There are many fitness marketing strategies that industry players can implement to grow their business. In all cases, it starts here: to be competitive you have to play with the new rules of the game, namely those of digital marketing.
When we talk about fitness marketing strategies, we’re referring to a specific area of marketing that is dedicated to strengthening and communicating the activities that a gym or a sports center should carry out with the goal of attracting as many people as possible.
To understand exactly the mechanisms and strategies that must be implemented to pursue this purpose, we must start with two main considerations.
Fitness marketing is marketing
It seems obvious but that’s exactly what it is: fitness marketing is first and foremost marketing.
Concretely, this means that despite the specificities of the field, many of the tools and strategies to be applied are those of marketing, which apply to every sector.
Obviously, we’re not just referring to traditional marketing strategies; on the contrary, as we’ll see later, it’s important that they are complemented by digital marketing strategies, which are made possible by digital transformation that has affected this sector like so many others.
Also because, sports – intended first and foremost as a business, but also as a hobby – is undergoing a gradual and irreversible digitalization. It would therefore be counterproductive not to take this transformation into account when building one’s marketing strategy.
Fitness is increasingly important
The second premise to emphasize when talking about fitness marketing is that, although it is in every way a niche market, this aspect should not in any way diminish its importance. Confirming this as always is the data about the sector.
The passion for fitness and physical well-being and the focus of individuals to be “in shape,” are established trends in Italy and around the world.
Around 18 million Italians attend gyms, wellness centers, or spas, which makes us the most “gym-friendly” country in Europe, right after Germany.
In light of this, it’s not surprising that the entire sector is worth almost €10 billion, which becomes €12 if we also consider the turnover generated by tourism related to wellness.
That’s why according to one of the last census made in 2017, there were more than 8,000 gyms and spaces dedicated to fitness throughout the country.
Fitness is now a real business that is the source of great investment, which is not limited to opening gyms in small towns, but is also about providing new, innovative services and offers that are increasingly personalized.
Let’s start here to talk about marketing strategies for the fitness sector.
First and foremost, the objectives
As we mentioned above, many organizations in the sector are investing significantly to create increasingly appealing offers and services in order to be more competitive.
This is definitely an important part of a fitness marketing strategy, but there is much more to consider
This is also because, while temporary promotions are useful in the short term, they don’t allow the business to grow and consolidate within the market.
Having said that, the first thing to do when starting to build a fitness marketing strategy is to set goals, as this will determine the actions you will need to perform.
It’s one thing to make yourself known and open a business, it’s another to carve out a new positioning within your industry, and it’s yet another to increase the number of visitors or members.
And even in this case, you can never be too precise! If the goal is to increase the number of customers, then by how much? Do they have to increase in number or in the length of subscription? And what about the positioning? What kind of clientele do you want to reach?
These are all questions that you need to ask yourself and the more clearly you answer the question, the more clearly the strategy you can put in place.
Get to know your target audience
The first fitness marketing strategy to apply, whatever the goal, is to listen to your target audience.
It is necessary to perform market segmentation in order to outline the possible categories of customers who attend or could potentially attend the gym.
One way to do this is, for example, to identify the motivations that drive each person. For example, some people go to the gym to lose weight, others go because they are passionate about a particular sport, others go mostly to socialize and make new friends, and still others who go solely for health reasons.
In addition, you can set additional distinguishing characteristics: age, gender, residence, habits.
All of this then serves to guide the content of your digital marketing campaign.
If you decide to buy online spaces to publish banners, this makes it easier to choose which sites to appear on, what type of message to communicate and, last but not least, how to determine the most attractive offer.
The same is true if you decide to create a dark marketing campaign on social networks. By knowing which customers to target, you can create a series of perfectly targeted posts, adjusting the message and the tone of voice depending on the audience.
The SEO Strategy
Still on the subject of data and categorizations, another important fitness marketing strategy is one that targets online search.
As already mentioned, in Italy alone there are more than 8,000 facilities, this means that the level of competition is very high, both in the real world and in the digital one.
Therefore, “showing off” is very important! In this sense, optimizing your website with SEO is definitely a strategic move, also considering the fact that people often turn to online search to find the right facility to visit.
Among other things, effective SEO optimization can improve your search position compared to competitors, it also ensures greater relevance for the content you produce and publish online, thus enhancing another possible digital strategy available to industry players.
