A 6-Step Guide to Online Marketing for the Fitness Industry

A Non-Techy Guide for Managers, Coaches and Business Owners

How’s your digital marketing looking?

If you’re in the fitness industry, the answer’s probably “not great”, “could be better” or “I don’t know how to market online at all”.

This is a shame, because promoting your business online is arguably the simplest way to reach a large audience, get new paying clients and keep them around.

That may sound a little sensationalistic – but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

Last year Google made $89.5 bn – and Facebook made $27.64 bn. Both numbers are a significant increase from 2015. Most of that money is ad revenue that comes from marketers, managers and entrepreneurs.

Now, if you believe (as we do) that businesses vote with their wallets, these results are unanimous: digital marketing (D.M.) is the current people’s choice. Otherwise, businesses wouldn’t spend more and more money on it each year.

The question is, how can you get in on the fun and capitalize on the D.M. revolution to grow your business?

How can you use the internet to bring first-timers to your group class, private practice or fitness facility – and keep them there?

Most importantly, how can you do all of that while continuing to do the best job you can do for your current client base?

If you’re interested in getting answers to all of the above questions, make sure to read this blog post all the way through – because to break down digital marketing in a straightforward, non-techy way that anyone can understand.

The very first thing you need to do is…

Research What’s Already Working

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The old adage goes, “you can recognize a pioneer by an arrow in his back” – and this is very true in digital marketing. You don’t want to be first. Being first means risking failure – and that’s not something you’re interested in, right?

Right.

So if you want to succeed, there’s no point in reinventing the bicycle; just do what’s working for other businesses. End of story.

That’s why the first order of business is always to figure out what’s working in your industry and area. Here are 3 ways to do that quickly and accurately:

Use Google to look up businesses similar to yours – and pay special attention to the top 3 results as well as the ads. SEO and paid ads both cost money, so if someone’s using them, then their marketing’s probably working.
Check out how people are positioning their fitness business. For example, a yoga instructor can choose to focus on weight loss, flexibility, overall health or spirituality. Seeing what the competition is doing will give you a good idea of what you can do.
If you know a competitor that’s successful locally, find their website and see what they’re doing in terms of marketing. If they have Facebook Pixel installed (more on this later), you’ll likely see their ads on your Facebook news feed for even more intel.

Using all the of these won’t take long – and by the time you’re done, you’ll know what your audience responds to; what’s trending in your niche; which marketing messages are working for other marketers.

In other words, you’ll have a solid foundation to build your marketing efforts on. Once you’re done with this step, it’s time to…

Create a Perfect Demand-Supply Fit

Once you’ve gotten a decent feel for the market, it’s time to position your fitness offer as the perfect product for your audience. Here’s an example of how you might do that:

“Marty’s a CrossFit instructor based in Brisbane. After a little research, he notices that a lot of Brisbanians are into strength training: barbells, sled pulling, that kind of thing.

Now, CrossFit, as the name suggests, is about endurance, explosive power, strength and speed. However, if Marty wants to succeed in Brisbane, his best option is to focus on the strength aspect of CrossFit. That’s what people in his area are looking for – so giving it to them is the smart marketing decision, regardless of what Marty may think himself.”

That’s an oversimplified example, of course. In reality you may find different groups of people you can serve. You may realize your classes have several advantages that appeal to customers – especially if you’re a multi-use space that hosts all sorts of classes.

But the point is that figuring out what people want and finding a way to deliver it to them creates a perfect fit between your offer and your customers. If you get this part right, you’ll end up with a successful marketing campaign – and a class of happy clients that feel they’re being catered to.

We recommend that you use 2 popular marketing frameworks to zone in on exactly what your target audience wants.

The first is the ideal customer persona: a hypothetical representation of your ideal customer, or customers. You can read about our ideal customer persona guide in our next blog post, or use Google to find one that works for you.

The other thing you want to know is your value proposition: a succinct description of what makes your business stand out when compared to the competition.

This is important, because a value proposition is different to what you think your business is about. For example, a yoga instructor may think that their V.P. is their high-quality teaching. In reality, it may simply be the quality of the studio, or even the attractive physical appearance of the instructor.

If you can figure out a value proposition that’s perfect for your ideal customers, your marketing is all but guaranteed to succeed. If you can’t, the opposite is true; you’ll likely fail no matter what you do.

Once you figure out your V.P. and get an ideal customer persona (or a few), it’s time to…

Create Marketing Goals

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Now that you know how you’ll be positioning your product, it’s time to create marketing goals that align with your business targets. A few common ones are:

  1.         Lead Acquisition – getting e-mails so you can market to people for free going forward.
  2.         Class Attendance – getting people through the door for the first time.
  3.         Customer Acquisition – getting an individual or group to join your class.

There isn’t much to this stage. Just figure out what you want to get out of your online marketing and create goals based around your business needs and wants.

(A useful framework is the “SMART” model for Specific, Measurable, Agreed-Upon, Realistic and Time-Specific Goals)

Afterwards, move on to…

Making a Website and/or Social Media Pages

Your online marketing efforts need a basecamp; a page or website where people can learn about you, leave you their contact details, sign up for classes, buy memberships, etc.

In the past, the only place you could have all these features was a website. Today, Facebook pages offer many of the same functions, allowing users to:

  1.         Call you from their mobile device.
  2.         Sign up for group classes.
  3.         Leave you their email address in 1 click.

This is wonderful news for several reasons. First, a Facebook page is intuitive to set up and personalize. It’s easier to use than even the simplest website builder, and doesn’t require any technical knowledge.

For this reason, a FB page is our first choice. However, if you’re a little more tech savvy and have a few hours, you can use platforms like WordPress or ClickFunnels to create all the pages you need for your marketing campaigns.

At the bare minimum, you want to make sure you’re collecting leads (contact details). All this requires is a Facebook page button or a basic opt-in page made using LeadPages or ClickFunnels

Later on, once you’ve got the hang of these basic elements, you may want to add other options: class sign-ups, online sales, etc. For now, though, it’s time to…

Drive Visitors To Your “Online Basecamp”

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You now have a page that, at the least, turns visitors into leads you can send marketing messages to. Now, it’s time to start getting eyes on that page!

The main way to get visitors is via paid ads. If you chose to set up a Facebook page, you can use Facebook Ad Manager to create campaigns that drive users. If you chose to make your own website instead, we still recommend Facebook ads as a way to drive traffic because they’re extremely easy to learn as a beginner marketer.  

Another savvy way to get visitors is via vertical fitness marketing, wherein you team up with other fitness businesses to compete with mega-gyms that seem to have all the offers and services anyone could want.

For example – if you teach Yoga, you could team up with the local sports massage parlor to cross-promote each other to your clients.

If you own a fitness bar, you could use fliers and coupons to do the same with local fitness instructors and small gyms.

We’ll tell you more about vertical marketing in our upcoming blog posts, but for now, let’s just recap everything we learned today. Here are the 6 essential steps you need for fitness marketing:

  1. Research What’s Working
  2. Create a Perfect Demand-Supply Fit
  3. Create Marketing Goals
  4. Create a Website or Social Media Page
  5. Drive Paid Traffic
  6. (Get Free Traffic via Vertical Marketing)

Now you know the A-B-Cs of fitness marketing for the web.

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