How To Create Marketing Advocates and Get Free Marketing

by | Dec 5, 2018

7 minute read
Learn how to utilize your current members to help you in the marketing game.

“Oh, elusive marketing: Am I ever going to figure you out?” (asked almost every single independent gym owner in the history of the world).

Followed by: “How much money should I spend on Facebook ads? Google ads? Is blogging worth my time?  Should I even bother advertising online when the best leads seem to be referrals?”

It’s true, you’re in the relationship business and word of mouth and referrals are always going to bring in the strongest leads. That being said, the same is true when you consider your marketing efforts, online and otherwise.

You current clients—your all-important referral generators—are also your most influential marketing team. They’re better than any marketing campaign you could ever run. And the best part is, you don’t have to pay them to market your brand!

But, but, but this comes with a condition: You need to do the right things to lead them in the right direction.

Here’s how:

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Be Deliberate

Sitting back and hoping your members will naturally step up and start pumping your gym in their posts and videos online, and to their friends in person, works to a certain degree if you’re doing a good job coaching them. However, being more deliberate about your efforts is going to be much more effective.

In other words, if you have a writer, a blogger, a podcaster in your community, or even a nutritionist, an RMT or another health professional or small business owner, shoulder up with them and help each other out. Bloggers are always looking for content to write about, and various health professionals are always looking to network with other companies and business owners. Why not write a blog promoting a “Business of the Month” that features someone in your community, and have them reciprocate something similar to pump your brand in return?

Take Picture-taking Seriously

It’s 2018: A grainy, out of focus shot of someone doing an awkward-looking clean isn’t going to get people to share your posts on social media. It might be more worth your time to spend money on a photographer to come in to the gym once a week for a couple hours than it is to spend money on Facebook ads. In short, people appreciate quality. Quality shots will be shared organically.

Another great tactic is to send great pictures to members directly. If it’s a picture they’re proud of (and let’s be honest, a picture that makes them look strong and fit), chances are they’ll post it themselves and will usually something great about their coach or your gym in their post.

Tell a REAL Story

Similar to pictures, if your blog and video content is compelling, people will share it. Highlighting members’ successes and telling a real story about their transformation—be it in a blog article or a video interview—always generates likes and shares, especially by the person you are writing about.

The more open and vulnerable you can get your members to be during an interview, the more relatable he/she will be to the audience, so ask the hard questions. Someone telling you he lost 50 lb. is somewhat compelling, but someone revealing to the world with tears in her eyes that one year ago she overhead her son’s friend call her “the fat mom,” and from that moment vowed to make a change, and here she is 12 months later 80 lb. lighter and off her diabetes meds, is way more powerful and more likely to be shared with the masses.

The point: Don’t be superficial. Ask the hard questions. Wait for the real and vulnerable answers that initiate an emotional response from the audience. In conjunction with this, select the right candidates to feature: people willing to be open and vulnerable.

Track Your Content

If you’re someone who writes a couple blogs a week on your website to share with your community and prospective market, start tracking what types of content gets shared the most: Client transformation stories? Posts about nutrition information? Blogs about training? Start paying attention to what types of content does well and what doesn’t. Even if you find something interesting, if your target market doesn’t respond to it, maybe it’s not that interesting, after all.

Another great tactic is to scour your clients’ social media pages to see what types of articles and videos they’re posting and sharing. Use this as inspiration for your content, if it’s relevant to your community and business.

Ask!

Similar to being deliberate by partnering up with relevant clients, actually take the time to ask your members to tag you in posts, to post a Facebook or google review of your business, to re-share your posts and to share about their personal experiences.

Make it easy on them: Educate them how to do it if they express interest and provide them the tools to make it happen.

Use Online Challenges Sparingly

Use these sparingly, but sometimes running a fun challenge (if you come up with a cool and unique idea) works to get people tagging, sharing and hashtagging about your gym.

Again, don’t inundate people with these too frequently, but once a year can generate some real excitement and awareness if you have a good cause to rally around that people are legitimately excited about. If it’s a good idea, you’ll know because you won’t have to bombard and remind people to share and use the hashtags; they’ll do it naturally.

Make It Easy For Them

If you do run a challenge, keep it simple. If the challenge and hashtags are complicated, convoluted and confusing, it’s just going to turn them your members off from taking part.

The same is true of generating referrals in person: Be consistent and clear about whatever your approach is to get your clients to bring their friends into your gym. You’d be surprised how often clients don’t know what to do if a friend asks them about your gym. Dumb it down and keep it simple and straightforward.

Planning a new gym, yoga studio, or martial arts facility?
This article appears as part of our Definitive Gym Startup Guide as a resource for everyone who’s planning to start a new .
For more information and a ton more tips, tricks, hacks, and concepts make sure to read thru the whole guide.