15 Marketing Tips for Personal Trainers and Gyms

By Tommy Klouwers

Published 6 May 2015

Over the last months, plenty of articles have been published about being successful on Facebook, how to do content marketing, etc. Most of them give tips that are quite interesting, but take a lot of time to learn and implement. I often miss practical marketing tips which will actually help you to set up a successful marketing campaign.

This article will teach you how to create an effective marketing message for your business. Secondly, you’ll get tips & tools for using popular marketing channels. Some of the marketing tips are easy and don’t require lots of marketing knowledge, while others will take some time to set up but can be highly effective against low costs.

Step 1: Make time or find the right people

Most importantly, you need to free up time to invest in marketing. It’s just like reaching your fitness goals: when you create a schedule in advance, it’s easier to achieve your goals. Schedule time in your agenda every week to focus on marketing. A few hours a week would already be great.

If you don’t have that time, then you either have enough clients, or need someone else to help you out. Hiring an experienced marketer or marketing agencies can be good options, but only if you have some marketing budget available. I’ve worked for a marketing agency and let me tell you, it’s a tad difficult to get results if a client doesn’t want to pay for more than 2 hours a month (which actually happened often).

So, when you don’t have the budget to work with an agency or hire an experienced marketer, you need to be creative. These are my tips to get started:

  • Hire a recently graduated student. Marketing is changing rapidly. For marketing success, you need to follow the latest developments and become familiar with new technologies. Find someone who’s willing to learn.
  • Is hiring someone too expensive? Try Fiverr. Everything you find on this website costs five dollars. Want a new logo? Five dollars. Need an email template? Five dollars. Want a sexy model holding a sign with your logo? Five dollars ? Please note, though, that since everything is 5 bucks, quality isn’t guaranteed.

Step 2: Find out which message works best

The great thing about the internet is the fact that you’ll get data about everything. If you want to figure out which marketing campaign will be most effective for your business, just create some different ads using Facebook Ads or Google AdWords.

A short test

Which of the following ad texts would you expect to work best?

  • Want to get in shape for the summer? Contact me for a free personal training session!
  • I offer high quality personal training for just €20 a month. Click here to find out how.
  • Lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks! Get an exercise plan and a nutrition plan here.

Answer: no idea. Just create multiple messages and see which one performs best. Facebook advertising is easy to learn and provides you with valuable insights. Invest €5-10 in each message, see which one gets you the most likes and/or website clicks, and use that message in all your campaigns.

Step 3: Attract new customers

You’ve probably read that you need to use Facebook, have a blog and have a website with good rankings in Google. But how to achieve that? Where to start? Here are some practical marketing tips for each marketing channel. Please note not all of them might work for you. There’s no magical method that works for everyone.

Content marketing

Yes, having a blog can be a great source for getting visibility. But what should you write about?

Buzzsumo shows you which articles are being shared most often. The only thing you need to come up with is a subject. So if you decide you’d like to write about weight loss, get inspired by popular articles on Buzzsumo. By the way, if you decide to republish an article, be polite and ask first, and always include a link to the source.

Reposting popular articles on your blog or via social media is an easy way to get more attention (again: always include the source!).

How to rank high in Google

You probably heard a billion times about the importance of being found in Google. That takes time. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Google My Business

This is nothing new. I wouldn’t be surprised if 80% of you already set this up, but if you didn’t: do it right away. Google wants to provide quality by showing relevant search results. If someone searches for a personal trainer in Los Angeles, they don’t want to show you personal trainers in San Francisco. And creating a page at Google My Business gives Google the information they need to list your business in the list and on the map you see at the image below.

Marketing tip: local results in Google

Note that I searched for a personal trainer in Amsterdam from our office location, Herengracht 250 in Amsterdam. The first result in the list is a trainer located in the same street.

2. Finding the right keywords

With a tool like keywordtool.io, you can get a list of keywords to use on your website, or at your blog. For example, when you enter “personal trainer amsterdam” as a search term, the tool suggests search terms like “expat personal trainer amsterdam”. Have you included these search terms on your website yet? Odds are that you’ll get more traffic when you do.

3. Quick Sprout

Optimizing your website requires some technical skills. However, you don’t need a specialist to figure out what to optimize. Just enter your website URL at Quick Sprout (ignore the pop-up) and see what you can improve right away. Or at least share it with the guys who take care of your website.

Email Marketing

Email is one of the most powerful tools to keep your clients engaged or to stay in touch with leads. A great tool for email marketing, and probably the most popular one worldwide, is MailChimp. You don’t need a designer or know how to code. It works quite smoothly, and it’s ready for desktop and mobile right away. And the best part for small businesses: you can use it for free when you have less than 2,000 subscribers.

