The economic landscape has been described as rather desolate as of late, with the coronavirus pushing businesses to quickly reshape and adapt their marketing strategies.
It’s no secret that the inner workings of almost every industry have changed, namely through embracing digitization to stay relevant amid an economy sustained by Zoom calls and online commodification.
We see, for example, the tourism industry bringing cultural spaces into the realms of virtual reality by offering paid tours of museums from one’s living room. While it is a far cry from the real thing, the fitness industry does have irrefutable usefulness in reevaluating its marketing strategies to fit the new reality.
For one, unlike most other products that are tied to a physical space or place, fitness is tied to its temporal immateriality. This basically means that you can run your fitness business from anywhere in the world, at any time, and have it yield the same results as a client would expect in a gym.
Of course, the process is different, but the product – that is, the services between you and the client – essentially remain the same. With this in mind, it seems almost intuitive that fitness businesses should have their marketing strategies match the needs of today’s market .
In light of the changing market, how can you set your business apart from competitors who are also hybridizing their business models ? What are your unique selling propositions – and what should a value proposition include?
We’ve rounded up five surefire tips on how to adapt your business to the new reality to get you on your feet.
1. (Re)define your unique selling propositions
Loss of revenue and redundancies have cost many companies their marketing budgets and more creatively inclined teams. This begs the question of whether or not it’s still possible to redefine your brand’s message or value propositions without breaking the bank.
Nevertheless, it’s worth investing in showcasing your brand and everything it stands for – especially now. The new competitive landscape means that hordes of fitness businesses are testing the waters of unique value propositions with the same goals in mind.
So, think to yourself, ‘What is a good value proposition?’ How can you define – or redefine – your brand’s messaging to provide something that is of true value to your members?
Consider looking at your member base as it is now. Your pre-pandemic clientele may look very different than what you have now, and as a result, the demands of your organization may also vary. Get to the drawing board and start articulating your members, their distinctive qualities, and how you as a brand want to cater to these factors.
For example, if your members in 2021 will mostly be young professionals with access to home workout equipment and wearable tech, you could toy with the idea of providing them with an app that ties together tracking and a library of virtual workouts that use equipment they already own. The more niche, the better!
2. Ride the progress tracking wave
It’s less of a wave and more of a total paradigm shift; technology has become so imbued with fitness that in one way or another, the new reality of fitness will strongly feature some sort of app, wearable, or tracker.
Deloitte reports that 65% of Millennials believe that progress tracking is integral to working out. In fact, what was initially viewed as a disruption to the fitness market has quickly become the bridge between clients, business owners, and even healthcare providers
Our own internal study showed that exercise logging peaked in early March, and 4.8 million exercises were logged on the Virtuagym-provided app.
Savvy gym owners and personal trainers capitalized on this trend and increased their online offerings that featured integration with their members’ wearables.
Our business clients invested more time, money, and effort into being a part of their members’ at-home fitness journey via progress tracking. A positive by-product of this is the creation of more touchpoints among members and staff.
And – if you needed extra incentive to ride the progress-tracking wave – according to the World Economic Forum, fitness apps usage grew by nearly 50% during the first half of 2020. From leaderboards to weekly step challenges and bespoke fitness apps, there’s more to progress tracking than heart rate monitors these days.
3. Engage with members on their terms
To effectively adapt your business to the new reality, you’ll need to create a different type of connection with people. Marketing from afar was challenging before, but in this vastly competitive online marketing landscape, simply revamping your business offering isn’t going to cut it.
The key players in this new reality are going to be tech-savvy individuals who know the difference between spam and engagement. So, make sure you only engage with members on their terms, lest your efforts are redirected to the spam folder.
For example, use a custom app in your own brand elements to communicate with members of your facility. The type of communication should also be well thought out and executed. You wouldn’t want to begin a conversation about getting a beach body if your clientele is slightly on the senior side of the spectrum or if beaches are closed in your country due to the pandemic.
Give members guidance on things they expect to know about – and on the contrary, surprise them with compelling engagement that adds value to their experience of your business.
For example, you could provide them with instructional videos on how to navigate any virtual offerings you may be providing, and, on the side, you could also facilitate rapport between staff and members by fostering a supportive online presence.
This makes your business more present in the day-to-day life of your members while also doing some legwork for your branding. By building a strong community, you can eventually introduce social selling as a core marketing strategy for your business.
4. Use the right channels to reach members
Not all communication channels are created equal, and the sooner you distinguish the differences, the faster you can notice the results of your labor. If you’re starting from scratch, learn how to glean information on how to communicate with your members by running attention-grabbing, original ad-hoc marketing campaigns.
This lets you hone in on what works for whom, and in turn, lets you leverage the insights you have on your members to further streamline your marketing initiatives in the future.
The key is knowing your demographic and how they like to be engaged. Take our fitness business clients, for example; Virtuagym clients can pull detailed analytics on club members pertaining to age, the gender they identify with, and even their goals and progress.
Our clients can also segment members into groups so that they can plug specific content around the topics their members care most about.
5. Turn your custom app into your personal marketing agency
Here’s another nifty idea: why not turn your app into your own marketing agency? If you’ve got a custom mobile app to help you run your business, with insights on business analytics, member behavior, and revenue, you’ve basically got a marketing agency in the palm of your hand.
All that’s left is to add some brainpower to make the data serve your marketing strategies. Consider setting up in-app marketing banners and push notifications to communicate important messages.
And we can’t stress this enough: important information.Your gym getting a new treadmill is decidedly not news, but your gym implementing the use of facemasks as of a certain date definitely is.
This communication is also part of your marketing strategy. So, make sure it’s in line with your brand voice and speaks for the unique selling points of your business. Brainstorm on the type of marketing content you want to put out and if it’s relevant to your members. Then, put the app to use.
6. Last but not least: Get more leads!
Retention may be the best way to keep your business running in the new landscape, but it doesn’t hurt to get more leads. However, before switching to new lead generation strategies, bear in mind that the purchasing power of potential customers will have dwindled significantly over the coronavirus crisis.
So, as with everything mentioned here, you’ll need to put in some creative thinking and research to avoid taking any left turns. The first step is to make your offering accessible to potential leads. Start by looking inward at the value of what you offer and how this can be increased to extend your reach.
For example, if you’re offering a 7-day virtual trial, consider upping that to a more feasible timeline to get people captivated. Some studies have shown that it takes up to 21 days for people to form a habit; others have said it takes 66 days – debatable science aside, you don’t have to go the whole hog with free trials, but you could find more ways to capture leads.
Consider offering 30-day challenges as a lead magnet, or offer them home workouts so they can use the app, then continue marketing it to them. On top of that, you can upsell more accesses within the app – or even remote coaching if you’ve got the budget for it!
There’s no blueprint for adapting your business to the new reality
Adapting your business to the new reality will doubtlessly consist of trials, tribulations, and hopefully, triumphs. You may find yourself at the drawing board a few times, re-figuring out things you’ve cracked your creative noggin over.
The marketing tips outlined above aren’t radically different from traditional marketing strategies. The key difference lies in putting thought into seamlessly integrating online and offline spaces, so your marketing strategy helps run the whole of your business like a finely tuned machine.