How to Promote Your Fitness Business: 10 Tactics to Grow Your Studio

Monday, May 9, 2022
Attract & Retain Customers

Congrats! You’ve got a fitness program that lights people up and helps them get fit and healthy.

Your die-hards love you and you’re ready to pack ‘em in.

But your classes aren’t selling out and you haven’t hit your membership goals in a long time 

We hear you.

The pandemic forced the entire fitness industry take a step back and it hit small fitness businesses the hardest. 

It’s time to promote your fitness business. Here’s 10 tactics to grow your fitness studio.

1) Boost Your SEO IQ

You may have the best fitness concept on the planet but unless people in your community know about you, you’re not going to grow.

Optimizing your fitness business for local search doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. There are a few key steps you can take right now to promote your fitness business online by optimizing local SEO. 

If you want the full scoop, check out our recent posts,  Why Local SEO is Important for Fitness Studios and Local SEO Checklist for Fitness Studios and Businesses. 

Here's a quick rundown:

  • Set up or enhance you Google My Business Listing. You do this by checking your fitness studio’s contact and location information. Is correct and consistent with your website and social media accounts?? Upload new and fresh photos. Be sure to review and actively respond to reviews. 
  • Regularly add keyword rich content to your website. Use one of the free, online SEO keyword research tools like Moz, Ahrefs or Google to find out what your target audience is searching for most online. Add page content, blogs and photos to your website that contain these keywords. Be sure to post and update the content regularly – ideally weekly. 
  • Check referring sites for contact and location accuracy. Make sure any directories or local website’s that mention your fitness business have your business name, address, phone number and any other information listed exactly as you have it on Google My Business and your website. 

2) Create Valuable Content and Share It Online

By generating and sharing complimentary, educational content, you automatically increase the value of your fitness business in the eyes of potential customers.

PLUS, your social media channels and email marketing efforts will be way more interesting and likely to be read if you’ve got timely, relevant info to share. 

Here are some examples of buzz-worthy content you can create and easily share to promote your fitness business:

Downloadable Tips Sheets and Guides

One-page checklists, tip-sheets, how-to guides and meal plans are a great way to give your community something extra that will keep them motivated and excited on their fitness journey – and keep your brand front of mind. 

On social media and in email marketing, content that instantly improves your end user’s day and is easily implemented consistently gets more likes, click-throughs and downloads. Try sharing some tips and tricks for free and gating your best kept secrets and most valuable content by requiring an email address to access your download. 

Host Workshops and Trainings

Brand yourself or your instructors as the experts you are and get out there with specialized workshops and trainings. Or invite well-known fitness experts in your niche to host events at your studio. 

Either way, when you share about these special events on your website, social media and through email, you’re also getting the word out about your entire fitness business. Participants in special workshops and events get exposed to your space and to your regular class or gym schedule. 

3) Get in Front of the Camera

Chances are you learned to teach to the camera during the pandemic.

Leverage all that great content or create new from your experience and share online.

According to digital marketing agency Mention, In 2019, video content was to account for 80% of all consumer internet traffic. 

They also found that:

  • Social media videos generate 1200% more shares compared with images and text combined.
  • 87% of online marketers use video content.
  • The volume of mobile video consumption increases by 100% every year.

You can keep it simple at first...

Start small by filming some short, candid clips for Instagram Stories.

Create longer workout of the week or move of the day videos to post on your website and link to from social media or your e-newsletter. Be sure put relevant keywords in the title (remember, boosting local SEO). 

4) Start a Referral Program

Relying on organic word of mouth is one way many small fitness businesses go about promoting (or not really promoting) their business.

It’s great to think that every customer will go out and share all over about how wonderful your fitness business is, but human nature and industry data tell another story. 

Companies with formalized referral programs experience 86 percent more revenue growth over the past two years when compared to the rest, according to research conducted by Heinz Marketing.

Creating a structured customer referral program for your gym or studio actively encourages and incentivizes customers to bring friends and family through your doors. 

Client referral is one of the most effective – and inexpensive – ways to market your gym, yoga or dance studio.

Why?

It doesn’t have to cost anything, aside from print costs for cards or posters, and, according to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report:

  • Consumers are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend
  • Eighty percent say they trust referrals from people they know.

To promote your small fitness business with a referral program you can:

  • Give all your auto-pay members a small number of “buddy passes” that you set in your class pricing structure as $0 or free class or gym day passes once or twice a year as gifts. The double bonus is that your most loyal customers will feel rewarded by the gift, and you’ll get a lot of new referrals without having to actively “sell.” 
  • Set up a cash or pass-based reward for customers who refer a certain number of new students. For example, give a free class or $10 towards a class pass purchase to each current customer who refers 5 friends.

