There is no marketing in the world that will save a shitty brand.
Most gyms are like an old piece of road kill lying on the side of the road. You get out of your car, poke it with a stick, nudge it with the toe of your shoe and after five minutes of careful study you still can’t tell if it was a dead cat, raccoon or squirrel.
Most gyms suffer from the same problem; these gyms have been out there in the sun for years slowly getting baked by the market, but these businesses have no firm identity, no recognizable brand or any way you can tell what kind of business it is, who are the potential clients for this business and who in the community belongs there. When this gym then tries to market itself, the response is always terrible, because that owner never did the work he or she should have done before the marketing was launched.
You cannot market a business if the business has never developed a clearly identifiable brand in the market
What is a brand?
- Your brand is a combination of every small detail that allows your business to be understood and recognized by your target market.
- If your brand is correct, I know what you do, who you do it to, if I belong in your business and who else uses your services.
- Every detail counts as you build a brand. The cleanliness of your gym and how you dress your staff is just as important in brand building as where you market each month and how much money you spend. Every thing counts and a good owner controls every detail of his brand obsessively.
- A few stupid mistakes, such as a political rant on Facebook or a sexual harassment claim handled poorly can destroy years of good brand building overnight. It takes years to build a brand, but seconds to destroy one.
- If you do not create a brand you control over time, the community creates one for you
Most gym owners are never as financially successful as they should be because they spend the majority of their money trying to market a business before the brand is established. In other words, come do this 21-day workout program, but I never spent a dime during the last years to let you understand if you even want to belong to a gym such as this one or if you even fit in with my other clients. You don’t know who I am, what we do here or anything else about our business, but please respond to this ad you have seen for the first time 10 minutes ago.
Brand building 101/answer these questions:
- Who is my target client? What age ranges, usually defined in decades, such as my team training designed for the 24-40 year old client, will my clients fall into over time?
- How far does this client live from the gym?
- How much money does this client make per year?
- Where do my current clients live, how do they live and why did they buy here?
- Are my programs and price points developed to attract the widest range of clients I can in this market?
- If I could get my business plan down to one line so I clearly could state all of this to a potential client in 10 seconds, what do I want that client to know about me? Example: We exist to change lives!
- Does everything in this business match my potential target market? If I am specializing in fitness after 50 for women, what percentage of my staff is in that age grouping for example?
- How much do I spend a month, and where, to build my brand, but to also attract a current stream of qualified leads? Am I committed to spending money every month to keep my brand top of mind in the community?
Start with your personal brand
Most small businesses benefit when the owner is seen as an expert in the product that is being sold. Developing your own personal brand also establishes another portal into your business. The potential client may never recognize your business, but might follow you regularly as a local or regional fitness expert posting tips, videos, routines and other information that the potential client can connect with every week. Then, when he or she is ready to join a gym it only makes sense to go to the one person you trust as the expert.
If you own a gym, then the owner should establish herself as a master trainer/coach on her own Facebook Public Figure Page; perhaps have her own website if she is working on a career that might include work done on a national basis or if she does workshops and speaking in the community, and her own Instagram site.
The goal is for the owner to create a separate identity outside the gym. People might follow you for months personally before ever even considering a gym membership, but when they do, you want to be top of mind as the expert on everything fitness in the area.
Also keep in mind that gyms come and go, but your career is forever. Having your own identity allows you to protect your own name and career outside of the gym in case you sell it or close it at some point in the future.
You would not sell on these public figure sites, but you educate, entertain, support and become the source of fitness in that person’s life. The sales portion only happens at the gym business sites and the owner does not need to be seen as a sales guy with a hidden agenda.
The business needs its own set of tools
The tools we use to build a brand and drive leads into the gym are subject to change. Someone might read this blog several months after it is written and it could be already moving toward out of date.
As of today, we concentrate on only three things in a gym business to build a brand and create new clients: the webpage, usually a WordPress site and because this type of site is easy to embed or other tools not discussed here, such as Lead Pages; a business page on Facebook for the business itself; and an Instagram site.
Doing fewer things and getting it done is a good business concept for anyone to master. This is why at this time we only advocate doing these three things and ignoring Twitter and other social media platforms. The exception is if you have a younger market is Snapchat, but as of this post Snapchat is not doing advertising yet meaning there is no way to monetize your posts there yet.
Most of the successful training gyms in the world today only use social media to drive new clients into the business. This means they ignore traditional, old school marketing, such as direct mail, radio and cable TV advertising
How much time?
It will take about 6-10 hours per week to successfully run all your marketing for your gym. Remember, the goal is to build a recognizable brand that attracts new clients over time and this takes consistency, defined as posting on all sites six days a week (sleep on Sunday, you will have earned it).
This is always done better internally, meaning you have someone on your staff that takes care of this as part of his job. Each gym has its own voice and own personality and each owner has his own culture and methodology reflected by the clients. You cannot farm out your social media marketing and expect it to work, because an outsider will never find the gym’s voice.
This leaves you with the owner doing it, hiring someone to specifically do it if your gym or gyms can support that person, or for most of you, hiring someone who can manage social media, but who also sells or coaches.
