Four ‘New’ Marketing Methods That Gyms Can Utilise To Enhance Their Digital Marketing Presence!

Four ‘New’ Marketing Methods That Gyms Can Utilise To Enhance Their Digital Marketing Presence!

Here on the Ashbourne Membership Management blog, we are always trying to leverage our twenty-five years of experience in the fitness industry to help independent gym and fitness club owners and management get the most out of their fitness businesses.

Not only do we live in a fast-paced and rapidly changing world, we also operate in a dynamic and innovative sector. This means that things rarely stay the same. It feels like a frequent topic in these blogs of a revolution or evolution that has occurred within the fitness industry within the last ten or even five years. 

The innovations that prompted today’s topic are very similar, though it is something that rose to prominence only within the last year or two. The technology has existed for a while in one form or another, but the pace of progress has been so rapid that it has left many gym owners asking us, what happens now?

That topic is, of course, AI. And while it is not the only topic we will be covering today in our look at marketing and specifically digital marketing in 2024, it will make up the lion’s share.

The recent leaps forward in AI present a challenge, a complication and potentially an opportunity for digital marketing across all sectors, including the fitness industry. It also represents a significant risk.

Today we will be looking at if that risk is worth taking and how independent gym and fitness club owners can use it effectively without compromising their digital marketing efforts.

If the rapid progress of AI text generation and language learning models in the last two years is anything to go by, this won’t be the last article we write on AI and its role in digital marketing for independent gyms and fitness clubs. If you are reading this article a significant period of time after the publication date, we would suggest you check to see if anything else has been written. We don’t normally include this sort of disclaimer, but given the ever-shifting AI landscape, we want to make sure that gym owners are getting the latest information about AI in the fitness industry. 

What will we cover in this article?

(you can also click to skip ahead!)

 

Should independent gyms and fitness clubs use AI and AI-powered language learning models to assist with their digital marketing?

How can hiring or incentivising influencers to endorse a fitness business boost their digital marketing campaigns?

 

Why should gyms utilise mixed media and marketing via a variety of digital platforms to increase their demographic reach?

How can AI be unsuitable for producing high-quality content, despite its ability to produce content in vast quantities?

AI and Marketing

Should independent gyms and fitness clubs use AI and AI-powered language learning models to assist with their digital marketing?

2023 will be remembered as the year where AI hit the mainstream.

As with many aspects of ‘public memory’ that might not necessarily be correct, but it is what will be remembered nonetheless. AI existed prior to 2023 in many forms, including image and text generation.

But 2023 represented a seismic leap, not only in terms of sophistication but accessibility. 

So as we move into 2024, we find questions being asked by independent gym and fitness club owners about whether they should incorporate AI into not only their digital marketing efforts, but also potentially other areas of their gyms and fitness businesses.

The answer is, unfortunately, not as short as a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no. 

Some people will quite recklessly tell you that their gym should be using a language learning model such as ChatGPT, Bing AI, LaMDA or Google Gemini to do everything from writing your blogs and emails to generating your social media posts and composing your e-mails. 

And indeed, there is nothing to stop an independent gym or fitness club owner from using language learning models and AI to do just that.

It is a powerful tool. But as any tradesman knows, a powerful tool needs to be used properly, otherwise you end up with a big hole in your door. (We aren’t talking from experience, promise). 

AI tools can generate a large amount of text quickly. But quantity over quality is not always a winning formula. We exist in a digital landscape that is about to be overrun with AI generated text content. 

As such, our initial warning is for any independent gym or fitness club owner interested in using AI to use it sparingly and only after a great deal of research. Don’t type in a prompt and immediately copy and paste the first thing it generates into an e-mail or a social media post. 

It is a recipe for disaster. 

People, especially younger people who make up the majority of gym members and attendees, are smart and attentive people. They are the people who have been using AI the longest and they are very good at detecting when something has been written by an AI or language learning model. If a gym or fitness club’s social media starts sounding robotic, they will notice and it will not have the desired effect on their perception of that gym or fitness club. 

Seamless Engagement

How can hiring or incentivising influencers to endorse a fitness business boost their digital marketing campaigns?

We are going to take a break from AI at this point. Switching up from something very inorganic to something designed to be as organic as possible. 

The strategy of hiring or incentivising influencers to endorse a business goes by many names and has been adopted by many companies. Perhaps most worryingly it has recently been sounded out by the UK government, who will be attempting to pay influencers in order to make certain things seem more or less attractive.

On a less sinister note however, this strategy of hiring influencers can also be used by independent gym and fitness club owners. Perhaps more so than many other sectors and businesses.

Because the fitness industry does not lack influencers, from small channels and profiles across YouTube and Tiktok to behemoths with millions of subscribers. Independent gym and fitness club owners should have no issue finding fitness fanatics in their area with a sizable following. 

Tiktok especially feels like a platform just built for the promotion of independent gyms and fitness clubs, whether it is with a quick tour set to catchy music or a demonstration of the facility and equipment. 

Authenticity and effortlessness are what these influencers are trading on and it is a powerful tool, proven to be very effective with millennials and Gen Z. It is a great way to make the marketing of an independent gym or fitness club more personal. The recommendation of a trusted influencer feels remarkably different to a cold and calculated advert. (Especially if it was made using AI!) 

Equally, unlike some influencer advertising that we see on Tiktok or Youtube, independent gyms and fitness clubs have very real incentives to offer to fitness influencers! Namely the facility and their considerable resources. Conversely, it should not take the influencer much to get excited about a genuinely good independent gym or fitness club. 

It is worth independent gyms and fitness clubs spending the time to find interesting and motivated fitness influencers in the area, even if their follower count is relatively small, the potential for a low-cost, high-yield partnership cannot be overlooked! 

These arrangements need not end after a single video, but with the right influencer an independent gym or fitness club can weave an entire campaign’s worth of videos promoting the positive aspects of their fitness facility on a very low budget to the right audience.

It is a lesson in the face of AI marketing that creating the right content can be more important than creating huge volumes of content.

By utilising real influencers and incorporating them into a responsible, honest and ethical digital marketing campaign on platforms like Tiktok and Instagram, an independent gym or fitness club can access whole new demographics with ease while engaging with a new community. 

A Mixed Media Approch

Why should gyms utilise mixed media and marketing via a variety of digital platforms to increase their demographic reach?

Continuing on from the subject of influencers, this next part has us taking a look at the benefit of a mixed approach to media when it comes to the digital marketing strategies of independent gyms and fitness clubs. 

This point is as much about intention as it is variety. We aren’t recommending a mixed media strategy approach to independent gym and fitness club owners because it just looks pleasing when put all together, it is to influence and direct the flow of the conversation surrounding a facility across all platforms. 

As with many things in life, when it comes to digital marketing via social media for independent gyms, it is about knowing the audience.

But it isn’t just one audience we are preaching too. That is the wrong way to conceptualise it. The people that an independent gym is trying to reach on Twitter is very different from the people that they are trying to reach on Tiktok, and very different again to the average audience member they are trying to reach on Facebook. 

A long list might go down great on Facebook or Twitter, where the average ages tend to be slightly older and the app/website is formatted in such a way. But it will go down like a lead balloon on Tiktok. (Those who are young enough that they might not even know the phrase ‘go down like a lead balloon!)

It isn’t just about the format though, it is about what each audience is expecting to see. Put simply, Tiktok users don’t go on Tiktok to read think pieces. Most people on Twitter don’t go on there to see 5-second videos (though some do!)

There are myriad different audiences out there. Some will respond better to video, some will respond better to text. Many will enjoy both. By focusing purely on one or the other, an independent gym is denying their digital marketing campaign the depth and complexity it needs to be truly impactful. 

Bespoke Content, Quality Not Quantity

How can AI be unsuitable for producing high-quality content, despite its ability to produce content in vast quantities?

For our final point, we will head back to AI and a sentiment that was espoused in the first section of this blog. For those paying attention, it has been the throughline of the entire article. 

