FBA 03: The 5 Pillars Of Fitness Business Marketing

In episode 3, Jack takes you through the five main areas of marketing that you’ll need to consider and plan for to reach business success.

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Some of the key points from today’s episode:

In this episode, Jack goes through 5 of the most important marketing channels for any fitness business looking to get their message out to the world effectively and powerfully. Having a great product and giving good service is not enough – you need to find ways to connect with potential clients and keep connected with your current ones by sharing your business’s stories and successes.

Listen today to find out more about the 5 key areas of marketing that you should be focusing on. You can refer back to this episode if you’re stuck for marketing ideas or direction and if you’re feeling confused on where to start, pick one thing and learn about and develop it.

In today’s episode we’re covering:

1. [2:49] The importance of social media marketing and how it’s replaced many other more traditional forms of advertising

2. [7:26] How to approach PR and the things to consider when developing an effective approach to getting your story out in newspapers, magazines, blogs and TV shows.

3. [11:31] Why you cannot ignore email marketing and some solid ideas and strategies towards kickstarting this important and cheap form of marketing.

4. [13:55] The things you need to consider when approaching partners or entering a partnership with another business.

5. [18:23] Why word of mouth and referrals are possibly the best form of advertising out there.

6. [22:18] A summary of the essential 5 pillars of fitness business marketing

Episode 3 transcript

Hey guys – I hope you’re doing well and welcome once again to the FBA Asia podcast. Today’s show is episode number 3 so we’re new to the podcast game but feedback on our first two episodes has been great, so please keep it coming, including any topics that you’d like to be covered in future episodes.

Before we start today’s episode I’d like to ask a big favour – we’ve now set up our socials and you can find us on Instagram and facebook user name FBA and our site is up and running too at FBA.com so if you could give us a follow and comment on any topics that you’d like covered, I’d greatly appreciate it.

We’ve only just begun and we’d like this podcast to impact as many people in the fitness industry as possible, so if you have any friends that would benefit from what we put out, please send them our way. This can be done through a tag on one of our Instagram posts or by sending them the itunes link.

We don’t put out any ads on this podcast so all referrals to help start this movement would be warmly welcomed.

OK, so today I’d like to talk about the 5 pillars of marketing your fitness business that should be considered and planned for. Today is really just an overview and each pillar deserves it’s own episode, which we’ll be doing later down the line.

Quality marketing is often overlooked in the fitness industry so if you need some ideas refer back to this podcast and perhaps focus on developing one. Over time you’ll gain more experience and your complete marketing approach will start to take a more rounded shape.

Not only do each of these 5 pillars need their own episode, they need a lot of investment of time and perhaps money to get right. I’ve learned a lot about these elements over the 2 years that BASE has been open but I’m constantly looking to improve, learn more and recruit or hire people who are better than me at these things.

As I step away from the marketing side more now, what I’ve learned has put me in a strong position to hire or to outsource this work, as I know what good marketing looks like. There are many so called marketing experts and gurus out there charging a lot of money for not much, so if you don’t know strong marketing is or what it looks like, you can easily waste money and time.

So in summary – learning the basics of marketing is one of the best investments you can make for yourself.

I said in our initial episode that this podcast is not just relevant for fitness industry professionals but that other business owners and entrepreneurs would also benefit – this is very true of this episode as these 5 pillars of marketing are applicable to most businesses.

SOCIAL MEDIA

So let’s go into our first pillar of marketing – social media. This is probably the grand daddy of marketing now and has blown many other channels out the water, which is evident in the declne of print media.

There are whole podcasts dedicated to this subject so we can only skim the surface here, but if there’s one thing you take from this episode, it’s the importance of getting your socials right.

Many people won’t even go to your website now – they’ll go straight to your Instagram to find out about you as they see it as quicker, easier and up to date. So if your Instagram isn’t quicker, easier and up to date, then you’ll run into problems.

