Picking Favorites: How to Develop and Use Gym Buyer Personas

Developing gym buyer personas for fitness business marketing is a must. Here's how to create yours and use them to craft a successful marketing message.

Monica Hilton
December 12, 2022
Picking Favorites: How to Develop and Use Gym Buyer Personas
Developing gym buyer personas for fitness business marketing is a must. Here's how to create yours and use them to craft a successful marketing message.

One key to maximizing your gym’s revenue is using gym buyer personas. In today’s competitive fitness market, targeting only one type of customer or having a single, “take it or leave it” offer is not an effective strategy.

To really accelerate your marketing, develop a strategy tailored specifically for each type of customer you want to attract. It may sound complicated, but designing different marketing messages based on the person you’re talking to can actually be a lot of fun.

Start by determining the different buyer personas you want to reach. Next, find out exactly what they need and how you can fill that need. Finally, integrate this info into your marketing plan.

Creating different gym buyer personas

Defining Buyer Personas.

Gym buyer personas are profiles of each customer type, based on data collected through surveys or observation.

For each profile, you’ll determine a different demographic or type of person in your customer base. When you analyze the group, you’ll start to notice some common individual traits. Your goal is to create a single persona with characteristics that represent that customer base.

Start with the basic traits: Age, profession, income, marital status and hobbies. From there, include fitness-related data like goals, challenges and scheduling.

The details in your imagined buyer persona should be based on hard data you collect for each customer type. You should be able to attain this through things like member surveys or casual gym conversations. Note that there may be a bit of guessing involved as you fill in some details, but aim to provide as much accurate info as you can.

Using Your Data.

Once you’ve created detailed gym buyer personas, use the data to determine what you believe your customers want.

Unlike in other industries, gyms don’t generally appeal to just one segment of the population. For instance, there are specific services tailored to students, expectant mothers or seniors. If a gym tried to market to these three categories the same way, the chance of success would be low.

Therefore, you should craft an offer that’s unique to each persona. If you can clearly determine their specific wants and needs, you can create an offer that fills them. Then you can also track the success of your marketing strategy in each category.

Gym buyer personas help you to focus on creating the right message for the right audience by answering questions like:

  • What types of services does my gym need to offer?
  • Where should I set the price points be for membership?
  • When I’m creating online content, what messaging should I use to maximize engagement from everyone?
Create offers specific to personas

Types of Buyer Personas.

Have you ever seen the TV show Cops? In every episode, an officer arrests someone and then describes a profile.

“Male, 30-35 years old, bachelor, a loner, has seven cats, works in the service industry.”

That’s basically what a buyer persona is, but instead of a profiling a criminal, you’re typifying your gym members. Fingers crossed that these two groups are mutually exclusive.

There are two ways to categorize your buyer persona types: Personality and demographic.

1. Personality Type.

The six most widely used personality types for creating gym buyer personas are:

  • Decisive – These are customers that only care about results. Customer service isn’t imperative for this group, but tracking tracking the progress toward their goals is.
  • Relationship-Oriented – These customers care about the community. They’ll seek out any opportunity to meet other members.
  • Consensus-Oriented – This type of customer wants to be consulted as much as possible, so they feel like a part of the business. For this group, ask for suggestions, post polls online and offer member focus groups.
  • Skeptical – Customers that are reserved and hesitant to approach you still secretly want to be heard. If you have buyers like this, try to draw out feedback by consulting them about their thoughts.
  • Analytical – These customers value data above all else. Give these members plenty of gym stats and tell them how much progress they can expect over time.
  • Finance-driven – These are the customers that want things to be cheap. They care about quality but don’t want to pay more for it. They want to feel like they’re getting a deal but will generally choose the less-expensive option.

Demographic Type

Here are six common demographic types of gym buyer personas:

  • Students – Students are young, usually thrifty, and largely tethered to the school schedule.
  • Parents – Parents have a whole set of considerations (read: kids) that other members don’t have. Kids’ activities can play a large part in scheduling limitations and/or financial obligations.
  • Professionals – Professionals generally have a higher amount of discretionary income but a lower amount of schedule flexibility.
  • Athletes – Athletes put fitness first in their life. They tend to worry less about cost or convenience, and more about quality training and equipment.
  • Influencers – Like it or not, it’s 2022. Posting selfies of at the gym is a huge (and sometimes lucrative) fad, especially with people of a certain age.
  • Seniors – Many senior citizens want to fend off the struggles of aging by staying in shape. Fitness businesses can capitalize on this group of retired, sometimes wealthy and under-marketed-to group of potential customers.

After looking through these lists, match them to your gym’s mission statement, community and overall goals. Some will fit, some will not. Once you determine who you want to focus on, it’s time to create a buyer persona and craft an appropriate message.

Match your message to your gym mission

Creating Gym Buyer Personas.

Follow these steps to create buyer personas for your fitness business.

  1. Collect data – This step will probably take the most time, as it entails collecting data from your customers over several weeks. Use quantitative methods (surveys and gathering statistics) and qualitative (talking with members, recording responses and observing behaviors at your gym). Compile everything into a spreadsheet.
  2. Outline persona categories – Now that you have a good overview of your members, sort them into 5-6 categories based on commonalities. Use the personality or demographic categories mentioned above, or create your own. Remember that most members won’t be a perfect fit in one specific category, so group them in a way that’s most useful.
  3. Brainstorm data points – Now, list 8-10 data points from the info you’ve gathered. Check out the “Defining Buyer Personas” section above for these types of data points.
  4. Fill in the data points for each persona – Now that each buyer persona has a blank space for data points, fill them in. For each point, average the numeric entries like age or income. For non-numeric data, use your creativity to draw the closest similarities.
  5. Draw a picture for each persona (optional) – Drawing a sketch to go with each persona might seem comical, but it serves a practical purpose. After looking at potential members as data points, it helps to envision them as actual people. Essentially, it’s easier to craft your messages as though you’re speaking directly to someone.
  6. Make it official – Once you’ve determined each different gym buyer persona, bring it to life! Use a tool like SEMrush’s buyer persona template generator to create each one in a digital format. Digitizing personas will help you to share them with staff for training and marketing.

In Summary: The Right Message For The Right Audience

Creating gym buyer personas will help you develop a marketing strategy to communicate the right message to the right audience. Have some fun with the process by gathering data and determining the buyer personas that fit your gym. Fill in the data points and visualize your target members. This will allow you to communicate your offers effectively, driving revenue and retention for your gym.

Monica Hilton

Monica is our Content Manager extraordinaire for PushPress. She also owns her gym in Indianapolis, Together We Rise CrossFit, which she opened in 2014 and previously worked in IndyCar racing.

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