16 Proven Gym Marketing Ideas to Get More Clients Today

Finding the time to market your gym can be hard, but it’s just as important as managing it.

Between low sign-ups and an empty gym, you’ll find that a little marketing goes a long way.

Whether you're a seasoned marketer or you’re just taking on the role for your gym, we found some of the best marketing ideas you can start with right now.

Without further ado, here are 16 proven gym marketing ideas to get more clients today.

1. Offer a 7-Day Gym Pass

Providing newcomers with a 7-day gym pass is a marketing idea as old as time.

We’ve all seen a sampling station at the grocery store that allows you to try a new food or drink. After you’ve tasted a sample, you can decide if you’d like to take the product home or not.

The same theory applies to new gym members. Some people aren’t ready to make such a huge financial commitment to a new gym, especially when they’ve never used it before.

During a 7-day trial, they can experience your gym’s culture, customer services, equipment.

Gym Example: Xsports Fitness

Most people try to take advantage of free passes by signing up for more multiple gym passes instead of paying for a session. Try to stop people from abusing gym passes by collecting names, numbers, and email with a CRM (customer relationship management) tool.

Cross-check with your system when someone signs up for a free pass to make sure they haven’t already taken advantage of one. Ask your staff to keep an eye out for any repeat offenders.

2. Run a Six-Week Challenge

Since fitness is the aim of the game, why not host a six-week challenge?

A six-week challenge is a fitness program that helps people transform themselves and meet their fitness goals in six weeks or less.

This challenge works both ways; It attracts people who might have a fitness goal but are unsure how to get there or looking to commit to a gym. It benefits you because you can push it as a limited time offer to drive foot traffic to your gym and six weeks gives contestants enough time to see the changes in their body.

Wishpond’s 6-Week Challenge Campaign is available for free on all Wishpond plans. Host your fitness challenge from start to finish:

The Best Time to Host a Six Week Challenge

The key to a successful six-week challenge is hosting it at the right time.

Ultimately, a six-week challenge is a short-term program to improve your health. Short enough to see results and long enough to capture a few loyal gym members.

Did you know that 12% of all gym signups happen in January?

Making January and summer the best time to host a fitness challenge. During these seasons people are looking for quick fitness fixes, gym crazed or caught up in new health trends emerging.

3. Offer Free 1-On-1 Personal Training Sessions

Nothing is more frustrating for a new gym-goers than trying to figure out what to do at the gym.

IHRSA found that over 20% of people avoid gyms because they might feel out of place.

They may fear being in a new environment, or may be worried about being judged for working out for the first time.

Break the ice with a free 1-on-1 personal training session when a new customers join your gym for their first month. Giving them enough time to get familiar with the equipment, the environment and your fantastic staff.

Gym Example: Downtown Albany BID

Your staff and trainers are your gym’s brand ambassadors. What they say or do in or outside your gym reflects heavily on your brand.

Keep in mind these tips when offering a free pass:

  1. Ensure that you have a good company culture. Company culture goes beyond words. Customers can spot good and bad company culture a mile away.

  2. Always have clean equipment and tools. it’s one thing to have a good gym instructor, but it’s another to have broken or bad equipment. Maintain and upkeep your gym equipment, so newcomers feel like their paid membership is a worthwhile investment.

Clean Freak has a detailed article on How to Keep Your Gym Clean and Safe with a free checklist.

4. Host a Giveaway or Contest

At Wishpond, we know first hand how effective contests and giveaways can be for your business. Everyone loves winning free things, and for brands, it helps to boost your online presence, followers and attract potential customers to your business.

This type of marketing is useful for slow periods where sales are slumping,or you might want to do something special for the holiday season.

You can also choose how often you want to run a contest.

Easy Promo found that around 32.5% of brands organize one giveaway a month on average. Almost as many (28.6%) host less than one giveaway a month but run several contests throughout the year.

Here are some fun contest ideas for your gym:

1. Run a Transformation Photo Contest

People love to hear about weight loss stories, it’s relatable, it connects, and it inspires them to go after their own fitness goals. Host a transformation photo contest and ask people to enter for a chance to get closer to, or meet their goal weight.

Example: Fit With Me & Personal Trainer Jason Chin

These contests usually run for 30-90 days so that participants have enough time to go to the gym, balance their diet/meal plans, and can capture and upload their results.

Each contestant has to attempt the challenge for a chance to win your contest, which means your prize has to be worth the effort. Try giving the winner a free gym membership, VIP gym membership, or a highly valued gift certificate to use as they please.

2. Gym Products Giveaway

Instead of waiting 30-90 days for your contestants with a fitness challenge, why not have a quick giveaway with your customer’s favorite gym products.

