The fitness industry has shifted. Clients are now embracing virtual options that they previously resisted. As studios adapt to this new normal they’re faced with a challenge: how to promote their evolving product mix.
In this competitive landscape, gyms and studios must step up their digital marketing game. Here are five ways they can do that:
1. Ensure your virtual experience meets expectations
As a business owner, ask yourself, “Is the product we’re providing of equal or greater value than prior to COVID-19?” If the answer is ‘no,’ take a step back and rethink your approach on pricing, and come up with ways to improve your virtual classes. Even if students can’t physically be in the studio, they should find value through the video quality, technical ease, and overall experience.
Jill Dailey, founder of The Dailey Method barre and cycle studios, recommends personally engaging with students before, during, and after each class. She also added, “We are teaching in the studio versus from home, which keeps the feeling of being in the studio consistent.” Jenn Lynch, owner of Gamechanger Fitness in Oakland, Calif., adds value for her athletes by providing full videos of the workout in case students can’t make the class times available.
FitGrid’s client feedback feature helps studios evaluate success and adapt based on clients’ needs. “We really love the feedback portion of the platform. We are able to thank our top-tier engaged students and directly connect with those who were left wanting more,” said Katie Donzanti, owner of the Peaceful Peacock yoga studio in Orlando, Fla.
2. Focus on the integrity of your brand
A clever tagline and crisp logo are necessary, but your true brand refers to your overall aesthetic. In marketing virtual classes, the aesthetic of your online presence, including social media, is especially important. The content should be clean and concise with an optimistic tone that encourages clients to seek out your classes. Upstate Studios and Ritual Hot Yoga have both done an excellent job of conveying a strong brand presence on Instagram that is engaging and informative.
The voice of your social media channels should be consistent and match the tone of your other platforms. This advice applies to social media influencers and bloggers you might collaborate with to promote your brand. Ensure their values, mission, and audience align with your brand.
3. Leverage virtual partnerships with your local community
Strengthen the bond with your surrounding business community by collaborating through social media channels, email marketing, and virtual events to recruit new members and engage current students.
For example, LVL Fitness based in Bakersfield, Calif., hosted a virtual fundraiser in which they partnered with a local restaurant and nonprofit and used social media and email marketing to promote the event. “The restaurant donated a gift certificate, and we randomly chose a winner at the end of the class. To win, the individual had to follow all three businesses on Instagram, tag a friend, and attend the virtual class,” said owner Kristi Windtberg.
4. Use your talent as recruiting tools to reach a broader audience
Students are loyal to their favorite teachers, so capitalize on the opportunity to reach teachers’ former clientele who previously moved away or weren’t able to come into the studio anymore.
Virtual-only studio Global Collective You launched during April 2020 and formed a consortium of respected yoga instructors from around the globe that anyone can access. The purely virtual studio live streams classes from teachers in Greece, Spain, India, and even Belize. “We look for well-known teachers that can inspire others as well as up-and-coming teachers who are hungry to work on getting their brand out there into the world,” said Susan Walker, co-creator of Global Collective You.
5. Create human interaction through digital media
We’re all hungry for social interaction and encouragement right now. Encourage your instructors to use the FitGrid Pro app to connect with students after class and motivate them to keep it up. Chelsea Mozel, owner of MVP Dance Fit in Kettering, Ohio, has seen this work first hand. “When the emails are coming from me, my clients are opening and responding,” said Mozel. “[Since using FitGrid we’ve experienced] the most email responses we’ve gotten, ever.”
Other social tactics include virtual happy hours after class, a friendly fitness competition to hold members accountable, or even asking members to submit user-generated content, tagging the studio on Instagram in exchange for perks.
“Anything that is live, real-time, and vulnerable such as video, virtual meet-ups, and other ways for our community to interact with each other has the highest conversions for the Peaceful Peacock,” said Donzanti. “The human side of our work has not gone away—we just need to reach further to maintain it.”
Growing your virtual business comes down to one key element: community. People crave it more than ever now. By effectively using your marketing strategy to cultivate it, your clients are more likely to stick around.
To start live-streaming and gain access to FitGrid’s suite of community building tools, start your free 30-day trial today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Katie Soltas is a marketing and PR practitioner with 12 years of experience in the travel and tech industries. An avid gymnast growing up, she enjoys running marathons, doing yoga, and Crossfit. Katie currently resides in San Antonio with her husband and two children. You can read more of her work on her fitness and travel blog, FitTravelingMama.com.
FitGrid is a community management system designed for boutique fitness studios to engage clients on a personal level