Will Hurst owns Big Little Gyms, a consulting and coaching support provider for gym owners, and spends his days focused on marketing and client acquisition. Gym owners, both affiliated and unaffiliated have looked to him for guidance.
- “If your only source of discoverability is via a Google search for the words CrossFit then you are seriously at risk,” Hurst said.
Hurst’s co-branding experiment: In recent years, Hurst co-branded his gym and had two Facebook pages, one for Spark CrossFit and one for SparkFit. For five years, he ran different paid advertisements on both pages and said they were equally effective marketing arms for his gym.
- “Dollar for dollar, effort for effort, one did not draw more new members than the other,” he said.
This trend is also true of the other gyms Hurst has worked with “in a variety of markets, from large cities to small towns,” he explained.
Hurst’s marketing tip: Focus less of your efforts on the features and benefits you offer and direct it toward how you can help your potential clients with “their core problem,” he said.
- “What is the pain they’re feeling? Is it they’re diabetic and have to take medication….and are anxious about possibly dying?” said Hurst as an example.
Then offer a solution: Design your marketing efforts in a way that provides a solution to their problem. And a solution isn’t doing constantly varied, functional movements at a high intensity, Hurst explained.
Offering a solution via marketing is exactly what Brandon Robb, the owner of Heroic Athletics in Calgary, Alberta did and it landed him 33 new clients in the middle of the pandemic.
Robb’s strategy: Robb published Facebook ads that specifically targeted female first responders by speaking to a common problem.
- “They have tried training program after training program and haven’t gotten the results they want,” he said of their problem. These women are looking for real performance results, be it endurance gains in order to pass the police fitness test or strength gains to be able to pass the very challenging firefighter fitness test, he explained.
- “So I offered a solution to this problem. The solution was coaching,” he said.
Robb’s tip: Direct your efforts to a specific niche of the market, instead of trying to cover a big swath of the population all at once.
- “Think about it,” he began. You usually only stop and pay attention to an ad that speaks to you, so you have to speak directly to your prospects, “as if you know them better than they know themselves” he explained.
Marketing With Boris: Boris Kezic has 13 years of experience working with gyms, including many CrossFit gyms, on their branding and marketing.
If you have been relying on “organic marketing,” alone “it’s definitely time to level up,” Kezic said.
Five marketing tips from Kezic for gyms who are rebranding:
- Hyper-localized marketing: “It’s better to be micro-popular in your town than Insta-famous online.”
- Tell your transformation story: “Tell the story of a new dawn, a new path for your gym, and a new kind of fitness experience for current and potential members. The story of breaking away to live your truth is something people can connect to on an emotional level, so be real about it and the right people will resonate with it.”
- Reach out to everyone: “Email everyone you have on your list, including current members, past members, prospects who never signed up, printers who did you first run of t-shirts, the local coffee shop. Everyone.”
- IG tip: “Make use of the location feature on Instagram when you post, to increase the chances of it coming up in local people’s explore page.”
- Ask for support: “Get your members behind you. If they’re excited to be part of your new movement, then encourage them to tag the gym in Instagram stories, add the stories’ location marker and help you spread the word. Be honest about trying to build brand awareness and that you’d appreciate their help.”
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