Learn about proven marketing tactics that work in the fitness industry, and will help your gym or training program gain new members.
The fitness business, like any other today, fights to impress the general audience and gain new clients. In recent times, being a personal trainer or a gym business owner comes with a blessing and a curse. On one hand, more and more people are willing to work to better themselves and live a healthier lifestyle, so the target audience is wider.
On the other hand, the Covid-19 pandemic made everything complicated. In an area where everything is physical, being Covid-safe is hard to do, which made many local businesses lose clients and stay closed.
But, no matter what, the industry prevails with pivoting, rethinking the way we work out, and offering new and stay-at-home solutions for training. If you are a personal trainer or small business that needs to reach those potential customers, here are some marketing tips to help you thrive.
Digital marketing on Instagram
One of the strongest marketing channels for fitness and all kinds of wellness marketing is, undoubtedly, Instagram. Other social media platforms like TikTok and Facebook are also popular and somewhat fitting, but Instagram remains the most popular place for fitness influencers, personal trainers and fitness clubs to showcase their programs, amenities and members. Through that, naturally, it’s easy to reach even more new customers.
Social media marketing allows us to post and sponsor different kinds of posts, but when it comes to fitness marketing campaigns, the more visual it is, the better.
Video posts and ads are a great marketing tool, as they are a preview into what your potential clients will be getting into, and what they can achieve by working out with you.
Credit: blogilates on Instagram
Credit: blogilates on Instagram
Likewise, you can use photos of your clients (with their consent!) and their fitness journey, as well as your gym and honest, non-filtered photos from workouts and programs.
Finally, TikToks are very popular media as of late, and you can post quick workouts and dances, that very easily catch on and become popular.
When you decide to sponsor ads, make sure to choose the right demographic and retargeting for your marketing budget. You don’t want to splurge on boosting a video that annoys irrelevant leads on social media. Instead, plan it well and you’ll see your followers growing.
But even if you don’t sponsor Instagram and Facebook Ads, make sure you don’t forget to post content on your social media. A regularly updated profile is more likely to reach more people and looks more reliable than a profile that’s inactive for months. That gives off the impression that the business has been closed.
For a person that can’t afford personal training or doesn’t like working out in groups (we’re shy snowflakes!), a YouTube training is the best thing that can get you in shape.
Filming, producing and publishing videos is a greater marketing effort, but the return of investment is big. Here is how: you publish a workout or even a series of workouts and get viewers hooked on your training videos. Then, you offer a personalized plan or longer workouts for a certain price or membership. It sounds like a trick, but it is a great way to get new leads, and also build on your popularity and relevance as a trainer.
This marketing idea is somewhat tied to free weight loss and fitness plans (a strategy we’ll talk about in more detail later).
In this video from Holly Dolke, you will find a short and intense back and arms workout that comes completely for free. But, at the end of the video, the personal trainer promotes her YouTube channel and plugs a personalized diet and workout program that you can create through a quiz, and then pay to see the results. You will get a shorter version of the results in your mail, that you need to include in the quiz so that you can get the results. It’s a classic lead gen strategy with giving a sneak peek of a product. Once you consented to give your email, it can be used for email marketing and other retargeting purposes.
But why not just post the quiz, you might ask?
When people are offered something for free, and then are asked to make a purchase, the chances that they’ll make a purchase are as big as 2000%. Free samples can generate a lot of sales over time. And the good thing about YouTube videos is that they can generate views and build on popularity slowly over time. They aren’t temporarily popular TikToks or Insta Reels.
On the other hand, plenty of fitness centers post videos of their gyms so that people can see what they have to offer. A seemingly naive and simple video from The Edge Fitness Clubs in Manchester, Connecticut, has more than 25 thousand views. With a neatly added phone number to the title, this gym is sure to get phone calls on the regular from a single video posted in 2016.
One of the great and best-performing fitness marketing ideas is a referral program, and it helps increase both gym membership and brand awareness.