And lets not forget... measure, measure, MEASURE!

Track the success of your referral program by measuring how many referred customers purchase your intro offer and/or convert to buying class passes or memberships.

Using a fitness business software program like Punchpass with the capability to run sales reports makes this simple and easy. 

For more details on how to promote your fitness business with a customer referral program check out our post: How to Use Client Referrals to Bring in Lots of New Students

5) Create and Irresistible Intro Offer

The best introductory offers for gyms and fitness studios attract new customers who might not otherwise be ready to commit to a full pass or membership by:

  • Allowing them to try your services at a substantially discounted price.
  • Giving the new potential customer enough time to try your fitness business and get hooked (these can be short-term deals that allow for one use only). 
  • Naturally leading into a pass or membership purchase with a bonus discount at the end.

Successful fitness business owners know that the key to intro offers that convert into more lucrative full-paying customers is to provide excellent customer service during the intro offer, and to follow up before the intro offer ends to invite the customer to stick with their new fitness routine by purchasing a pass or membership, sometimes at a slight discount.

Get more details in our post: Plan a New Intro Offer To Grow Your Fitness Business

6) Start a Brand Ambassador Program

This is another way to promote your fitness business that both brings in new business and rewards your best current customers.

Start by identifying your super-fans, the ones that come four or five times a week to work out and frequently like and comment your social posts. 

Invite them to be one of your gym’s ambassadors as way of recognizing them for things like being the most dedicated, working hardest to achieve results, overcoming challenges and inspiring other members of your community. 

Create a specific program structure where you clearly communicate what each of your brand ambassadors will get out of your program and what you ask of them in return.

Think about things like giving them branded t-shirts and water bottles, creating a social media hashtag and acknowledging them every time they post using the hashtag. Host team-building events or an inspiration class and then go and hand out promotional free class cards in your community. You get the idea. 

7) Form Community Partnerships

There are plenty of opportunities right where you live to find other non-competitive and like-minded businesses such as juice bars, spas, clinics, sport equipment stores, vegan restaurants, or even big box gyms that don’t offer your particular fitness niche and approach them about co-branding. 

You can sponsor outside events like yoga in the park or fun runs, create mutual discounts, or even co-hosted membership or class-pass programs. 

8) Get Active on Social Media

The old marketing adage of being where your target audience is and making sure they see you enough times to finally act still holds true, especially on social media.

Fitness topics are among the most popular types of content. 

Here are few tips for making sure you make the most of your social media posts to promote your small fitness business:

  • Give mad value. Don’t just brag, give your audience helpful tips on how to get and stay fit. 
  • Be sure to link to your website and make sure that your intro offer or information on how to pay and register for a first class or gym visit is clearly stated on the landing page. 
  • Don’t post and ghost. Be active in encouraging comments, reply to them and re-post, tag and give shout outs to your member who are active on social medial. 

9) Go Smart with Email Marketing

The days of only sending thoughtless, cookie-cutter emails are over.

There’s just too much digital traffic out there bombarding your target audience for them to notice.

The smart way to email market is to provide regular but not too frequent, high-value content that’s relevant to your target audience right now. 

So how often should you send email?

The marketing jury is still out around this, according to an article by Coschedule that analyzed more than 20 studies on the topic

A good rule of thumb is to send one email that’s got all your schedule, staff change announcements and other important business info, another that promotes upcoming special classes, events, workshops or trainings, a separate email touting any pricing discounts or special friends and family offers (remember that referral program?) and 1-2 emails a month with fitness and health tips. 

10) Host Fitness Challenges

Fitness challenges are one of the best ways to re-engage existing studio members while drawing in new customers at the same times.

Fitness challenges build buzz, generate community word of mouth, give you ample opportunity to post on social about participant’s progress and give virtual high-fives all over the place while generating an overall environment of excitement and energy around your fitness business. 

Be sure to create and communicate clear program rules and rewards.

Set up and promote your fitness challenge at least three to four weeks in advance to give time for promotion and enrollment. Use social media to both promote your fitness challenge, invite sign ups and publically acknowledge participants from beginning to end. Use lots of positive, inviting photographs. 

For more on how to set up a successful fitness challenge as a way to promote and grow your fitness business check out our article, Energize Your Gym with These Fitness Challenge Ideas.