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Seven Marketing Tips for Powering Up Your Gym in 2021

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Oh, what a year 2020 has been! Gyms closed, some forever, and others reopened with strict new safety protocols. After months of dealing with all this uncertainty, club owners and managers are anxious about 2021, and understandably so. As colder weather sets in, gyms may have to temporarily close again or face further restrictions, but clubs that can survive these challenging times will grow even stronger. Here are some marketing strategies to power up your business for 2021:

1. Connect with Your Members Now - Gyms are competing with each other for new members, so communicating with your membership base should be top priority. Many of them froze or canceled their membership earlier in the year, wondering if it's safe to go back or if they should wait for a vaccine or for the number of COVID-19 cases to drop. Reassure them that you're making their health and safety your Number One goal.

2. Launch a Cleanliness Campaign - In fact, cleanliness should be a cornerstone of your marketing message. Tell them what you're doing to prevent the spread of infection, such as installing a new filtration system, implementing social distancing and even selling workout-friendly masks. Show that you're training your staff to properly clean and that you're prescreening with temperature checks at the door. Health and safety-driven buzzwords are likely to become a staple among marketing campaigns and signage throughout the gym.

3. Develop Your Marketing Plan Now - Fall and winter is prime time for the fitness industry. At summer's end, families settle into school routines, and the cooler weather is curbing outdoor workouts. People want to shed the "quarantine 15" pounds now and excess holiday weight in the New Year. And, even if you're forced to close for a time, you want to be "top of mind" when past, current and future members are ready to return to the gym.

4. Remember to Add Digital to Your Marketing Mix - The most successful clubs use a mix of digital and print to spread the word. If you only send out direct mail pieces, you're missing an opportunity to frequently update your status on social media, showing worried members your ongoing commitment to cleanliness and safety. Pictures of your staff wiping down equipment or wearing masks can offer peace of mind and encourage people to walk through your doors. By focusing only on digital, you might be missing an opportunity to stand out. A tangible direct mail piece promoting your gym as a safe, healthy place to work out is a great reminder. In fact, an effective way to move forward with a direct mail campaign is by actually supporting your current digital marketing efforts through connected visuals and messaging.

5. Refresh Your Website for 2021 - Speaking of digital, the end of the year is a great time to update your website! As part of the makeover, you may also want to add a blog. Blogging is an effective way to consistently engage your current membership base and interest future members. Especially relevant topics now could include at-home workouts to do with your kid or full-body, 20-minute workouts. Blog articles can also provide rich, informative content for your email marketing efforts. In addition, consider adding ecommerce to your site. At a time when in-gym traffic is lower than you'd like, you can build revenue by offering products such as activewear gear straight from your website, including those workout-friendly masks.

6. Capitalize on Your Unique Value Proposition - When you connect with former and current members, as well as prospects, offer them value. Your club's uniqueness is where your value comes in and sets you apart from your competitors. Leverage the things that you, and only you, do best. Consider these ideas:

  • Offering Digital Fitness Courses - There's been a shift toward this feature now that many are working out from home. You could incorporate remote coaching or live-at-home workout programs as a benefit to membership.
  • Hosting Community Challenges - Foster healthy competition by engaging your members outside the gym. Many are going to be missing the feeling of working out with others and the unspoken community that is built from struggling together for a common goal. These challenges can be a unique way to bring your members back together, even if they are not present in your club.
  • Spotlighting Motivational Yogis and Influential Fitness Trainers - Maybe you have instructors with a unique background or extensive training that you could market to your audiences looking for classes or one-on-one coaching. Play on their own distinctive qualities and let them shine in your club.
  • Adding Modern, High-Tech Fitness Machines - Your members may be impressed with or excited to try new and cutting-edge equipment you recently acquired in order to reach their fitness goals.

7. Look at Marketing as an Investment, Not an Expense - If your cash flow is low, you may hesitate to invest in marketing right now. That is totally understandable, but consider advertising as an opportunity to grow market share rather than as an expense. Fewer people are venturing out to the gym, true, but gyms and fitness centers are and will continue to snap up people whose club has closed and need a new place to work out. Their marketing efforts may also reach those who canceled their membership at your club. You don't want that! And, if you didn't advertise much in the summer, you can transfer some of that marketing budget to Q4 2020/Q1 2021.

Forecast for 2021

UpSwellEven though next year will bring a lot of unknowns, some things will remain the same: reduced capacity, smaller classes and cleaning protocols. But, there's a bright side. People will be confidently and eagerly returning to a gym or fitness center. By consistently promoting your gym as a safe, healthy and fun place to get a workout in, you can watch your business thrive in 2021 and beyond.

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