Gym Marketing Ideas to Build Your Fitness Brand
So you've launched your gym business, or at least you're in the process of mapping out your business strategy. One of the most important elements in any modern business is having a marketing strategy, and a gym marketing strategy is unique in its own way.
Fitness businesses can benefit from many of the standard marketing practices used by other industries. Social media marketing, search engine optimization and paid ads (PPC) are all crucial parts of the gym marketers arsenal.
But gym marketing goes way beyond these standard practices. While the competition can be fierce in some locations, getting your independent or boutique fitness center marketing seen by your target audience can be a challenge itself.
To put it simply: your gym marketing plan needs to be broad, yet focused. Don't worry, we will explain more.
In this article, we'll take a look at how gym marketing differs from standard marketing processes, the importance of gym marketing. And perhaps most importantly we'll explain how to get more clients for your fitness studio.
What is Gym Marketing?
A gym marketing strategy is the process of promoting your gym so that people know about it and want to join. While many businesses can rely on a heavily online content marketing strategy, gym marketing should also include some form of physical or 'real world' marketing too.
By the nature of a gym or fitness business, you are usually targeting a local audience, at least to start. So understanding the principles of local SEO, partnering with local businesses and leveraging social buzz will go a long way to helping you build a solid gym marketing plan.
Fitness tends to be quite a visual subject, with before and after pics, workout tips and fitness guides all performing well on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest.
So by the very nature of the fitness industry, you are going to need to use a mixture of:
- Local promotions
- Social media marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Paid marketing
Of course every business is different, so the exact mix is going to vary from brand to brand. But chances are you are going to need to ensure you focus on all of these to some degree.
With the basics outlined here, let's start looking at some of the gym promotion ideas you can use to attract more clients to your fitness center.
Offer FREE a 7-day Gym Pass
Giving away a free 7-day gym pass is a great way to attract new clients and get them into your facility. The benefit of this strategy is that you will also get their contact details (for future marketing) and if you get it right, you could win some fans who might not otherwise have tried your gym.
This technique can be used in conjunction with other marketing strategies, such as social media campaigns or local press advertising.
The benefits of offering this type of promotion include:
- You target people who are interested in working out but don't have time for the commitment involved in joining a gym membership program.
- It provides an opportunity for new customers who may not be ready for long-term commitments yet (e.g., if they're still trying out different activities).
- It gives current members an incentive to come back more often during their membership period (i.e., they get more value out of it).
Give Out Vouchers for Free or Discounted Classes
If giving away a full trial membership for free doesn't work for your business, you can try giving out discount vouchers, or a pass for one free workout session or class.
These vouchers could be handed out to local businesses, or even offered as part of an online prize draw.
Again, this approach means you could get a head start with an email subscriber list, which, as we'll see, will be very useful.
Partner with Local Businesses
Many businesses offer wellness packages as part of their employee benefits program, and this can be a goldmine for a startup gym or fitness brand. If you can get your gym included as part of a few corporate wellness programs you could give your fitness brand a serious jump start.
Approach local businesses and offer deals on bulk signups, or offer to come in and give a weekly class (for example Monday morning yoga, or Thursday evening fight club).
You could also offer team-building workshops or other in-office fitness services.
The benefits of this approach are multiple.
For starters, you're building a relationship with other local businesses. And in addition to this you get exposure, and build your local brand.
And with a little push from some local marketing, you could win new fans, testimonials and (hopefully) more customers too.
Run a Six-Week Fitness Challenge
Running a six-week fitness challenge is a great way to get your members excited about their fitness goals, and it's also a smart marketing strategy. When you run a six-week challenge, you're giving people something to look forward to and focus on. After all, they know they should be seeing results within that time period.
You'll need some kind of prize for whoever completes the challenge first (or last), but this can be anything from free classes or merchandise to cash prizes.
If your gym doesn't have any equipment or apparel that would make good prizes, consider offering gift cards instead. You could also go back to your local business connections and ask if they'd offer something for the prize draw (a food hamper or spa treatment are always great incentives).
If there are multiple winners at the end of each week during your six week challenge, consider having them compete against one another in some sort of tie breaker. Or, if you're feeling super generous, just split the prize!
Offer Free 1-on-1 Personal Training Sessions
If you're looking for a way to get new clients, offering free one-on-one personal training sessions is an excellent idea. This marketing strategy can help you grow your client base and increase revenue at the same time.
- It allows customers who are unsure about joining your gym or buying a package deal the opportunity to try out your services before committing to anything long term.
- Your personal trainers can showcase their skill and expertise, which should also attract more clients in the long run.
- It helps build trust with potential customers by showing them that you care about their health and fitness goals as much as they do!
- It gives current members an incentive to refer friends and family members who might benefit from working out at your studio.
Host a Giveaway or Contest
Get the local community talking about you, and maybe even an online community, by giving away something of value. This might be something like free gym membership for a year, or a bespoke personal trainer diet and fitness plan to help one lucky winner get in the shape of their life.
