Developing a marketing strategy to help grow your fitness business can be overwhelming — but rewarding. Whether it’s marketing a brand new studio or growing an existing business, we’ve put together a fitness marketing guide to help your business thrive.

Check out some tips below, and download the full Marketing 101: Studio Marketing Plan. Check out other insights for studios at our ClassPass Partner Resource Center.

Download our e-book to learn all of our studio fitness marketing strategies:

1. Perform a Situation Analysis

The first section of your studio fitness marketing plan is something we like to call a “situation analysis.” Essentially, it’s a snapshot of your studio’s current situation.

In order to properly analyze the situation, you’ll need to ask yourself a few initial questions. What products or services does your studio provide? And how do those products or services differentiate your studio from the competition?

On a related note, it’s important to understand your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strengths and weaknesses refer to your studio’s internal factors. Strengths could include anything from a strong leadership team to the unique value proposition of a certain product or class. Weaknesses, on the other hand, can be anything from operating in a highly saturated market to a lack of experienced staff.

2. List Marketing Goals

Marketing goals are not just far-fetched desires — they’re stepping stones to success and financial achievement and key to a marketing strategy. If you don’t have a way to gauge your studio’s marketing efforts, how will you know if your strategies and tactics are truly working?

When contemplating marketing goals, make sure they meet the SMART criteria: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-specific. Whether it has to do with sales dollars, number of units sold or ROI on advertising costs, having these goals is crucial in measuring success later on.

If it’s helpful, split up your marketing goals into short-term and long-term. Short-term goals, as the name suggests, are goals that can be achieved within days or weeks. Long-term goals can take several months (or even years). Long-term goals are essential to creating your ultimate vision and they often serve as a guide for your short-term goals. However, short-term goals are far more actionable and are what you’ll be focusing on a daily basis.

3. Define Audience and Customer Profile

Developing a simple, one-paragraph profile of your prospective customer is your next step. Who are they? Be specific. A good way to start is to visualize your ideal client. Imagine who you want coming to your studio. You can even go as far as creating a fictional client avatar and giving him or her a name.

Include things like their gender, age, salary, location and marital/family status — and in addition to these more basic demographics, dig into their lifestyle a bit. Are they traditional, or less so? How often do they work out, and how much are they willing to pay?

The more clear-cut you are about exactly who you’re marketing to, the easier it will be to figure out tactics and strategies that will resonate.

Learn more about who your target audience is.

4. Develop Your Position and Brand Strategy

Introducing your brand to the world is a huge moment. Think of this like your brand’s “elevator pitch” that explains how your product or service fills a customer’s needs better than your competitors.

You’ll need to figure out your unique value proposition, or why people would want to attend classes at your studio over others. It’s also helpful to do research on competitors and ensure that both your strengths and your competition’s weaknesses are reflected in your positioning statement.

This internal positioning statement will be the basis for your positioning strategy. Your marketing brand strategy will provide the fundamentals for your studio’s advertisements and creative. So, gather this information and research, sit down with a pen and paper and literally write it out.

Strategy and positioning are important, but remember that it’s crucial to remain focused on effective and honest communication no matter what you do creatively. An innovative and creative campaign will ultimately have no value if it doesn’t communicate honestly and effectively to the public, so don’t let the importance of authenticity get lost in the shuffle.

5. Determine Communication Tactics

Now that you’ve figured out what you want to do and who you want to market to, it’s time to figure out exactly how you’ll do it.

It’s important to note that successful businesses never just stick with one marketing tactic. They follow a marketing and communication plan that enables them to try new things and analyze the results to see what is working.

You’ll likely be marketing to people at different stages of the sales cycle. Some people have already been exposed to your marketing messages and are very close to actually committing to your studio. For this group, things like loyalty programs, events and permission-based emails are often successful. For “cold prospects” who know little to nothing about your studio, you may consider less personalized tactics like email marketing or advertising on social media.

We’ve asked our partners which marketing channels and tactics they found to be most effective, and the top three were word-of-mouth, paid social media and physical signage. However, interpersonal contact should always be part of your strategy. While billboards and emails and social media are highly valuable, there’s nothing quite like fostering a connection with a potential customer by communicating with them face-to-face.

6. Set Your Budget

The first step to spreading the word about your studio and ultimately increasing revenue is investing in your marketing efforts. Like any budget, a marketing budget is a balancing act.

You can’t spend money you don’t have, so the first thing to consider is your annual revenue. If you don’t yet have the data to forecast your annual revenue, experts advise contributing between 12% and 20% of your gross revenue to marketing. Once your studio has established a client base and name recognition, this number can decrease to as low as 6%.

As previously mentioned, ClassPass partners reported that the most valuable forms of marketing in terms of ROI were word-of-mouth, paid social media and physical signage. So, no matter what your budget looks like, look to those three areas first when considering where to invest and how much. When you’re deciding on a budget, adjust your tactics until you have an affordable mix — and with so many different strategies out there, there’s a mix to fit even the tightest budget.

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