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Don't Waste Money on These Marketing Strategies

We’re here to help you avoid costly marketing mistakes that gym’s often make and uncover what marketing strategies gyms use to grow membership and bolster their bottom line. If you’re an independent gym owner you likely don’t have the time or resources to waste money on bad marketing strategies. With a limited marketing budget, your fitness studio needs to focus on marketing that will lead to measurable results and profitability.

September 2, 2022

If you’re an independent gym owner you likely don’t have the time or resources to waste money on bad marketing strategies. With a limited marketing budget, your fitness studio needs to focus on marketing that will lead to measurable results and profitability.

To that end, we’re here to help you avoid costly marketing mistakes that gym’s often make and uncover what marketing strategies gyms use to grow membership and bolster their bottom line. 

Marketing Strategies to Avoid: Spending Money to Market to a Broad, General Audience

While it’s understandable that you may want to expand your marketing and advertising efforts to include more people in hopes of generating increased membership sales, gym marketing doesn’t necessarily work that way.


Because of a marketing metric called “cost per lead,” and the fact that one of the fastest ways to waste money on marketing is by paying to get your message in front of people who will never buy from you.

When you created your fitness business you did so with a specific customer in mind, or maybe you’ve learned who your best customers are over time. The good ‘ol 80/20 rule applies to the fitness industry, with 20% of your clients generating around 80% of your revenue. 

For example, if your restorative yoga classes are attracting women over the age of 40, don’t bother paying to advertise on Instagram with images of 20-somethings in tight spandex, or sending email promotions to men in their 30s who pump iron.

Sponsoring a 10k race might not be the best use of your marketing dollars either. Instead, look for partnerships with local like-minded brands such as a natural grocers, juice bar or holistic medical office or massage therapist.

Resist the temptation to pay more to broaden social media or PPC ads, buy fake social media followers or add unqualified leads to your email list. It might boost your ego for a while, but this tactic won’t likely generate any real increase in sales. For this reason, it’s totally fine to ignore demographics outside your ideal target audience. 

Marketing Strategies to Avoid: Investing in Building a Big Social Media Following

You may have heard of services that promise to get you thousands of new followers on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Even celebrities are known to have fallen for this failed marketing strategy.

It might make your account look good, but in terms of tangible conversion of clicks to sales, this marketing mistake is likely to yield your fitness business a big fat zero. 

In a recent experiment on fake social media followers, AdEspresso took an Instagram account, bought some fake followers, and compared the results of real followers to fake followers.

Guess what? The accounts of real human followers engaged with social content and bought products.

The fake followers demonstrated super low engagement levels and no sales.

Instead of focusing on how many followers your social media accounts have, look to increase your fitness business’s engagement with your posts, likes, comments and shares, and most importantly, your click through rate to landing pages, websites, email sign ups and other actions that you know lead to cold, hard sales. 

This means posting meaningful content that provides instant value to your followers and regularly tracking analytics. Invest your time and effort in photos that show a clean, inviting workout space, smiling happy staff and customers and writing copy for your posts that authentic, friendly and welcoming. 

Marketing Strategies to Avoid: Only Using One Marketing Channel

Maybe Facebook made the difference in your fitness studio’s success when your launched in 2018, but if you’ve become a creature of habit and haven’t explored other marketing opportunities, you’re likely losing money and a lot of potential new customers. 

Sure, we call get comfortable and like to stick with what’s worked in the past.

But consider that especially since the pandemic years, the fitness industry has evolved enormously and so have your customer’s habits when it comes to seeking fitness classes and communities. Plus, with digital marketing, using multiple platforms helps you to build more targeted campaigns that drive leads through a sales funnel to take action versus investing in general branding activities that may lead to some increased awareness but few new pass sales. 

What marketing strategies do gyms use to ensure they’ve always got a steady stream of new customers? They diversify their marketing mix.

Here’s an example of how to making sure you’re reaching your ideal customer where they are, and when they are most likely to buy:

  1. Create specific, valuable content on your fitness business’s website or landing page with a clear call to action to purchase an intro offer or special deal. Answer your target audience’s most burning question or desire. For example, a featured article or blog post entitled “How to Build Muscle and Lose Those Last 10 Pounds for Good.”
  2. Create social media posts, including clear, professional images or short videos and, if you have the budget, pay to target your audience (avoiding spending money on a big, general, audience and getting specific with demographic targeting – age, location, interests and habits, other social accounts followed, etc.)
  3. Send out an email to your list promoting your post and encourage readers to share the article and included special deal with friends, co-workers and family. 
  4. Bonus content marketing play: Create a free, downloadable tip-sheet or guide to go with your article and provide a sign up box that invites users to get the guide in exchange for their email address. Run PPC and/or social ads promoting your guide. 
  5. Super bonus marketing move: Set up an automated email drip campaign to send a series of emails with information about your fitness business with more high-value content and clear calls to action to those who provide you with their email address. 
  6. Track your results and reach out by phone or follow up email to those who respond. 