We believe AI has a place. It seems that AI may even have a place in video with the recent announcement of Sora. An OpenAI product that seems to be able to produce uncannily realistic videos with only a few lines of text, in the style that we have come to expect from ChatGPT (also an OpenAI product) for text or Midjourney for pictures. 

But the ‘place’ that AI has is not only a very tentative one, but one that must be subject to constant review.

So we believe that AI and language-learning models, as they currently stand, are effective for spell-checking and the like. Menial tasks. We do not believe they are any substitute for actual people behind a digital marketing strategy.

Take our example earlier of the local influencer working with the gym. Is it better to have one actual person preaching to their fans about the virtues of their partnership with an independent gym or fitness club. Or five ‘AI’ fitness influencers, were that possible, to espouse the same.

One is full of real passion and an actual relationship being forged. Between independent gym and influencer. Influencer and audience. Human and unreplicatable. The other is eerie and soulless, even if it can be produced in vast quantities.

So while we always advocate for adopting the latest technologies, up to and including AI, we also preach caution. Use AI responsibly. Use it as the powerful tool it is, to save tedium when checking actual work. But as the centrepiece of a digital marketing strategy for independent gyms and fitness clubs? No, we don’t think so. Not yet, and possibly not ever. But as the last five years have taught us. Never say never. 

Our Final Thoughts

And so ends our little thinkpiece on marketing and digital marketing for independent gyms and fitness clubs in 2024. It is an exciting time for marketing in the fitness industry, with more ways than ever for even small independents to promote themselves in new and interesting ways.

It is also a time of great change, and maybe not entirely for the better. We have already seen some businesses, inside and outside of the fitness industry, taking the ‘easy route’ and generating vast quantities of content with AI. Perhaps adhering to the old adage of throwing something at a wall and seeing what sticks.

As we said, we believe AI tools can be used by independent gyms and fitness clubs to a good end even in their current state in 2024, but it is no substitute for the talent, passion and expertise required to succeed in the industry.

And speaking of those three qualities, here at Ashbourne we know how to utilise talent, passion and expertise to help independent gym and fitness club owners take their operation to the next level! 

Over the last twenty five years (back when the term ‘AI’ was mainly a concept in science fiction or chess computers), we have helped thousands of gyms and fitness clubs reach greater heights. Whether it is with our versatile and powerful membership management software or our website creation capabilities, we have the ability to help any gym reach a broader audience more effectively! 

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the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

6 Free & Low-Budget Marketing Ideas For Your Gym

6 Free & Low-Budget Marketing Ideas For Your Gym

In today’s blog, we will be tackling what independent gym and fitness clubs can do to take their marketing to the next level on a budget. And that budget? As close to 0 as possible! That’s right, we’ve shaped this entire article around what can be done for free or as close as we could find.

But why? Well, the reason is simple and intuitive. Because after talking to countless owners, marketing personnel, and other staff who work in independent gyms and fitness clubs across the country, we’ve realised what appeals. 

We realised that the people marketing independent gyms and fitness clubs are often doing so on a shoestring budget. Often it isn’t even their dedicated job! As such, we thought it best to shift away from more traditional concepts such as ‘budget’. These are things that might just turn away the sort of person we want this article to reach.

Gym and fitness club owners and staff members who want to improve their marketing, social media, and general outreach for as little money as possible. 

More and more, the people responsible for these important tasks are stretched thin. Understandably BAU (business-as-usual) operations are given priority, but given the low cost and high impact of these methods, gyms are ignoring them at their own peril! 

Everything on this list has our own seal of approval and just as importantly, everything on this list is something we’ve seen independent gyms NOT doing when it could make such a difference. 

With an ever-shifting and challenging economy, combined with an ever-increasing focus on online marketing and presentation, we thought now was the idle time to put pen to paper and list our six free or low-budget marketing ideas that can make a powerful impact on the presentation, presence and outreach of independent gyms and fitness clubs! 

We will be starting with basic, free and instantly actionable measures. Just because these are free, doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth doing! Quite the opposite. Several things we are about to recommend are cornerstone marketing methods for many gyms! 

From there we will be ramping it up, taking methods that require a minimal amount of expenditure, while still maximising effect! This will help create a smooth curve from what is immediately actionable and free to what will take a little more effort and a small amount of money.

And so with that out of the way, keep reading to find out what knowledge we have gained between our twenty five years of experience in the fitness industry and our desire to stay on the cutting edge of value creation for independent gyms and fitness clubs!

Build An E-mail List And Increase E-mail Engagement

So starting at the beginning of that ‘easy and actionable curve’, we have a simple but incredibly powerful opening strategy for independent gyms and fitness facilities to recommend.

That strategy? The humble e-mail list. A bedrock of marketing strategies and engagement initiatives across the world, we have been alarmed by the number of gyms and fitness clubs that have neglected to incorporate e-mail into their business-as-usual engagement operations!

The premise (for those not acquainted) is simple. Gather together the e-mail addresses of members and potential members and…Well, get e-mailing! 

It really is that simple. For some businesses, gathering e-mail addresses and gauging interest can be hard. Thankfully for the fitness industry, many people harbour a genuine interest and do not mind receiving e-mails about their lifestyle choices and hobbies. This means independent gyms and fitness club management are in a unique position to capitalise on this medium…Making it all the more bizarre some don’t! 

The materials required to start this are simple, just a singular website. Not even e-mails initially, they will come later!

There are many websites that provide the service of managing an e-mailing list for a gym or fitness facility. The differences and nuances between them are too varied for the scope of this article, but we will briefly touch upon some of them and list a few names for the interested to explore!

Perhaps the website that has made its mark on industries ranging from insurance to influencers and beyond is Mailchimp and it is easy to understand why.

Simple, easy to use and all importantly, free for the needs of the average small business as it tests the water (with options for greater capacity and other features). This has ensured that Mailchimp has become a by-word for the type of e-mail list distribution service we are talking about.

We would recommend that all independent gyms and fitness clubs that have not yet set up an e-mail list at least consider and explore the service Mailchimp has to offer. 

But mailchimp aren’t the only game in town for gyms seeking to increase engagement via an e-mail list.

Services such as the similarly animal themed Moosend, the ominous Omnisend and the high-flying Mailjet have all encroached on a portion of the market share. 

While there are slight variations in service and the post-free premium price points, we would suggest that the choice can be made after browsing a few different options, starting with the most famous and well-reviewed such as Mailchimp. 

Now as for e-mails, this part is comparatively simple and just as free. As we stated earlier, the good news is that lots of a gym’s members, and even many of their prospective members are keen to hear from them!

It isn’t like car insurance or town-hall, people are often actively excited to hear from their gym or fitness club. It can help enhance the sense of community and connection, as well as keeping them informed and motivated. 

As such, our simple solution for gathering e-mails for the burgeoning e-mail list is…ASK!

Whether it is through sign-up or on the gym floor, we often hear stories of surprise at just how many members were willing to sign-up and what a difference it made to engagement within an independent gym or fitness club! 

When it comes to getting potential members on the list, we find social media competitions and an on-website sign-up function are often the best. This allows prospective and potential members to come to the gym! 

Build A Website - Wix (Free Version)

Our next action is just as free and just as important. Arguably even more important. Whereas an e-mail list will make a difference in terms of engagement (and that is very important to a gym!) then this makes a difference to not only engagement but appearance!

And that all-important first impression that we’ve seen determines whether a potential member turns up or turns away!

What is that you ask? Well it was in the section title, it is a website! 

Now we know (in fact, we hope!) that some independent gym management and owners will just be met with a firm ‘Well, of course, I have a website’. And that is fantastic, but it is not a given… 

But from our lengthy experience in the fitness industry, we know that there are still a significant portion of independent gyms and fitness clubs up and down the UK and Ireland (and beyond!) that don’t have websites.

The impact on the online footprint of a gym or fitness club that doesn’t have a website is noticeable and immediate. Recent studies across multiple industries have shown that the majority of people under 35 and a good portion of people over 35 use Google as a significant part of their filtering process when it comes to choosing the goods and services they consume.

This is no different in the fitness industry. Upon first hearing of a gym from a friend or seeing it advertised, one of the first things most potential members will do is check out the gym’s website. 

