Content marketing for gyms: It’s the key to warmer leads, more sales, greater brand awareness and increased web traffic.
The days of radio spots, flyers, TV commercials and full-page newspaper ads are long gone. In the digital era, with consumers locked to smartphones bursting with information and entertainment, attention spans are short and “banner blindness” is real. People barely even notice ads—or they instantly find the X and get rid of them.
Your business must do something special to make a connection and content marketing is the answer.
Here’s the definition from Mailchimp:
“Content marketing is a marketing strategy used to attract, engage and retain an audience by creating and sharing relevant articles, videos, podcasts and other media. This approach establishes expertise, promotes brand awareness and keeps your business top of mind when it’s time to buy what you sell.”
Simply put: You need to create things for members of your target audience to read, watch and listen to. If you do, they’ll get to know, like and trust you.
And then they’ll buy from you.
Below, we’ll provide our Top 11 tips for content marketing for gyms.
Content Marketing: An Example
Beer is plentiful—so how do you set yourself apart in a sea of suds?
Content marketing is one way. Check out this Budweiser commercial and try not to get choked up:
You don’t see any beer. In fact, the logo on the dude’s hat is the only clue that you’re watching an “ad.” You’re actually watching a short film—a story about a lost dog. It happens to feature the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales.
Whether you like or loathe beer, you probably got hooked by the story and watched to the end. And if you’re a beer drinker, you might have tipped your cap to the manufacturer. At the very least, you’ll remember that puppy—and probably that Bud is a down-home brand for hard-working people. At best, you’ll pick up a case.
So what does this experience mean for gym owners? Read on.
Does Content Marketing Work for Gyms?
Yes, content marketing works for gyms and fitness businesses.
Over at Two-Brain Business, Chris Cooper emphasizes audience building in his gym-owner mentorship program and content marketing is the cornerstone of the organic marketing plan.
In fact, content is so important that Two-Brain creates and acquires premium, professionally designed, white-labeled content that clients can swipe and deploy to engage their audiences. And media experts teach gym owners to create content themselves, too.
Stuff like this helps entrepreneurs tell stories, solve problems and engage people so they “pay attention before they pay money,” as Cooper says.
Here are more key content marketing stats from Demandmetric.com:
- 90 percent of people believe custom content is useful and 70 percent feel closer to a company when they engage with content marketing.
- 68 percent of people read about the brands they find interesting.
- 80 percent of consumers want to read custom content about a company.
- Content marketing is about three times better than traditional marketing in lead generation.
- Content marketing is approximately 62 percent cheaper than traditional marketing.
- 60 percent of people will look for a product after reading something about it.
Those are heavy numbers that can make a huge difference to your bottom line.
As a gym owner, you must create content that engages, entertains, solves problems, raises the status of your brand and shows what you’re all about. The best part: You have mountains of things you can produce. Here are just a few of the hundreds of media opportunities for gym owners:
- Movement demos and tips videos (“how to do X”).
- Nutritional content including recipes and tips.
- Workout ideas.
- On-the-road workouts.
- Motivational podcasts.
- Marathon training articles.
- Guides to building muscle.
- Ab-training guides.
- Fat-loss or weight-loss guides.
- Client stories.
- And many, many more.
In the fitness industry, the top mediums in 2022 are:
- Blog posts.
- Social-media posts (videos, pictures, stories, live feeds, etc.)
- YouTube channels.
- PDF lead magnets.
Those are the basics of content marketing for gyms. Now, on to our top 11 tips for fitness entrepreneurs.
1. Be Helpful!
Sales and marketing are really all about problem solving. To get what you want—clients!—you must help them get what they want: You must take away “pain points” or help them solve problems. And people always have fitness problems and lots of questions about gyms and working out.
Put your knowledge on display and offer tips on everything.
“But if I give away my secrets, will clients still pay me to coach them?”
Yes! Your info will help them get started. But to get faster results through customized coaching, they’ll need your services.
Think about it like this: Any video can teach a person how to do biceps curls. But only your video will end with this: “If you’re a client of mine, I’ll be reviewing your lifting results after every session to make sure we increase the loads and reps at exactly the right time so you get the arms you want. That’s the real key!”
Content Marketing Idea: Write an article about the top five arm workouts for adding size to “the pythons.” You’re solving a problem—small arms—and establishing your expertise.
2. Produce Content Regularly and Play the Long Game
The No. 1 reason gyms don’t succeed with content marketing: They start and then fall off because they want an “instant marketing fix.”
Content marketing isn’t a short-term play. You can’t just write one blog and hope people think your gym is the best. You must engage and re-engage for days, months, and sometimes years. But imagine what would happen if you produced two blogs a week for two years: You’d have 208 pieces of high-quality content for local people to find.
You’d have an entire fitness library on your site, and your SEO ranking would increase. Your resources would attract tons of people who would view you as a top expert. When they’re ready to buy something related to fitness, they’ll think of you.