Here’s how it works: you offer a deal like “Invite a friend and get a free month of gym membership”, or “leave a review to get 15% off”. There are plenty of ways to ask your customers to promote you or share a good word with their buddies.
And it’s great for users too, as many of them like to work out with a friend to support each other.
This tactic will generate good word of mouth, which is super useful in such an industry, as well as new leads that you can later use in email marketing.
24Hour Fitness did a groundbreaking fitness referral program in 2013, in which by logging onto their platform through Facebook, you can share a three-day trial pass across all friends on Facebook.
Source: Slideshare presentation by Gigya
This gained them over 8400 direct referrals by January 2014, which brought them a revenue of more than 600.000 dollars. Through a nurturing campaign, they also awarded the 5% of customers that brought the most referrals and awarded them with a personalized branded workout bag, thus investing in loyalty and retention too.
Success stories and testimonials
The core goal of a fitness studio is to make people fit. And there is no better proof of that, than sharing the stories of customers that changed their habits and look for better. Success stories and testimonials are a very powerful tool that you should have in your marketing plan, again, with the consent of customers.
Apart from gaining credibility and trust from new customers, you also gain some visibility through tagging the success stories on your social media profiles or have them share their story on their private profiles and tagging you. Some extra eyes seeing your success never hurts!
Free weight loss or fitness plans
Remember when I used Holly Dolke’s weight loss plan that is barely mentioned in her free workout video? You can go a step further and offer a free fitness or weight loss plan as a lead generation campaign.
These programs usually come in the form of a challenge or trial, where a fitness trainer publishes workout plans for weight loss or getting fit that last a few weeks. Those who go through the challenge and are willing to get a personalized plan can continue their personal workout journey for certain pricing.
Chloe Ting, a famous fitness YouTuber, is also popular for creating the Chloe Challenge. Even though she already created 17 free programs, Ting’s popularity grew heavily over the quarantine period, because many gym members were left to find a home workout on their own. By the use of the hashtags #chloechallenge and #chloetingchallenge, her plans took social media by storm, and her YouTube subscribers rose to 16.5M.
Instead of offering a free trial, you can also offer a small inexpensive sum to weed out the people who aren’t as committed up front, and after ending the trial period of workouts, they are more likely to invest in a personalized workout method or membership.
Free training, open-air or online events
Free training in your gym, or as of late, an open-air or online event allows interested leads to having a taste of what they will get if they make a purchase.
Here is why: 87% of consumers that visited a company event, said they purchased the brand’s product or service after an event afterward. Moreover, 74% of event attendees say that they have a more positive opinion about the company, brand, product, or service being promoted after the event, according to a FoxTail Marketing research.
It comes as no surprise that marketers often generate sales through event marketing. This tactic for gym marketing allows visitors to meet the trainers in person, and hence gain trust in them.
Influencer marketing in the fitness industry can be done in two ways. The first one is, well, that the fitness instructor is often the influencer. They promote the business themselves, through social media, personally designed merchandise and fitness equipment, partnerships with businesses in the fitness and nutrition foods industry, etc.
The other way to do it, is to hire an influencer or brand advocate to work out at your gym or hire a personal trainer from your business. The more niche their field, the better, but apart from fitness influencers, beauty, wellness and fashion influencers also collide with this possible group. You can also use an influencer’s popularity and offer their followers promotions through a code announced through their channels.
Source: fit.brittje on Instagram
Finally, our last suggestion is to produce content in which you share helpful tips for nutrition, eating, workouts, all the way to the best fitness wear (see a potential partnership arising?). Content marketing improves your search engine rankings, but also indirectly brings you potential new leads.
With the right messaging and a keyword analysis, and your knowledge of fitness, you can greatly improve your SEO performance and earn the trust of more clients.
We hope you found these marketing tools and tactics useful. If you want to know more about fitness branding, check out our list of personal trainer and gym logos, as well as gym flyers and suitable fonts.