If the website is nowhere to be found, what does that say about the gym or fitness club? Very little good unfortunately. Reactions can range from assuming that the gym has closed down to just thinking that they are newly established or amateurish.

All that to say: Nothing good!

Reactions fare only a little better if the first hit is a Facebook or Instagram page. While it might reassure them that the gym or club hasn’t shut down entirely, it is still considered largely ‘unprofessional’ and ‘negative’ in the eyes of most potential consumers.

As such, you can see why this recommendation made it very near the top of our list! 

First impressions are absolutely vital and for the vast majority of customers, their first impression is going to be digital, not physical!  A Google business profile link that leads through to a Facebook page is not a good first impression. It is difficult to parse information, it shows low commitment to production values and professional aesthetic and it doesn’t instill faith in the potential member. 

This is why we recommend any website builder if it helps a gym or fitness club get their online presence off of solely social media and onto a sleek and dedicated space.

While websites certainly benefit from a little bit of monetary investment, that can come later. If a gym or fitness club is entirely lacking a website in 2023, it is time to get something simple and effective up quickly!

To that end, our first recommendation for a free website creator for independent gyms and fitness clubs is www.wix.com

While it won’t be able to match the standards of professional website builders, it is a fantastic tool for getting a simple and effective website up and running in good time and at a low cost. 

The information to focus on will include:

  • The services, equipment and machinery that the gym or fitness club provides
  • Value of the gym/club and history
  • How to navigate to the gym or fitness club, including maps.
  • A list of events and classes being held (updated regularly)

It needn’t win awards, but as long as it looks coherent, aesthetic, and communicates the necessary information it will provide an infinitely better first impression than the lack of a website. 

Once a simple but professional free website has been created, an independent gym can either ask members for feedback or plan what the more complete, consummate version of the website will eventually look like.

One thing is for sure, having a website and combining that with our next strategy will result in an uptick of potential members becoming actual members if they value the online presence and presentation of their gym or fitness club! 

Create A Google Business Page - Google Shows Your Business For Regional Searches Automatically

This is another simple and effective strategy that we highlight primarily because we find so many independent gyms and fitness clubs neglecting it!

It is safe to say as of 2023, we are firmly in the digital age, and searchability is everything! Searchability not only means that a gym or fitness club should show up if it is googled, but that the way it shows up will reinforce to the searcher that this is a brand and a service that can be trusted. 

It sounds like a weighty task to the uninitiated, but really it is quite simple! Most people have an idea in their mind about what looks ‘right’ and professional’ when they are searching for a business.

One large aspect of this is the Google Business Profile. It is an innocuous little piece of information on the side of many Google searches, especially those pertaining to businesses. I’ve put a picture of our most trusted and up-together partner gyms below and their fully fleshed-out Google Business Profile. 

At a single glance, this will tell any savvy searcher (and therefore, potential member!) either what they need to know, or how they can search for it further in a simple and efficient way.

It demonstrates that the gym is currently open, when it closes, the reviews it has been given, the general location it is in, the address, and the telephone number.

Within a single click, these same potential members will be able to access a detailed Google Maps layout with the gym location highlighted, pictures of the outside and inside, and a breakdown of the reviews and directions.

All that information is either immediately available to a potential customer or a click away! And all of this can be available to a gym or fitness club for free!

So you can see why we find it baffling that so many gyms still do not have this system in place! It is so simple and easy. It instantly communicates all the necessary information, while impressing upon old and new members alike that you are open for business!

So the next question becomes, how do independent gyms and fitness clubs create a business profile?

Well, sometimes we are happy to leave it to the experts and thankfully Google has put everything in place necessary for an independent business to set up their own Google Business Profile with minimal fuss. 

The link below will be vital for any independent gym or fitness club that wants to increase its online profile with a Google business profile! 

Sign up for Business Profile – Google Business Profile Help

And it doesn’t take a visionary to imagine how having a simple but professional website in place, backed up by a Google business profile to guide members and potential members where they need to be can drastically improve the online engagement rate for a gym or fitness club!

Fill Up Your Gym's Social Media Pages With High Quality, Bespoke Content

While we are on the subject of making a good first impression, it is time to address another weakness we see when it comes to the marketing and engagement of some independent gyms and fitness clubs. 

The good news? Once again, it can be addressed for free! Here at https://www.canva.com/

Over our time, we’ve seen some truly awful graphic design come out of the fitness industry. We get it! As we said at the beginning of this article, marketing personnel and departments (And they are rarely departments!) are stretched thin.

But that doesn’t mean we need to immediately lower our standards to Paint and other unmentionable programmes in order to create banners. 

  1. It is free! And the premium version is fantastic value for money, even for an independent gym or fitness club!

As with many services, Canva has adopted the model of having a free and a premium option. For our needs, this is fantastic as it means that it can be obtained immediately by any member of staff within a gym or fitness club. The free version gives you a large number of options and does not impede your ability to make sleek and bespoke images quickly. 

The premium version of the service is something we would recommend if a gym or fitness club comes to rely upon Canva sufficiently enough that they want to improve their options. Starting prices are very reasonable and can easily be utilised by a small gym to great effect if necessary. 

 

  1. The versatility of Canva means it can fulfill a plethora of roles:

The fitness industry is fast-paced and varied. One day a gym might need fliers, another day it might need posters, and during both of those days, it might also need several social media posts.

Luckily Canva is a service that allows gym staff to meet all of these needs and more while doing a good portion of the work itself with the help of thousands of templates to choose from. This allows even a relative newcomer to graphic design to make visually coherent and impactful promotional material quickly.

Combine this with a large library of pre-existing images and a fantastic workspace for editing images and it is clear that the only limit to Canva is the imagination. 

     

  1. You don’t need to be a professional designer:

Due to an easy learning curve and a host of pre-existing and free templates, we are confident that anyone on the staff of a gym or fitness club will be able to pick it up and quickly produce quality material.

As we mentioned earlier, this is perfect for the average independent gym environment where some roles, such as social media and marketing, are not dedicated roles. With only a little training, a member of staff can generate quality content in no time! 

 

  1. Canva makes creating class schedules, promotional material, and customer engagement easy!

Speaking of social media, we thought it deserved its own point on the list.

And that is because the effects that Canva can have on a social media page are incredible.

In an age where every major business and corporation is running ultra-sleek, daily social media campaigns. It becomes very noticeable if an independent gym puts something out that isn’t quite as in vogue. 

With Canva, that worry can disappear. Anyone within a fitness facility can immediately start creating material with a strong visual style that will catch the eyes and stand out.

With this ability at the fingertips of virtually anyone within the gym or fitness club’s staff, it means that every sale, class or event can have its own bespoke, eye-catching social media post ready to go! Customer engagement will never be higher. 

 

  1. Canva allows multiple employees to collaborate! 

Some design tools, especially traditional, non-web-based ones, only allow one person to edit or create at one time.

With Canva, this issue is a thing of the past.

Once again, we’ve seen this be particularly useful to independent gyms, who often have to start and stop tasks due to the fast-moving nature of this business. The Canva collaboration system means that if one staff member is unable to finish, another can pick it up in their place!

Running Competitions, Events And Give-Aways - Use Incentives That Are Free Or Low-Cost Such As Memberships, Free Day Passes Or Overstocked Goods

Not when Canva exists! 

The plucky Australian company that could, Canva now boasts over 100 million users, and for good reason. It is a simple, powerful, and all-importantly free at point of entry piece of software that can be used by anyone to create high-quality, bespoke marketing materials. 

What sets Canva apart from the crowd? Many things. 

So many things, in fact, we’ve made a mini-list within a list of reasons why Canva can’t be left on the shelf.

For our last two tips, we are going to move on from ‘free’ to ‘very low cost’. 

While we could’ve ended the article with what can be implemented within a gym or fitness club for free, we thought it was a shame to limit the scope of the article to only that which can be achieved with no budget whatsoever.

This is because we didn’t think it was right to ignore a couple of the great methods of driving membership engagement and marketing that can be achieved for very little.

