“Proven Marketings Tricks For Your Gym!”
Marketing for Gym and Fitness Club owners can feel like an undiscovered country to the uninitiated. We know that every Gym and Fitness Club is marketing themselves to a greater or lesser extent every single day and yet the discourse regarding it feels listless and perhaps even a little secretive.
This is why we thought it was time to write this blog. Ashbourne has been working with independent Gym and Fitness Club owners for 25 years. In that time, we’ve seen the ascendancy of internet marketing in a huge way and we’ve helped Gym owners keep up the pace in a rapidly changing and challenging online environment.
So if you’ve ever looked at a sleek looking mega-Gym and wonder how they have built up such a large customer-base. The silver bullet you might be looking for is marketing.
Given how competitive the fitness industry can be, it is no wonder the aforementioned secrecy has come to define the industry when it comes to talking about what works in the vital arena of marketing.
So many times we’ve had people come into a Gym they’ve never set foot in before and say ‘Oh wow, I had no idea it was like this in here!’ or ‘This is so much better than the Gym I go to’.
Unfortunately, without spreading the good word, customers can walk past your Gym or Fitness Club every day and never know how much better it is than the soulless chain gym they are going to just down the road.
So what do Gym and Fitness Club owners need to do to stay competitive in this market that is obsessed with increasing levels of automation and price-reduction? In this article we will be going deep into the details of marketing for independent Gyms, how to energise your existing membership base with impactful engagement and most importantly, how to reach new customers, soon to be members, within your local area.
All Our Marketing Tricks (click them to skip ahead)…
Content as a tool for increasing your Marketing potency
Content as marketing is not a new strategy, but it is one that has seen a marked increase. We think that part of the reason for this is that it has never been easier to get a long-form, detailed opinion out to the public at virtually no cost.
Whereas before the rise of the internet and digital marketing, there was always a prohibitively expensive cost associated with length that has started to recede and vanish. Now there is very little to stop long form, insightful content from being published online with a high chance of reaching its audience through ever more advanced search engines.
This is, in our opinion, a blessing. It has allowed companies to post valuable and meaningful content without fear it will go completely unread, or even end up costing significantly more than it generated.
Now the ability to share relevant and impactful information directly to the audience cannot be overestimated as a tool for marketing. Now rather than relentlessly and monotonously bombarding potential customers with the same message in order to build some semblance of trust, businesses can put their message, their product, their expertise and their value right where their mouth is.
Unlike terrestrial advertising, this method allows for the story and expertise of the company to be demonstrated through the content they produce. In turn, this can help create a bond with the potential customers that a business is trying to reach.
At time of writing, it is estimated that over 80% of brands are either utilising or in some way participating in Content Marketing. It has become a tour de force that has transcended marketing and become a way to get a business into search engines while generating valuable and meaningful content.
So how can a gym or fitness club owner incorporate content based marketing into their marketing strategies? We are going to cover off a few of the most accessible and impactful methods that can be implemented swiftly.
Blogs are the mainstay of content-lead marketing for a number of reasons. As we discussed previously, one of the draws is the ability to communicate impactful information and have it reach the audience for the lowest possible cost.
Blogging fits that criteria perfectly. Not only is creating it cheap, requiring only expertise and a word processor, hosting it on a website is a negligible expense. Furthermore, given search engines focus on keywords, the potential for it to be found is very high relative to other forms of marketing.
So that is the positive news. The downside is that, especially within the fitness industry, Gym content lead marketing is very competitive. It is an industry full of people who know their stuff and do a significant portion of their business through their websites.
As such, it is important that gym owners keep in mind two mantras when producing blogs as content lead marketing for their websites.
First, it must make a real contribution. No half measures. The information that Gyms are putting out shouldn’t be contentless clickbait or a guide that has been done better elsewhere. Every gym or fitness club should be a hub of talented and experienced individuals, with valuable expertise to contribute.
It is therefore necessary that Gyms bring their A-game to all content. The blogs will be what is selling the gym or fitness club to the customer. We want them to be drawn in and understand that the organisation has something to offer them that can improve their life. That it is worth their time and money.
