The fitness industry is one of the most powerful and competitive collections of corporations in the world. As in every other profitable industry, there are often a select handful of large scale companies who capture the market through various forms of expensive marketing, promotion and funding. Competing with such large productions can sometimes seem insurmountable to smaller, newer studios, but it’s often the smaller studios who end up on top.
Because of this, studios, like your own perhaps, need to be efficient and tactful with their marketing.
Large fitness corporations are loud; but as a smaller studio, your voice is clearer, personalised and understanding – everything a member wants!
We sat down with MW Bootcamp in Jakarta, one of the leading boot camps across the city, to find out what you need to know marketing in the current fitness industry.
- Your secret weapon is your size
“Word of mouth was our best tool for promotion and soon [enough] we were regularly having 40+ people joining our class on a Sunday morning. From there we slowly expanded to more locations and increased the number of coaches working with us. We feel really proud to have developed this program and very grateful to everyone involved”
How can you increase your word of mouth referrals? Here are some strategies to spread your business among the community in a passive manner, as opposed to active or aggressive campaigning:
- Community-based outreach programs
- Personalised business to consumer experience
- Private functions and small scale events
- Exclusive offers to long-time members
- Welcoming offers to new members
- Bring-a-friend or buy-one-get-one-free promotions
- Get very familiar with your studio’s social media
“We focus on making the social media accounts fun and informative. We want people that visit the accounts to be able to have a good idea of what our program is about.”
Your studios’ social media page should be an extension of your studio. It should be a place for familiar faces, personal touches and insider tips to remind your members of their experience and inspire other potential customers.
Managing your social media pages doesn’t require hours of work each day. It also doesn’t require third-party companies whose primary role is to keep your response rate within 6 hours, for it to only read – “Thanks for the message! We’ll get back to you right away”
Here is a minimal yet effective daily social media management schedule:
- Monitoring: At 9 am and 4 pm check your Facebook and Instagram for any new likes, comments or reposts on your account
- If you received a comment, reply with a simple and light response
- If you received a repost, like the image and again, reply a simple and thankful response
- Posting: At 2 pm post an Instagram, and repost to Facebook through the app
- Every second day, post something to one of your accounts that’s unique i.e. pictures of members, your studio, food you’ve eaten, or the area your studio is in etc.
- Whatsapp: This should be monitored throughout the day as you would your own account
- Build a studio community, not a brand
“We market ourselves as more than just a fitness program but also a community that people feel they belong to. We regularly do things together away from the training: BBQs, retreats, fitness events, etc. Newer members are always made to feel comfortable straight away and the coaches do their best to create a sense of camaraderie among the participants. Our tagline is ‘Play Outside’. In Jakarta, most times people exercise is indoors so exercising outdoors makes a pleasant change.”
A lot of the marketing campaigns of larger gyms and fitness companies promote a big idea but fall short in the connection of employees, the company and their members. Smaller studios have the opportunity to look further than their brand image, to a studio community of like-minded people. There is vast power in studios who can think big but act small. Some examples of this include:
- Holding private member functions such as BBQs and retreats
- Expanding only when the current space is at capacity
- Keeping members invested with in-person discount/saving offers and one-on-one consultations for nutrition or exercise
- Build partnerships with medium sized brands
Keeping your brand and your identity personal is one of the most valuable things you have as a small studio owner.
In saying that, working with other small to medium brands could give you that audience boost you’ve been needing.
Look out for local activewear, nutrition providers and lifestyle product producers within your community, and start the discussion of a mutually beneficial agreement. For example, MW Bootcamp works closely with USANA and PranaOn whose products they recommend to all their members. This type of relationship could include:
- Exclusive member deals
- An exchange of brand promotion across both parties’ social media accounts
- Sponsorships for future events
- Access to exclusive products and limited edition promotions