Boutique gyms are classified as small gyms offering group classes, they are growing in popularity due to the differentiated group experience it offers. Rather than having a plethora of machines and dumbbells like commercial gyms, boutique gyms specialize in one or two areas of fitness. Due to its nature of being small and specialized, boutique gym owners may find it hard to build their brand in a saturated fitness market. Amidst the encyclopedic list of marketing strategies, here are some strategies that are worth considering for your fitness business:
Acquiring new customers: Generating Cold Leads
Acquiring new customers refers to marketing targeted at new audiences to gain new clients. In this stage of marketing, businesses can focus on ways to generate cold leads. In the fitness industry, gyms can resort to common methods like content marketing on social media platforms. According to the 2021 Social Sprout Index, 90% of consumers will purchase from a brand they follow on social media. Hence, having a social media presence facilitates social selling and it is crucial for generating cold leads. Besides content creation, there are two other ways of acquiring new customers:
- Search Engine Optimization
Content creation is futile if there are no viewers. Although the exact algorithm behind a search engine remains ambiguous, using keywords that appeal to the target audience increases the probability of customers to chance-upon the business’s content. Keywords such as “bodybuilding”, “weight” and “cardio” tend to be more traffic-driving.
2. Fitness Events
Statistics show that 61% of marketers believe that in-person events are the most critical marketing channel — a 20% increase from the previous year. With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, in-person events have been gaining more traction. From roadshows to powerlifting meets, gyms leverage on the publicity of these events to increase brand awareness.
All customers change: Retaining your customers
All customers change because of factors like individual lifestyle change, change in culture and emerging new trends. To retain customers, businesses have to account for customer dynamics in their marketing strategy. Aside from loyalty programmes and having an exceptional customer service, gyms can consider optimizing these two elements:
- Customer onboarding process
Customer onboarding is the process of introducing a customer to a new platform or environment. This involves getting the customer accustomed to the features, facilities and culture of a space. Gyms with classes can enhance the onboarding process by having a clear and user-friendly platform for new customers to navigate through the different classes and trainers available.
The onboarding process is crucial as it forms the customer’s first impression of the gym. Having an efficient onboarding process can reap long-term benefits in terms of customer retention.
2. Customer engagement
Customer engagement refers to actively engaging existing customers through having in-house challenges such as fitness leaderboards and events like bring-your-friend-along day. A well-engaged customer will more likely stay with the gym as the personal relationship forged will make the customer experience unique. For example, Ground Zero’s “Let’s Get Physical” challenge entails trying ten different instructors in the month of February to redeem limited edition perks. Community-led challenges can revitalise the spirits of unmotivated customers and it is an effective source of indirect marketing.
Building a sustainable competitive advantage
All competitors react. Hence, waging a price war or relying on first mover advantage is not sustainable. Gyms should focus on building a sustainable competitive advantage. This requires a few key ingredients:
Firstly, the competitive advantage presented must matter to the customers. For example, the availability of niche products like specialized equipment may not be an important competitive advantage for gyms targeting beginner lifters.
Secondly, firms have to build a relative advantage by doing something better than their competitors. For example, gyms can focus on building a relationship with their customers as most customers utilize relational-based decision making in favor of environments which they feel well acquainted with. Building relationships can be facilitated through communication between instructors and customers as well as between customers. Having a platform to facilitate a meaningful exchange is a step closer to having a relative advantage over other similar businesses.
Lastly, the competitive advantage should be hard to replicate. A sustainable way to differentiate from other businesses is to build a strong brand identity. Businesses can anchor their brand identity by being clear of their unique selling point, having a clear marketing direction and evoking the right emotions in their customers when conveying their brand story. The brand’s personality should be consistently communicated through the style of the businesses’ content and marketing materials.
Boutique gyms can adopt several methods to market their unique gyms. There is no one size fits all method to grow one’s business in today’s dynamic economy. Businesses have to strive to stay relevant and keep up with the times.
This article was written by Kelly Low