And they fit our theme, what can be achieved by independent gyms and fitness clubs on a super-low budget, so here we go. 

Starting with that classic piece of engagement, competitions!

Events, competitions, and giveaways are a great method of generating hype, publicity, and engagement within the local community and beyond. With the benefits of social media, these gym competitions and events can far outweigh the reach they generate on the day as well!

(Especially if you have slick Canva images to promote them!) 

Gyms and fitness clubs find themselves in a good position when it comes to competitions, there are lots of prizes they can offer, many of which come at a relatively cheap price point. 

Memberships are, of course, the go-to prize. It is a valuable commodity to the consumer while costing a gym or fitness club no immediate budget upfront. Not only that but if a free membership is given, there is every chance that the money might be partially or fully recovered by secondary spending. 

The same applies to runner-up/secondary prizes such as day passes. They are a perfect sweet spot as they represent both value saved by the consumer/potential member and also a potent and free advertising mechanism for the gym or fitness club. 

The publicity generated from these competitions is also an asset that must be considered.

It has become a frequent and effective trend to run a ‘following and retweeting’ (now reposting) competition on Twitter (now X). The entry method for each potential winner is merely retweeting and liking the post. This enables it to be spread far and wide, with the cumulative effect of each participant retweeting it to their own batch of followers while increasing the online following and reach of the gym or fitness club!

As you can imagine, when combined with our earlier steps, especially utilising Canva and providing a good ‘first online impression’, a gym or fitness club can rapidly start to reach a lot of people in a professional, engaging, and largely free way! 

Working With Local Partners And Community Groups

Our final strategy will require the most time and commitment, and most likely the most resources if it is to be done correctly. But if done correctly, it can significantly increase engagement and membership numbers within an independent gym or fitness club! 

And the method you ask? Getting out there into the local community, establishing a presence within the area, and making connections that will give a gym or fitness club the edge in the local community and economy.

In this increasingly online, increasingly stratified society it almost feels like the local area sometimes takes a backseat. There has become this trend, even amongst some independent gyms and fitness clubs, to view their business as a detached, aloof brand first. 

But this isn’t the case, and one of the many lessons that the Covid-19 pandemic taught us just how physical and just how local the world truly is. 

The local community and economy that an independent gym exists within cannot be overlooked or underestimated. Time and time again we have seen that there are significant gains to be made from reaching out to the broader community, meeting influential individuals in the area and engaging with pre-existing groups and organisations for community and sporting events. 

And the fantastic news is the options are as varied as they are effective.

Whether it is approaching the local regional, town, or city council. Whether it is reaching out to charities, sports clubs or local businesses. There are opportunities everywhere when viewed through the appropriate lens.

We have seen independent gyms increase their engagement by reaching out to councillors and council workers involved with the health, sports, and fitness sector. Organisations and organisers responsible for weekly events within the area, and people within the fitness and health sector can be vital. We find that once a gym starts reaching out to these individuals, they can help them get into contact with others within the community.

In order to achieve this effectively and meaningfully, this will require going to events, even sponsoring events, and hosting events. It will require networking and it will require a genuine passion for the community that the gym is operating in.

But the rewards in terms of membership uptake and membership engagement are well worth the time, effort, and cost. In an era of corporate, budget gyms attempting to dominate the landscape with cookie-cutter gyms up and down the country, independent gyms and fitness clubs can really play to their strengths and shine by engaging with the community and making their facility more than just a place people can work out. 

Conclusion

And really that same mantra applies to all of our tips. In a time of increased competition and challenge, the innovation that can occur on an independent level is vital for not only surviving, but thriving. 

We hope these strategies, methods and ideas have helped show that there is an awful lot that an independent gym or fitness club and their staff can do to improve, even when resources are tight and the budget is tighter!

More to Read...

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club,
the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

The Best Marketing Tips For Your Gym In 2023

The Best Marketing Tips For Your Gym In 2023

Need Quick Help With Your Marketing? Here are 6 tips for marketing your gym or fitness club in 2024!

Some call it networking, some call it community engagement. Irrespective of what you decide to call it, it is very effective and it is largely free! 

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, we have seen a greater shift towards the local economy and community-driven initiatives. This has only been compounded by the suffering caused by the cost of living crisis. While the tightening of budgets and belts has people looking for value, it also has people looking beyond faceless corporations. 

This renewed focus on the local area seems to have only strengthened as we move through 2023 and it made an already unique selling point for independent gyms and fitness clubs even more appealing. 

So today we will be focusing on tips that will help maximise this in-built advantage that we’ve seen independent gyms and fitness clubs already capitalise on! 

Our Top 6 Marketing Tips Are...

(you can also click to skip ahead!)

 

Build a brand identity that will appeal to your local area, culture and surroundings.

Thrust your brand into the local community and intertwine your story with theirs.

 

Actively foster your gym’s community, both online and offline!

 

Ideas to help you create reward programmes who keep your best customers around.

Use the power of data from your online platforms to accurately track your success.

Use the power of reviews and referrals to build authority and legitimacy.

TIP #1: Build A Brand Identity That Will Appeal To Your Local Area, Culture & Surroundings

We cannot understate the importance of a strong identity for your gym business.

Too often when building a brand identity for a gym or fitness club we find that many owners didn’t prioritise consideration of their local area nearly enough.

While connecting with your local community is always somewhere on the list of concerns, it should nearly always be much higher!

It is an understandable trap to fall into. Certain other parts of brand identity are more exciting, more dynamic or more interesting to the people involved. 

But ultimately the area that every independent gym and fitness club will find themselves operating in will be their surrounding area. If the brand identity is consistently aimed at attracting locals and mobilising the community, the gym is leaving money on the table. Money that rivals will happily collect!  

TIP #2: Thrust Your Brand Into The Local Area

Goodwill and support for local business is at an all time higher and running an advertising campaign or social media campaign that reflects that could pay dividends. 

Focusing on the story behind an independent gym or fitness club. The people who made it possible and their connection to the area, the building, the community events it has hosted. 

These are all things that the budget chains will never be able to replicate. What is the story behind its existence? Rigorous data analysis informed a panel that this was the best location for a gym….

...HARDLY MAKES FOR A COMPELLING SOCIAL MEDIA STORY, DOES IT?

As we are seeing across many sectors, there is a portion of the population which receives this sort of marketing and messaging very positively. 

At the same time, pushing the name of your gym or fitness club into the community’s consciousness through hosting events and making deals with local businesses is a great way to generate awareness. After participating and hosting events like these, we have seen time and time again that locals say things such as ‘I didn’t realise it was so nice in here’ or ‘I can’t believe this has been here the whole time!’.

A lot of local engagement is about breaking members of the local community out of an apathetic routine and into your gym or fitness club.

Once that barrier for entry, the reluctance to enter the unknown, has disappeared then the sky’s the limits. 

By holding event days for the local community such as charity fundraising and sporting activities a gym can not only get free advertising, but start a chain of positive word of mouth. News spreads fast in a community! 

In addition, business partnerships with local sports clubs, spas, cafes or even the local council can go a long way. Anything that gets the name of your gym out there and gives you something to post and tweet about!

Attending unrelated community events, genuinely befriending members of the community and making your gym or fitness club a part of the community’s social fabric are all great ways to spread the message of your facility.

This will help present a friendly, accessible and non-corporate image to the area. 

TIP #3: Foster A Community, Online And Offline!

How can hiring or incentivising influencers to endorse a fitness business boost their digital marketing campaigns?

Work on creating a Community both Online and Offline: Activities, Events and a shared forum as a key pillar of an independent gym or fitness club owners marketing strategy. 

It is an arena where we see comparatively little competition from the corporate chains!

It is an authenticity issue! Whenever a large chain attempts to engage in that sort of thing, it has to fight against looking inauthentic.

However independent gyms and fitness clubs do not have this issue within their advertising and marketing strategy, especially when it comes to forming communities.

Gym members are more likely to identify themselves with an independent fitness facility. In turn, they are more likely to want to engage in the community that forms around that facility.

Afterall, people crave authenticity in all things...