Your Instagram should provide a quick visual representation of what you do, what kind of people your business is good for and what you stand for. We are incredibly lucky in the fitness industry to have a ton of incredible stories happening on a day to day basis. We should be changing people’s lives and we’re giving them an experience they should want to tell the world about. That makes our jobs as fitness marketers much easier than someone trying to market accounting or window cleaning services.

Your primary source of social media marketing depends on the country you’re in. Here in Thailand the top two are Instagram and Facebook, by a long way. Whether you start focusing on the smaller platforms depends on the size of your team and how much time you have, but if you’re a smaller business with limited resources then go all in on the major ones rather than spread yourself thin.

I love checking out other fitness studios when I’m on holiday. It’s great to get a workout in and it’s also an opportunity to put myself on the client side and take myself through the complete customer journey from discovering a studio, researching into them and seeing what they do, booking a class, finding it, taking the session and then experiencing any after-class service or marketing they offer.

Social media often falls under the category of research, once you’ve already found out about them. I find Instagram the best channel for this and when you bring up their feed, there’s about 9 or so images on the front page and then as you scroll down, you might see another 10-20 images. This is their chance to shine and they probably have a few seconds to capture the audience and sell them that first session. This is literally make or break – imagine someone has just moved to your city and their researching new gyms. If you they go to your feed and you’re doing it right, they will come to your studio and you will then have an opportunity to show that potential client what you do. If they live in your city long term that could be worth thousands of dollars. If what they see on that page turns them off, you may not even get that chance to show them what you do.

I invite you to look at your social media through the eye’s of a client and ask yourself – is it clear what we offer? Is it clear the kind of people our fitness business is for? Does it look inviting, exciting, fun? Is there an offer or a push somewhere to get them to the next stage, which is visiting your gym?

You may have biased or untrained eyes, so get a few trusted friends who you think know about marketing to look through your socials as if a client, and get their advice. This feedback is invaluable and how to get quality feedback from people is something we will cover in a future episode.

PR

The second of the 5 pillars is PR. PR is the face and story of your brand in other forms of media such as blogs, city guides, magazines, newspapers, radio and the like. This one can be a little tough to tackle and many get an outside agency to help as they have the connections and networks necessary to get your story out.

Getting an agency isn’t cheap so you want to look at free channels that allow you to get your story out. Use any connections you have with any publications as the contact list of a PR agency is a huge part of what you’re paying for. Fortunately for us, fitness and health is something that magazines, newspapers and TV shows want to feature as it’s of interest to a lot of people. That being said, you need to create an interesting story that they’ll want to cover. Journalists are generally pretty lazy so if you can give them an interesting story and create a press release that does a lot of the work for them, they’ll often jump on it.

Some examples of newsworthy stories would be the launch of your business which is for sure one of the biggest stories you want to get out. In this story you’d want to cover who your business is for? The area it’s in, any new exciting elements to your concept and other details that people need to know like price, address and how to contact you.

Once your business is up and running you need to create new stories to keep the media interested in you – some ideas would be

  • New programs you’re running
  • New classes, who they’re for, what makes them unique, if they’re only available at your venue
  • New coaches – what they bring, what makes them great
  • Client success stories, the more intense and interesting, the better – lost 30kg, helped them overcome disease, reverse diabetes, help them have a baby, win a competition

Ultimately, think about what would interest you if you picked up a magazine in a coffee shop and had a read through. What would excite you? What would have you wanting to read more?

The more eye-catching and unique, the better.

Writing a quality press release is not easy as journalists get 100s of these every week so you need to make yours stand out. You can find templates and examples on Google but unless you’re very confident with this I’d recommend outside help. For BASE, I help write them with our agency and then I get a journalist friend to go through it and make any edits.

For any of these five pillars of marketing, anything you’re not 100% confident with you should seek help and learn from there. If you can get friends to help you great, but you may need to pay to get this stuff right. When you pay, learn as much as you can about the process and then over time, you may not be able to neccesarily write a great press or manage your own social media, but you’ll at least understand it.