A useful thought exercise is something we call ‘The bookmark test’. Does the blog provide valuable enough content that someone who is interested in the subject would want to bookmark or favourite it on their browser so they can return to it. If the answer is yes, the content is on the right track.
The second is the more pragmatic and marketing side, and that is keywords. The best content in the world won’t draw a business any new custom if it can’t be found. As mentioned earlier, blogs trade in keywords and that is especially true in the fitness industry.
With prospective customers often searching very specific queries, whether it is related to an exercise, or a class, or an exercise machine. It is necessary for the content to be precise and purposeful in the language that is used.
In addition, a successful blog should try to mention the location of the gym or fitness club it is trying to promote. A lot of searches are locational, so the more that the gym or fitness club can be linked with the specific area, the better.
Take it from us, making a podcast and getting it onto the big platforms that people actually use has never been easier.
There has been a big rise in the number of brand podcasts and they are enjoying a large amount of success. In a recent poll, 50% of content-led marketers who have adopted and utilised podcasts as a marketing tool have described it as one of their most effective content mediums they use.
So then the question becomes, why are podcasts experience such an increase in adoption by businesses?
The answer is actually above, it has never been easier.
Accessibility and outreach always used to be the issue. Even as little as ten years ago, podcasting was a niche with few defined outlets. Still very much the domain of iTunes and Apple. Recording, editing and then releasing a podcast was a lot of work and there was no guarantee it would be downloaded (not streamed!) onto more than a few devices.
Now both recording and distribution has been made simple. Multiple websites can allow a business to upload a podcast once and then have it put onto all major streaming services (including the big hitters like Spotify).
As it often goes, this meant that businesses were able to test the water with comparatively little time and effort. In turn, businesses learned that there was a market for these podcasts and so a content marketing method was born.
The success factor has come from the casual nature of podcasting. A conversation between two people within the fitness industry, about the fitness industry doesn’t feel like marketing but it is highly effective at doing so. Given that people will be listening to the podcast on either a phone or a computer, they will have a search engine to hand, so any mention of a gym or fitness club that grabs their attention can be instantly followed up upon.
The topics are endless and normally we find if you just set out a few topics of conversation and get the right people in the room, the conversation will flow nicely. Unlike a blog, it can be more freeform and anecdotal while still communicating valuable insight into the fitness industry.
It can also exist to deliver news about a gym or fitness club, a few-minute segment either at the beginning or the end of the podcast is the perfect time to detail new equipment, renovations, classes or events. These topics could even spark a conversation themselves about the running of the gym or fitness club.
The last aspect is promotion. By putting up posters and sending out emails promoting the podcast, a gym can get a core group of followers interested in the podcast. In turn, just like with blogs, this will help with discoverability.
The only limitation, and it is a relatively minor one in 2022, is getting the necessary equipment together. This will include a recording-quality microphone or microphones, headphones and computers to record and edit on. Nothing particularly outlandish and with a little candid conversation and audio quality, any gym can join this exciting and contemporary content marketing avenue.
Events. Virtual, Real, Hybrid
Hosting events may not feel intuitive to many gym or fitness club owners, but their facilities are an asset that many businesses envy. A big public space with plenty of room for activities. It has novelty value to some and lifestyle appeal to many.
This makes gyms and fitness clubs a very attractive place to host events, whether they are in-person events, virtual or a hybrid between the two.
It is important to take stock of every asset a given gym or fitness club has. Whether that is a spacious lobby, a central location within the town or city, a coffee bar or a large, easily emptied space for free-form events.
It is the oldest trick in the book, but it stayed in the book for a reason. Open days are a great event for the area to see what a gym is made of, invite people in, publicise it in your area, invite local people of note.
Furthermore make sure the day is filmed so that footage can be uploaded to your social media channels. It might even be a good topic for a podcast.
A Food Fair That Focuses On Healthy Living
A universal human experience and perhaps one of the best. Partnering with local food distributors, cafes, restaurants or healthy takeaways can be a great way for a gym to act as a nexus and a hub for the local community.
Utilise a gym’s existing class system and personal trainers to hold free online classes.
Charity Events and ‘Event’ Events
It may sound slightly ridiculous but we all love a tie-in event. Whether it is for Easter or the Olympics, the Tour De France or St Valentine’s Day. Topical events are easy to market and will get people through the doors. The same with charity, everyone loves to support a good cause and for some a good cause can be the push they need to get exercising.