...And in an era where corporate brands attempt to dominate even our social spaces, belonging to something like an independent gym or fitness club can create a powerful feeling within people.

It is up to gyms and fitness clubs to harness that feeling and channel the positive energy into their online and offline communities 

By cultivating a dedicated community, it will increase the loyalty of existing members and potentially create new members. By engaging with and dedicating resources to this burgeoning new community, a gym or fitness club can create a real sense of investment.

It could be as simple as sporting events or monthly socials. Little things can have a powerful bonding effect.

In turn, this strong sense of community is fantastic marketing potential. The events, in and of themselves, are free advertising. When coupled with the potential tool for retention and further marketing opportunities, it is a hard proposition to pass up!

TIP #4: Create A Reward Programme To Reward Loyalty

Building on the idea of community from the last tip, we now want to focus even further. Down to the individual relationships that gym members have with other members and other potential members.

reward/referral scheme is a great way to get people through the door. Much like the community system, it has a double benefit. Positive reinforcement for the referrer and the referred. 

It is likely to increase the loyalty of the existing member and the chance to retain the business of the referred member for longer. It has been proven that both collaboration and incentives can help motivate members toward their fitness goals and reduce attrition rates on membership.

As such, reward and referral programmes are a simple scheme with a low setup cost and potentially powerful outcomes if administered correctly.

TIP #5: Legitimacy, Authority, Reviews

This next tip falls into something we like to call ‘passive-marketing’, similar to a gym’s brand identity, it is the sort of marketing that works when a potential member comes across the gym or fitness club. 

There are certain signifiers that each of us look for when deciding whether we are going to invest in a product. Gym and fitness club memberships are no different! 

While some are highly specific to the individual, many of these signifiers apply to everyone. 

One of the most common, unsurprisingly, is online ratings and reviews. The number of consumers that base their consumption habits mostly or entirely on reviews frequently tops 90% in studies.

As such, when we think of prospective gym or fitness club members discovering a gym online, we must view it through the lens of their first impression from reviews. 

THE MORE NEGATIVE REVIEWS, OR THE LOWER REVIEW AVERAGE THAT POTENTIAL MEMBERS SEE FOR A GYM OR FITNESS CLUB, THE LESS LIKELY THEY ARE TO SIGN UP! THE SLICKEST MARKETING CAMPAIGN IN THE WORLD COULD FALL FLAT IF A GYM OR FITNESS CLUB DOESN’T PASS THE BASIC CHECKS THAT A SAVVY CONSUMER MIGHT MAKE.

Bespoke Content, Quality Not Quantity

How can AI be unsuitable for producing high-quality content, despite its ability to produce content in vast quantities?

For our final point, we will head back to AI and a sentiment that was espoused in the first section of this blog. For those paying attention, it has been the throughline of the entire article. 

We believe AI has a place. It seems that AI may even have a place in video with the recent announcement of Sora. An OpenAI product that seems to be able to produce uncannily realistic videos with only a few lines of text, in the style that we have come to expect from ChatGPT (also an OpenAI product) for text or Midjourney for pictures. 

But the ‘place’ that AI has is not only a very tentative one, but one that must be subject to constant review.

So we believe that AI and language-learning models, as they currently stand, are effective for spell-checking and the like. Menial tasks. We do not believe they are any substitute for actual people behind a digital marketing strategy.

Take our example earlier of the local influencer working with the gym. Is it better to have one actual person preaching to their fans about the virtues of their partnership with an independent gym or fitness club. Or five ‘AI’ fitness influencers, were that possible, to espouse the same.

One is full of real passion and an actual relationship being forged. Between independent gym and influencer. Influencer and audience. Human and unreplicatable. The other is eerie and soulless, even if it can be produced in vast quantities.

So while we always advocate for adopting the latest technologies, up to and including AI, we also preach caution. Use AI responsibly. Use it as the powerful tool it is, to save tedium when checking actual work. But as the centrepiece of a digital marketing strategy for independent gyms and fitness clubs? No, we don’t think so. Not yet, and possibly not ever. But as the last five years have taught us. Never say never. 

Tiktok especially feels like a platform just built for the promotion of independent gyms and fitness clubs, whether it is with a quick tour set to catchy music or a demonstration of the facility and equipment. 

Authenticity and effortlessness are what these influencers are trading on and it is a powerful tool, proven to be very effective with millennials and Gen Z. It is a great way to make the marketing of an independent gym or fitness club more personal. The recommendation of a trusted influencer feels remarkably different to a cold and calculated advert. (Especially if it was made using AI!) 

Equally, unlike some influencer advertising that we see on Tiktok or Youtube, independent gyms and fitness clubs have very real incentives to offer to fitness influencers! Namely the facility and their considerable resources. Conversely, it should not take the influencer much to get excited about a genuinely good independent gym or fitness club. 

It is worth independent gyms and fitness clubs spending the time to find interesting and motivated fitness influencers in the area, even if their follower count is relatively small, the potential for a low-cost, high-yield partnership cannot be overlooked! 

These arrangements need not end after a single video, but with the right influencer an independent gym or fitness club can weave an entire campaign’s worth of videos promoting the positive aspects of their fitness facility on a very low budget to the right audience.

It is a lesson in the face of AI marketing that creating the right content can be more important than creating huge volumes of content.

By utilising real influencers and incorporating them into a responsible, honest and ethical digital marketing campaign on platforms like Tiktok and Instagram, an independent gym or fitness club can access whole new demographics with ease while engaging with a new community. 

Our Final Thoughts

And so ends our little thinkpiece on marketing and digital marketing for independent gyms and fitness clubs in 2024. It is an exciting time for marketing in the fitness industry, with more ways than ever for even small independents to promote themselves in new and interesting ways.

It is also a time of great change, and maybe not entirely for the better. We have already seen some businesses, inside and outside of the fitness industry, taking the ‘easy route’ and generating vast quantities of content with AI. Perhaps adhering to the old adage of throwing something at a wall and seeing what sticks.

As we said, we believe AI tools can be used by independent gyms and fitness clubs to a good end even in their current state in 2024, but it is no substitute for the talent, passion and expertise required to succeed in the industry.

And speaking of those three qualities, here at Ashbourne we know how to utilise talent, passion and expertise to help independent gym and fitness club owners take their operation to the next level! 

Over the last twenty five years (back when the term ‘AI’ was mainly a concept in science fiction or chess computers), we have helped thousands of gyms and fitness clubs reach greater heights. Whether it is with our versatile and powerful membership management software or our website creation capabilities, we have the ability to help any gym reach a broader audience more effectively! 

More to Read...

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club,
the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Content as a Tool for Increasing Your Gyms Marketing Potency

 

“Content as a Tool for Increasing Your Gyms 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 into 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.

 

1. Blogging

2. Podcasting

3. Events. Virtual, Real, Hybrid

4. Educational Videos & Infographics

 

1. Blogging

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. 

 

 

2. Podcasting

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. 

 

3. 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. 

 

Open Days

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. 

 

Online Classes: 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. 

 

4. Educational Videos 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 is 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.

 

As has hopefully become apparent, the 2020s have heralded a golden age for content-led marketing. Never before have gym or fitness club owners been able to put out meaningful content at such a cheap price point, and with such broad reach. There is a reason that all the methods above have seen such a rapid uptake and uptick in popularity over the last few years.

Here at Ashbourne, we’ve been working with gyms and fitness clubs, growing their business and helping them reach their potential for over 25 years. While our primary domain is membership management, we’ve learned plenty along the way. Interested in seeing if we can help enhance the reach and potential of your Gym? Please do not hesitate to contact our team today here

 

 

Is Your Gym or Fitness Club Primed to Capitalise on the Longevity Revolution?

 

Is Your Gym or Fitness Club Primed to Capitalise on the Quality of Life Revolution?

Here are our tips on increasing your Gym’s age range appeal

 

The years between 2020 and 2022 have already marked multiple unprecedented events and demographic shifts within the fitness industry, but there are more to come.


And unlike Covid-19 or the ensuing lockdowns, the trend we are discussing today isn’t an anomaly. In fact it is quite the opposite, a trend that we are all aware of, one of the key criteria that we use to measure the success of modern society.