Connecting with prospective clients like this takes time. So select your medium and commit to publishing regularly.
Content Marketing Tip: Create a content calendar so you don’t “write when I have time.” You’ll never have free time as a gym owner. Instead, put stuff like this on your calendar: Monday—Publish article on squat technique, Thursday—Publish article on sprinting workouts, Sunday—publish article on the best local fitness parks in the city.
3. Produce Content for Your Avatar
Imagine this: A gym owner is always blogging about tips and strategies for fitness competitions. It’s an area of interest for her—but none of her clients are into competition. Most come to the gym to lose weight, drop body fat and gain muscle.
Can you spot the mismatch?
The misdirected content isn’t wasted, but it’s far from ideal. With content marketing, the goal is to attract more of your perfect clients. To do that, you need to use the right “bait.”
Going back to the scenario above, the gym owner would be much better off producing articles like this: “Best Workouts for Burning Fat” and “How to Lose Belly Fat Through Diet and Exercise.”
Your content should be created for your ideal client—and if you don’t know who your ideal client is, you need to find out fast.
Content Marketing Exercise: Read this blog post from Two-Brain Business and identify your “seed clients”—your very best members. Then write down their shared characteristics. Be as specific as possible. Then blend these traits together into an avatar—you can even give it a name.
For example: “‘Ken’ is our ideal client. He’s an urban professional between 30 and 50. He’s got kids and he lives or works within 10 miles of the gym. He prefers to train early before work or right after work and his main goal is ‘losing the dad bod.’ He plays recreational sports—golf, hockey, and volleyball—and always takes weekends off to head to the lake with his kids. He wants fast, effective workouts that combine cardio and strength training and he’s definitely interested in nutrition coaching to help him make progress faster.”
And so on. Whenever you create content, create it for your “Ken.”
4. Play the Local SEO Game
Search engine optimization—SEO—is a big deal. You want to land on the top of Page 1 when a prospective client searches for something. If you can get a person onto your site, you might convert them—that is, if your site is optimized for conversions, which it should be (GLM sites definitely are).
The problem: broad, popular search terms such as “fitness” and “personal trainer” are hyper-competitive. It will be a challenge to crack the rankings. But you can make headway if you focus on “local SEO.” That means you want people to find you when they Google “personal trainers near me” or “gyms in [YOUR CITY].”
SEO can be complex—and expensive. From a basic content-marketing standpoint, gym owners should create content that is hyper-palatable to the local audience. Here are three examples:
- “Best Muscle-Building Workouts for the [CITY’S] Outdoor Fitness Park”
- “How to Train for the [TOWN] 5K Fun Run”
- “Best Pre-Game Meals for a High-School Football Player in [AREA]”
You’re much more likely to land on the search engine results pages—SERPs—if you tailor your content to your geographic region. Plus, you connect to local people. Unless you have a booming online enterprise, you won’t get any business if a person from another state reads your blog. But if a local runner reads about your fun-run training plan, you’re much more likely to get a client.
(Check out our complete SEO guide for gym owners here.)
Content Marketing Tip—Enter some local areas, events and popular pastimes into Google and see what comes up. Then add “nutrition” or “fitness” to the search. If you see some obvious holes, fill them with content!
5. Be Authentic
This one might seem obvious, but many people fail to connect with their audience because they sound fake, contrived or ignorant.
It’s a mistake to try to establish expertise when you aren’t an expert. Stay in your lane and write about what you know.
For example, don’t write an article about zone-breakout drills for hockey players if you’ve never hit the center on the tape with an outlet pass. Instead, write about how hockey players can improve lower-body strength with squats.
Further, it’s a mistake to try to sound “a certain way.” Write in your voice. People can smell contrived writing a mile away. Be yourself.
Content Marketing Tip—When reading your articles before posting, ask yourself a question: Am I using complex terms to try and sound smart? If so, simplify.
6. Create Lead Magnets
A lead magnet is a valuable thing supplied to a person in return for contact information. It’s usually delivered automatically when someone clicks from an ad to a landing page. In some cases, lead magnets are supplied via sell by chat. In rarer cases, they’re physically provided.
But you can also use them on your blog. Post about them and encourage people to “click here to get my guide.” Reference magnets in other popular blogs, or simply embed a “Get a Free Workout Guide” button on a post about something else.
To get a person to hand over a name, email address and phone number, the lead magnet must be interesting to them.
Bad gym lead magnet: The Finer Points of the Krebs Cycle of Energy Production.
Good gym lead magnet: 10 Top Toners for a Terrific Beach Body.
Again, refer to your avatar. What would that person want to read about? The possibilities are endless, so remember this: One solid lead magnet is better than 100 bad ones. And a solid lead magnet doesn’t have to be a 100-page PDF with professional photography. It just needs to present the promised information.