Fit, but with content
In particular, we are referring to the content strategy, i.e. the marketing approach based on the creation and distribution of relevant and interesting content to attract and engage users and eventually push them to perform certain actions.
This particular marketing strategy can be very useful for fitness sector companies as it increases visibility among potential customers. More and more users are searching on the internet for information related to wellness and physical fitness – a trend that, among other things, has increased due to the forced smartworking of recent months: it is precisely within these searches that the company’s content must fit.
In this way, it is not the user who is passively reached, but on the contrary it is he who searches for such content and, therefore, is much more receptive to what he sees and, at the same time, it is easier to attract his attention for a long time.
And once you have his attention, a world of possibilities opens up for your business. You can entice the customer to leave his data to book a one-day trial, you can make him subscribe to the newsletter or even just let him know about your services, inviting him to discover more.
These are all preliminary activities to transform the user into a customer and create a long and lasting relationship of trust.
There are two conditions to achieve all this: the first is SEO optimization, which ensures greater traceability of their content, thanks to the use of certain keywords; the second is the choice of the theme.
The topics, in fact, can be the most diverse, from nutrition and “how to’s” up to purchase advice for specific products and equipment. The choice must be made carefully, taking into account both the latest trends and the tastes and needs of users.
So, once again, it is important to monitor conversations on the internet and analyze the type of customers who come to your facility: it is only by understanding their motivations that you find the right key to communicate with them.
Even personal trainers must be social
In the context of content marketing, social media marketing is an essential approach.
The arrival of social media has revolutionized the sector, imposing a new language and new ways of engaging customers on all players.
Social media, after all, is a formidable tool for getting to know and for reaching many different types of users. These platforms offer the possibility of analyzing user behavior and reaching them with ad hoc, highly targeted communications.
At the same time, they are also useful for creating a closer and more personal bond with customers.
Being able to consult a webpage that is always up to date, with interesting information and where customers can ask anything and receive a quick response, increases customers’ sense of belonging, and in turn, customers feel important to the gym they have joined.
Among other things, this sense of belonging can be further strengthened thanks to social networks that allow you to create closed groups where only a certain group of customers can enter. They can then feel part of a community made up of people who share the same passion and interests.
Create a group to be even more appealing
There’s another fitness marketing strategy that everyone in the industry can apply, and it’s based on a marketing mechanism that’s old and yet still relevant: word of mouth.
Often, in fact, people are able to convince other people much more than offers or marketing campaigns can: this is because we trust what someone we know says more than what a brand communicates.
For this reason, it can be a winning move to have a referral program
In this way, current clients will become ambassadors for the facility, inviting others to become members or participate in a trial, all with very little if any investment on the part of the owner.
To apply this strategy, you need to be sure that the mechanics of accessing program benefits are simple and straightforward (perhaps by providing a digital or app-based process) and that the benefits are clear and appealing so that people are really driven to engage new members.
The gym outside the gym
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, today, there is a growing focus on fitness: because of this, people are increasingly willing to spend money to gain health and wellness benefits.
And this is not just limited to the gym, many are also looking for nutritional advice, others want to buy specific accessories or work with a personal trainer.
This opens up the possibility of implementing a further fitness marketing strategy, based on affiliate marketing, capable of creating a real network of affiliates around your facility.
There are many ways of doing this: you can work with retailers to offer your products, you can collaborate with personal trainers, offering free training sessions on the condition that their clients are members of the gym, or discounts and other benefits can be offered if the client turns to certain facilities for advice.
This kind of strategy allows you to make your structure known, increasing the penetration of your offer and, at the same time, enriching your service offering, making it more interesting and complete for all clients.
In order for it to be effective, it is always necessary to understand the type of clients you want to reach and, above all, the positioning for your business, since collaborations of this type also contribute to building the identity of your business.
These are just some of the strategies that can be applied in the context of fitness marketing, they are certainly not the only ones and indeed the list could go on and on.
However, it’s important to emphasize two considerations that are of primary importance.
First consideration: the fitness industry is not only very promising in terms of revenue, but also in terms of activities, as evidenced by the large number of strategic alternatives listed. Therefore, one should not be afraid to take risks and dare, bringing in creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and digital technologies.
Second consideration: although they are different in mechanism, objectives, and results, the strategies described above are absolutely not alternatives.
On the contrary, being able to make them coexist and integrate them greatly enhances their effectiveness and, in essence, should be the purpose of a truly organic and innovative fitness marketing strategy.