People are living longer.

 

While this should not be shocking to you, we are approaching a series of unprecedented watermarks as a society. We are reaching a tipping point that will see many areas that are traditionally marketed towards younger people as a matter of course being forced to change that habit.

The simple truth is that the younger demographics account for less than they ever have before, and will only continue to account for less. This goes double for spending power. We should all be equally familiar with the headlines about the relatively diminished spending power of younger generations.

Now while we won’t spend time focusing on the potentially disastrous long-term societal consequences of this shift, we can focus on how to translate it into short-term benefit for your Gym or Fitness Club.

 

So how will we be targeting this ever-broadening demographic?



Well, first we will need to look at what they want, and what they are currently doing. The answer to these questions are thankfully one and the same, they are staying active for longer and trying to stay active for as long as possible.


This is a significant change in behaviour when contrasted to even twenty or thirty years ago. 

 

Now not only are these people living longer, but they are also going out of their way to enjoy a better quality of life.

 

Compared to the younger demographics, people over 50 find themselves with a greater disposable income and significantly more time. This enables them to enact their growing desire to stay healthy, active and impactful within society. 


In turn this means that an entire demographic that could easily be considered ‘beyond fitness’ is returning to it in a very specific way with a very specific aim.

 

For the purposes of this article, we will be calling this the Quality of Life Revolution.

 

 

While that doesn’t mean abandoning the historic bulwark of the fitness industry, 18 to 35 year olds, it does benefit us to compare the behavioural trends of these groups. While it is likely your fitness club is maximising engagement with people under 40, it seems unlikely that you are making full use of your outreach to the over 50s.

Besides the obvious benefit of being a new demographic with great expansion and longevity potential, it also has several inbuilt purchasing habit benefits over the younger demographics. A retention study by the IHRSA that looked at nearly 1.5 million fitness club members’ behaviours found that the movement habits of over 55s varies greatly from that of their younger counterparts.

Remarkably, they found out that over 55s stay with a gym or fitness club, on average, 22 months longer than any other age group.

This makes sense given what we know about people in the latter half of their life. People tend to be more established, with a deeper connection, whether it is economically, socially or emotionally, to any given place. Younger people shift location for work, shifting interpersonal relationships and even for no reason at all. Therefore the study seems intuitive.

An older customer at your Gym or Fitness Club may well be a customer that stays with you longer!

 

And it is important to keep this in mind. With minimal restructuring of what your gym or fitness club offers and how it is marketed, it could be earning more from a more stable customer base, all while improving the longevity of the community your business resides within. 

 

What services can you offer to contribute to the Quality of Life Revolution?

Courses aimed at promoting longevity and quality of life work within different criteria to more traditional, youth-oriented courses. The metrics for success here are all about slowing down the process and effects of ageing while maximising functional fitness. Exercises are normally lower impact but with a focus on muscle health that can otherwise quickly decline in later years. 

The four areas where the majority of quality and length of life is most pertinent and focused on include:

  • Weight, posture and body composition
  • Brain functionality, acuity and reactions and overall health
  • Mobility and health of the Musculoskeletal system and joint flexibility. 
  • Cardiovascular health with a specific focus on the heart.

 

As you can tell, what is going to be important to these new prospective clients isn’t just exercise in the gym. Research has shown that they are also interested in dietary advice, breathing exercises and sleep regimes. However, all of this is rooted within a firm regime of exercise.

Results have been shown to be powerful and once someone has embraced this new lifestyle and forged the habit (habits that, as previously established, older demographics are more likely to maintain), they are less likely to relinquish that habit. 

 

Whether it is weightless or maintaining mobility, reaction training, meditation or joint strengthening, there are a host of activities that can be accomplished in your Gym or Fit Club. The opportunities for your gym or fitness club to provide solutions that increase the quality and longevity of life are limitless.

 

So let’s dive into six different ways to start catering to this demographic and their demands, today!

 

1. Adapt The Message

2. Shift Perspective

3. Social and Enjoyable

4. Outreach

5. Invest in the Knowledge

6. Make your Gym or Fitness Club PART of their Quality of Life

 

1. Adapt The Message

As we discussed earlier, the messaging of many Gyms and Fitness Clubs in the UK is inherently youth-oriented. This can be off-putting for many elderly people, when they see a Gym advertised entirely by attractive and healthy under-thirties, it sends a clear message about the target of this establishment.

Conversely, even one or two older faces in an advertisement are likely to stand out to the demographic we are trying to reach, while going unnoticed by the younger people who take their status as the core fitness market for granted. 

 

2. Shift Perspective

With that being said, we don’t mean that you should load your gym adverts full of strollers and walking sticks. The stereotypes about the over 60s that we have had are starting to disappear, and no one knows that as well as the current people within that demographic. Not feeling your age is the mantra, and as such the marketing should be aimed at people who are in extended middle age, with much of the vitality that they had at 45 or even younger!

This is a trend that has been thoroughly entrenched in Scandinavian society and contributed to a significant shift in the marketing of such fitness items as bicycles and swimming gear!

It is all about normalising the concept of older demographics working out, and that will never change if we shy away from including positive examples in advertising material. It will help you stand out and stand for positive change.

 

3. Social & Enjoyable

One opinion that crosses the generation divide (A rarity these days, it feels), is that many people young and old do not find exercise enjoyable. We have all heard polls and have had conversations where people say that they would only do exercise if ‘they found it enjoyable’ and that lifting weights or running on a treadmill doesn’t meet that marker for them.


They know it is good for them, but all that does is put it into the same category as vegetables or not spending money. 

This is a hot topic when targeting young people, but it becomes even more pertinent when targeting people for quality and longevity of life.

Luckily, the regimes and exercises that we are promoting are not about lifting massive amounts of weight or running a virtual half-marathon. The strength that functional fitness has is that it can be lightweight, unintrusive and very social.

By focusing on the more casual and social nature of it, you will be able to draw a larger crowd. This is especially relevant amongst an older demographic who frequently struggle with loneliness.

You will find many councils within the UK are keen to reduce loneliness and increase the number of active adults in the community. Work with members of the community, whether paid or volunteered to exchange ideas and inspirations on what functional fitness could achieve. This will not only help bolster the earnings of your club but contribute meaningfully to the well-being of your community. Win-win. 

 

4. Outreach

In the same way that a lot of the content of the marketing in the fitness industry is aimed at a younger demographic, so are the methods.


If I had to hazard a guess (based on data), I would say that your gym or fitness club’s main method of marketing engagement is social media. And that’s great!

But unfortunately the older demographic we are trying to target often have either significantly different social media habits, or none at all!

This presents a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. The main methods that we found effective while targeting the older demographic were more traditional (perhaps unsurprisingly). Going through the local council signposting system, as well as newspapers and leaflets distributed to communal areas within your local area all are more likely to resonate and reach your audience than an Instagram post!

 

5. Invest in the Knowledge

While many of the services that contribute towards quality of life and longevity classes are part of a standard PTs repertoire, there is always additional knowledge, technicals and qualifications to be gained.

It is also a good reason to expand the knowledge pool among your staff and potentially increase the number of classes you are running.  By undertaking training that specialises in reducing the effects of ageing and maximises functional fitness. This, in turn, will enable your gym to have a much larger and more positive effect on the people and community around you. Quality of life and longevity exercises have been proven to reduce the occurrence of certain chronic diseases within the elderly community.

Most importantly, this will give you a competitive edge over the gyms and fitness clubs in your area that are not offering this service. This is a growing demographic and a trend that is only going to become further cemented as more people from the currently under 50 demographic continue to age. It has been shown that there is a significantly different attitude in the people currently crossing the threshold and a desire to enjoy a better quality of life for longer.

 

6. Make your Gym or Fitness Club PART of their Quality of Life

The easiest way to make sure that this group keeps renewing month after month and year after year? Make your Gym a fundamental part of their Quality of Life.