The trick is then to get people talking about it online and locally. To do this you could get people to:
- Share a hashtag or post an image of themselves online with your logo or brand merch
- Enter the prize draw on your website
- Sign up for your in person event for a chance to win on the day
There are many ways to get the ball rolling here, and this is a very effective marketing strategy - people love a giveaway!
Provide Free Nutritional Planning or a Meal Plan
Providing a free nutritional planning or meal plan is a great way to attract new clients. When you provide this service, you're showing your clients that you care about their health and fitness goals and want to help them succeed in reaching them.
This can be done as a free audit. For example if they sign up and come into the fitness studio you or one of your personal trainers can sit down and have a chat and build their free plan (which you'll email them later of course).
Also, it doesn't have to be a meal plan. It could also be a 4 week fitness program or body goal challenge.
Use Gym Influencers to Boost Sales
Gym influencers are people who have a large following on social media, particularly Instagram and TikTok. As such, they can help you to promote your fitness studio by posting about it and sharing their experiences there.
This is a great way to boost sales because gym influencers tend to be very popular and influential among their followers. This is especially true amongst the younger demographics such as Gen-Z and Millennial audience.
Influencer marketing is often a key component for gym marketing exactly because they have a strong influence (hence the name) on the target audience.
The benefits of using influencer marketing for gym or fitness brands are:
- Exposure to a niche audience who may also be receptive to the influencer message
- User generated content (UGC) which is often seen as high value amongst marketers
- Younger audiences are more receptive to influencer marketing than paid ads or traditional celebrities
- Brands can work directly with influencers without needing to approach third party platforms
- Influencer content can also be repurposed on your own social media platforms for additional kudos and engagement
Start an Affiliate Program
If you're a gym owner or fitness brand, starting an affiliate program is one of the best ways to get more clients. An affiliate program allows other people to promote your business and earn commissions on the sales they make.
The benefits of having an affiliate program are:
- It incentivizes positive recommendations from bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers
- You get to build backlinks and a positive brand identity
- Similar to influencer marketing, many affiliate marketers have a good reputation with their audience
- They may also generate more 'user-generated content' such as video reviews or social media content that you could repurpose
Of course, to get your affiliates on board, you will need to offer a good affiliate package. This is usually a percentage of sales or initial signups. But you can also incentivize affiliates by offering rewards for top performers or even giving them freebies to stimulate that valuable UGC.
Use Customer Testimonial Videos
Customer testimonial videos are a great way to show potential clients what they can expect from your gym. By showing off the benefits of working out at your studio, you're giving them an idea of what it's like and why they should join.
Here's how it works: You ask members for permission to film them talking about their experience at the gym. Then edit together their best quotes into a short video clip that highlights all of the good things about working out there (and maybe even shows off some cool equipment).
Then post this video on social media so everyone sees it!
Remember to ask people if they are OK having their image used in your marketing (not everyone is happy to have their image used on your website or social media marketing). Consider getting your interviewees to sign a consent release form so you have their explicit permission to post their feedback online.
Host Specialized Classes
Specialized classes are those that focus on a specific area of fitness, such as weight loss or strength training. The benefit of hosting these types of classes is that they attract people who want to work on specific areas of their bodies and fitness goals.
This can be a great way of attracting a specific or niche audience. For example, if you're targeting postpartum mums to get back to the gym, you could offer a mum and baby fitness morning.
Some other ideas on how to host these types of events, could include:
- A post-work stress relief class designed to help people unwind midweek.
- A back-to-fitness class for people who are either lapsed gym goers, or who have never trained a day in their life.
- Absolute beginners classes, for people who are intimidated by starting their fitness plan.
- Beach-ready classes, ideal for the spring time when people are thinking about getting swimsuit ready...
Create a Social Media Strategy
Every fitness business needs to focus on social media, especially if they are partnering with influencers and affiliate marketers. Having an active social media page (preferably multiple) gives users a chance to check you out and see if you're legit. Which obviously you are, you just need to show them.
At the very least you should have Facebook and Instagram. However, platforms such as TikTok have grown massively in the fitness community, and even platforms like Pinterest, Reddit and Twitter have their advocates.
Don't forget also that YouTube is a social media platform (the second largest search engine in fact). So creating useful video content can be a great way to boost credibility and engagement.
The simple tips for creating a social media strategy are:
- Identify your target audience
- Define your brand message and imagery and aim to stick to it
- Post consistently, ideally daily, on each platform that you're using
- Engage with your audience by responding to comments, liking other people's comments and generally networking
- Hire someone to manage your social media platforms if necessary as this is one of the most important parts of your gym marketing strategy
Collaborate with a Health Brand
There are plenty of brands who could compliment your own brand, and who could benefit from the cross-exposure. It's also an effective way to attract new clients who may not have heard of you before and want to try out something new.
Health brands are constantly looking for ways to reach new audiences and grow their customer base, so they're usually open-minded when it comes to working with fitness studios and other types of businesses that can help them achieve those goals.
