By Deneen Laprade, AFS Community Expert

Contrary to popular belief, Marketing is not a four-letter word. I know many of you cringe at the thought of it. You’ve tried it before, spent a little money on it, maybe even a lot and you weren’t successful.

You’re incredibly reluctant to invest more time and money into another potentially failed attempt. Sound familiar? Consider this: If I replace the word Marketing in my opening sentence with Exercising I’d be describing your clients.

As Fitness Professionals, you guarantee prospects they’ll succeed if they follow a plan. And you’re 100% correct. When an apparently healthy adult participates in regular physical activity and reduces their caloric intake, they will reduce body fat and increase lean muscle. Period. Can’t argue with it.

What if I told you that’s the very same message I want you to know about marketing? Do you believe it? I’m suggesting you WILL see results from your efforts if you follow a marketing plan. When you systematically, consistently and clearly share your message with prospects, they become leads. Period. Can’t argue with it.

To get started you need to identify your goals, plans and strategies. Answer these 5 questions and give yourselves 1 point for each yes answer.

  1. Do you have monthly sales goals?
  2. Are you working from an annual marketing plan?
  3. Do you work from an established marketing budget?
  4. Are there tracking systems in place to determine the ROI for each campaign?
  5. Have you established brand identity in your market?

Quite honestly, if you score less than 5 you need to stop whatever else you’re doing and focus solely on reading and understanding this article.

Know how many clients you need to pay your bills. Start with sales goals. Yes – sales goals. You provide folks with the tools and encouragement to live healthier lives and deserve to be compensated for it. So, decide how many clients are necessary to meet and then exceed your financial goals.

Develop a plan to work from. Decide when you’ll focus on retention efforts and when you’ll also work on prospect marketing. Member referral campaigns deserve some attention, as well. Start with an annual calendar and fill in the blanks. Remember to use your sales goals as a guide. In no time you’ll have a full 12 months of established marketing efforts in place to use as a road map for the future.

Spending 5% of your gross monthly revenue on your marketing strategies is a respectable allocation. If you don’t spend it all this month, roll it into next month. Strive to increase your budget to 7 – 10%, as you’re able. A budget lets you know where the money is going and ties directly to your ROI. It’s also very helpful to have a budget in place to respond to the unexpected.

Tracking the results of your individual marketing efforts is vital to the success of your plans. Your client management software might have prospect tracking modules for you to utilize. If not, it can be as simple as a chart at the desk detailing what’s going on this month. As prospects call, walk-in and show up with existing clients you ask the question: “How did you hear about us?” and put a tally mark on your sheet. This simple process provides valuable information to determine ROI and is a predictor of future efforts.

Establishing brand identity is a primary goal of your overall marketing strategy. In order to achieve top of mind status with prospects, they need to know who you are. You’re well advised to use a graphic designer or design company for all your marketing pieces to achieve a clear, consistent message and look.


The effects of marketing are cumulative. This means you must be out in the world talking about who you are and what you do in as many different ways as possible, all day, everyday. In order for your business to achieve top of mind status with prospects, they need to connect your brand with fitness. When they first think fitness, they’ll next think of you. 

Choose a campaign that delivers your message clearly. Sell the benefits of working with you in terms of results and improved quality of life. The features of your business, such as equipment, hours of operation and number of classes are important, but not critical. 

You wear many hats in your role as studio owner. If you are like most, your time is spent dealing with urgent matters, leaving little time to focus on important matters to grow your business. The better organized you are and the more you understand the needs of your business and what drives in leads the more productive your efforts will be.

Sidebar: Staff is key to your marketing success. Knowledgeable professionals can turn leads into clients when they know what you expect. Set clear expectations in the form of goals to ensure success.

Tip: Align with a local charity or two to establish a presence in your community. You’ll also gain exposure to their circle of influence and perhaps even share advertising expenses on events you host for their benefit.

Deneen is an accomplished, energetic leader in fitness and wellness with proven ability to create and manage effective marketing campaigns and programs that result in revenue growth, increased profits and member retention. Just as a carefully planned fitness routine, when combined with consistency nets results for members, an effective marketing plan will do the same for fitness professionals and their businesses.

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