Content Marketing Assignment—What’s the No. 1 reason people join your gym? Fill that into this title in place of the X: “The Top 5 Movements for [X] in [YOUR CITY].” Then select five movements, explain why they solve a problem, and describe how to do them. End the guide with this: “To talk to a coach about how to accomplish your goals, click [LINK].” Now put that lead magnet on a landing page and link to it whenever you blog about a related topic. Don’t know how to build a landing page? GLM can do it for you: Click here.
7. Share Content in Local Facebook Groups
To get your content in front of people, join local interest groups—or start one yourself. In those groups, you can chat with people, comment on other posts, answer questions and share your content as a helpful resource.
Be warned: There’s an art to doing this. It’s a mistake to join a group and hijack it with links to your content and service pages. But if you genuinely interact with people—see tip No. 1 above—you’ll find opportunities to help them as a friendly expert.
Bad: “I’m new to this group for moms! Buy a 10-pack of PT sessions on my website.”
Good: “I also struggle with making healthy meals when I’m short on time. Want me to DM you my fave fast recipe?” (Send link to recipe on your site.)
Interactions like this lead to conversations that can be used for sales—but after you warm your audience. The key? Authentic interaction and helpful content on a website that’s optimized for conversions.
Content Marketing Assignment: Join three local Facebook groups and start interacting. After you’ve been around for a while, look for ways to help members with the resources on your site.
8. Showcase Your Content on Social
Social media is great for alerting people about new content and the ultimate win is to get them onto your website, where they can take action by booking a free consultation. Social platforms know this, so you can’t just drop links to your stuff on Facebook and see a flood of traffic to your site anymore.
But you can still showcase your content by posting excerpts, quote graphics, videos and other media. There are three goals:
- Get people to notice your content, your expertise and your brand.
- Get people to interact with your content—a like, comment, save, share or DM.
- Get people to click to your website—today or maybe at a later date.
It’s a mistake to post a blog to your website and then walk. Post the blog, then make social media posts from the blog. That’s where the eyeballs are.
Content Marketing Assignment: Take the best line from your next blog and make it into a graphic using Canva, Snapseed, Adobe InDesign or any other app or program. Then post it to Instagram and post a longer excerpt from the blog as the caption. Tell people to visit your site for the rest of the post.
9. Create “Snackable Content”
Sometimes you need to write long, detailed articles. In fact, you should do that if you want to increase SEO. But you should also write short, simple articles—snack-sized content. Same deal with videos and podcasts. The goal is to provide easy-to-consume content that doesn’t require a ton of commitment from the consumer. Think infographics, memes, GIFs and so on.
Snackable content is addictive for the same reason that some people love three-frame comic strips. It’s short and sweet.
An example: A simple article that lists the top three exercises for toning the glutes and provides a sample workout. It might be just 200 words. That’s OK.
As fitness pros, it’s tempting to write theses that show how much we know. But content consumers sometimes want to pass on the nine-course meal and wolf down a bag of chips. So serve snack sized content regularly on your website.
Content Marketing Tip: Now that you know what it is, make note of the snackable blog content you enjoy. Then figure out how to create similar stuff for your website.
10. Post “Evergreen” Content
In media, “evergreen” is a term that means “always relevant.” For example, the movie “Hackers” is not evergreen because the “slick technology” it featured in 1995 is now laughably out of date. “Romeo and Juliet” is centuries old but considered timeless because the concept of love endures forever.
Your “pillar posts”—or “really important content”—should be evergreen or they won’t be considered pillar posts for long. An example of a timeless post: “How Resistance Training Builds Muscle.” A post with an expiry date: “Best Wearable Fitness Tech of 2021.” You could, of course, update the tech post annually—but you get the point.
You can certainly produce timely content designed to capitalize on a wave of interest—like when a rowing machine appeared in the show “House of Cards.” But when the wave recedes, your blog will still generate leads if it has evergreen content.
Content Marketing Tip: Make a list of three blogs that will contain relevant info today and in five years. Spend a little extra time writing these blogs so they’re packed with info and terms search engines will love.
11. Track Your Data
How will you know if your content is solid? Your stats will tell you.
Check into Google Analytics or any other stats program and see what people are interested in on your site. Sometimes the numbers will tell you exactly what you thought they would; other times, you’ll be surprised. Either way, you must review data. If you do, you’ll start to understand:
- What content search engines like.
- What your audience enjoys.
- What topics make people stay on your site longer.
- What your audience will share.
- Which content is generating leads.
- Which content is closely linked to purchases.
All that info will help you create more content that will turn your blog into a lead machine. Ignore your data and you’re throwing darts blindfolded.
Content Marketing Tip: What’s your most popular blog post? Find out, then embed a link to a lead magnet in the post. If you do, more people will read about your magnet and you might get more downloads—and contact info!
Content Marketing for Gyms: Publish Today!
There’s no content marketing without content.
Now that you have 11 tips to get the most out of your blog, write something today and publish it. Or, if you’re writing a longer post, start it today and then assign yourself a deadline to publish.
Remember this when it comes to content marketing for gyms: Content might be king, but consistency is the key.