There are many options available for marketing your gym, studio or personal training services, and you will be approached by others who want to get their hands on a slice of your advertising budget. But before spending your limited dollars on expensive media advertising that broadly reaches the general public, consider your true target market. According to IHRSA, the foremost fitness research resource, regular fitness participants are willing to travel no more than 10 to 12 minutes from home, within a radius of less than five miles. By using community-based social marketing, you will reach your true customer base.
When it comes to building your business, your neighbors can be a gold mine. According to Forbes, meeting the needs of people in your community is a highly effective and inexpensive way to grow your brand. Companies like Nike, Starbucks and Google all have community-based origins. Knowing that your best customer base is just around the corner, focus on becoming a force for change in your community. Identifying opportunities for involvement within your community is the first step in becoming a fitness expert in the eyes of your neighbors.
Fitness is all about behavior change, and social science research shows that behavior change is achieved most effectively at the community level. When you focus on removing barriers to physical activity while enhancing the benefits, behavior change follows. Establish yourself as a fitness expert in your community by participating in your local civic league or home owner’s association. Volunteer for community gatherings; sponsor neighborhood boot camps or 5K races; offer free Sunday morning yoga in the park; advertise in high school sports programs; work to improve bicycle safety; sponsor t-shirts for the local soft ball team. By making yourself highly visible as your community’s top fitness professional, you will draw customers who are ready for change.
When you focus on improving your community instead of just making money, you will gain the respect and recognition of others. Direct contact with people who are either looking for solutions to a problem, or who are themselves working for community change, will help you to establish yourself as a viable business presence. As your business grows, be sure to give back to your community as a way of thanking them for supporting you.
Marketing with limited funds can be a challenge, but W.I.T.S. has helpful resources that can take some of the guesswork out of your marketing decisions. To hit your target every time, check out our online sales and marketing courses from the W.I.T.S. Fitness Business Institute.
References and Credits
Bear Smart: Community-Based Social Marketing
Forbes: The Power of Community in Marketing
Fostering Sustainable Behavior: An introduction to Community-Based Social Marketing by Doug McKenzie-Mohr and William Smith, published by New Society Publishers, 1999.
IHRSA: Frequently Asked Questions: Research
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