Positive association is a powerful force, and staying active and youthful is a point of pride for people of all ages. It is estimated that lifestyle has a massive impact on the rate and effect of ageing, potentially over 60% to 70%. With all the services we have previously discussed, a Gym that provides all of that will no doubt be a key player in the longevity and life quality of the older demographic that frequents it. 

 

Making your gym or fitness club a place that cultivates positive mindsets, nutrition, movement, socialisation and exercise will help it become a beacon to the community. Focusing on quality and longevity of life can help put a gym or fitness club into a new light, opening up exciting avenues of business and clientele that previously didn’t seem possible.

Conclusion

In our intensely youth-centric society, it can be easy to forget that fitness should be for everyone and that everyone needs to move. We are coming out of an era where old age was seen as the end of an active lifestyle, but it has been proven time and time again that that does not need to be the case.

There is an opportunity for people to stay active, healthy and fulfilled for longer, and in turn, there is an opportunity for Gyms and fitness clubs to profit from this.


This is a revolution that has been 30 years in the making and is gathering speed. By putting your business at the forefront, there is the potential to make a meaningful impact on the community, and your staff and ultimately a profound impact on your gym or fitness club.

 

Proven Marketing Tricks for Gym and Fitness Club Owners

 

“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 Marketing

Events

 Educational Videos & Infographics

Google Business Profile

Forge Local, Meaningful Partnerships

 

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.

 

Blogging

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. 

 

Podcasting

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. 

Open Days

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. 

 

Online Classes

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.

 

Update Regularly

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. 

 

Moving Forward

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.

How To Make Your Gym Stand Out From Competitors on Google…

 

“How To Maintain & Improve Your Google Business Profile”

 

A Google Business Profile, a feature previously known as Google My Business, is a vital but often neglected piece of online infrastructure for any business.

We’ve noticed that Gyms and Fitness Club owners aren’t always on top of their Google Business Profile and there is a very fine line (and amount of effort!) between a sleek and professional-looking profile and one that looks shabby and abandoned. 


So for today’s article, we will be looking at what we can do as Gym and Fitness Club owners to improve our Google Business Profile and really stand out.

 

All Your Questions Answered (click them to skip ahead)…

 

What Is A Google Business Profile?

How Quickly & Easily Can Your Improve & Maintain Your Google Business Profile?

 – Visual Media

– Keywords

– The Correct Business Category

– Update Regularly

 

What Is A Google Business Profile?

 

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 Quickly and Easily Improve and Maintain Your Google Business Profile?

 

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.

 

Update Regularly

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.

 

Want to understand more about your membership?

Ashbourne can help you gain unprecedented insight.

 

Here at Ashbourne Membership Management, we are committed to not only working with our partners, but growing their businesses in every way. Whether it is something as large and vital as streamlining the collection of monthly membership fees, or something as small but impactful as fine-tuning their online presence. We are interested in being a valued partner that elevates your Gym or Fitness club to the next level.

Interested in knowing more? Follow the link here and a member of our team will be in touch swiftly to see how we can help your Gym or Fitness Club to reach the next level.

5 Tips To Get The Most From Your Gym’s Instagram For Free

Taking selfie for instagram at the gym (no border)

Taking selfie for instagram at the gym

 

If we said you could have free advertising for your gym, with access to millions of viewers, would you take us up on it?

Well the good news is, you already do – it’s your Instagram!

The only thing that holds you back from fully utilising the power of your Instagram page is how you use it. We’ve already gone into how paid advertising on the Instagram and Facebook has been broken recently, but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t grow a successful and engaging community on Instagram.

There are so many recent changes to Instagram lately that you need to implement to maximise your reach. So keep reading and discover our 5 top tips to growing your gym’s instagram page without spending a penny.

 

 

Tip 1 – Start Using Instagram Reels

 

Instagram Reels are the new photo posts. More and more users cite that video is their preferred way to consume content on the internet.

Creating small 60 second videos and spreading your message is the new way forward on Instagram, to mix up your content beyond just images.

It should be no surprise that Instagram wants you to use its newest and most popular features, so Instagram actually pushes your reel posts much harder than normal posts. This gives you more chances to be seen by more people and therefore grow your follower count much quicker.

And the good news is, you don’t need to be super tech-savvy to create good content with Instagram Reels.

 

Instagram stories layout

 

Here is a super quick tutorial on how to set up a reel:

  1. Go into the Reels creation screen and tap on the photo square in the bottom left corner of your screen. …

  2. Select one or more videos to create your Reel.

  3. Edit the length of each video, one by one until you have reached the 15 second maximum time.

  4. Then click the back arrow to watch the whole video.

  5. Add some music to it OR a voice over. A voice over feature is brilliant for gym tutorial videos. Get your staff and PTs involved and use their knowledge.

 

With just a few simple steps, you now have engaging content, which contains more of your club’s personality, reaching more people than ever before.

So experiment between your regular posts and your new Instagram reels and see which one brings you more attention.

 

 

Tip 2 – Switch To A ‘Business Account

 

If you don’t have one already, ensure you have a business account on Instagram.

Beyond just sounding more professional, a business account for your Instagram gives you access to more analytics which can help guide the kind of content you want to make.

You see everything from when your followers are active, so you can post strategically to get maximum views; All the way to the demographics who are watching your content, so you can post content which suits your members.

For example, if your gym has got 60% male following and you want to engage with more female followers, you can easily identify this and post more content that women relate to in the gym.

You can see these by clicking the ‘Insights’ button on your main menu.

 

Instagram business analytics

Great social media is equal parts art and science (with a dash of consistency)

 

 

Tip 3 – Re-Share Your Customers Tags

 

When your members tag you in a story or post, try to re-share their posts to encourage more customers to share and tag you in their own content.

If you can make your members feel special and included in your community, then you can truly build a loyal customer base.

However, don’t get too re-share happy. Be mindful of re-sharing the same content too many times. Once is plenty, as there is nothing worse than seeing accounts re-share the re-shared post over and over to pretend like they have something to say.

Instagram is all about trying to widen your reach, and one of the main source of new followers will be from tags. To tag someone in a post or story type ‘@’ followed by the account name. 

 

So give it a go, here’s just a few ways you could shout out your members:

  1. Shout out your members who have been signed up with you for the longest.

  2. Celebrate members who have hit their fitness goals and made the most improvement.

  3. Make it a routine of tagging every single new member to your gym and give them a warm welcome.

 

engaging instagram follower

 

The possibilities for engaging with your audience are truly endless if you make it a part of your business’ philosophy!

 

 

Tip 4 – Use Old Content That Did Well

 

If creating new content is taking up too much time, well we have some good news for you: You can just recycle old content.

Don’t be afraid to re-post an old post that is already featured on your page.

Posts that did well before, did well for a reason. So don’t waste them!

Whenever you post, only a fraction of your audience will ever see that post, so it will always be fresh even when you share it again. Maybe some of your new followers will benefit from seeing it who weren’t around the first time as well!

It takes a long time to build trust in your service and brand. Consumers need to see your service multiple times to be convinced to sign up or buy what you are selling, so make sure to maximise value from every single post, so your brand is always at the forefront of your potential members’ minds when they’re looking for their next gym home.

 

 

Tip 5 – The 10k Followers Limit To Link In Your Stories Is Gone!

 

Recently IG has changed its restriction for smaller accounts to add links to their stories.

The traditional ‘swipe up’ feature is still only available to accounts with more than 10,000 followers but now any account can add a ‘link’ feature to a story.

This means that you can link this to your gym ‘Join online’ page, or a product like Personal Training.

So start creating a journey and plan to get your Instagram viewers over to your gym’s website. It’s time to turn your social media marketing into profit!

 

 

Instagram is at its peak…so don’t miss it!

It can be very easy to assume that a social media platform will be around forever and you can get round to making the most of it someday when you have more time.

But social medias change. Facebook was once seen as a goliath of social media, but it’s reporting a drop in user numbers for the first time ever. And it’s no surprise, that when a social media platform wants to maximise its profits, then it can quickly become a “pay to play” service, where you start having to spend a lot of money to get a basic reach to your audience.

Instagram has been around for a few years, but it’s still finding its feet and has so much potential.

