One of our favorite quotes (which happens to also be on our website homepage) is from HubSpot Co-Founder Brian Halligan (@bhalligan), "You can't out-spend the giants. But you can out-think, out-teach, and out-help them."
I'm not sure that this quote is more appropriate for any industry than the fitness industry. Let's face it, there are a handful of giants that dominate the market (whether it be in the gym, weight loss, apparel, supplement, or equipment categories). While you're never going to have the marketing budget of a Nike or 24 Hour Fitness, you can take a different approach with your online marketing and carve out your own loyal following. You may even be able to add new customers that were once loyal to one of those giants with a strong online fitness marketing strategy. Let's take a look at our five ways you can fight back!
A lot of small businesses are afraid of giving away their "secret sauce" or sharing too much information that their competitors can find, but honestly your knowledge is what will set you apart. We're not saying that you should give away the exact formula of your new supplement, but you and your team are a wealth of knowledge that can lend itself to your credibility, give your brand a personality, and even develop brand loyalty amongst your customers.
Marketing in 2017 is not what it was in 2000 (or even 2015 for that matter). In order to compete with the giants you've got to be helpful. You can't get away with their all sales-focused content and sending your customers 10+ emails per month. Your competitive advantage is that you can spend more time developing great content that educates your customers and potential customers on things directly related to your industry and even on things adjacent to your industry.
Go ahead - share that knowledge!
While the giants may perform focus groups to determine what certain demographics may think of new products, you are close enough to your customers to listen to what they actually want. While it may not seem like an advantage to have 5,000 Facebook fans compared to Under Armour's 8.4 million, the benefit that you have is that you can listen, engage, and respond to your followers and customers faster, more efficiently, and with a more authentic tone.
So - LISTEN! Take the time to monitor every action on your pages, in your stores, and in conversations. Your customers and prospects will tell you exactly what they want. Believe me, the giants aren't listening that closely.
It's true that every person's favorite word is their own name. This is because we like to be acknowledged. We like to feel important.
Now, does an email campaign from 24 Hour Fitness about No Startup Fees and $50 personal training sessions feel personalized? Probably not, unless you've specifically told them that you want that kind of information. In order to beat out the giants here, you've got to know and utilize your data. Who is interested in what? When did they identify that? What other products/services might they be interested in based on their other data? What are they looking at on your website? What did they last purchase? Segmenting your audience and only delivering information that they want to see will help set you apart from your larger competitors and make your audience feel heard.
PRO TIP: ALWAYS use a prospects first name if possible. That goes for any marketing opportunity.
While it's very unlikely that you have the advertising budget of your Fortune 100 competition, strategically placing your pay-per-click campaigns can make a big difference. Depending on your category, you may be able to target your larger competitions brand name or even product names to leap frog them in search results.
You can also look at finding some lower volume, less expensive keywords to chase instead of taking on the giants head on. You can likely find some keywords that have been glossed over by your competition or skipped because the monthly searches weren't significant enough for their standards.
Another great way to work on leap frogging your competition in search results is to tailor your search engine optimization strategy to target locally (assuming you're a local company). This will mean targeting some lower searched keywords - instead of targeting weight loss, maybe you target Denver weight loss centers. While the keyword weight loss has about 135,000 monthly searches, the likelihood of your website getting to the first page of search results is about as likely as Peyton Manning winning Mr. Universe (hint: the odds don't look so good). As a small business, you have the luxury (yes, I'm calling it a luxury) to be able to target your search engine optimization strategy locally and go after lower searched and less difficult keywords. Take advantage of it with your fitness marketing strategy!
Now, this isn't to say that going up against the giants in your category is going to be easy, let's face it, GNC didn't become an industry leader because they're slouch marketers. The key is to take advantage of your size and your ability to be closer to your customers. People like doing business with people and if you can show more of your human side, care about your customers, and be helpful, you can definitely make a customer that was once loyal to that larger company, loyal to your mom and pop shop instead.
This also can't be done by the seat of your pants. Consistency, determination, and an air tight strategy are key. Let us work with you to develop a fully customized digital strategy to help you grow your business and start siphoning off customers from the big brands with our GrowthPlan!