To be viral, be remarkable.
Boutique fitness gyms and studios’ marketing – when done well – can truly live up to the ambitious but achievable idea of viral marketing. (Advance warning, to be ‘viral’ means working hard, being really honest and following certain rules.) Indeed, when it comes to ‘viral marketing’, Seth Godin should be mandatory reading for all boutique fitness owners, operators and marketers. In his book, Purple Cow, Seth Godin notes that:
“By definition, Remarkable is something that is remarked upon.”
Remarkable is great word to describe something viral-worthy. It’s something that people talk about and want to share with their friends. Where the old marketing strategies were interruption and ad-based, Seth Godin explains that your new marketing strategy is about being ‘Remarkable.’ Thus, it’s about being spoken of and gaining the ‘viral’ effect.
Here are a few tried and tested tips on becoming viral within a boutique fitness studio:
1. Social Proof
Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behaviour in a given situation. It is a sheep-like mentality we all sub-consciously abide by on a daily basis. Why does no one want to go to a restaurant that has no people inside it? Why does the nightclub with a huge queue of people outside attract your attention more than the one with an open door? Or, why do you want to spend $500 on Kanye West’s new Yeezy’s when you can get perfectly good shoes for a tenth of that price?
It’s because we are socially programmed to copy the actions of others in mass (i.e. friends/peers) or people that we respect (celebrities/people with influence).
So, how can you leverage this for your boutique fitness studio?
Sweaty group shots after class!
Studios don’t do a lot of these by accident. Having a picture of 30/40 happy people after a class creates a great sense of success for the studio. Consumers like because it makes the business look busy and thus successful.
Invest in people with influence. Give them free access. Ask them to post about you and their followers will (literally) follow. These people have authority over your customer base and you’d do well to tap into it.
Scarcity is your friend!
Don’t milk your class schedule! Embrace the wait lists – it makes you look good. The atmosphere and image of your studio will be so much stronger if you have four fully booked classes in a day instead of ten classes with only a few people booked in. Create events and make sure your customers know about it being sold out. They’ll be quicker to book next time!
Got an award or big endorsement from a well-known publication? You better scream that from the roof tops! If VOGUE says your business is amazing, well… who’s going to argue with that?
2. The ‘instagrammability’ test
While not an actual word in the English language, the Instagrammability test is what I talk about when clients are building their studio. Imagine you invite a few 20 – 25 year-old bloggers into your venue for a tour. What are they going to take pictures of? If not much, you need to find something to jazz it up and grasp their interest. It seems silly, but these small additions to your studio that drive pictures being taken make such a difference in getting your studio viral.
Scan through your favorite restaurants or shops, look at their tagged photos on Instagram – it’s nearly always the same painting on the wall, neon quote or sign board with a funny quote.
Budget is never an issue, get creative! Even if it’s just a board that you put a weekly quote on. It’ll grab people’s attention and your followers will no-doubt want to share it with their Instagram fans.
3. Leverage your people
Rule #1: people follow people, NOT brands.
The real power of influence lies within your trainers. The customers follow these people day in day out and they are your product. To get viral, you should leverage these trainers and use them to push your brand forward. Studios should treat their trainers like celebrities and work on promoting their brand so that they reciprocate the favor.
A few ways to leverage trainers:
-Hold regular photo shoots for the trainers. For their social media profiles, they need content and will post more about you if you provide them with the tools to do so.
-Invest in them. Teach them about social media, spend time and see how you can enhance their career. It’s a two-way street. Even though you’re paying them, you need to make the effort for them to go out of their way to support you
-Give them ownership. Allow trainers to come up with special events for them to own. You’ll get their buy-in a lot more if you allow them to have creativity.
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By Lewis Parkinson, Owner, Fuel Works