Powerful Gym Marketing: Understanding Earned vs Paid vs Owned

Understanding the different types of marketing media is critical for reach and revenue. Here's how each can play a key role in your gym marketing.

Monica Hilton
December 20, 2022
Powerful Gym Marketing: Understanding Earned vs Paid vs Owned
Understanding the different types of marketing media is critical for reach and revenue. Here's how each can play a key role in your gym marketing.

Most gym owners didn’t get into the industry to perfect their gym marketing strategies. If you’re in the majority, you want to spend your time coaching and interacting with members. But marketing is the necessary evil, the thing you have to do that gets you more members to do what you want to do.

Marketing doesn’t have to be rocket science, though. Take the time to understand the basics and in time, you’ll start enjoying the benefits.

Understand media options for powerful gym marketing

Today, we’re looking at three main types of media: Paid, earned and owned. There are benefits to each, and simple trial and error can help you determine which benefits your business the most.

Paid Media For Gym Marketing.

Generally referred to as advertising, paid media is exchanging dollars for marketing material distribution. The content or media creation costs are separate; paid media refers to how that content is distributed to benefit your business. Here are some examples of paid media:

  • Billboard advertising. Media companies own and manage billboards that are “leased” to marketers. Advertising costs will depend on the length of the campaign and the visibility of the billboard.
  • Television commercials. Similar to billboards, media companies own the TV channels and charge you for commercial distribution. Costs for this type of gym marketing will depend on length of each ad (e.g. 15-30 seconds), campaign duration and viewership numbers. Note that the distribution - not the production - of commercials is categorized as paid media.
  • Social media ads. Aside from being one of the more reasonably-priced advertising options, you gym social media is highly targetable. This form of paid media allows you specifically target demographic segments. Want to reach new moms, specific neighborhoods or the “over 40” crowd? Social media ad targeting keeps you from wasting dollars from mass advertising.
  • Print ads. From magazines to mailbox flyers, printed ads aren’t as antiquated as you might think. In fact, the mere perception of it being an “old fashioned” form of gym marketing decreases the saturation and therefore increases the effectiveness.

These are just four examples of paid media. But you’re only limited by your creativity in this category. From a logo painted on a NFL playing field to the paper inside a fortune cookie, the world is your oyster.

Earned Media.

Think of earned media is the opposite of paid media for your gym marketing. At no point do you pay for this media like you would for running an ad. Instead, as the name implies, earned media is media you earn through successfully running your gym. Some examples of earned media are:

  • A member buys some gym swag and posts a selfie on Instagram to show it off. Whether they tag your social media account isn’t as important as the fact that they’re spreading a positive message about your gym. In other words, you’re earning this media by providing top-quality products.
Posts from members about gym merchandise
  • Members love your gym so much that they want to show their appreciation. They leave well-written reviews about their experiences. Some talk about cleanliness, some about your awesome staff, others about special moments or things they’ve accomplished. The point is, you might not have even asked. Your members just felt so compelled to talk about your gym that they left you a star-studded review.
  • A local influencer runs an online directory for local gyms and fitness events. They become a member at your gym to “investigate” for their blog, review your facility/business, and write about it to their dedicated viewers. These third-party reviews are a great form of earned media for your gym marketing.

Once again, you can get creative with earned media. With this category, you’re not paying for it with dollars, you’re earning it.

Owned Media.

Owned media is any form of content (and distribution) that is owned and maintained by your gym.

Your gym website is the most simple example. Since you’re the sole owner of the site and manage all of the content on it, it’s your owned media. Here are some other examples:

  • Company blogs. First things first: If you don’t have one, go start a gym blog right now. This is a great form of gym marketing to educate, inform and even entertain your members. In addition, it helps with SEO to help people find your website.
  • Email marketing and newsletters. The content you produce for members through an email service is considered owned media. You don’t own the email service itself, but you are in full control of the messaging and the list of recipients.
  • Social media content. While social media advertising falls under the paid media category, content (or posts) is considered owned. The distribution channel, whether it’s Facebook or Instagram, is simply the method of delivery. However, the content you post is your own. And don’t forget, you can repurpose it on multiple channels.

Because you might not have the budget for paid media and you can’t always rely on steady earned media, owned media should be a focus.

Pro Tip: Did you know PushPress Grow can help with everything from Google reviews to your gym blog on a results-driven website? Book a demo with our team today to find out more!
Deliver content to gym members through owned media

What’s The Difference Between The Three?

The difference is what you do with these three different types of media. Every day, hundreds of marketing messages bombard us. So how do you make your gym marketing stand out?

Find the combination of media that appeals to you and is achievable. Your marketing strategy will depend on your budget, location and target demographic. Also, consider the avenues that best fit the way you want your brand represented.

Also, expect the process to take awhile so plan to stay the course. Gym marketing is a system of trial and error over time, to dial in the strategies that yield the best ROI. Be smart about where you’re spending valuable dollars and track each one’s return.

In Summary: Find The Gym Marketing Media That Works Best For You

By understanding the three main types of media - paid, earned and owed - you can devise a successful plan for your gym. Paid media is the exchange of marketing dollars for distribution. Earned media is social proof provided by members, visitors and influencers. And owned media is content that you’re in full control of. When you piece the three together effectively, you can maximize reach and revenue.

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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