Choose from branded gym gear, gym clothes, and accessories like Underarmour, GymShark, or Nike. If you have a fitness clothing brand, this giveaway is also a great way to find an influencer who can model your products and promote them.

An alternative to clothes are health supplements, protein shakes or bars, or promotional branded items like towels, gym bags, and water bottles.

Not sure what items to use for your next giveaway?

Check out these 25 Best Promotional Giveaway Ideas People Will Love.

3. Gym Sneakers Giveaway

Everyone wears sneakers to the gym. You can offer popular sneaker brands like Nike or Adidas for your sneakers giveaway. The sneakers you choose should be well-known (a brand people will flood your contest to win) and built for practicality, not just based on style.

Platforms to Host Your Giveaway

Where you host your giveaway is just as important as the giveaway itself.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

Brands who run a giveaway on multiple channels get far more entries and exposure than those who only use one platform.

The two most effective platforms to promote your giveaway or contest are emails and social media.

Contest Email Example

I know what you’re thinking... email, that old thing?

People still send emails?

Yes, they do, and here’s why; Hubspot reported that 73% of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email and 99% of consumers check their email every day.

As for your business, emails are tools that all marketers trust, Emarsy found that 80% of business professionals believe that email marketing increases customer retention.

Your gym has an entire database of gym members’ emails. Increase your contest entries by sending emails with a link to your contest landing page.

Need help with your contest ads?

Book a free call to learn how our team of contest experts can help you create high converting contest ads today.

Social Media Ads

Did know that 50% of brands invest in ads to share giveaways with their audience?

So why aren’t you!

Don’t forget to share and promote your contest on social media. If you’re not sure what which platform to pick, here’s a chart to show you the best social media combinations to invest in.

Sharing and hosting a contest on social media is also one of the best ways to grow your followers by making following your account a requirement to enter. That’s what Toplus Body Fit did on Instagram:

How to Select Your Winner

Just one of the seven lessons we’ve learned from running over 31,307 social media contests, is learning how to pick your winner!

Here are the six best ways to choose an Instagram winner:

  1. Select Your Instagram Winner at Random
  2. Select Your Instagram Winner With Most Likes
  3. Select Your Instagram Winner With Judges
  4. Select Your Instagram Winner With Most Views
  5. Select A Daily Instagram Winners
  6. Select Your Instagram Winner With A Combination of Methods

For tips on how to notify a winner, check out 5 Best Ways to Announce & Notify Contest Winners (With Examples)

5. Provide Free Nutritional Planning or a Meal Plan

As a weight-loss expert, you know that meal plans can help clients to eat the right amount, staying accountable and have more control over their food choices.

Meal Plan Example: Keto Summit

One of the biggest challenges that keep some people from reaching their fitness goals is not having proper nutrition or a meal plan in place.

You can use this to market your gym in two ways:

  1. Attract new gym-goers by combining a meal plan with a personal trainer. Most people avoid joining gyms because they might feel overwhelmed and uneducated about how or what it takes to be fit.

  2. Upgrade gym members by offering a free personalized meal plan. By offering a free meal plan based on their fitness goals (weight gain, toning, and weight loss), you can guide them towards their fitness goals by providing a value added service.

6. Use Gym Influencers to Boost Sales

In this day and age, you’ve probably heard about influencers. They’re on social media, on TV and one might even be going to your gym.

An influencer is someone who has built a loyal following on social media through their online content. 89% of marketers say their return on investment from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels.

It’s not just about paying someone to post content; it’s about tapping into a powerful marketing channel that’s proven to bring results.

Take GymShark; In 2016, they were named as the fastest-growing retailer in the UK, going on to generate sales of over £100m in 2018.

How did they do it?

They heavily used influencer marketing as a key marketing channel to reach their audience. GymShark contacted numerous fitness influencers (including high-profile body-builders like Lex Griffin and Whitney Simmons). Sending free Gymshark apparel in the hope that influencers would wear and promote the products on their respective social media channels. And they did.

You can do the same!

GymShark Fitness Infleuncer Whitney Simmons

If you’re thinking about using influence marketing here are four things you have to consider before you start:

1. Do Your Research

Yes, Influencer marketing is popular.

Which makes it a profession in high demand, but not everyone is willing to play fair, they’re called fake influencers.

They buy likes and use bots to grow their followers’ count. You can’t depend on accounts with a high number of followers. You need to do some research.

Partnering with the wrong influencer can lose a lot of money, and damage your brand reputation all in one post.

