Fitness marketing is a crucial strategy for gyms and studios offering boxing, yoga, pilates, spinning, zumba, cross-fit training, or other wellness programs. Ideally, a fitness studio business plan must include an entire marketing strategy for at least a year, if not longer.
Fitness marketing aims to make your target audience customers of your business. It includes setting goals, analyzing your business in relation to the competition, creating a message that appeals to your audience, and choosing the most appropriate fitness marketing tactics.
There’s no lack of resources online with mostly generic information about fitness marketing. And as an entrepreneur, you’re undoubtedly aware of the essential marketing needs. In this article, I’ll discuss what you need to know to create a fitness marketing plan specific to your fitness business.
In addition to this article, please review our guide on starting a fitness studio business since a fitness marketing plan is a subset of the wider fitness studio business plan.
What Is a Fitness Marketing Plan?
A fitness marketing plan is a document detailing an actionable strategy for execution. The document serves as the blueprint for branding, advertising, and promotional tactics based on business objectives, SWOT, target market research, competition analysis, resources, and financial assessments.
As a fitness studio, you may need to include the marketing blueprint in your business plan. You’ll then present the document to potential investors if you seek investment.
Outside of looking for investors, a fitness marketing plan is primarily an in-house document. It will be available for your reference when working on content, policies, sales, etc.
Unlike in accounting and taxes, there’s no one way of writing a fitness marketing plan. The content of your plan is much more important than how it’s presented. You’ll find countless templates online, so simply choose the one that best fits your needs.
That said, successful fitness marketing plans have a few things in common. Follow these tips to create the perfect fitness marketing plan.
Determine Marketing Objectives
Fitness marketing objectives should always relate to your broader business plan. If you don’t have a business plan, it’s the first thing you should create. Also, the measurable or quantifiable goals must be realistic, subject to the capacity of your fitness studio.
When writing out your marketing objectives, try not overstretching what’s achievable. All your goals should be realistic. Don’t write down something that your studio won’t be able to achieve in a reasonable time frame.
Your objectives should also be measurable. They should be tied to one or several indicators that will later let you gauge how much progress has been made.
You also need to know what to prioritize. A fitness brand selling a product or service may aim to get many users before maximizing their profits. In contrast, a fitness studio’s limited capacity will dictate your early focus on profits.
Here are some elements that should be part of your fitness marketing objectives:
- Marketing budget. It can be monthly, quarterly, or yearly—what matters is it’s time-bound.
- Sales target. This figure refers to the sales your business will have to make to get to a specific revenue number.
- Revenue estimates. Depending on the predictability of your business, you should be able to make a rough prediction of your future revenue.
- Customer acquisition cost. If you’re in the fitness industry, your main interest is to bring clients to your service. After you have a rough estimate of the cost of ad campaigns and their effectiveness, you’ll be able to calculate the cost of bringing in an interested client.
These four factors are at the center of how you’ll eventually market your fitness brand. However, they’re far from exhaustive. You’ll have various tools to reach those objectives, like pay-per-click ads, SEO campaigns, content marketing, etc.
Lead generation relates to what you’re willing to pay to acquire a customer, not what market forces dictate you invest. Suppose you spend $1,000 on online advertisements and acquire five new members in three months. In that case, your net acquisition cost for this marketing campaign was $200 per member.
Online ad campaigns are easy to measure and track with the right tools. However, other marketing efforts yield less clear-cut results over longer periods, as is the case with content marketing and SEO.
See marketing budget, sales target, revenue estimate, and customer acquisition cost as marking the boundaries for your plan. These figures will influence your fitness marketing strategy every step of the way.
Conduct a SWOT Analysis
SWOT analysis identifies your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Marketing focuses on communicating a unique value proposition. But that’s not all: you need to assess your competitors, recognize the threats, understand the market’s expectations, and learn to see opportunities. Here’s where SWOT analysis comes in.
A SWOT analysis will give you a clear picture of your business’s shortcomings and most significant risks. It should help you know where to focus your marketing efforts and keep you from staying behind the competition.
Fitness studios don’t exist in a bubble. Unless you’re the only studio in your area, you’ll have to measure against other businesses. So it’s not just about locating your strengths but comparing them against the competition.
You should assess your strengths and what you think are unique value propositions for your fitness studio.
For instance, the location of your fitness studio may be unmatched. Your strengths could also lie in a lower membership fee, an excellent facility, various fitness programs, flexible schedules, or personalized training.
Your strengths will later help you choose among different marketing mediums and tactics.