Remarketing / retargeting

My favorite marketing tool. Google calls it remarketing, Facebook calls it retargeting. If you don’t know the term yet, this is remarketing in a nutshell:

You go to someone’s website, and later ‘ all of a sudden’  their ad pops up at other websites.

The great thing is: you can choose to pay per click. In general there aren’t that many people who click on banners. But your leads will still see your ads and won’t forget about you. All together, it makes it an awesome, successful and cheap way to stay top of mind with potential clients.

Setting everything up takes a bit knowledge, though. But hey, there’s probably someone who can do it for you for five bucks (see Step 1).

Facebook advertising based on email addresses

For this one you need a bit more experience, but since advertising on Facebook can be so valuable I didn’t want to leave it out. We already wrote about NTMY forms in his article about selling more memberships. Facebook can help you making that sale after you’ve collected someone’s email address.

You can create custom audiences on Facebook. A custom audience on Facebook is a list of people your company would like to target with your ads, whose email addresses you already have.

So, after collecting email addresses using the NTMY forms, you can serve ads on Facebook to these people to stay top of mind. Of course, there are more occasions for which you could effectively use custom audiences. For example, you could run a campaign in January each year, where you just target people who used to be a member of your club. Maybe you’ll manage to increase customer retention and will be able to maintain your members for a longer period this time.

Tools for success on social media

As you know, social media can be extremely valuable. But it’s getting harder and harder for businesses. Facebook recently announced that updates from friends will appear more often, which might decrease the visibility of your page posts.

Being successful on social media takes time. You have to build your brand. If you don’t have that time, why not try these tricks to use social media for lead generation?

1. Lead generation with Twitter and Facebook

Hootsuite, a social media management tool, can help you to manage all your social media channels. You can post to all channels from one location. What many people don’t know, is that Hootsuite also offers the possibility to search Facebook and Twitter based on your location. For example, when someone tweets that they need advice for a nearby gym or a good personal trainer, why not tweet back to them? Hootsuite allows you to search Twitter within a 25 km radius from your current location. This distance is set automatically, but you can easily change it.

Marketing Tips: Search Social Media based on your location

2. Mention

People might post something about you. Good or bad. Mention helps you to track whenever your company name (or you, or competitor, whatever you want), has been mentioned on the internet. They track Facebook, Twitter, blogs and more. It’s a great way to find out when someone writes about you. For example, Virtuagym has been named best fitness app by the Computer BILD Magazine, one of the best magazines in Germany. Without Mention, I might have not even noticed it. At least, not right away. It caused an increase in downloads from our apps, and Mention helped me understand what caused it.

The day after the Computer BILD article was published, I looked up the email address of the writer and sent him a thank you email. He responded in a very positive manner. This way, Mention can help you gain new connections with the press as well.

3. Let your clients promote your business for you

The best way to gain publicity is probably positive word-of-mouth. Therefore, you need to build a great business with happy customers. But how to boost positive word-of-mouth?

Okay, this isn’t really a tip, because there’s nothing you have to do. Within Virtuagym, your clients are able to share their workout. People like to show off that they have been exercising. Think about it, you probably see it quite often. On Facebook for example, it might look like this:

marketing tips: facebook sharing

Free advertisement for your business. And when people click on it, it looks like this. Isn’t that easy? This is all integrated in our coaching software.


In short, setting up your marketing campaign quickly and successfully includes the following steps:

  • Find the time first. If you don’t have time, find someone to help you out. This person doesn’t need to be an expensive expert, but should be willing to learn.
  • Test your message. It won’t cost you a lot of money, but it’ll help you maximize the effect of your marketing efforts.
  • Use the channels that you think work best for you. If you’re terrible at social media, focus on different channels which might be a better fit for you. Unfortunately, there’s no magical marketing formula that works for everyone. The key is to try different channels and see which ones work best for you.

What did you find most interesting?

I wrote this article because I’ve been annoyed by the lack of good marketing tips for small businesses. It’s a long article with plenty of quick marketing tips, though nothing in-depth. Let me know what subject you’d like to learn more about, or share your feedback by commenting on my blog via FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.

Tommy Klouwers

My name is Tommy Klouwers and I’m Marketing Manager at Virtuagym. I’m always looking for new ways to grow our business internationally. I’m a huge fan of data. I love soccer and like to beat my co-workers at a game of FIFA after work :)


???? Black Friday ????

Schedule your demo before Dec 2!