Take fitness influencer Brittany Davis with over 840,000 followers who profited from digital workout plans and diet guides for women that didn’t work. After word spread across social media, brands that worked with Brittany in the past quickly deleted content she created for them to avoid being discredited.

Most importantly, you need to do some proper research to find out if their values are in line with yours. Customers will associate your brand with that influencer, so it’s crucial to learn their beliefs and values to avoid negative publicity later on. Scroll through their feed and see if it is the kind of person you’ll pick up represent your brand’s voice.

Here are a few things you should look at to see if your influencer is fake:

1. Check for SponCon

There’s also the chance that influencers could be posting fake ads or #sponcon, in order to scam their way into getting actual sponsored posts. SponCon is a common practice among fake influencers. They pretend that brands are sponsoring them to get noticed by other brands. If you see an influencer advertising a product, look on the brand’s page to see if they’ve reposted the content or reach out to the brand.

2. Check for Real Engagement

People can fake likes, but they can’t fake real engagement. See what people are actually saying in the comments and online.

You should see this, real comments and remarks from people engaging with this influencer:

If you see more emoji than remarks in the comment section it’s filled with either bought or fake accounts, like this account below:

2. Set a Budget or Winning Incentive

Once you’ve found your influencer, you need to decide how you’ll pay or what kind of incentive you’ll give them for working with your gym.

No influencer wants to work for free. Most influencers have mastered their influence and want to be paid for their efforts.

Others want incentives that make them feel important like fitness products, free membership or discounts, bragging rights (only if you’re a big brand) and VIP access to your gym.

Today popular influencers with over 100,000 followers can charge up to $100 for one Instagram post. The cost of collaborating with big influencers isn’t cheap.

One workaround it is to work with micro-Influencers, they’re just as budget-friendly and effective. You still have to be strategic with choosing the influencers you want to partner up to market your gym effectively on and offline.

3. Follow Protocol

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Endorsement Guides, every time there is reimbursement for promotion between an influencer and advertiser, this should be clearly stated.

Your influencer should either use Instagrams Partnership feature. If not be sure that they tag your account and use your brand’s hashtag.

Influencer Example: Talisha Liburd Tagging FootLocker

4. Track Your ROI

For 78% of marketers, measuring ROI (return on investments) on influencer marketing is one of their top challenges in 2017. Keeping track of your influencers post, traffic, and added revenue is the only way you’ll know if you’ve lost or gained on your investment.

The last thing you want is to pay for $500 worth of content from an influencer only to get 2-5 people to sign up for your gym.

Here are three effortless ways to track your influencers efforts:

UTM Link

You can track conversions in many ways, with UTM parameters being one of the most reliable methods. Alternatively, you can set up a special discount code for an influencer in order to track how many sales you’re able to get through a certain campaign.

Discount Code

Use Shopify, Voucherify or QR codes to track custom discounts given to each influencer to track sales and see which influencer is worth a lifetime investment.

Google Analytics

If your influencer has a youtube channel or blog, you can track traffic coming from their page with Google Analytics.

Combine your Google Analytics and UTM code, and you have the ultimate tracking software at your fingertips. Without getting too technical, you can also take a step further and create a Google Analytics goal for gym membership sign-ups that come to your website.

If you don’t have a Google Analytics account, don’t worry. Here’s a guide on How to Setup Google Analytics In Under 15 Minutes.

7. Start an Affiliate Program

Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting someone else’s company or products. Affiliates find a product they like, promote it to others, and receive a piece of the profit for each sale made.

Affiliate programs are common amongst gyms and fitness brands like ProForm and BodyBuilding.com.

You’ll need to recruit fitness experts, influencers, and bloggers to be affiliates. Or you can ask employees to join as a way to earn extra cash from each membership sign up.

Here are four things you should consider when creating an affiliate program:

1. Finding Quality Affiliates: This is the most difficult part of an affiliate program. Finding the right candidates can be challenging, try to do an interview, or have specific requirements to help screen candidates.

2. Affiliate Platform: Your affiliate program should come with either a built-in CRM or allow you to import emails, track payments and sales, and see your affiliate progress. Here is a list of the seven best affiliate programs you can use to track your affiliates progress:

  1. Everflow.io
  2. LinkTrust
  3. AffTrack
  4. Hitpath
  5. Impact Radius

3. Promote Your Affiliate Program: Always have a marketing strategy to promote your affiliate program so you can attract more candidates. Try using social media, google ads, printing brochures, and emails. If no one knows about it, how can they join it?

4. Follow-up With Affiliates: Once candidates have qualified for gym affiliates, send follow up emails. Find out what challenges they may have pushing sales and how your gym can help them. It shows that you care about the people representing your gym, rather than just leaving them to fend on their own.