Educational Video and Infographics
The chances are everytime you log onto social media, you see at least one instance of the following two things.
The first is educational video content. Whether it is the TikTok ‘how to’ or YouTube short ‘life advice’, short-form video is everywhere. And where the individual goes, a company can follow. Just as we discussed with podcast, this new cultural trend is just ripe for companies to get onboard with and many have already.
The second are infographics. We live in a world teeming with statistics, data and advice. This is good for content-marketing because it means that the audience of today is very receptive to infographics. More than ever, people are consuming their information from individuals and businesses through the snappy combination of data, images and text.
Both methods are capable of turning someone who has just stumbled across the content into an interested party right away. More people than ever before are discovering new businesses due to the informative video content that they are putting out. The rise of near limitless mobile data means that people are doing this everywhere and at every time of the day. Combine this with Instagram, Twitter and Tiktoks ever more efficient video integration and shareability and a Gym would be remiss not to capitalise on this effect and far-reaching trend.
As for what to show, we’ve listed ideas below for inspiration.
Facility tour: Showing off a Gym or Fitness club is a surefire way to get people interested. Unless a gym has large windows, local people can pass by every day and never know the great facility instead.
How to use equipment: education and entertaining: This can also help reduce gymtimidation if someone has never used a piece of gym equipment.
Exercise tips from your PTs: Short-form, well edited tips are the most shared and likely to hit the biggest audience.
Classes in Action: If a class is going on, ask for permission and then get filming!
Testimonials from the regulars: If regular customers are content and comfortable with saying a few words, the genuine enthusiasm they display can be a powerful motivator.
Meal preparation and diet tips and tricks: Whether it comes from customers or staff, a great way to share what works for the people who use a Gym.
Google Business Profile (Previously Google My Business)
We thought we’d start with a feature so ubiquitous that it requires little introduction. Chances are that if you’ve googled a business in the last eight years, you’ve seen a Google Business Profile. Their success and omnipresence make them a powerful tool for communication and legitimacy.
Many people, even those who don’t really understand the concept of a Google Business Profile, gravitate to that box in the top right hand corner of their google search or those little pins on Google Maps.
But despite their status as one of the most well-known and efficient methods of business communication in the business world, it is often misused. Everyone can remember the time they came across a nonsensical or out of date Google Business Profile while looking for legitimate information. It is an instant turn-off and a quick indication that some aspects of the business in question need polishing.
And there are very few excuses for this. Google Business Profile is a free service for businesses, provided by, you guessed it, Google.
It is a simple and effective tool for communicating the nature of a business, including key contact information, pictures and location, all within a succinct information box.
Having this box filled in is vital for driving business from the online arena, into your actual Gym or Fitness Club.
Too often we have found that Gym Owners have suboptimal or poorly filled in Google Business Profiles. It has reached a tipping point where many people within that key demographic of 18-34 will assume that the business may be in trouble or has ceased to exist if they can’t find a confirmation that it is ‘Open’ on the Google Business Profile.
This reflects a compounding consumer trend of reliance on the Google Business Profile to determine whether a business is open, or whether it even still exists.
As such, you can imagine the damage that not having a sufficiently setup profile can do to the prospect of converting internet interest into feet through the doors.
Not only that, but due to the poor state that many Gym and Fitness Club’s keep their Google Business Profiles in, having a functional one can greatly increase your visibility in your area. A fully optimised Google Business Profile makes it more likely that it’ll be your Gym that shows up higher on the list when someone googles ‘Gyms near me’ or ‘Gyms in *your area*’.
So how can you improve your Google Business Profile you are asking? We’ve set out the immediate and impactful steps you can take to give your business profile a boost.
Visual Media (Photo and Video) are a MUST!
It has been estimated that businesses with photos and video are clicked on 30% to 40% more than those without. That is without the inestimable psychological effect that it has on the average potential customer to see what a business hasn’t even uploaded any pictures.
While it is a simple bar to clear, it is one that many businesses do not do successfully and it is an easy and effortless way to stand out from the crowd. Use the pre-existing photographs and videos that are on your Gym website, pick the most striking one first, as they will be the thumbnail that most potential customers see. Alternatively, pick the feature you are most proud of, or that you think makes you stand out the most from your local competition.