A gym with no leads or steady source of potential clients dies. If there is no input, there is no output, defined as revenue and profit over time. You have to learn to create a steady stream of new potential clients into your gym every month or you need to close your dream of a business, because if you don’t feed the pig, the pig dies and this pig eats leads.
How much money?
You will spend $3000 per month per gym on attracting enough new leads through social media. This money will be spent on boosting posts/advertising on Facebook and Instagram. Here is a basic idea as to how your money should be spent:
- You would boost fitness tips, exercise demos or articles each day on your personal public figure page for about $5-10 per post. You would rotate over time between your followers and friends, by zip codes and by miles from the gym or the area you are trying to establish yourself in as a fitness expert. You would do this six days per week with one post per day as a starting point. Links to a blog site would also be included as a one-day post with a boost.
- You would also boost your trial offerings on your gym’s business page. For example, if you are offering a 15-day quick start program, you might boost it every day for 12 consecutive days at a boost rate of about $50-100 per day depending on your budget and size of the gym.
- You would also be posting and advertising on Instagram with a budget of about $25-100 per day depending on the gym and the area.
It is absolutely mandatory that you monitor your boosted posts for the business site hourly. If you do not get a few paid trials online within 18 hours take the post down and change the picture and/or the copy. FB voted and said you suck if you don’t score within 18 hours. The big mistake we make here is that we leave a post up for days hoping it will pick up speed.
Social media is immediate marketing and if you don’t score within hours it will never happen.
- You should have all trial offers linked to a Stripe account where the client can pay online immediately for his trial. Do not make the mistake of having the post just gather interested leads requiring manual follow-up. Elvis is dead and so will you be if you depend on getting social media leads turned into new sales done manually by a staff person.
What should I do daily?
On your personal public figure Facebook site: Post at least one fitness tip, video of you working with a client, a demo of an exercise, a link to your personal blog site, a long or repost to an article you like that would benefit your readers or a nutritional tip daily. Do not post some lame ass motivational poster you found on a Google search. Lame ass motivational posters are what you do when you don’t know what you are doing.
Make sure the gym name is clearly stated on your personal public figure page and that the link is there to get the viewer back to your gym website. Boost on this page everyday in the $5-10 range.
This is controversial, but it is highly recommended that you stay away from posts guaranteed to piss off half the world, such as political rants or reposting other edgy political information. Yes, it is your site and you can make the decision, but do not be surprised if you lose a lot of clients, get banned from a lot of followers and damage your brand by declaring your right to post whatever the hell you want.
You have the right to do so, but they have the right to get irritated by your actions and leave. This is a business, not a discussion in a bar over a drink. Think people; think before you post.
On your gym’s business Facebook page: Post at least once a day. The posts here can sometimes, but do not do it too often, be the same posts from your public figure site. Do not get lazy and just duplicate the information. The business site should always have videos of what is going on in the gym that week.
- Post videos of the clients doing fun stuff
- Post a testimonial a week of a client who has made change and loves your gym
- Give one nutritional tip a week
- Never, ever post a selfie of yourself. Nothing keeps the potential clients away more from a gym than an owner who just has to show the world what he looks like without a shirt
- Boost these posts in the $5-10 a day range.
Post on Instagram:
- Post 6-10 photos or videos a day
- Boost all posts daily in the $5-10 range
- Run ads linked back to the website in the $25-100 range
Simultaneously, run your trial offer. Run the same offer for about two months with small breaks after your 12-day runs. Here are a few of the trials you might consider:
- 15-day quick start @ maybe $69. This attracts someone looking for a solution to a specific issue, such as immediate weight loss.
- 21-day shred @ maybe $79-129 and this is relative to your market and country. This one attracts a slightly different client than the 15-day, usually someone who is a little more serious about a more complete program.
- 30-day trial at $30-$129 depending on your gym and area. The potential client attracted by this client is totally different from the short-term trial people. These people are looking for an overall experience and a chance to try everything in the gym before they commit to any gym long-term.
- 6-week trials @ $400-$1500. This potential client is usually more sophisticated in that he or she is looking for a course of action over time, such as you would be you signed up for a college course. They like structure, want to learn and are in it for big change over time.
All of these trials would be boosted in the $50-100 per day range for about 12 days at a time. These are run at the same time as your regular tips and boosts for the business site and yes, you will have your public figure page going at the same time as well. This means you will have three separate tracks going all week every week: your public figure page, your business page fitness tip etc., and your paid trial boost to drive in new clients.
As a side note, from our experience of teaching this for so long in our social media workshops, we have found you will be more efficient at this if you invest in a Mac computer and an iPhone. Everything on a Mac works with everything else eliminating any compatibility issues and this holds over time since all Mac apps and software are designed to stay consistent over multiple platforms.
Marketing is not for the week of heart these days. You need to learn to do this yourself and be able to know enough to manage it when you hire someone else to do this for you.
If you are too old, then learn. If you don’t understand social media then learn. If you have no experience then learn. If you make fun of time spent on social media then learn. If you are a social media idiot, then hire a ten-year old and learn.
If you do not create a brand and control it over time, your community and the people you deal with will create one for you. You cannot choose not to play. Your brand is your personal career and your brand is the future of your business. Learn how to do this.
If you need help with this important part of your future, please come find us: http://www.thenfba.com/social-branding-bootcamp