Like its strengths, the weaknesses of your fitness studio should be compared to your competition. Naturally, you won’t want to highlight weaknesses in marketing campaigns.
Most brands have a few shortcomings, including fitness studios. A common practice in several industries is compensating for these weaknesses through innovative pricing, special offers, dedicated client support, additional services, and other propositions that favor the clients.
Your fitness marketing plan should factor in the elements that the target audience will perceive as your weaknesses, especially compared to the competition. Marketing sets the expectations for your clients, and ads can become an oversell if you haven’t acknowledged your weaknesses.
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will lead you to identify opportunities. These opportunities should provide the foundation of your fitness marketing plan.
Your strategy should focus on exploring these opportunities and communicating your strengths.
Spending a lot of money or time on a saturated market segment is pointless unless you have a way to set yourself apart or a particular niche. An extensive analysis of your competition will help you identify the most lucrative opportunities for your fitness studio.
You may find opportunities related to how you offer a service, like the type of fitness program you specialize in or membership fees. They could also lie in demographic factors, such as age, gender, etc. Anything you can offer that the target market may be receptive to is an opportunity.
A fitness marketing plan should focus on the strengths and opportunities while accounting for the weaknesses and guarding against threats. The threats may come from your competition, the expectations of your target market, overpromising and under-delivering, etc.
Fitness studios face a constant threat due to the nature of the business. Most of the time, a fitness studio membership isn’t a matter of survival. For this reason, your marketing objectives should account for loss of customers and scenarios where your subscriptions may fall drastically, especially during economic downturns.
Target Audience & Fitness Marketing Channels
You must have a marketing budget, sales target, and revenue projections at this stage. You may also have an estimated customer acquisition cost based on your business objectives and marketing budget.
All these details will become the foundation of your fitness marketing plan. Many of these financial figures vary from business to business, so you’ll have to account for your brand’s unique needs.
After you’ve taken care of all that, it’s time to think about perhaps the most crucial part of your marketing plan: your target audience.
To get your message across to your target audience, your plan should have a marketing mix that combines branding, advertisements, promotions, and sales across several offline and online mediums.
Fitness Marketing Channels
Here’s a list of the common components of a fitness marketing plan and the various marketing channels you can use:
- Website. A website with responsive design will do wonders in placing your business near the top of Google results, but it does more than that. Your website will often be the first point of contact between your fitness studio and your clients, so you want to give a good image.
- App. A smartphone application with real-time scheduling and payment options can be a great complement for many businesses. However, this may not apply to all fitness studios. Think twice before offering something that several huge brands have already been offering for a while.
- Traditional branding. You shouldn’t forget about glow signs, banners, and billboard advertising. Many potential customers will stumble upon your business in real life, so keeping a good look is essential.
- Conventional promotions: brochures, flyers, local classifieds, and print advertising.
- Email marketing. Sending newsletters, infotainment content, and community posts to your subscribers’ inboxes is an excellent way to keep them interested.
- Online advertising. The meat and potatoes of digital marketing. It includes pay-per-click ads, sponsored listings, banner ads, and others.
- Social media. Where most organic new customers will first meet your brand. No fitness marketing plan is complete without a thorough social media strategy. Fitness studios are all about carving a space within your clients’ lifestyles, and social media is the ultimate way to connect with them personally.
Your fitness marketing plan doesn’t have to get into all these mediums with the same intensity. Depending on your business goals and your target audience, you’ll have to decide which ones to prioritize.
Suppose your potential members are comfortable with phone calls, emails, and text messages. In that case, you may want to dial back the money you spend on paid social media campaigns.
Having a presence on social media is crucial for long-term branding. However, spending a lot of time and effort on paid promotions doesn’t make sense if you don’t expect people to actually sign up.
Your target audience may spend more time at local community hotspots. In that case, directing your marketing campaigns to these places might have a better return on investment.
Choose Fitness Marketing Tactics and Ideas
You should choose time-bound and measurable tactics for each medium you’ll be working with. Of course, you will work on some of them in the long term with your brand, but even those should have clear goals and stepping stones.
Here are five types of tactics you may consider for a time-bound fitness marketing strategy:
Create Tagline and Slogans
Slogans and taglines represent the ethos and spirit of your business. They should communicate to your customers more than the fact that you’re a fitness studio.
A slogan should evoke specific feelings in your clients, which should be present throughout your marketing. You can also create a series of taglines to be used in specific mediums and campaigns.
