The Hierarchy of Fitness Business Marketing Strategies

A Fitness Business Marketing Post – By Bedros Keuilian

Fitness business marketing can neither be ignored nor should it scare you to death. If you’re new to the fitness business I’m willing to guess you don’t have boatloads of money to spare.

Setting up a fitness business properly nearly always costs more than you anticipate and somehow marketing ends up towards the bottom of the list.  The actual cost of fitness business marketing may be a vague idea in your head but if you don’t have a plan you may find the last few hundred dollars you have disappearing without much of a return.

If you’re at the planning stage, or everything’s in place and you’re not too sure how to go set up your fitness business marketing plan, here are a few tips:

Write a Plan and Set a Budget

Many bricks and mortar business owners plan the layouts of their premises meticulously. They lie awake at night thinking about what’s going to go where, the colors of the walls, even down to the products they’ll be offering when they open the doors.

Knowing how to market your fitness business is just as important.  If it’s a financial choice between buying a fancy piece of equipment that may not be fully utilized or keeping some money set aside for marketing, choose the latter.  You can have the most state-of-the-art facility, but if there’s nobody coming in to use it you’ll be filing bankruptcy before you know it.

Part of your plan should be identifying who you want to work with.  Mixing people of different ages and abilities sounds ideal, but in reality it rarely works. Choose your target market. If you hate dealing with grossly overweight people don’t do it. You’ll make your working life miserable if you’re not doing something you love.

Ideally you should have enough money left in the bank to see you through at least 12 months of lean business. That includes rent, salaries, power, maintenance and monthly payments for any equipment you didn’t purchase outright. There should definitely be a set amount remaining every month for your ongoing fitness business marketing and advertising. It doesn’t have to be a lot.

It’s Okay to Think Big

You’ve probably laid awake at night imagining your business the way you want it to be. All the equipment’s in use all the time by happy clients. You have a growing list of clients who need your personal training expertise and you have a waiting list – but whoa!

Could you really handle that scenario from Day One? I’m guessing not. What you have to do is start out slowly. Don’t blow your remaining stack of cash on an all-out marketing blitz unless you know you can handle the results.

Be careful what you wish for…

The last thing you want is hundreds of people turning up and being disappointed or not getting exactly what they want – you’ll never be able to get them back again, believe me.  And what they’ll say about your business doesn’t bear thinking about.

So yes, think big but ease in slowly. Start out by aiming to attract about 20 initial clients if you’re a one-person business and take it from there. Treat them like stars and they’ll soon be telling their friends – and word-of-mouth advertising costs nada.

The Best Low-Cost (and no-cost) Fitness Business Marketing Plans:

Crowds attract crowds. You’ve probably been to a produce market where people are flocking to only a few vendors. Why? It’s human nature to want to know what’s going on. Often it’s nothing special. The vendor’s prices are the same as everyone else’s and their oranges are, well, orange.

Use this tactic yourself to create a buzz about your business, even if it means offering friends and family free use of your facility. Too often I drive by empty fitness facilities. The electric meter  is still spinning round and the staff is getting paid the same, so offer limited memberships to people you know and put your most-used equipment in front of the window (if you have one). Ever noticed how empty restaurants will seat you next to the window or entrance? Here’s why:  because people passing by will get the impression that you’re really busy and be attracted themselves.

Offer Freebies

Your friends and family probably know people you don’t, so hand out coupons with unbeatable, but limited time offers. Never make a coupon open-ended or most people won’t use them, they’ll keep putting it off.  “This week/month only” is good; it gives people time to plan.

Hold an Open House or Seminar

You’re paying rent 24/7 so offer a free class or seminar once a week to attract new clients, then offer an exclusive killer deal if they sign up NOW. If you’ve chosen your target market, that will also help you choose the best places to advertise your free classes.

Don’t just say “come to a free class”, get some books on effective copywriting to understand which words will bring results. (Yep you’re getting into the psychology of sales here!)  Learn from the pros. Study how your competitors advertise and learn. Use terms like “replace flab with muscle”, “relieves stress” or “lowers your blood pressure without drugs” and “will melt away those extra pounds”. And of course you can never use a better hook than the word FREE!

Find out what your target market wants and make them think – push their buttons!

Craig’s List

Most businesses shun Craig’s List as a waste of time – but it’s free and in some areas craigslist.com, backpages.com and kajiji.com still attract personal training clients. If you take some time to understand how using the right words can attract, Craig’s List can be a great resource, you just have to make your words pop and make whatever offer you’re serving up compelling.  Again, depending on your target market, word your ad in a way that will get them in the door – it’s a good way to advertise your FREE weekly class on “Eating to Build Muscle – Not Flab”, or “Find out How One Simple Exercise can Lower Blood Pressure Naturally”. Be creative and ALWAYS give your client exactly what she expects- and more.

Build Yourself a Fitness Business Website

Your fitness business marketing plan MUST include building a blog or website which will get your business in front of thousands of people. These guys make killer personal training websites.

Google is very local business friendly and building a WordPress site is so easy, it only takes a few hours. And the cost?  Around $10 annually for your domain name and about half of that each month for hosting.

If you don’t want to tackle it yourself, a couple of hundred dollars should get you a basic WordPress site built by an expert. It can also be made mobile-device friendly in seconds with a free plug-in. Sign up for Yahoo’s Yelp, Google Places, the Bing Business Portal and every free local directory you can find.

Business Cards

Business cards are ridiculously cheap if you order them online.  Go double-sided printing and put a special offer on the back! Add your domain name and an offer for a free ebook or report and give them away like candy. They can serve as great lead generators. Don’t go for the cheapest cards though, invest in something that looks impressive on glossy, good quality thick card stock.  You and your card will be the first impression many people get of your business, so make that impression last! Add a photo as a reminder.

Build a List

With a website there will be another small monthly expense, but this is one of the best investments you will make.  Sign up with a reputable and reliable autoresponder service such as FitProNewsletter.com.  Place the opt-in box in the sidebar and make it irresistible. What’s cool about FitPro Newsletter is that it’s specifically made for the fitness businesses so it comes with a bunch of ready to use fitness and fat loss reports and ebooks, opt ins, pop ups, and social media components – plus it even sends out an awesome newsletter to your clients on your behalf each and every week.

Go one step further and offer something if someone signs up – a free eBook, or a coupon for a free thirty-minute one-on-one consultation – whatever.

Again, a visit to your website will be the first impression many get so strive to make it something they’ll want to bookmark.

The other bonus is you can earn some money with a website.  Not much at first, but if there are fitness products that you personally promote or love, see if they have an affiliate program so you can sell the products online. Write articles about them, and your site should start paying for itself in only a few months.

Once you’ve built your client list to a manageable number then you can consider stepping up your fitness marketing.  As your reputation grows, you may be able to attract better-paying clients by advertising in more exclusive local magazines and periodicals.

Until then, use all of these free or low-cost fitness marketing techniques. Get your name out there and build a solid, first class reputation.