An example of a good brand to partner with could be a supplement company, gym equipment company, clothing brand or even something seemingly unrelated such as your local water bottle supplier.
Sponsor or Attend Local Fitness Events
A great and relatively cost-effective marketing strategy is to get your branding seen at local events. This is actually one of the ways that Red Bull built a brand without spending on 'traditional' advertising.
To use Red Bull as an example - they became known as an extreme sports brand (not even a drinks brand) because their logo would be seen on the clothes or hoardings at sports events.
They would also hand out free drinks and trinkets with their logo plastered all over them. In addition to this they also hired pretty girls to hand out drinks and merch, but you don't have to go that far.
You could simply:
- Sponsor a local lower league soccer team.
- Partner with another company to host a sports event such as a fun run or triathlon.
- Sponsor a local or national fitness initiative.
There are so many ways you could get your brand seen at local and national events. You just need to keep your ear to the ground.
Run Market Research (and Share the Results)
A favorite of PR companies is to fund market research and then share it as news. An example of this is a sports drink company funding research into how often people drink during workouts, or a gym leggings firm asking their customers what their fave gym colors are.
Then package it as a press release (with your branding all over it) and share with the press.
Voila. Almost free press.
Send Email Campaigns or Newsletters
Now that you have all those email addresses, keep those leads warm with a regular email campaign. Sending email campaigns and newsletters are a great way to keep your gym's name in front of potential clients.
The trick to a successful email marketing strategy is to only send genuinely useful content that is well-written and targeted to your audience.
This might be offers, announcements, updates or fitness tips or anything else that your audience would find useful.
One thing to be mindful of is avoiding becoming another source of spam in your potential customers' inbox. By sending too many emails, or emails that are not relevant or badly structured, you could end up losing subscribers.
But the truth is that email marketing is one of the most effective methods for gym marketing campaigns, or marketing campaigns in general. You'll need to understand the principles and how to do it right. But there is a goldmine of potential customers in your email subscriber list.
Start a Fitness Blog
Blogging is one of the most effective ways to build your brand and attract new clients. With a regular blog you share your best tips and tricks and you also build up your organic search traffic.
Pretty much any business looking to grow traffic online should have a blog, and this is one of those key marketing strategies that will eventually build a steady stream of web traffic.
However, it can be tricky to run a successful gym blog - as the fitness industry is a saturated niche. But here's how you could run a blog as part of a successful gym marketing campaign:
- Identify a niche subject in your industry and focus on that. It might be locally relevant, or it might be fitness tips for students or work from home professionals, for example.
- Do some keyword research or audience research to understand what people in your niche are searching for. Look for their pain points, and don't worry too much on ranking for high competition search results like 'fitness tips for moms'. Think search terms like 'how can I get rid of flabby arms' or 'what dance is best for fitness'.
- Put together written content that targets the search term and answers the query in detail. Bonus points if you also make a video from the same content.
- Post it to your website. Follow SEO best practice where possible.
- Repeat weekly. More often the better.
The world of SEO blogging can be quite complicated, which is why many people hire a digital marketing professional to manage their blog.
Run Facebook or Instagram Ads
If you're looking for a way to get more clients, Facebook and Instagram ads are a great option. You can reach people who are interested in what your gym has to offer, and they'll be able to see how amazing it is firsthand.
This idea works especially well if you have an existing social media following that's already engaged with your content.
If not, start posting regularly so that people will be familiar with who you are when it comes time for them to sign up at the studio.
Offer Referral Discounts
Get more customers for your fitness studio by encouraging your existing members to share discounts. When you give someone a discount on their membership if they refer someone else, it's like buying two sales for the price of one. This can be very effective because people love to save money and will be more likely to refer their friends if they know they'll receive some sort of reward in return.
It's important not only that you offer this type of incentive, but also how much value it offers your customers. For example: if someone has been working out at your gym for six months and loves everything about it, but then sees another gym offering $100 off their membership fee when they bring in three new memberships (each valued at $50), which would they choose?
Manage Your Memberships
Keeping track of your gym marketing results such as new members and all those classes or personal trainers can quickly get complicated. And if you've been focused on attracting new gym members, you want to be sure you're managing their data in accordance with the law too.
Gym management software is the best way to track your new signups, fitness events and classes, and ensure that everyone in your team knows what is going on.
Arbox makes it simple to manage the results of your fitness marketing campaigns - with a clear easy to use dashboard, and all the essential details at a glance. It also allows you to take payments for online classes and memberships,
You can even check Arbox out for free for 7 days...
The most important thing to remember is that your marketing efforts should be focused on the needs and wants of your target audience. If you're not sure what those are, take some time to research them.
An effective gym marketing strategy will incorporate many different elements, from social media posts to blogs and videos, and even working with local businesses.
Gym owners will also find that using software tools such as Arbox to manage their gym members and results of their marketing strategies will make their lives much easier.
Join a live demo to learn how Arbox can help get organized and provide an amazing client experience.