EMAIL

Our next pillar is an underutilized one – and that’s email marketing.

Many fitness businesses hardly use email marketing which is just a crime.

On my travels I’ve visited a ton of studios around the world — all of them have my email address but very few ever send me anything. On the other hand, there are some small and actually quite forgettable gyms that are strong and consistent on their email marketing, and I pretty much know everything that’s going on with them. With their emails they have many new chances to win me over and get me back.

The best thing about email marketing is that it’s free – simply take the email address of everyone that comes into your gym and you start to build up your database, you can also do promos online whereby clients give you their email address for free classes or half price sessions, entry to events or if you want to get real fancy, in exchange for a PDF guide like a home workout or nutrition guide.

Consider the copy you use in the emails – they should grab the attention of the person reading it, shouldn’t be too long and it should be easy to get to the next stage of where you want to get them to – so for example, if you’re promoting a new trainer perhaps they can click a link to view their profile or book in a trial session. The wording you use has big impact, so unless you know you’re a skilled writer, get some help on this.

I would say email your clients around once every 1-2 weeks, more if you have a lot going on and some good stories to put out. Make them attractive, easy to read, with buttons that make it easy to send them where you want to go.

PARTNERSHIPS

I have a mixed relationship with partnerships. We have an incredible partnership with Adidas who we have worked with at BASE since day 1. We help each other out a lot with events, activations and co-promotions and it’s a truly reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship.

This win/win is really hard to get with partners and partnerships take quite a lot of work if they’re to be effective. In all honesty, most of our partnerships have not been worth our time and energy and many partners forget that it is a two-way relationship and become quite demanding.

I don’t want to hate on partnerships because they can be great, but the lesson I’ve taken is be very selective on who you partner with make sure you can invest the time that’s needed to make it successful for both parties.

We get many requests from people wanting to partner up and they’re often very demanding from the very first contact. Those emailed get a canned response from my team or if they’re really generic, just deleted. If you’re reaching out to a business or person for a partnership make the contact very personal to the business and ideally that individual person you’re contacting. Use the email to introduce your business and what you do, and importantly – what you can do for them.

The best way to approach any partnership is just giving as much as possible without expectation, and that’s what many find hard. Just give, give, give and if you’re not getting much back then look for another partnership. When you find a good partner, they will take this approach too and you’ll both reap the benefits and feel good about it.

This is what it’s like with Adidas – both sides are trying to give as much value as possible to the other party and we both feel great about it. To be honest, the same principle can applied to any kind of relationship, but that can be covered in another episode.

As a fitness business, you could look to partner up with:

  • Local cafes and restaurants
  • Clothing suppliers like Adidas or local clothing brands. See if you can get clothing for your coaches, providing an extra benefit to your team, or do activations or events for them
  • Other fitness businesses not in direct competition, which is something we did with Physique 57 recently, a premium New York based fitness studio
  • Meal devliery services – this is a big one that we use a lot, with a paleo meal delivery service in Bangkok called Paleo Robbie. We selected the carefully as they provide high quality food and service. This is important – anyone you partner with becomes a direct reflection of you and your brand, so make sure they are up to your standards before associating yourself with them

In summary, partnerships are great but be selective and make sure it’s worth the time and effort for both of you.

WORD OF MOUTH/REFERRALS

Other things to look at consider which I haven’t touched on today are: Google Adwords, SEO, banner ads and other more traditional channels such as sponsorship, flyers, posters, print media and radio – many argue that these are largely dead and your advertising dollars are better spent elsewhere, especially on the new-ish internet marketing channels such as facebook and Instagram.

I gave some shoutouts to some of the fitness podcasts that I’ve been following and I’d like to add another one to the list today, which is Fitness Career Mastery by Barry Ennis. Barry offer some solid insights with top industry pros on many areas and aspects of fitness business and talks a lot on creating an experience, which is the way the higher end of the industry has gone in the last 5-10 years. So that’s Fitness Career Mastery by Barry Ennis, highly recommend… check it out.

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