Consider the following genius creations for inspiration:
- Nike – Just Do It.
- Apple – Think Different.
- Coca-Cola – Open Happiness.
- L’Oreal Paris – Because You’re Worth It.
- Wheaties – The Breakfast of Champions.
- HBO – It’s Not TV. It’s HBO.
- De Beers – A Diamond Is Forever.
- Lay’s – Betcha Can’t Eat Just One.
- Dunkin’ – America Runs on Dunkin.
- McDonald’s – I’m Lovin’ It.
- General Electric – Imagination at Work.
- The U.S. Marine Corps – The Few. The Proud. The Marines.
Many of the ideas in these slogans can be easily carried into the fitness industry. However, make sure to word your slogans and taglines in a way that appeals to your target audience.
For example, not everyone aspires to achieve a specific body mass index, but some of your clients may be aiming for a particular fat percentage. In the same way, some want to bulk up, whereas others may prefer lean muscles. Know what your audience wants so you can create a precise slogan.
Prepare a Marketing Blitz
A marketing blitz is necessary at specific times, such as prior to the inauguration, post-renovation, launch of a new fitness program, or when you are losing customers. Rebranding is another situation that calls for a marketing blitz. Some fitness studios go all out in January to cash in on the resolution trend.
Unlike fast-moving consumer goods and essential services, fitness studios don’t need to plan a marketing blitz across all mass media. Focusing on the most active medium for your target audience should be enough.
A time-bound marketing blitz is essential if you want to maximize the impact of your various branding, advertising, and promotional tactics.
Plan a Fitness Challenge
One way to attract customers and keep the ones that you already have is by planning a fitness challenge. As a fitness studio, you can offer a free class or brief boot camp. You can also take the chance to design a fitness challenge based on your specialization.
Here are some ideas that should help you create a fitness challenge:
- Pick an event that appeals to the largest group among your potential customers, but market it to your own community.
- Share your secrets to those failing the fitness challenge, and help them get through it.
- Tweak a fitness routine for people of various ages and fitness levels.
- Pick a few yoga asanas or poses that seem simple but are challenging.
- Choreograph a Zumba special that appeals to many, and everyone has a great time.
- Invite people and host spinning, pilates, or other challenges in your fitness studio.
Try to make the fitness challenge as personal as possible within your community. Don’t forget to integrate the challenge with your fitness studio. Otherwise, the entire adventure may end up being a social media trend without much tangible return on your investment.
Nurture a Fitness Community
An active fitness community does wonders for a studio. Besides having a referral program, a committed and passionate community of fitness enthusiasts can act as a force multiplier during a marketing blitz, challenge, and everything exciting your studio has to offer.
You can leverage the accomplishments of your fitness community in myriad ways. You’ll have organic testimonials, genuine before and after photos, workout videos featuring real members, and a ton of user-generated content for offline and online marketing.
Develop a Local Influencer Network
Last but not least, develop a local network of influencers and affiliates. Your fitness community can double up as the influencers. Supplement their influence with referrals from professionals associated with health and fitness.
You can team up with doctors, primary care physicians, general practitioners, and healthcare professionals. Consider also contacting physiotherapists and nutritionists. Anyone who provides professional health, fitness, and wellness services can be your ally in this quest.
Finally, you could reach out to local social and community groups of parents, students, and athletes.
Review Your Progress
A fitness marketing plan is a living document. Predicting specific marketing tactics’ success or creating a comprehensive strategy is impossible. Instead of waiting for the eventual impact of your plan, check on its progress as it goes. This should lead you to modify your fitness marketing campaigns along the way.
Fitness is more than a product or a service—it’s a lifestyle. Much in the same way, fitness marketing can’t be a one-time action. As a fitness studio owner, you know that acquisition, retention, and customer loss are unavoidable realities, but now you have tools to counter those challenges and any others that appear in the future.
Additionally, explore my guide on the top fitness studio software to see how fitness software can help you with fitness marketing.
I write abouT establishing and Growing your boutique Fitness/Wellness Business. I promise no spam, I hate spam.
Enter Your Email To Receive Growth Tips For Your Boutique Studio. I Also Send Out Occasional Discounts And Freebies
About the author
Naz Ahm is the founder of StudioGrowth and has spent a decade growing start-ups and venture-backed companies. He writes about sales, marketing, and growth, especially in the yoga, fitness, and wellness industry.
Naz has an MBA from IESE Business School and started his journey in the wellness industry when he set up an on-demand wellness business. Naz currently splits his time between the U.K and the US.