gyms

7 creative gym marketing ideas you shouldn’t miss to attract new customers in 2021

girl working out

The market size of the Gym, Health & Fitness Clubs industry is expected to increase 7.2% in 2021. 

Being a gym owner, you understand that a growing industry means a highly competitive environment for your business. Even if you have an excellent gym, it can be quite tough to keep new members coming in consistently. 

So how do you ensure that you stand out from the crowd and reach the right audiences for your gym? The answer is simple: marketing your business effectively. 

But running your own gym leaves little time for you to research and devise an effective marketing strategy. Don’t worry, we’ve done that for you! 

Here are 7 simple yet effective gym marketing ideas for you to pump up your business:

  1. Expand online presence using Google My Business and Reserve with Google
  2. Create a user-friendly website
  3. Use Facebook and Instagram to increase reach
  4. Run referral programs
  5. Provide them with attractive offers and discounts
  6. Keep them interested with regular challenges and events
  7. Gym co-marketing

1. Expand online presence using Google My Business and Reserve with Google

List of gyms near florida on Google search page

a. Google My Business

One of the ways in which you can get your gym found online by potential customers is by being ranked in Google search results. 4 out of 5 people who do a local search use Google.

Also, 76% of searchers who make a local search visit the place physically within 24 hours, and 28% of these searches result in a purchase. This shows that in today’s world having your gym listed on Google is important for potential customers to find you online.

Google My business is a tool that is free to use and gives you an opportunity to appear on Google search results and Google maps. GMB helps potential customers to easily contact you, find information about your gym, and also find your location

You can target searchers who are geographically close to you. And through positive reviews, you get to market the fact about how your customers are satisfied with the services that you provide.


How to claim your listing?

  1. Go to Google My Business and choose “Start now”
  2. Enter the name of your gym business
  3. Enter your business address and choose a business category
  4. Add your business phone number and website details
  5. Choose a verification option (postcard, phone, email, instant verification)

Once you have claimed your listing, make sure it has enough info for potential and current customers to understand what your gym offers.


Now after you have claimed your GMB listing,

  1. Optimize it on a regular basis
    1. Update your details regularly
    2. If you have multiple locations, then list them separately
    3. Use a local phone number for people to get in touch with you
  1. Add photos and videos
    1. This gives your potential customers a really good first impression to check out your gym.
    2. When naming your pictures (image tags and names) make sure to incorporate your local SEO keywords to increase the listing’s rank
  1. Write an awesome business description
    1. Use a max of 750 characters
    2. Don’t use a promotional tone
    3. Don’t include links
  1. Keep track of your FAQs section
    1. Anyone who can see your listing can post and answer questions, so answering them yourself and providing accurate information is very necessary
    2. Post and respond to what you think will be the most asked questions

b. Reserve with Google

After setting up and optimizing your business page on Google, it’s time to ramp up your gym marketing plan! You can let potential customers directly book a session in your gym through the business listing. This is possible through Reserve with Google (RwG).

Reserve with Google helps your gym business to take appointments from potential customers directly from Google search, Google maps, or Google assistant.

Reserve with Google page of a Gym business with a book now button

How does RwG help gyms?

Potential customers can usually find gym suggestions by searching for fitness sessions/classes being offered in their location. If your gym is nearby, then your services will appear as a search result for your customer.

If you are listed on RwG, these searchers no longer have to call your gym to book an appointment as RwG lets them book an online appointment from your business listing itself!

How much does RwG cost? 

Reserve with Google is free to set up. The only prerequisite being your business has an account with an official scheduling partner, such as Appointy

You can claim an RwG listing and start taking online appointments for your gym starting today!


2. Create a user-friendly website

A user-friendly website is how your potential customers find you and connect with you. Having a website lets you have a strong online presence, increases credibility, and also lets you showcase what your gym is all about.

It is a hub for all your information about your gym, the classes that you offer, etc. The goal is to direct your potential customers to your websites for them to get more information about your gym to ultimately buy your fitness services.


