Welcome to this whistle stop tour of tried and tested local marketing strategies for fitness instructors.
Planning a marketing strategy
Before you start, make sure you’re clear on these 3 points:
1. Be clear on your objectives. The way you approach marketing will be very different if you want to fill the last few spaces in your class vs launching a new class in an entirely new area. Make sure you know what you’re trying to achieve before planning your strategy.
2. Be ready to execute your strategy with consistency. Trust is built over time and with consistency, very rarely will you do something that is a huge success from day 1, so be prepared to carry out your strategy over time and with patience.
3. New ideas don’t exist – unless there’s a new technology, it’s rare to find a new idea. Don’t stress about doing something different to everyone else, use tried and tested methods and execute them in a way that is right for you.
Local Marketing Basics
It’s no surprise that we’re going to tell you it’s important to have a website and newsletter, but here are the reasons why you need them.
1. A modern website – you already know you need a website, but did you know you need a modern one? This is why, firstly so your site is optimised for search engines, if your website was designed years ago it’s likely it might not have kept up with the latest SEO techniques. Secondly if you take pride in your website, it’s a good sign you take pride in teaching your classes, a modern website creates trust. And lastly, because you need to let your clients know your classes are still running. When you come across an old site, it’s not always clear whether the teacher still teaches or the classes still exist, remove any doubt in potential clients’ minds and update your website. And this doesn’t have to be expensive, using a tool like Wix means you can create a website yourself easily, quickly and cheaply.
2. Email Newsletters – you don’t need to send them weekly, but monthly email newsletters are a must. You’ve worked hard to acquire new clients, so make sure you stay in contact with them. At the end of class ask your students if they want to be added to your mailing list and make sure your emails are full of added value info. It’s ok if you don’t always have news to share, remind them of your teaching timetable for the month ahead, and share other relevant news or articles that might be of interest, if they include info about your local area, even better.
3. Social Media – Make sure you have a social presence. It sounds obvious but in our social society, social platforms are often the first place people will search to validate you as a person or business. If you don’t want to post regularly that’s ok, just make sure you have a page dedicated to your teaching which includes your website, location, timetable and contact details.
Social media for fitness instructors
If you do want to use social media to grow your client base you don’t need to be on every single channel, choose the ones that tie in with your objectives. For example if you are looking to create more corporate classes, maybe Linked in is the best choice for you.
And before you start, think about why your clients might be using social in the first place, usually it’s for entertainment purposes rather than to be sold to, so remember to be genuine in your posts and not too salesy.
Grow your Facebook following
Facebook reviews – Once you’ve invited your friends, family and existing clients to your Facebook page, ask them to leave you a review. Social referrals and validation are quick wins when it comes to converting potential prospects into clients.
Use hashtags – more and more people are using social media as search engines in their own right, so make sure you’re hashtagging your posts with terms that people might be searching for i.e. #yogaclapham
Facebook groups – local Facebook groups are a great source of potential clients as well as inspiration. Join groups specifically for yoga, meditation and wellness and expand your reach by joining other groups which may have joint interests like local running, bootcamps and mother and baby groups. The key is to listen and add value, make note of what recommendations people are looking for and where relevant topics come up, join the conversation yourself. Invite people to your classes, and give recommendations for other therapists or practitioners in the area. Once people in the groups have experienced your classes, they will start recommending you themselves.
Another great way to use groups is to use topics of recurring discussion as inspiration for your own class content or additional workshop ideas based on their areas of interest.
Facebook Advertising – paid promotions are a relatively cheap way of getting in front of a targeted audience. We recommend using them for special events or workshops rather than your normal weekly classes. Give your events a creative name to help them stand out and make sure your targeting as narrow as possible. Use location, demographics and exact areas of interest to segment your audience. Don’t worry if your target audience is small, the more specific you can be, the better.
Local marketing with Instagram
Your aim for local marketing with Instagram is to generate as much visual content tagged to your class location as possible, so that when potential clients are searching local place tags, your content shows in their feeds.
Try to get your clients posting about your classes by providing them something creative to take pictures of that captures their imagination. If you’re not based in a permanent studio this is achievable with a bit of extra effort. Use visual merchandising to set up your classes before your clients arrive using yoga props, candles and plants to create a visually appealing space. You can even bring a thought of the day or quote board to class. Don’t forget to tell your clients your Instagram handle so they can tag you as well.
The other way to use Instagram for local marketing is to get straight into the inbox of your potential local clients. Search hashtags and posts tagged in your area, identify people who look like your typical clients (i.e. are they wearing activewear or posting pictures from the local gym / health food cafe), and send them a DM inviting them to your class. Don’t worry if they don’t respond, they will remember you if they’re looking for a local yoga class in the future. If this feels too pushy for you, try offering them a free class for a less salesy approach.
Online visibility – using SEO to drive traffic to your website
Make sure your website is optimised for SEO by developing a keyword strategy. In short, there are two types of keywords, short tail and long tail. The easiest way to think about them are short and succinct vs long questions. For example: Yoga in Clapham – would be short tail, Vinyasa yoga classes in Clapham – would be long tail. In general you’ll find that the short tail searches are broader and more generic, which means there are more businesses competing for them. The longer tail keywords are more specific, less competitive and are more likely to drive relevant traffic to your site if you’re ranking for them.
Use the free keyword planner tool from Google to find out which phrases your clients might be using to find you, decide which ones you want to rank in Google for, and implement them into the copy on your site. Use a mixture of terms and ensure that they are placed in a natural way amongst copy on your site. Note that Google will penalise your website if it thinks you’re overusing a phrase for SEO ranking purposes. Include more pages on your site in order to cover the keywords in more depth and if you have a blog, use that too. If your local area has many instructors and studios you may be better off using a long tail keyword strategy, but if you are one of few teachers in your area, using the more widely searched short tail phrases might benefit you.
Also make sure your business is registered with Google My Business, a free google business listing which enables clients find your opening hours, contact and address details.
Paid Google Ads
The other way to ensure you are ranking highly is by using paid ads with google. We generally recommend for studios or instructors operating under a brand name to create a ppc campaign for your brand terms and ensure your targeting is specific to your geographic location. Other than that, paid adwords campaigns can be expensive and may be better suited to studios than independent instructors.
Traditional marketing for awareness
In today’s digital world often people believe that traditional marketing techniques are unsuccessful, but we don’t believe that to always be the case. Using flyers and posters can be really effective for independent instructors. If you hire a space for your classes, ask the venue if you can put up a poster to promote them, ask local cafes, restaurants, beauty salons and offices if you can leave your flyers at their receptions or on noticeboards.
Getting local visibility is just as important as helping clients find you online. Aim for places where footfall is high and make sure your materials are kept up to date with the latest days and times and if they begin to look tatty, replace them so people know your classes are still running.
And don’t forget PR, get in touch with your local newspapers, websites and residential magazines and invite the journalists along for a free classes in return for a feature or write up in their paper.
Fitness class promotions
If you or your classes are new to the area, using a promotion makes it a lot easier to get the ball rolling and clients coming to your classes. Try offering a free, or heavily discounted first class, or start a loyalty programme where clients buy so many classes in order to get one free. Another effective tactic is to find local business partners to provide added value gifts to your students, i.e. a local cafe might want to offer a free juice or coffee after class, they get additional sales and footfall and you get a free gift for your students – win win!
And finally, a fail safe way of doubling your class numbers is a refer a friend promotion such as bring a new friend for their first class and both get a the class free. The key is to make sure there is a benefit for both people. Yes you might have to give away a few classes, but it will help you grow your business in the long run
If you want to find out more about how to grow your local classes, find out more here.