself stand out? Well here are 7 simple ideas to get you started…
#1 – Choose Unique Branding
Choose colours, fonts, and styles that are different from your competitors. Most fitness-related businesses opt for blue, green, or red in their colour theme. So be unique and unexpected… a boxing gym with pink branding would definitely get noticed! A women’s studio that chose navy and brown would go against the cliche. As would a yoga studio with neon colours and graffiti lettering…
#2 – Stand For Something Different
Another way to distinguish your business, is to stand for something different. Your values or beliefs may be what differentiates you from the crowd. In an industry that’s rife with fitness myths and misinformation, what you stand for can demonstrate your credibility.
“Every day we stand up to the $64 billion-a-year weight loss industry. Countless companies attempt to sell women their products and services by encouraging them to be less instead of more. These companies make a profit from telling us there’s something wrong with us, and then sell us pills, powders, gadgets, and creams to “fix” it all… You are not broken, and you don’t need fixing.”
This great example is from Girls Gone Strong, who take a body-positive stance on women’s fitness. In sharp contrast to much of the fitness industry, they stand for different values. And it’s what they stand for that really sets them apart in a crowded market.
#3 – Try Alternative Platforms
If you’re struggling to get noticed amongst the crowd, then go where it’s less busy. Instagram is packed with fitness bloggers, so it may be difficult to stand out there. But there are always new platforms being developed, where there won’t be as much noise.
Of course, there may not be as big of an audience either… but 100% focus from a small group is better than 0% of a large one. Choose a platform that others haven’t yet discovered – think about which social media sites are up-and-coming? Where else can you establish yourself as a thought leader?
#4 – Target An Under-Served Audience
Sometimes the best way to stand out it to carve yourself a very specific niche. Go after a client base that no-one else is catering to. Nerd Fitness is the perfect example – here’s who they target in their own words…
“We help nerds, misfits, and mutants lose weight, get strong, and get healthy permanently”
By catering to an audience who aren’t traditionally associated with fitness, they set themselves apart from every other site out there. So think about who your ideal client is, and the types of people who are currently under-served by the fitness industry.
#5 – Evolve Your Offering
Your point of difference may be specific product features, or aspects of your service. It may be what you specialise in, or the fact you offer something as standard that others don’t. But no matter what your offering is, one way to stand out is to keep evolving.
Keep learning and expanding your knowledge, so that you can offer the latest training techniques and adapt with new trends. Whilst competitors may continue to do things the same old way, you can continually develop and grow. Innovation might be a pretty overused term these days, but there’s nothing wrong with striving for it.
#6 – Differentiate Through Your Communication Style
How you say something can be just as important as what you say. The style and wording you choose to use can reflect your professionalism, personality, or both. And it can also help you stand out from everyone else, and appeal directly to your target audience.
Joe Wicks of The Body Coach uses a conversational style throughout his website. Many of the product and service descriptions sound exactly like he’s explaining them to you himself. Using everyday phrases like ‘awesome’ and ‘smash it’ gives his business a down-to-earth and friendly tone. But that’s not to say his approach is right for everyone – the key is to choose a style that’s both authentic to you and resonates with clients.
#7 – Be Persistent
The other way to stand out is to simply work harder than anyone else. Develop your skills so that you become more capable than your competitors. Challenge yourself to learn new things, study your craft, and become the best in your field.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
By putting in more leg work, you’ll eventually rise above the rest of the crowd. It may not be the quick-fix option, but it’s a safe long-term bet.
Differentiate Your Fitness Business
So there you have 7 tips to help you stand out in the crowded fitness industry. Your branding, values, and offering can all provide unique points of difference. How you communicate, the platforms you do it through, and audience you speak to can all help you differentiate. The key with these things is to be memorable… whether it’s through the way you portray yourself, or how you service your clients. And if you can’t be memorable, then be persistent…