8. Use Customer Testimonial Videos

Smart Insight found that 83% of marketers believe that video is growing in importance.

With Youtube as the second largest search engine in the world, videos marketing should be something your gym should add to their marketing strategy.

Adding customer testimonial to your website or social media strategy can help to drive sales and gym memberships.

Unlike a customer testimonial in text, videos evoke emotion, connects with viewers on a deeper level and tells a story perfectly, no matter how long or short.

Testimonial videos also reflect well on your brand as it shows that your gym cares about the impact it has on your members. Sharing their stories helps to encourage people to see their own story

Brightcove’s 2018 Video Marketing Survey found that over half (53%) of consumers engaged with a brand after viewing one of their videos on social media.

Examples: Create Fitness Testimonial Video

9. Host Specialized Classes

If you’re only offering equipment to your gym members, you’re missing out on a niche target audience looking for a gym to call home.

Not all gym members lift weights. Some prefer to Zumba, yoga, cycling, kickboxing, or gymnastics. Get new gym members by adding a specialized class to your gym schedule.

Here are three ways you can promote your specialized class:

Ask a fitness influencer or a popular trainer in your area to help market and launch your first specialized class.
Host a free class and invite attendees to your gym for more additional classes.

Promote a 2-for-1 offer for your specialized class to increase attendance.

10. Use Social Media to Promote Your Gym

What would a marketing article be if it didn’t suggest social media?

There are 3.48 billion social media users in 2019, with the total growing by 288 million (9 percent) since this time last year. With customers spending 20% – 40% more money on brands that have interacted with them on social media.

Now more than ever, your gym’s social media presence is a must for marketing.

Choosing Your Social Media Platforms

Despite what some marketers may say, you don’t need to spread yourself thin by joining every app that starts trending online.

In my opinion, every business should have at least two social media platforms. Facebook and Instagram.

The platform you choose should be a platform that your target audience uses daily, where they go to find products and where they find gyms.

Here are the five best social media platforms for gyms in ranking order:

Instagram

Facebook

Pinterest

Twitter

YouTube

Creating Content for Social Media

Creating a social media profile isn’t enough, you’ll need to create on-going content to keep your page active. Sprout Social conducted a survey to find out what customers thoughts about various brands social media content.

These were the results:

Sprout Social found that brands who produced this type of content made people unfollow them:

On the other hand, brands that had content in the following topics made people more likely to follow them:

Creating content and managing your social media doesn’t have to be hard. You can try these 5 types of social media content ideas for your next post.

Pro Tip: Customer Service via Social Media is Crucial. Smart Insights found that 63% of customers actually expect companies to offer customer service via their social media channels, and 90% of social media users have already used social media as a way to communicate with a brand or business.

Need more help with social media?

Use this FREE Social Media Checklist, plus choose from these 50 Amazing Social Media Marketing Ideas, Strategies & Tips.

11. Collaborate with a Health Brand

If there’s a local or popular health brand, you can reach out to them and host a sampling and free workout session at your gym to drive more foot traffic.

You can promote this collaboration on your website online, social media, in-store or supermarket sampling

Another idea for collaborating with a health brand is to do cross-promotion on online.

Cross-promotion is when two brands promote each other through collaborative efforts.

Health brands can promote your gym, and in return your gym does the same. This can be a social media post, video, product highlight, or webinar.

Take a look at Crunch Gym and dotFIT Protein Supplements

Which brings me to my next point, sponsor, or attend a local fitness event.

12. Sponsor or Attend Local Fitness Events

Pick a well-known fitness event or function, and either sponsor or attend it.

Either one will help you to work with professionals and clients in your industry while establishing your gym as a credible brand.

Pick a fitness event that aligns with your brand’s mission, target audience, and will be the most beneficial to your gym (not just face value).

Take a look at the speakers, brands, gym and fitness experts at each event, and ask “Are these people you want to learn from and network with when you get there?”

Don’t just go to a conference because someone famous is attending, go because you want to learn and promote your gym to like-minded people.

13. Send Email Campaigns or Newsletters

Earlier, we spoke about how effect emails are for promoting your gym. 59% of B2B marketers say email is their most effective channel in terms of revenue generation.

Email campaigns, or also known as drip campaigns, are a sequence of marketing efforts which provides valuable and relevant content via emails to build sincere and truthful relationships.

If you’re new to email marketing, here are four essential emails campaigns:

Welcome Email Campaign: 76% of people email expect to receive a welcome email immediately after subscribing to your list. They’ll willingly provided their information because they want to gain something from you in exchange.

