We get it — you’re a gym owner, not a salesperson.You’re a passionate coach dedicated to excellence, and your program works—that should be enough to attract a steady stream of clients, right? Ten years ago, maybe. Not so much today, when there are almost as many gyms as Starbucks cafes.But “marketing” doesn’t have to be a dirty word—especially if you take advantage of the local networks and resources that are already available to you.
1. GET INVOLVED
Take a look around. What’s going on in your city? Your neighborhood?
- Summer festivals and fairsPurchase a booth, slather it with your logo and before-and-after photos and testimonials. Host 15-minute micro-classes and mini-workouts with bodyweight movements. Check your city’s website for a calendar of upcoming events.
- CharityPeople like to support businesses that give back. Raise money for a local charity with an in-house throwdown or a public park workout, spreading the word on social media and via press releases to local news organizations. Or, choose a charity that resonates with your community and make ongoing donations based on profit percentage; in return, ask for a link on their website and a mention on social media.
- Adopt a highwayAt once a marketing initiative and a community-building activity for your current members, adopting a highway shows your city that you care.
- Join your local chamber of commerceIn addition to boosting credibility with potential clients, you’ll benefit from member networking, advocacy and the marketing efforts of the chamber.
2. IDENTIFY PARTNERSHIPS
They say no man’s an island, and no business should be one, either.By establishing mutually beneficial partnerships with other small businesses in your community, you’ll expand your reach and bolster your reputation as a local backbone business. So where do you start?
- Within your membershipYour members work for and own businesses in your community, and guess what? They already know and love you! Maybe Jessica from the 5:30-p.m. class is a graphic designer who can redo your website; in exchange for your business she features your new site on her own. Or maybe you partner with Mark from the 6-a.m. class, the COO of a local tech start-up who wants to help his employees stay healthy.
- Share your spaceVolunteer or rent your space for a nominal fee to local nonprofits such as a sober-living community or a women’s shelter.
- Visit your local high schoolOffer a weekend clinic or summer training camp for student athletes and clubs.
- Cross-promoteWhat other local businesses share similar values and markets but aren’t direct competitors? Chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, acupuncturists … the list goes on. Share the same market by referring clients to one another and promoting each other’s services.And don’t forget about consumer goods. Nutrition is important to your clients, so think food: Partner with local grocers, farmers markets, restaurants, coffee shops or even breweries to promote fitness-friendly menus and products.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA
You already know social media is important; you’ve got a Facebook page and an Instagram account. But are you using them wisely?
- Be specific“Functional training” is too broad; you’ll get lost in a list of gyms across the world. Try “(city/neighborhood name) functional training instead.
- Be fastGoogle also factors website loading time into its rankings, so make sure your site is speedy. Increase loading speed by resizing large images, minimizing plugins and enabling browser caching and gzip compression.
- Do your houseworkDead links and pages will hurt your ranking, so make sure you check and update them regularly.
- Claim online listingsThe internet is full of business directories by industry and location, and you want to make sure your business is listed—and accurately. Google My Business, Better Business Bureau and Yelp are just a few of the big names. Your business might already be listed even if you’ve never created a profile, and you’ll want claim the listing, verify that you own the business and update the information in the listing. Pro tip: Make sure your business information and branding is consistent across all listings and platforms.
- Targeted adsWhy pay for a post you could make for free? Because that’s just preaching to the choir; in order to reach an audience beyond those who’ve already liked your page, you’ll need to invest. For example, on Facebook and Instagram you can target ads based on audience location, demographics, interests, engagement, activity and more all based on your marketing objective. You can choose how you want your ads to be displayed, set a daily or weekly budget and track your hits.
- Client reviewsHow often do you scour the reviews section before you buy something online? Your members know and love you, and while they might not think of writing a review themselves, most will be happy to do so if asked.
- TestimonialsMake a regular practice of celebrating your members’ accomplishments in language that anyone can understand. Post a photo of a smiling client holding a sign showing how much body fat she lost, or share a quote from a client who’s now medication-free.
- Choose wiselyThink of who your target audience is and take a look at your Instagram feed right now: Do they match? If your goal is to reach more middle-aged parents who want to lose weight, don’t spam your feed with pictures of 20-somethings with six-packs.
4. SEARCH-ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
The internet is a big place. How do you make sure your gym pops up when people are researching places to train? By sharpening your SEO skills.
- Keywords and keyphrasesThink about your potential clients. What might they be searching for? Do some research on your market and potential key phrases, then work those phrases organically onto your website via blog posts, headings and meta descriptions.
- But don’t stuff Google can sense disingenuity a mile away. Its algorithm will consider too many keywords stuffed onto a page to be a negative user experience and will ding you for it.
Just remember: None of these techniques can replace a high-quality service that delivers results.You still have to be excellent. But a little marketing effort can go a long way in your community and bring new clients to your door—and give you the chance to show them just how excellent you are.