“You must build a brand.” If you have even glanced at social media during the last decade there is a good chance you’ve seen a social media business guru shouting this message.
It seems straight forward enough. Besides, we know what the word brand means, right? But year after year coaches still come to us for help. Help to build their gym’s brand into the shiny business they have been picturing for so long. So after more than 20 years of teaching coaches how to do just that through the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP), here are the three most important pillars to building your gym’s brand.
Model, marketing, and culture. These are the three main pillars of a gym brand. Each of these pillars is as important as the last and must be given equal attention.
It’s easy to get caught up in all of the visual aspects that make up a gym’s brand, like a logo, shirts, facility, etc. But at the heart of a gym is the model, the service it is providing clients in exchange for their cash. Here are three ways to ensure a gym’s business model is built for success.
The first step is defining the gym’s model. What type of service is the gym delivering? Is it a spin-class studio, a hardcore powerlifting gym, or a local functional fitness facility? Whatever the model, it is critical that the gym’s service is defined before it is opened as this will be the foundation the rest of the brand is built around. It is common for gyms to try to be everything by “diversifying”, but in doing so actually offering nothing, so be specific about the model you choose. Questioning your current model? Maybe you’re looking for a more sustainable and successful business model? Learn the basics of personalized fitness coaching in this free course.
With the gym’s model defined, the next step is to map out how the service will be delivered to the clients. This includes but is not limited to how the client will contact the gym initially, how the gym on-boards new clients, how the service is delivered to clients everyday, and ongoing communication with clients.
The final part of building the gym’s model is refining over time. Nothing is perfect right away and as the gym operates it will become clear what refinements are needed. It is also a great idea to create standard operating procedures (SOPs). These SOPs can then be passed on to employees to ensure a consistent experience is delivered day in and day out and as the gym grows.
Once the gym’s model has been established it’s time to move on to the next pillar, marketing. This pillar is the gym’s public persona and it is also how the gym will attract new clients. Marketing can be broken down into two categories: message and brand management.
The first area of marketing is the message. The message is the solution the gym is offering to the clients’ problem. This is also what the gym will use to attract new clients via Facebook posts, Instagram stories, local podcast spots, and other prospecting efforts. It is of utmost importance that the message is consistent regardless of the platform it is being delivered through. A great way to create a consistent message is to define the gym’s ideal customer.
The second area of marketing is brand management. This is the act of responding to all inquiries about the gym, keeping current clients happy, and doing what is needed to make sure current and potential clients see and continue to see the gym in a favorable light. Brand management is easier when the model has been properly mapped out.
The third pillar of a gym’s brand is its culture, that is, how the clients feel about the gym. Unlike the first two pillars, it is intangible, but it’s just as important if not more so than the others. Culture is created through a plethora of things, including the model and marketing, but at the end of the day, culture is defined by the gym owner and employees day to day actions within the gym. The goal for building a gym’s culture is to make the gym into the clients’ “third place”, something they talk about every day, talk to their friends about, and become “evangelists” for.
Gyms are only as good as the people inside of them. If you truly want to develop an ironclad gym brand you must first develop yourself. Take the first step in doing just that and sign up for our free Coach’s Toolkit. In this course, you will learn fundamental fitness coaching concepts, skills for working one-on-one with clients, and business practices that will turn you into the coach that defines your gym.