Why Smaller Gyms Can Beat Bigger Ones Every Time | Active Fitness Marketing
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why smaller gyms can beat bigger ones

Why Smaller Gyms Can Beat Bigger Ones Every Time

Independent and Small gyms have a huge advantage over big commercial gyms. However, many small gym owners try to compete with these big gyms, and that can cause a problem when it comes to marketing and attracting new members.

The fact is that the big commercial gyms are not really your competition and you shouldn’t try and compete with them.

Bigger gyms often have large marketing budgets which they can use to “out market” smaller gyms. Many of them even have a whole marketing department and a sales team dedicated to attracting new leads and members. Another (misguided) weapon that they often use is that they have lots of equipment and extra facilities to make their offer seem more attractive.A bigger facility might also have a larger range of classes to suit all different types of people.

This is not something you can offer unless you want lots of headaches? Getting new instructors for the different classes, filling the classes everyone wanting ‘prime time’ slots etc. You can however fill your gym with your ideal clients, have a very profitable fitness business and not have the headaches that a larger facility has. In this article we’ll discuss some useful strategies you can implement in your business to ensure that you make the most out of your business.

Big Vs Small: The Differences

The biggest difference between a smaller independent gym and a big gym is who they market their services to.The bigger gym markets to anyone and everyone. They don’t care who comes through their door as long as they sign on the dotted line and for you as a smaller independent gym this represents a huge opportunity.

How can you use that to your advantage as a small independent gym? You get laser focused on your ideal client. By knowing exactly who your ideal client is. Knowing their pains and struggles are and how you can solve them. This will mean your facility is the ONLY logical choice when it comes to choosing a gym.

What is your USP? (Unique Selling Point)

What is it that makes you different as a gym in your local town? Is it they type of members that you attract or the results that you get for your members?

What do you want to be known for in your town aor city? Bodybuilding, spin classes, Body transformations?

How do you stand out from the crowd?

Do you offer more than just access to exercise equipment? You do not want to be vague and non specific here. You really want to dial in to what your USP is and use it in everything you do. Start by picking your niche.

  • Who can you get the best results for?
  • What type of client can you help the most?
  • Who niche do you understand, empathize and and even  relate to the most?

This strategy is such a simple one, but it is often overlooked in the fitness industry.

We call this the Unique Attractive Offer.When you are starting out you need to give people a reason to ‘click an ad’ or to ‘come into the gym’ the best way to do this is with a free offer.The deal is it has to be 100% free and it has to be something your ideal client would want. It also has to be easy for them. You don’t want to ask them to jump through too many hoops at this stage.

Small Gyms Live or Day on Leads and Sales

Here are some examples of “low barrier offers” to attract them into your facility:

  1. A free week all access pass for all gym
  2. Access to classes to ‘try before your buy’
  3. Free no obligation tour or gym and facilities with no hard sell at the end

The all sound a little boring right?Your offer needs to be UNIQUE, not the same as every other gym and they need to put some skin in the game.Also bare in mind that the big gyms have flat screen TVs, tonnes of equipment and facilities like saunas etc. This is not something you want to compete on, so don’t.You need to provide a unique offer which gets the attention of your ideal client. The idea here is to get your ideal client to come to you. When they have met you, experience the gym and made the effort to come to you will they be likely to buy from you.

  1. Low offer workshop or presentation on a core subject your ideal client would benefit from
  2. One off small group training program for a set outcome (Torch 500 calories from the Weekend Binge)
  3. 6 Week Summer Special Boot-camp at 50% off. This is Unique and Specific
  4. Health Check MOT – this is free if you join the gym. There will usually be something they need to work on. Blood pressure, BMI, weight loss, fitness etc.

The idea is to get targeted and qualified leads into your gym so that you can convert them to long term paying clients. Buy showing them what they have access to, the high standard of the classes, the friendly atmosphere of the gym and the bigger picture of a gym that puts the customer first will go a long way.Being a independent gym means that you can have the personal touch with your members.

The Fitness Followup Formula

The Follow Up Formula is the ideal way to show that you care about the prospective client and they are not just a number. It takes a lot of time, effort and money to get a lead in the door. Once they are in the door it is up to you to wow them.Not everyone is ready to buy straight away.  Sometimes people need some more convincing.  If you rely on just converting those there and then on the spot you are probably missing out on 80% of sales.

Here is a simple follow up formula you can tweak and use in your business to turn a lead into a paying customer.

  1. Take some details (when they come in for the free session/week)
  2. Use the details in the application to build a relationship with them
  3. Check in with the client within 24 hours of the free session
  4. Ask for feedback – what DID they like what DIDN’T they like.
  5. Invite them to join your newsletter so that they can see up coming offers and what’s going on in the gym
  6. Send them the link to your Facebook page to give you a like (this also means you will be able to target them with ads)
  7. After 1 week, ask them if they would like to come back in
  8. After 3 weeks, tell them about a time sensitive offer (this can be automated using Deadline Funnel)
  9. Set a monthly check in for the next 6 months sending them valuable content and offers
  10. If they have not bought within 6 months – send them the email – bye bye as not likely to buy from you

Relationship Marketing

As a Fitpro I bet you’ve invested a lot of time and money into becoming a better trainer. However you do not need to be the best trainer in the world to have a successful business. You need to think like a business and that means you need to learn how to market.Relationship Marketing is the best form of marketing in my opinion. You can do a paid version of this, which will give you a more predictable outcome.

However, if you do not have a large budget there are many things you can do which don’t cost a penny and can build rock solid relationships with your audience. So here is how it works. You create content everyday in a form that your audience likes to digest it.For us that is mainly emails. Personal Trainers tend to check their emails daily and we aim to provide them with value in their inbox everyday.So where do your ideal client’s hang out?Is it Facebook? Is it Instagram? Perhaps it’s LinkedIn.

It actually doesn’t matter where. The concept is no different. Now all you have to do is go to where they are and provide them with value driven content.  Make it your mission to give value to your audience in a way that they can easily digest it and share it.

Maximizing Facebook Lives and Video

Facebook Lives and Videos are the quickest way to engage your audience and build relationships. Before you say, you hate video or you can’t go live.  Put yourself in your clients shoes. They hate going to the gym, they don’t like working out. But if they want results what do they have to do?

Suck it up and get on with it. The only way to get better at something is to do it.

Here are a few ways to you could build relationships in your business:

  1. Send regular emails to your email list
  2. Post helpful articles and posts on your social media channels and your blog
  3. Create a Video Blog on a regular day and time (like a TV show)
  4. Have a Facebook Live Q & A session
  5. Spend 30 minutes per day connecting with people (in real life!)
  6. Reply to every single comment and message you receive on social and online
  7. Write a weekly blog with actionable advice to help your audience

About the Author Liam Thompson

Liam is a co-founder of Active Fitness Marketing. He has been working in the fitness industry for over 20 years. Author of The Clarity Project: 4 steps to simplifying your sales message and attracting more clients online. Liam lives in Cheshire in the UK with his wife and son.

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