No matter what how many members you have, how big your marketing budget is or what type of fitness or sports business you run, you need to be doing some marketing to ensure people know about your business, to generate leads, to promote your services and to keep increasing your sales.
The challenge is there are so many marketing activities you could do but no one has unlimited money or time to do them all.
So to make it simple, here is my checklist of the top 11 marketing activities you should always be doing to make your fitness or sports business a success. Most of these don’t cost a lot of money and they are all pretty straight forward but these should be the basics that every business should be doing to ensure you meet your marketing goals.
1. Have a Marketing Plan
There is a well know saying, fail to plan, plan to fail. This pretty much sums up the importance of having a marketing plan to help improve the chance of your business succeeding.
Before you start to do any marketing, you need to know what you want to achieve, what you will be doing, how you will be doing it, when you want to run your marketing and how you will measure it. A plan contains all of this and more so you can be more proactive and not reactive with your marketing.
No matter how big or small your fitness business is, you have got to have a plan. It gives you direction, keeps you focused, gives you more structure and tracks your progress. If you want to increase the chances of your business improving its position next year, then get your 2017 marketing plans in place now.
2. Also have a social media plan
Social media is only gaining in importance when it comes to marketing so it needs a plan all to itself to give you direction, uncover opportunities and better allocate your time and money.
A social media marketing plan is the summary of everything you plan to do and hope to achieve for your business using your social networks (such as Facebook, Instagram etc). This plan should comprise an audit of where your accounts are today, goals for where you want them to be in the near future, and all the tools you want to use to get there.
People are becoming more active on social media and as a result, are relying on it more when it comes to making purchase decisions. A plan will help you understand their motivation as well as giving you a better insight into your competitors.
Your plan needs to include:
- Social media objectives and goals
- An audit of your current social media channels
- What social media channels you need to create or how can you improve your existing ones
- A content plan and editorial calendar for each social media network you will be using
Always remember, like a marketing plan, a social media plan is never set in stone. Test, evaluate and adjust your social media marketing plan throughout the year. Social media is always changing therefore your plans will also change to take advantage of new trends, opportunities and challenges.
3. A great, professional and easy to use Website
Pretty much all businesses today need a Website – it is often the first thing a person will look at to get an idea of what you are like, what services you offer, your classes, costs, where you are located and how they can contact you.
There are countless reasons as to why you should have a Website – it gives your business credibility, it is open 24/7, it is a highly cost effective way to gain leads, it keeps people informed about what you are doing and can boost your sales.
Your Website should reflect your brand identity, look professional, be easy to navigate, have superior content and be mobile friendly. For more information on how to get the most out of your Website, read my previous blog on how to make your Website a success.
4. Be active on social media
Just like you need to have a Website, you also have to be on at least one social media channel.
I always suggest starting on Facebook as this is the most popular social network. If you decide to go on additional channels, think about your target audience and what they use – is it LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter? Whatever they are on, that is where you need to be.
Whatever social media you decide to use, make sure your profile is up to date and looks professional, ensure you are posting or tweeting regularly (not just now and then or when you have the time), use promotions, ensure you are posting quality content, ask for feedback, make it a little personal, use pictures and videos. Don’t do a lot of hard selling but show you care about your fans and followers.
5. Have a referral program and plenty of positive reviews
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to gain leads is to ask your current members or clients if they know anyone who would be interested in training with you or joining your centre. Also ask them to leave positive reviews on Google, Facebook, any online directories or on your Website.
When people are looking for a new business, Google is often the first place they turn to. If you had a choice between two very similar fitness businesses but one had a lot of positive reviews and the other had none at all or worse still, a bad rating or two, which would you choose?
Reward your clients for any recommendations or referrals they give you – this will show you appreciate their loyalty and will encourage them to keep saying great things about you to others.
Never underestimate the power of word of mouth – it will bring in twice as much business as paid advertising alone. What would you put more trust in – a paid advertisement or what your best friend or family member recommended to you?
And what about your own staff? Maybe give them an extra incentive for every new person that joins your business. Think of them as brand ambassadors – endorsing your business.
6 Get your business on lots of directory listings
There are so many different local directories out there and you should have your business details listed on as many as possible. A basic listing doesn’t cost you anything, people can easily find your details, it increases your visibility plus it can help with your SEO.
These are just a few you should be on:
Whether you are a new fitness business or have been operating for years, to gain greater exposure in the market, improve your SEO and gain more attention from your target audience, make sure you list all your details on a number of key online directories.
7. Have some collateral or merchandise to give out
Even though the majority of marketing is now done online, I always recommend to develop some marketing collateral too.
Whether it be business cards, posters, an A-Frame, flyers or postcards, you need something tangible for people to see or to hand out to through letterbox drops, events, at your business or when you are simply talking to someone.
People may forget your name, your email or Website but giving a person your business card or a flyer reminds them of you and keeps your contact details on hand. Ensure it has a consistent look and feel with your other marketing materials and reflects your brand values.
8. Make sure you are blogging
As I mentioned in a previous blog, you need to be blogging on a regular basis. It positions you as a thought leader and an authority in your industry and is a great way to warm up your leads.
Blogs are a much more powerful message compared to a paid ad – blogs are guaranteed to attract more people thus saving you big bucks compared to running an advertising campaign.
9. Set up Google Adwords
Online advertising can be very effective in getting your name out there but what about when people are looking for you?
When people are Googling for a local fitness business, you have two different results, organic and paid. Organic (or natural) search results are the Web page listings that most closely match the user’s search query based on relevance – this doesn’t cost you anything and is what SEO is all about.
The second type is paid and these are basically advertisements — you pay to have your ads displayed based on certain keywords. So when someone runs a search query containing those keywords (such as “fitness centre” and “Bondi”), your ads pop up matching that query.
Paid listings appear either above or below the organic results. They are often listed in a shaded background, have border lines, or other visual clues so the person knows it is an ad.
So if you are struggling to appear high on the organic search, then make sure your have your Google Adwords set up to give your business greater exposure to people looking for you.
10. Have a database and use email
It isn’t sexy or fancy but you must have an up to date database which contains all the details of your clients, members, leads and prospects. This will greatly improve the success of your direct marketing campaigns (whether they be online or through the mail).
One of the best direct marketing tools to use is the humble email. Social media gets most of the attention but not everyone is on Facebook and often your message gets lost in a person’s newsfeed.
Email offers one of the highest return on investments compared to other online marketing techniques such as social media and online ads. Almost two-thirds of Internet users check their email everyday, which means that if you come up with a great email, your target audience is likely to check out the details. So ensure email plays a part of your marketing strategies.
11. And last but probably one of the most important – SEO
Let’s face it, when we are looking for information on any topic, our first point of call is often Google. So when people search for personal training, sports centres, gyms or fitness studios, you want to appear as high in the rankings as possible.
Think of SEO like the old “Yellow Pages” – we would usually choose the business who has the biggest ad on the first page – it is the same with your SEO ranking. Being on the first page or up high not only increases your chance of a person clicking on your details, but it gives your business added credibility and gives you one of the most effective returns on your marketing.
This is a lot easier said than done as Google has a range of formulas which decide as to where your business is listed but having quality content, using keywords, header tags, link building, and including social sharing all contribute to improving your ranking.
So there it is, the 11 items your fitness business must be doing to keep your marketing working hard and to increase the investment on your marketing dollars. As I said at the start, these items don’t cost a lot, but they are highly effective in building your brand, generating leads and improving your bottom line.