How Gym Owners Can Improve Their Marketing With StoryBrand

StoryBrand and gym marketing—do they link up?

Yes, and if you don’t understand why, your website is probably stuck in 2012. 

And your accounting is probably stuck in the red.

Here’s how CrossFit affiliate owners, fitness entrepreneurs and microgym owners can improve their marketing systems with help from StoryBrand and its creator, Donald Miller.

Gym Marketing: Out With the Old

For years, the microgym industry followed the content template made popular by the original version of CrossFit.com, once the internet’s only source of functional fitness programming and instruction. 

Here it is: Post a workout and an image, with a few links to additional content.

As the CrossFit movement expanded worldwide, a growing army of gym owners followed that example, putting their workouts front and center.

The problem: With each new gym website, the novelty effect of the workouts wore off. 

Another issue: CrossFit founder Greg Glassman targeted the “tip of the spear”—early adopters who were looking for extreme challenges. That was his avatar. But as the industry grew and the market became more competitive, gym owners ran out of early adopters and were then left with confusing, intimidating websites full of bloody hands, vomiting clients and workouts that looked—to the casual observer—“scary and dangerous.”

To a 50-year-old overweight person looking to start a fitness program and drop body fat, all this said “not for you.” Worse, these sites almost never had clear calls to action or “the next steps” for prospective clients. Visitors had to search to find some email address and then send a message asking for more info. 

If you’ve got a website like this, read on. The new principles of gym marketing—best articulated by StoryBrand—can help you.

StoryBrand Principles Applied to Gym Marketing

“Where a website was once a storehouse for information about a company, it’s now a supplement to a broader marketing campaign,” Donald Miller wrote.

In one line, he captured why CrossFit.com worked in 2009 and why you need to revise your website right now.

Whereas the gym website of five years ago was a library, the modern fitness site is more like a roadside billboard.

Think about it: You’re ripping down the highway at 60 miles per hour. Billboards are everywhere. You’re only going to act if a billboard catches your attention and tells you exactly what to do in about five seconds. 

That’s what great modern websites do.

StoryBrand has codified the modern website structure. Here it is in simple terms:

Tell people what you do and what you want them to do. Support your call to action with success stories, present your products and services in manageable chunks, and always—always!—tell members of your target market how you can solve their problems.

You can use that basic plan to make your clumsy, cluttered gym website into a marketing asset that feeds you clients and generates revenue for your fitness business.

Gym Websites: Modern Marketing Elements

Gym Taglines: Punch Them in the Face

“Constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.”

Remember that one? Get rid of it.

You help people lose weight. Or get strong. Or lose weight and get strong. And so on. 

Make sure your site instantly tells visitors exactly what you do in both words and pictures. No uncertainty, no clever inside jokes, no jargon. Be blunt.

Call to Action: Tell Them What to Do

You need a call to action in a prominent location. It should be bright to catch the eye and blunt to motivate action.

This is horrid: “Click here to learn more about how improvement in various modal domains can help you improve overall health and fitness.”

This is great: “Click to lose weight.”

This call to action must be visible on every single page.

Additional Reading: “Essential Elements of a Great Gym Website”

Services: Tell Them What You Do

StoryBrand wants you to make the visitor the “hero of the story,” but you still have to tell a person what you do. 

Here’s the trick: Tell the person what you’ll do for him or her.

Here’s the other trick: Make sure people can figure out how you can help them even if they’re skimming fast. 

It’s not about all your services and expertise and credentials and equipment and amenities and staff members. It’s about quickly and clearly presenting how you solve problems for clients. 

You can present this info in a host of ways: bullets and benefits, icons and graphics, photos and so on. But keep it short and sweet. No essays. Just expert problem solving from a helpful professional “guide.”

Remember: It’s not about you. It’s about the visitor.

Products and Services: Tell Them a Little More

This section of your site is a trap. Yes, you have yoga and physiotherapy and powerlifting and CrossFit and HIIT training and all sorts of other stuff.

Don’t mention it all. You want to tell people a little more about how you’ll solve their problems, not hit them with a firehose blast of details. 

Use the “hardware store principle”: No one cares about all the hundreds of different screws the store sells. The person just wants a pro to supply the tool that will hang the picture so he or she can get back to watching Netflix. It’s not about the toggle bolt that will support the picture hung on drywall. It’s about hanging the picture and getting back to the movie or baseball game.

In this section, you want nuggets of info only—stuff that repeatedly says “this solves problems.” You might include some pricing, but keep it to three tiers and forget about all the many variations on your rate card. 

Your goal isn’t to tell people the price of every single thing. It’s to interest them enough that they click your call-to-action button.

Tell them a little more here. Not a lot.

Prove You Can Do It

Even your best pitch might not be as effective as “social proof”—photos, quotes and videos that feature your clients singing your praises.

“Social proof makes the benefit of these features real,” Miller wrote in an article on Buildingastorybrand.com.

The StoryBrand marketing guru isn’t wrong. You want visitors to see “people like me.”

While it used to be standard practice to showcase the strongest, fittest clients on your website, that’s only a great idea if your ideal client is very strong and fit. You can use “aspirational” characters in marketing from time to time, but remember that aspiration is just a few steps from intimidation.

And again: Who are you really trying to attract? That’s the hero of the story you’re telling about your brand. Tell a story in which your visitors can easily place themselves. Show visitors people they can identify with—happy, relatable clients who benefitted from your services.

Links, Blogs, Other Stuff

You’ve got some options downstairs. If a visitor has scrolled this far, you might want to offer more social proof, content that establishes expertise, value-building resources and so on. 

But remember this: You are talking to an avatar—your ideal client. And the ideal client is wonderful but self-centered. This is not the place to show off. This is the place to show you understand the client and can solve all his or her problems.

Marketing Magic Done for You

It can be tricky to get all of this right. The tendency is to be too clever and do too much.  Storybrand principles can work wonders with gym marketing and websites, but it can be tough to apply them if you aren’t a pro.

Use the info above to revamp your site, or contact Gym Lead Machine. Our sites are designed with current best practices top of mind, and we can get your site up and running in days, not months.

Visitors to Gym Lead Machine sites learn about your business fast, and they’re directed to take action that results in revenue. Our clients regularly tell us our sites generate leads better than some ad campaigns. 

To book a sales call to find out how we can revamp your website fast, click here.

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