Its audience numbers are growing, and most importantly, it’s still being used by a younger audience who haven’t abandoned it for the latest social media trend.

So take advantage of the moment and start experimenting with your Instagram’s business page. You never know, you might just discover the fun in your marketing again!

 

taking notes for instagram post ideas

Get the notebook out and start brainstorming ideas with your team!

 

 

And we can help…

As you can see, we really get stuck into every aspect of helping gyms and clubs succeed. Our success is directly tied to the success of our partnered clubs, so we are always ensuring that we’re at the cutting edge when it comes to helping all of our gyms grow and market themselves effectively.

If you’d like to get in touch about how we can help your club succeed, then you can always book a demo with our sales director, Grant Harrison, who would love to show you how our full club management package can help you improve and grow every aspect of your business.

Facebook Ads Are Dead! Here Are Some Alternatives To Grow Your Gym In 2022…

Facebook Platform Prison

facebook-ads-is-dead blog header

 

“Facebook ads is dead!”

 

…or at the very least has become much harder to use.

Thousands of clubs rely on paid social media to reach the members in their area and Facebook and Instagram are at the core of that plan.

Since Facebook stopped tracking Apple users (a lot of them use Facebook), it has made it extremely difficult for businesses with smaller advertising budgets to track which of their ads are actually working. Simply too many sales and potential customers aren’t being tracked, so many gyms have no idea where their money is going.

 

But hopefully, this is the shake up that is needed for your business to not rely on a single platform to gain your members.

 

It’s never been more important to diversify how you secure new members, because as we’ve seen, if your preferred platform changes how they do things…then it can shake your business to the core.

 

And with that, let’s look at some alternatives to Facebook ads that can help you discover an entirely new audience, using all the same resources you have right now!

 

 

CLICK ANY OF THESE TO SKIP AHEAD…

TikTok Ads

Linkedin Advertising

Google Ads

Google My Business

Your Local Area On Reddit

 

 

TikTok / TikTok Ads

 

TikTok has quickly developed from something that “just the kids” are using, to one of the most popular social medias in use right now.

If you were under any impression that TikTok is nothing compared to Facebook, then I have news for you.

 

In 2021, these were the user numbers globally for TikTok and Facebook:

  • TikTok: 700 Million

  • Facebook: 2.9 Billion

 

Tik Tok has already amassed a quarter of Facebook’s numbers and it continues to grow, while Facebook is reporting losses for the first time in its history.

While TikTok’s age demographic is much younger than Facebook, it still has a proportional size of users who are entirely old enough to sell your gym too.

 

Tik tok user

 

In 2020, a full TikTok user review in the UK revealed that:

  • 24% of TikTok users were aged between 15 and 25 years old

  • 9% of TikTok users were aged between 36 and 45 years old

  • 6% of TikTok users were aged between 46 to 55 years old

TikTok’s younger audience makes it the perfect platform to gain access to an entire age group which left Facebook a long time ago (or were born too late to even sign up to it – just to make you feel old).

And couple that with an ads platform which offers accurate targeting and allows you to actually crack your purchases across all devices – it’s the perfect next home if you want to expand your social media offering.

 

 

Linkedin Advertising

 

Linkedin has a reputation as a solely business social media. But it’s a ripe environment for you to start selling to new customers on a social media platform where the competition for health clubs is really low.

We’ve already put in a lot of research with our very own Linkedin Ads, so you can get a campaign that’s ready to go by clicking here.

But in short, Linkedin is Facebook, but 10 years ago.

More active users, with cheaper ad costs and a larger reach to an audience who are working and have money to spend.

It’s a dream come true for anyone looking for a Facebook alternative that targets a working age audience who are eager to purchase in your area.

 

 

Google Ads

 

Google Ads differs from other social media ads because it works completely on search terms and not just on targeting your interests.

So if someone is searching for something on Google, all a Google ad allows you to do is simply appear at the very top of the first search.

This is a great hack if you want to quickly shoot up for Google searches for gyms in your area, as the searches for local gyms are usually very simple in our experience.

 

google ads dashboard

 

Just a few examples include:

“Gym in x”

“Best gym in x”

“Cheapest gym in x”

 

So hop on Google Ads and set a small budget to start hacking your way to the top of Google searches for your area. You’d be surprised how few businesses use this as technique.

 

 

 

Google My Business

 

Is your gym listed on Google Business?

Then you’re missing out on an instant SEO boost to get you to the top of Google search results.

Whenever you Google a business you’ve likely seen the listing at the right of the page, giving you directions and quick ways to get in touch with them.

Google My Business allows you to enter this information directly into Google, which is great for 2 reasons:

  • It helps you show up on Google maps and more Google searches.

  • It instantly tells Google what your business is, so they can deliver you straight to the top of searches.

So take out the chance of Google’s robots trying to decipher what your gym is by your website alone, by directly inputting your business straight into their search engine.

 

 

Local Area Reddits

 

Message boards are a great way to get in touch with your local community, and especially if you live in a larger town or city, then you’ll easily find communities on sites like Reddit very easily.

For anyone who has never used Reddit, it’s the largest website in the world and is made up of small communities known as subreddits. Everything from “fishing” to “cute pictures of owls” has its own community, which you can join and post in.

 

woman using reddit in gym

 

It’s clear to anyone that having access to a large range of people who have formed a community in your local areas is great for your business, but even better, Reddit also has a very user friendly ad platform which allows you to target specific subreddits, which you can use to advertise to people in your area with their own local club.

It’s a technique that barely any local businesses are making use of and is the perfect way to get your gym in front of a huge range of demographics who all live locally for a very cost effective advertising cost.

 

…and why haven’t we mentioned Instagram Ads?

Instagram is owned by Facebook and uses exactly the same algorithms and tech that Facebook ads use.

If you’ve never used Instagram before, then it can certainly be  a great avenue to explore, but all of the problems with Facebook’s advertising system will be present over on Instagram.

 

There’s never been a better time to free yourself from a platform prison…

Facebook Platform Prison

 

It can be extremely easy to become comfortable using a single social media to run your entire gym from, but as we’ve seen, if anything changes then it can cause havoc with reaching your future members.

Facebook ads is a cautionary tale of how quickly a seemingly secure service that you’ve used for years and grown to rely on, can suddenly become unusable.

This is the perfect time to shake out of the comfort zone and start experimenting with new ways to find your members. Experiment with new social medias and diversify your techniques to reach as many people as humanly possible from your local area, to spread the good word about your gym or health club.

 

And we can help…

As you can see, we really get stuck into every aspect of helping gyms and clubs succeed. Our success is directly tied to the success of our partnered clubs, so we are always ensuring that we’re at the cutting edge when it comes to helping all of our gyms grow and market themselves effectively.

If you’d like to get in touch about how we can help your club succeed, then you can always book a demo with our sales director, Grant Harrison, who would love to show you how our full club management package can help you improve and grow every aspect of your business.

Feedback, Referrals & Resources – How To Stand Out Amongst Competitor Gyms

Game of chess

With so many gyms, fitness clubs, personal trainers, and online health resources readily available today, it can be hard to define your business and know how to best set yourself apart from your competition.

At Ashbourne, we think it’s important to test out new strategies with the end goal always being in service of trying to attract more members. Before sharing these ideas, we always ensure to trial these ideas in one of our in-house run gyms so we can confidently share the most innovative approaches that have solid evidence of working to grow your gym.

Explore our most recent 20 new tried and tested ideas below and see which ones pique your interest and start implementing them today!

If you want our advice in getting started, or have some ideas of your own that you’d like to share. Please come and join our free gym owners forum and begin networking with like-minded fitness professionals.

 

Hold a membership referral drive

Referrals are widely believed to be the most cost-effective method of attracting new members, which is why you can afford to incentivise your existing members for attracting new customers.

Why not supercharge this process with a membership referral drive

Offer a prize each month to the member who refers the most new members who sign up for 12 months. From experience, investing in an attractive prize doubles or triples the impact. A flat-screen TV, a good quality bike or even £100 in cash can generate around 30-40 new members every month, with the winner usually referring to around 3-4 friends.