In case you don’t have a website, you can:

  • consider hiring a professional, or
  • learn to do it yourself, or
  • have a booking portal as a replacement for your website

Once you have your website up and running, refer to the checklist given below so that you don’t miss out on features to add to it:

7 must-have features that should be a part of your website: 

  • A gym highlights section
    • Boast about the unique features of the gym that sets you apart from your competitors. Basically, highlight your gym’s USP. 
  • Reviews section
    • This section must consist of testimonials from existing/ past customers describing their experience.
  • Blogs section (if any)
    • Educational blogs that have a few soft-sell points of your gym that can be shared with your community.
  • Gym member spotlights
    • Feature people who have undergone positive body transformations ever since they joined your gym hence giving people proof that your gym could deliver results. 
  • Downloadable free fitness ebooks
    • Provide informational content to the visitors of your site. This ebook might be anything related to fitness from exercise list to dietary plants etc.
  • A Book Now button
    • It is the most important Call-To-Action (CTA) on your gym website. Customers can easily book a workout session or even a free trial with this feature. Gym scheduling software like Appointy lets you add a book button and take bookings from anyone. 

If the reach from your existing app/ website hasn’t been up to the mark then you should focus on: 

  1. Upgrading your website or a complete makeover, where you might have to change UI and other features, ultimately making it user-friendly.
  2. Optimizing the website for local SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
  3. Highlighting the unique features of your gym. 

3. Use Facebook and Instagram to increase reach

Social media is a free and effective way of marketing gyms. You can post the latest news about trends in fitness, upcoming classes in your gym, offers and discounts, etc. It’s not only a vital component of your gym marketing strategy but helps in boosting engagements with your existing customers. 

And once your members start liking, commenting, and sharing your posts, your gym will have a great social media presence in no time. Now how do you start with social media marketing for your gym? 

Firstly, establishing your target audience is the most important part. Whom do you sell to? And how to cover all their expectations to make them convert into a buyer? These are some questions you should ask yourself. 

Address the concerns that might prevent them from purchasing a membership at your gym. And try to improve your gym in the ways that the customers expect you to.

Facebook app displayed on a phone

Facebook and Instagram are the 2 most popular social media platforms used by gyms.

Facebook is one of the most popular and oldest social media platforms and also still has a huge user base. You can target working professionals and people in the age group above 25. Whereas Instagram is the most used platform among millennials and a younger demographic. Instagram also focuses more on visual content. This is where you can make visually attractive posts to have potential customers interested.

What are the best promotional practices for these social media platforms? 

1. Facebook:

  • Create a business page for your gym. A business page allows you access to various in-built analytical tools like page insights, ads manager and events manager, etc to track the amount of traffic that your page gets. Refer to this link to learn how to set up a business page on Facebook.
  • Have a high-quality image as your profile and cover photo. Potential clients should be able to easily identify you from the image. Choose an engaging image that truly represents who you are. Your profile picture shows up on search results, profile, other posts in which you were tagged. Ideal resolutions for profile pictures and cover pictures are:
    • Facebook profile picture size: 180 x 180 px
    • Facebook cover photo size: 820 x 312 px
  • Constantly update your information. Key information is contact number, address, business hours, and website. The about us section is also very important, keep it clear and simple. Use keywords so that people can easily identify you.

2. Instagram:

  • Post only the best quality pictures to make your profile look more professional. Use editing tools like Aviary, VSCO, Snapseed to add a really good effect to your photos. 
  • Ask your members to tag your gym on their posts/stories. The shoutouts given for your gym may increase your follower base. These people can choose to follow your page and ultimately consider joining your gym if you provide them with valuable content. 
  • Make good use of hashtags. Investigate what types of hashtags your competitors use. While cliche hashtags like #fitness #gym are alright, specific hashtags which suit your business are better to use. Some examples are: 
    • You can use daily hashtags on your posts like #MondayMotivation, #TransformationTuesday, #WorkoutWednesdays, #Thorsday, #FlexFridays, #SaturdayShoulderDay, etc.
    • If you host a challenge/event you can use a variety of hashtags like #7days7workoutChallenge, #SummerbodyShowdown, etc.
    • Use hashtags that represent your business, like #7amWorkoutGang, #FloridaFlexNation, etc  for posts that feature your gym

What type of content should you post? 

  • Share success stories of your clients that have had positive results with their body transformations. This is proof that your gym inspires others to achieve their goals and this attracts new customers. You can post these on Tuesdays under the hashtag “TransformationTuesday”.
  • Share client testimonials: Repost compliments and positive reviews that you receive from your clientele.
  • Post how-to tutorials, helpful blog posts, and videos that provide value to your potential clients. These posts can give tips about workouts or diet plans. Inspirational and motivational posts will also be welcomed.   
  • Respond to comments and be on point. Thank people for sharing your post with friends.    
  • Instagram specific content ideas for your gym: 
    • Make use of IG stories. This allows you to share content through various means like polls, surveys, countdowns, etc. You can also use stories of your gym and a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your members working out. 
    • IGTV allows you to post 10-minute long videos. This type of video content is a popular way to communicate with your audience. You can conduct interviews with top fitness influencers on IGTV and also have a few Q&A sessions for your audience who have general fitness-related queries, make sure to make it interactive. 
    • Use IG reels for shorter videos. You can add different filters and change speed. Show exercise Dos and Don’ts, share fitness-related hacks, show off your new equipment in your gym, create teasers for different events and challenges, etc. Since the audience typically has a very small attention span, reels are a great way to catch their eye and bring your content to their notice.  
Instagram business profile insights