Use what you learn from testing your marketing campaigns to focus on the marketing channel where your target audience is the most active and engaged.

For some gyms this might be social media, for others it might be Google or email. The point is to test, measure and adjust your marketing strategy and spend rather than blindly investing based on a feeling or simple lack of know-how. 

Marketing Strategies to Avoid: Paying for Bad Content

We get it. You’re busy. You’re a fitness professional not a marketer or copywriter. It can be tempting to hire out the management of your social media channels and the writing of your posts, website copy and blogs to a low-cost freelancer. 

But ultimately, this marketing move could backfire. Your brand is at stake in every piece of content you publish – from email to ads to your website.

Customers who trust a brand tend to be most loyal and over time generate the most profit. It’s worth it to either write your content yourself, knowing that your voice is the most real and relatable to your customers, or to invest in a quality content marketer who knows exactly what to say to get your audience to click and buy. 

The other marketing mistake many gym owners make is to pay for the wrong kind of content. You’ve got to take the time to find out what the people most likely to join your fitness studio want most, which marketing channel they are the most active on, and then craft content that speaks to them.

There’s a big difference between a 20-30-something audience who loves Instagram Reels videos and a 50-60-year-old demographic who loves printing out a tip sheet to pin on the fridge or getting a postcard in the mail. 

Lastly, if your website copy, emails and social media posts are boring, off-topic and contain typos, you’ll not only get nowhere with attracting new sales, you may put off those who are comparing you to your competition. 

Marketing Strategies to Avoid: Making Marketing Decisions Without a Strategy

Buying display ads, hiring a videographer for social media posts, printing glossy cards to hand out around town, maybe you’ve heard the competition is investing in these marketing tactics. Or maybe you’ve heard email is a low-cost and fairly effective way to attract and retain gym customers. 

Maybe these are effective ways to market your fitness business, but without knowing for sure, you’ve fallen prey to the marketing mistake of spending money on marketing without a cohesive strategy. 

Think of marketing strategy as an intention with a measurable result. A marketing tactic is one of the plays in the successful coach’s playbook. 

To ensure that you’re investing in marketing with a clear strategy:

  • Start by defining a clear, measurable goal, such as a 10% increase in new student intro offer sales per month. 
  • Know the target audience most likely to try your gym
  • Find out what marketing channels this audience is most active on and where they are most likely to engage with a fitness brand. 
  • Create a campaign or campaigns that delivers a message with a clear call to action that will target this audience through multiple channels (search, email, social). 
  • Have a start and end date to your campaign and measure your results. 
  • Make sure to follow up with the leads your marketing generates to convert them into new sales – or whatever your initial goal was. 

For more ideas on marketing strategies for fitness studios, check out, Fitness Business Marketing in 2022: Timeless Strategies for Studios and How to Promote Your Fitness Business: 10 Tactics to Grow Your Studio.

Marketing Strategies to Avoid: Trying to Copy the Competition’s Marketing

Yes, imitation can be the most serious form of flattery, but as a fitness studio owner you want to avoid the mistake of replicating your competition’s marketing efforts. In today’s competitive fitness marketplace survival of your fitness business depends on standing out from the crowd. 

Re-visit your founding vision and list your fitness studio’s unique selling points, personality and winning formula for results.

Take a close look at the type of people who have become your most loyal customers and survey them to find out how they found you, why they tried you and why they continue to stick around. 

Stay true to your roots and promote your special flavor and you are much more likely to attract your tribe rather than waste precious money on ineffective mass marketing or bringing in customers who ultimately don’t stick around because they were a better fit for the gym down the street. 

Don’t get stressed out by your competition’s success. There are more than enough people looking to lead healthy lives and get help getting fit to go around. Stay focused on your niche, realize that not every fitness business is the same and put your attention on what will grow your fitness studio to achieve your unique goals. Just because paid advertising seems to be working for the guy across town, does not mean that’s your golden ticket to new sales too. 

Carefully craft your gym’s special selling points and highlight your own value when creating marketing content. Highlight real customers stories and testimonials. Invite your most loyal customers to get involved in posting on social media, writing online reviews, being profiled in your e-newsletter. 

Use your professional expertise to generate tips and guidance to share with your community. Reach out to local businesses to form partnerships. Keep your attention and energy on what is most special and effective about your fitness business and don’t worry about what your competitors are doing. This is simply a waste of your time and energy.