Congratulations, you have opened your doors and started a fitness business. The easy part is over and now the hard part begins; it’s now time to build your business. According to www.statista.com, there are 36,180 gyms in America. You will have competition and must find a way to stand out if you want to succeed in a populated industry. Another crazy statistic is that 8 out of 10 small businesses shut down within 18 months of start up. The odds are against you to build a thriving business. Many fitness professionals cross their fingers and hope new members flock to their facility. You may have all the fancy certifications and education but without a solid marketing plan, no one will know you exist. You must ALWAYS BE MARKETING (ABM). From here on out, marketing should be a priority. Below I have laid out several ideas for you to choose from. Select the options that work best for your business.
1. Social Media. I started using Facebook my first year as a business owner (2006). I had less than 200 followers and would only get 3 or 4 likes per post. It was nothing big at the beginning. But I stayed consistent and continued to use this outlet to market my business. I can honestly say that Facebook has been and is still my #1 marketing outlet over the past decade. You can also use Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Linkedn as social media marketing tools for your business. Use the outlets that will be the biggest assistance in building your business. It’s quite easy to take pictures of clients working out, post client testimonials or showcase one of your coaches in a training session and post to your social media pages. By doing this type of organic marketing you are building your brand. The thing about social media is that people are always on it and marketing and showcasing your business is a must now a days. It is very critical to build an organic following one follower at a time. You do this by expressing your passion in fitness, being genuinely interested in other people and by relentlessly putting out quality content on a weekly basis (see below). Hence, ABM.
· Facebook ideas:
o Live FB videos. Once you have built a solid following, going “live” throughout the week will build a relationship with your followers. Live video is the purest organic content one can do because it’s just you and the viewers. It’s an intimate setting and can be a “behind the scenes” look into your life and/or business. Your followers want to see you in your purest form. This is how you build trust with them as they see you in action. Be patient, it takes time to build an organic following.
o Live FB ideas: Q and A’s where you answer questions from your followers, nutrition education/strategies, workout descriptions/exercise explanations, mindset talks, live workouts of actual training sessions, etc.
· Once you have built a foundation of organic followers, you can then start to build paid advertising campaigns. This is a whole article in itself but I will hit on a few of the major points. Targeting your campaigns to your specific demographic is the key. If you train 30-45 year old women, you can geo-target this niche market in your ads. You can get as detailed as targeting individuals with specific interests and/or people that live within a certain mile radius of your location. This all depends on what you are marketing and the goal of the plan. You do not need to spend a ton of money on Facebook marketing. Start with $200/month and let that money work for you. As your business grows, you can increase your marketing budget. You can also increase your budget when you are promoting specific programs or special deals. Boosted posts where you are spending $1-$2 a day can be very successful if built efficiently and targeting the right demographic.
· A few key things to remember regarding advertising on Facebook: quality pictures will attract the person scrolling through their Facebook so make sure to take your time to shoot good pictures. Edit the pictures just enough to upgrade the initial photo. The wording of the post should stand out to the consumer; don’t be too pushy because this will turn off your perspective customer. Showcasing your clients is a great way to highlight your program without saying much about it. Ask a few members to do a video testimonial about your program and you can then build a campaign around this video. Nothing better than peer reviews when marketing.
2. Increase and improve your video marketing. Your face is the center of the business and needs to be everywhere. Videos help the consumer get to know you and your systems. Video engagement allows the consumers to see you and/or your company in action. Building your YouTube subscriptions, making Facebook and Instagram videos and putting together daily stories on your SnapChat and Instagram are options to utilize. Find the ones that will ultimately help your business grow. And use them to the maximum effort. Just know none of them will work if you do not consistently use them. Most of your videos can be made with your smart phone. You can get high quality content with your phone. You can also improve the production of your videos with some simple tools and video production knowledge.
Simple tools: tripod to hold phone, lighting and lavaliere microphone.
Apps to help with this aspect: Pic Collage, Imovie, PicPlayPost. Simple and shorter videos can be made with Pic Collage and PicPlayPost. More detailed edited videos you can use Imovie right on your phone.
3. Public Speaking. When I first opened my business, I started public speaking. I didn’t look at this as some “marketing strategy”. I value my community and my passion is to inspire others to be healthy and fit. It was something that came with the territory. Most of the top personal trainers and fitness coaches also public speak. It’s an avenue to express your philosophies, inspire larger groups, and highlight your business. I would say my first 25 speaking engagements were for free. I said yes to everything. Not only was I able to motivate people, but also I began to build my reputation throughout the community as a “public speaker”. Today, I still give free talks to various schools, non-profit organizations and company meetings. But there are also paid speaking engagements for keynote type of presentations. Just like anything, speaking is a talent that can be built. It takes practice and the more you are up in front of people, the smoother you will get. Just remember, know your topic, be passionate, talk slow and deliberate, look people in their eyes and have fun.
Start with contacting: local schools or teachers you may already know, local service clubs (Rotary or Kiwanis), sports teams, local businesses or business owners you may know.
4. Form business relationships. In business, it is critical to have a few strong business relationships. This is not a “can you market my business” type of relationship. This is a “how can we help each other out” type of friendship. I have had other local businesses walk into my business asking me to market their product. For me, this is a turn off. They are just trying to sell stuff. Not me, my business is my passion and I do not just sell stuff. Instead, let’s go grab a coffee and chat about how we can help each other be more successful. Make sure you are connecting with like-minded professionals who can relate to you and your business and you do the same. For me, a good relationship with another business owner is one of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur.
“Always be marketing” is not some gimmicky marketing campaign aimed at baiting people to come into your business. It’s a genuine approach to spreading your passion and inspiring people to gain health and fitness. And you are willing to do what it takes to spread this positive message to the world. In turn, you will increase the traffic into your facility.