Apart from these, posting content regularly on social media is the best practice to be active and prevalent and also post content for your target audience. 

For example, if you are a gym that serves clients for their weight-loss goals, you post content based on that like diet plans, exercise routine, etc.  Here are some more social media marketing ideas for your gym, for your reference.


4. Run referral programs

Referrals are one of the most valuable forms of marketing. With respect to the study conducted by Nielsen, It’s 4 times more likely for potential customers to purchase your gym membership when it’s referred by friends or family.

What is referral marketing?

Gym referral marketing is a marketing technique that uses word of mouth and recommendations to increase the number of customers through the network of existing customers of your gym.

Why do you need referrals?

They are an economical way to get new customers for your gym. The only expense would be on what you reward the referrer. Incentivizing both the person getting referred and the referrer is crucial for this strategy to be effective. Here, the customer himself/herself would act as a channel for marketing your gym.

Incentivizing your referrals:

Make sure you incentivize referrals. The rewards that the referrer gets should stay on the same page as the reward given to the person being referred who would potentially buy the membership. 

For example, let’s assume the person who was referred to gets a free workout session with a personal trainer, this reward doesn’t have to exactly match the one that the referrer gets. But they should receive something similar.

 Some possible incentives that you can reward are:

  1. Free-Workout program
  2. Gym retail products
  3. Discounts on their membership for, say, 2 months
  4. Free gym swags

Choose your referral channels wisely: 

Which is the most effective form of communication that you can have with your members? Is it email? Push notifications? In-person? 

a) Email referrals: 

Email referrals are a great way to communicate with busy customers. You can send newsletters with a link to a Google form that would take the detail of both the referrer and the person being referred to. 

Once these details are collected and verified you can send out your discount codes or incentives that you promised to them via mail. This mode of communication also speaks of how professional you are in the way you approach clients.

b) Mobile App/ Messaging Notifications: 

If you have an app that your clients have downloaded then it’s a good idea to include a section called “Referrals” in the app where your customers can fill in their name and the name of the person being referred to. 

For example, you can have a tab under referrals that says “Invite a friend program”. Your clients would be required to select a channel they want to broadcast it through (message, email, etc.). Once they have selected a channel an invitation link would be sent.

The people who got the invitation link, once clicked will be asked to sign a short form and once completed will be able to redeem their reward.

c) Posters: 

If you want to stick to offline means of referral marketing, then putting up posters in and around your gym will let members know about the offer. 

The clients have some additional questions about the means of redeeming the offer, so make sure all the necessary details are included in the posters.

d) Referral Cards: 

Issue referral cards to your clients to give to their friends and family, make sure to note their name. So once if the person who was referred comes to redeem it, you would know exactly whom to reward for the referral. 

This is a little expensive compared to other channels as printing cards cost some money. But this is also effective because accessibility is higher and clients can fit these into their wallets and give them to their friends and family. 

The after-process of redeeming the referral through these channels should be made as easy as possible. This would make them put more effort into referring to more friends and family.


Creating a referral program isn’t complex at all. Here is a summary of everything we have discussed regarding referrals. One, decide on an incentive and reward them accordingly. Two, choose a suitable channel to inform your members. Three, make it simple for your members to redeem their reward. Lastly, to maximize the output from referrals you must promote this program on your social media handles and website. 


5. Provide them with attractive offers and discounts

A sale sign

Offering offers and discounts can be one of the best ways to attract new customers through your gym promotions. This is because they allow clients to avail your gym services without burning a hole in their pocket! Plus, small discounts won’t even hurt your budget and bring you a greater number of leads. This makes it a win-win for both parties.

Before formulating discounts, you need to research the market and survey the cost of operation, profit loss, etc. The average membership fee certainly varies by region, gym type, etc. So it’s important to compare how your competitors’ offers differ from each other. 