Be sure not to just put up pictures of an empty gym, wide shots of your gym or fitness club being used by many people are a must, as well as any classes that you hold. This will show people a snippet of what you have to offer, and psychologically it will be more appealing than just an empty Gym (even if said empty Gym is well furnished).
Add Keywords (or get your Keywords in order) and Make Them Relevant
While keywords are a kingdom unto themselves, we can simplify it for the sake of this section.
Make sure they are relevant! And understand that more does not equal better. Ten pertinent and powerful keywords will do more than 100 vague and meandering ones. Keywords are a tool to be used precisely and sparingly.
For anything more advanced, we recommend you visit a dedicated guide regarding keywords. But with just a thorough review and a refresh, you are guaranteed to be displaying higher than you were before.
Choose the Right Business Category
Much like with keywords, this is another case of less being more. Google will let you select up to ten Business Categories but it is not recommended to use your full allotment. For the average Gym or Fitness Club, it will only be necessary to use a few. For instance, if you specialise in combat sports such as MMA and Boxing, it might be pertinent to put ‘MMA Gym’ or ‘Boxing Gym’. From there, you could also put ‘Octagon’ as a sub-category if that is a feature your Gym has. Conversely, if your club has a Swimming Pool, it would be fair to say that that is a category unto itself.
Make sure your categories are distinct from one another and that each one is contributing something meaningful or adding a layer of specificity.
Overlap will only confuse the issue and too many will dilute the potency of the search terms and result in less overall hits.
Because a Google Business Profile is free and low maintenance, it is often completely neglected. In our experience, a useful paradigm is to consider your Google Business Profile to be like your Twitter or Instagram feed. If you hadn’t updated or maintained those for a week, we would like to think there would be raised eyebrows.
As such, we recommend you dedicate a small amount of time regularly to the maintenance of your Google Business Profile. Whether that is responding to reviews, updating the circumstances of your business or just adding new pictures.
Given that many will use the state and circumstance of your Google Business Profile to determine the health of your business, make it look alive! Less than ten minutes of care a week can make a significant impact in the long term.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the article and you’ve learned something about this small but powerful and transformative piece of internet infrastructure.
Chances are you had seen it every day of your life and never questioned what was driving such a useful box.
Forge Local, Meaningful Partnerships
While online marketing is a vital and powerful tool for gyms and fitness clubs, we should not lose sight of more traditional marketing techniques.
The most effective in our experience? Engaging with the local community that surrounds the gym or fitness club. Ultimately, even when partaking in social media and other online content, what a Gym is trying to do is grow a network of individuals within the proximity of the gym. Of people who could realistically be customers of the gym.
This is where local partnerships come into play. While the internet can make us feel connected to someone on the other side of the planet, the most important connection in most people’s lives is within their local area. Whether this is the centre of a town or city, a neighbourhood or college or a school, people will have somewhere they gravitate to.
We have found that gyms and fitness clubs can benefit immensely from identifying these areas and attempting to support and integrate. Ultimately this is what sets apart independent gym and fitness club owners from cold, corporate chains and the importance of a connection to the local area can’t be overstated.
As we covered earlier in the article, a spacious gym or fitness club is the ideal place to host community events. Reach out to council and local charity networks to see what projects they have running in your area. Chances are they will already be engaged in encouraging fitness and healthy living within the area.
In addition, approach local businesses that either also work within or are related to the fitness industry. Whether it is health supplements, sports and fitness equipment or sports clubs. Whether it is just to pass on advertising materials such as leaflets and pamphlets, or deeper collaborations involving the products of the business, these partnerships can help spread the reputation of the gym into the local area.
We hope this article has given some actionable ideas to any gym or fitness club owners with a desire to grow their business.
Over the past 25 years in the fitness industry, Ashbourne Membership Management has worked tirelessly with independent gym owners to streamline their processes and grow their businesses. Whether it is through our lightweight and powerful membership management software, sleek and professional website design or our wealth of industry expertise, we are confident that we can help any gym or fitness club owner take their business to the next level.
Interested? Book a meeting with our team today and find out more here.