The number of health clubs in the U.S. has steadily grown in recent years, with more than 36,000 businesses now offering fitness classes across the country. Which begs the question: How can you stand out?

Bedros Keuilian, a fitness marketing consultant who has helped tens of thousands of business owners grow their membership base, says it boils down to figuring out exactly who your clients are and curating an experience for them. We spoke to him about some tips for getting more clients in the door, and keeping them coming back. Here’s his advice plus some additional expertise from our team.

VISUALIZE YOUR IDEAL CLIENT
Gyms or studios can be designed for anybody, but it’s rare that they successfully cater to everybody. There’s just too many options out there for general branding that tries to appeal to everyone and anyone.

Imagine specifically who you want coming to your studio. A good strategy, according to Keuilian, is to create a fictional client avatar. You can actually name this person, like Lululemon does with their ideal customers “Ocean” and “Duke.” Give him or her an age, a profession, hobbies, a family, an income level, and fitness goals. You should actually be able to write a biography of your target client. This helps you to get a tangible sense of who you want coming to your studio or gym and concrete ideas on how to appeal to him or her.

STUDY YOUR CUSTOMERS
Getting to know your loyal clients intimately can help you get more members. You can start by picking out a handful of regulars who seem to be getting the most value from your training. Ask them to take a survey or just casually talk to them after class. What kind of entertainment do they consume? Where do they shop? Are they married or single?

All of this information will help give you a sense of how you can deepen your relationship with them as well as attract more people who are likely to be a good fit for your studio or gym.

CAPITALIZE ON FACEBOOK DATA
Once you’ve gotten a good sense of your clients and built a friendship, you can build an even stronger connection by paying attention to their social media activity. Add your regulars as friends and then take note of the pages and businesses they follow. What content gets the most response?

In addition to advertising events and other special offers at your studio, consider posting articles related to fitness, nutrition, work/ life balance, or other topics of interest to your demographic. For example, if you see that many of your regulars are recent college graduates following pages related to mindfulness, you might share a story on Zen Buddhism. You can ask your employees to send articles they read online to whoever is in charge of your marketing to save time, or your employees can post them directly on your studio’s social pages. Clients like to see and engage with their favorite teachers on social media.

GO BEYOND SOCIAL MEDIA
While Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are immensely helpful tools, they’re not the only way to learn more about your customers. Once you’ve figured out where your clients hang out in the neighborhood, you can offer to treat them to a smoothie or lunch after class. Then, just go and join them without any expectations. Get to know your members as people, not just as numbers or Facebook Likes. “It’s rare for small business owners to actually do things like that,” says Keuilian. “It makes an enormous difference when they do.” With this face-to-face interaction, you not only will build lasting relationships with your clients, but you’ll get a deeper sense of their personality offline and what they are truly passionate about.

CATER TO YOUR CLIENTELE
Your clientele can be reflected in every aspect of your business: your sales copy, your workout design, your business name, your studio layout, and even your decorations. Schedule your class times around the lifestyle of your clients. If they work from home, you might offer a mid-morning class. If they tend to work nine to five jobs, you might create workouts in the early mornings and evenings or 30-45 minute lunchtime classes for running to and from the office. If your clients use particular words on social media (slang, hashtags, etc.), you can incorporate this language into your branding. If they have certain dietary preferences, you can cater your nutritional coaching or the snacks you provide to accommodate them. You may notice a lot of your clients taking on the Whole30 challenge, for example, in which case why not get involved at your studio and promote the challenge as a team effort, offering a free class to those who successfully complete it?

People want to support businesses that reflect who they are. Everything from the font you choose, the music you play, and the candles you light are an opportunity to send a message to your clientele that you have created an experience just for them.

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