We have put together a few gym promotional ideas where you could make your offers and discounts more attractive:

  1. Bring a buddy” offer where a customer and his/ her friend can join in for a workout session and both of them can get a discount, say, 15% off.
  1. Offer personalized meal plans for new customers.
  1. The beginning of the year is one of those times that your gym can take advantage of the numerous people who take fitness resolutions to get some new subscribers. One of the easiest ways to do so is by providing some irresistible new year gym offers.
  1. Provide a free week-long session with personal trainers for customers who write a review about the gym on appropriate websites like Google or Yelp.
  1. Giveaway swags during gym anniversary.
  1. Offer membership rates at a discounted price and special offers during the Holiday season etc.
  1. Offer a Trial period (1 week or 3 days) to convince potential clients who are still in the process of decision making to join the gym

Offering these types of promotions tempts the individual more to join your gym and also increases the retention rate. 


6. Keep them interested with regular challenges and events

People running in a marathon

Gym marketing campaigns in the form of challenges and events serve as a fun way to gather people of the fitness community. It helps you to get more followers on social media, more email subscribers, and boost the number of your overall audience. 

They also serve specific purposes like encouraging referrals and generating new leads.

Coming up with fitness challenges and events that the clients can do with their friends is a great way to encourage referrals. People who hesitate or shy away from challenges that they have to do alone often would step right in if they could do it with people they know. 

If you want to generate new leads then challenges and events are the right opportunities for you to collect their contact details (email ids, social media handles, address, etc). 

Here are a few examples of some event and challenge ideas: 

  • Promotions like “Summer body Showdown” can be advertised as a challenge for anyone to participate in. This could be done in 3-4 months, preferably between March and June. Winners would get workout goodies and supplements. 
  • Conducting Annual marathons to raise awareness for a cause can also increase the brand’s reputation for being socially responsible and hence generates trust and legitimacy for your gym. 
  • Make sure to connect with nearby corporates and offer corporate wellness programs. These are very effective to generate leads from the working class. Most companies would be ready to dedicate some time to an employee’s physical wellness. These wellness programs can be a group exercise or a Zumba class or a general physical health awareness session. 

7. Gym co-marketing

A handshake

This gym marketing idea is basically a referral program but only between businesses and is a bidirectional pact. Gym co-marketing works very efficiently if it involves parties owning a small/ medium scale business who are closer to your locality and are also interested to get new customers/clients.

Why do you have to choose co-marketing?

Working with other businesses can help cross-promoting each other’s brand and services offered. Co-marketing saves your time and money. It also increases your reach and helps build a local audience much faster. Leveraging your partner’s reputation will help your brand look more credible and trustworthy in the eyes of your partner’s customers who might soon be your new customer.

Steps to choose a co-marketing partner:

  1. Make a list of businesses that have a similar type of audience so your efforts to increase reach are not wasted on unfamiliar audiences.
  1. Conduct initial research on whether the leads you get from this partnership would be large enough to fit your needs. Partner with brands who are well known and have a good reputation (at least locally)
  1. Check if they have expertise in a field that you don’t. For example, let’s say you want to conduct an IGTV session on muscle anatomy but you don’t have enough knowledge to do so, then you can partner with a physiotherapist and ask them to assist you.
  1. Approach them with your proposal and explain the benefits that your partner will get if they co-market with you and also get to personally know them. Finally, only work with people who you enjoy working with 🙂 

What type of businesses can your gym partner with? 

This strategy works well if you focus on finding business partners who offer products/ services that align with your gym member’s interests. Potential co-marketing partners can be supplements stores, massage therapists, chiropractors, orthopedic clinics, etc. 

For example, if you have a person who sells supplements and is close to your gym, then you can ask the owner to put up some flyers of events and hand out referral cards to their customers. Offer something to do in return for them. Remember, its a two-way relationship 

It’s clearly evident that co-marketing benefits gyms in several ways. It is a cost-efficient and smart way to market your gym. You and your partners can work as a team towards increasing each other’s customer base, driving more sales, and increasing credibility.


Conclusion

Gym equipment on the floor

Coming up with the perfect set of gym marketing ideas is more than just attractive ads of muscular people with six-pack abs. It’s more about connecting with the right audience with the right message. Focusing on this will get you more members than you can accommodate. 

Changing your intent from trying to sell to rather providing help to your clients and non-clients to reach their desired goal would get you a different response.

Do let us know if these 7 ideas worked out like a charm for you in the comment section below.

We wish you the very best for this 2021 season 🙂


About Appointy

We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day. 

If you have any thoughts on this blog, or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below. 

We love a good talk!