Marketing is a vital component to the success of your fitness studio. Smaller fitness clubs, however, often don’t have much room in their budget to devote to extensive marketing tactics. The good news is that there are some creative, budget-friendly strategies that can be just as effective as those with a high price tag.
Many cheap marketing ideas for fitness clubs fall into the guerrilla marketing category. Guerrilla marketing tactics are unconventional methods used to increase brand exposure. Some famous guerrilla marketing examples include Deadpool’s tinder profile, Gold Toe’s giant underwear placed on statues throughout NYC, and Fiji Water’s “Fiji Girl” photobombing celebrities at the Golden Globes. By thinking outside of the box, your studio can take a similar approach to getting your name out there without having to stretch your budget too thin. In fact, guerrilla marketers report spending 90% less on advertising thanks to their unorthodox tactics.
1. Team up with local businesses
Working with local businesses is a great opportunity to tap into a wider audience. The partnership is mutually beneficial since they’ll be able to market directly to your audience too — think of it as an exchange of brand exposure. If possible, it’s best to work with businesses in or adjacent to the fitness industry, as your audiences will have the most crossover in interests. Think along the lines of health food markets, supplement shops, sportswear stores, and recovery service providers (e.g., massage, physical therapy, chiropractic), for example.
Cross-marketing with another business can be as simple as advertising at each other’s locations with flyers, or on one another’s websites and social media. You can also run a cross promotion, such as exclusive coupons for one business when you make a purchase from the other. All of this helps to create top-of-funnel awareness.
Bonus Tip: With ClubWise’s campaign and promotions manager tools, you can simply set up the parameters of the promotion in your system and everything in the back end is taken care of for you!
2. Get philanthropic
When it comes to motivating a new audience to get involved at your studio, charity work is often a surefire solution. Partnering with local charities, like partnering with local businesses, exposes you to a wider audience. Plus, since you’re also giving back to the community in the process, you’ll be creating a positive association with your business as brand awareness increases.
A charity event or promotion will get people excited and talking about your studio. One idea is to hold a fundraiser where participants raise a certain amount of donation money for every pound they lose (or pound they lift!). Or, stack the motivation for your members and prospects by making it into a full-blown, charity-based fitness challenge. To maximize your reach, choose an organization with a personal connection to your studio or audience. If your club manager has a family member with cancer, for example, donate your promotion proceeds to that cancer foundation. Alternatively, you could have your audience vote on where they want their money to go. Local charities are always a great option as well, as are annual events like holiday food drives, and regularly participating in these causes will help make your studio a recognized pillar of the community.
3. Use street marketing
Street marketing is essentially when you go out into public places to advertise your brand and connect with customers. Like most “street style” activities, this type of marketing is often unexpected and can even be interactive. Try to think outside of the box to come up with unique twists on ordinary ideas.
An example would be to hand out flyers about your studio or even guest passes. Instead of standing on a street corner or setting up a table though, tag cars with them. Or if you have the budget, consider passing out branded merchandise (who doesn’t love a free t-shirt?). Area colleges, businesses, and apartment complexes are great places to start with street marketing, just make sure you get permission from the property owner first.
4. Hold pop-up gym events
Pop-up studios and gyms have become a more common guerilla marketing tactic over the last few years. They’re a fun way to let new people try your studio before committing to a membership, which can help turn many hesitant prospects into members. Pop-ups also tend to generate a lot of buzz, which helps with that oh-so-important brand exposure.
You can hold a pop-up studio class in any public open space, such as a park, local business (with permission), or even a vacant street. If you want to keep costs minimal, stick to workouts that don’t require you to haul or rent a lot of equipment, such as calisthenics, yoga, or HIIT-based classes. Pick an area with good foot traffic, be sure to promote your pop-up heavily ahead of time on social media and in your studio, and bring some branded merch for an extra boost to your retail sales.
5. Share user-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) is content created by people in your audience, rather than your studio team. Content creators could include your members, prospects who follow you on social media, or any fitness influencers with whom you might partner. Ask users to create and submit relevant content to be shared on your marketing channels like Facebook, Instagram, and so on.
The benefit of promoting user-generated content, aside from the time and money you save on creating or paying for your own content, is that it comes across as authentic and trustworthy to readers. Leads who are considering joining your studio are far more likely to put stock into what your current customers have to say than what your brand would say, because your brand is obviously going to have an underlying objective of bringing in revenue. UGC also helps you build up your online presence with a content library and spread brand awareness.