Retargeting Email Campaign: Retargeting emails help to reach out to email subscribers who may not have opened any of your emails, or it’s been a while since their last gym visit.

Service/ProductEmail Campaign: This type of email allows you to promote new gym products, classes, offers, and bestseller plans, when you’re gyms foot traffic and revenue need an extra boost.

You can also send this email to customers:
* Who may not have opened your welcome email * Haven’t completed their membership sign up * Who would like to be informed of new classes and services * Who are looking for holiday deals

14. Start a Fitness Blog

With almost 77% of internet users read blogs regularly, your fitness audience included, blogs are still the most fundamental and still relevant form of content marketing.

Having a blog can provide the following for your gym:
*Attract new customers looking for fitness tips and hacks *Show off your gyms credibility and knowledge in the fitness industry *Drive more traffic to your blog, ultimately sign up

Gym Blog Example: Muscle + Fitness

Not to mention having a blog is one of the easiest and best ways for your gym’s website to rank on page one for Google Search.

Here’s how it works, when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) being on the first results page on Google is essential.

Today “Googling” is a verb, and when people google gyms in your area, you want to ensure that you’re a gym on the first page. First page websites results get 91.5% of Google traffic. If your website’s on the second page, you get less than 4.8%, and it only goes down as you head further.

That’s where SEO comes in handy, with the right SEO practices you can easily outrank other gym’s website and take the number one spot. Having a blog is a good way to start.

If you don’t have a writer on your team, you can also accept a guest post from fitness content, ghost, and health-focused writers. You can also try these 6 Tips to Easily Optimize Blog SEO for Search Engines

15. Update or Create Your Google My Business Account

People are always searching for new gyms in their area or to go during traveling. When they type in the name of a gym or a gym in their area, Google provides them a list of gyms listed with Google Business.

Once they click search, they’ll see this list of gyms on their screen. Without a Google Business account, you’re missing out on customer who could have called, visited your website, or visited your gym to sign up.

It allows online users to find everything they need about you with just the click of a search button.

You can sign up for free anytime. Plus you’re added to a Google My Business listing when you create a with a Google Account.

Lastly, Google Business can be an asset so that people online can easily find you.

Still not sure where to get started with SEO or Google Business? I’ve got you covered with this amazing video on “How to Do Local SEO: Complete A-Z Tutorial.”

16. Run Ads: Youtube & Google Adword Display Ads

Ads aren’t just for social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram, don’t be afraid to take it a step further with YouTube and Google Display Ads.

YouTube Ad Campaign

People are now watching 150 million hours of YouTube every day. Add that to the fact that 60% of people prefer video platforms to live television, placing your gym’s ads on Youtube can bring you maximum exposure.

There are six types of Youtube Ads you can choose from on your campaign:

Unlike most ad platforms, YouTube gives you control over your ads placements. You can choose the exact channel (or even exact video) you want your ad to show up on, keep in mind that the more placements you add, the more cost will be added to your YouTube ad overall cost.

At first, it can seem a bit overwhelming, but with a little help, Youtube ads can help to drive sales for your business.

To help, I’ve created this in-depth guide on How to Setup a YouTube Ads Campaign in 10 Easy Steps.

Google AdWord Display Ads

Google AdWords is one of the most effective online advertising methods to reach those consumers. Similar to YouTube ads, you can choose what and where you’d like your ads to be displayed online.

Here are four ways you can display your gym ads:

There is a learning curve that beginners and do-it yourself marketers will have to overcome along the way.

Luckily I’ve found some of the best guides below to help you along the way:

Summary

Here are the 16 best ways to market your gym:

  1. Offer a 7-day gym pass
  2. Run a six-week challenge
  3. Offer free 1-on-1 personal training sessions
  4. Host a giveaway or contest
  5. Provide free nutritional planning or a meal plan
  6. Use gym influencers to boost sales
  7. Start an affiliate program
  8. Use customer testimonial videos
  9. Host specialized classes
  10. Use social media to promote your gym
  11. Collaborate with a health brand
  12. Sponsor or attend local fitness events
  13. Send email campaigns or newsletters
  14. Start a fitness blog
  15. Update or create your google my business account
  16. Run ads: YouTube & Google AdWords Display Ads

Running a business can be hectic, but a good marketing plan is worth the time and effort.

Which of these marketing ideas are you doing now and what idea will you add to your marketing mix?

Let me know in the comments below :)

Written by Victoria Taylor

Victoria is a Marketing Generalist at Wishpond specializing in all things digital marketing and social media marketing. In love with blogging and Taco Tuesdays. Follow her on Twitter @vicknwsbest.