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How Your Local Gym Ads Can Compete With Big Brands In 2021 (Part 1)

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Coca Cola, Doritos, Nike. All these brands could stop advertising today, and 30 years from now you’d still know exactly who they are and what they do. Why is that and how can your local gym ads compete?

Another question you could ask is, “if they have this type of presence already, then why continue to spend so much on advertising?”

Big brands like these understand something that too many local business owners don’t. And, this understanding drives them to advertise themselves in an entirely different way.

I sit down with gym owners daily, and for years I keep hearing a similar request to achieve their sales goals through gym ads:

“When a potential member is looking for a gym, I want to be in front of them.”

This makes sense, right? But bigger, more successful brands have a slightly different request. We’ll get into that in a minute…

Why We Choose “Brands” Over “Ads”

Imagine that you’ve made the decision to buy a loved one a necklace—an expensive one. For this example, pretend you’re not loyal to any particular jewelry store and you don’t have any negative past jeweler experiences.  You’re totally neutral.  Got it?  Okay, great.

Now imagine that you started your search on Google by typing in “jewelry stores near me” and these 3 options appeared:

  1. Radiant Jewelers
  2. Philip’s Jewelers
  3. Jared’s

Now, I’d ask you which option you’d pick, but that question isn’t fair to the survey.

If you’re reading this, you’re a fitness entrepreneur or professional and you think a little differently than others. But which option do you think the average person would pick?

Did you choose Jared’s?

If so, why?

Is it because you’ve heard the name before?

Brand Familiarity Wins More Sales

There’s a good chance that you’ve never shopped at Jared’s, you don’t know anyone that works there, and you don’t know anyone that has shopped there or shared their experience with you.  Yet, you’ve chosen them.

The funny thing is, almost every gym owner requests the same out of their marketing company when it comes to their gym ads and overall campaigns. “I want to be at the top!”

But in this example, the top jeweler didn’t even get picked. In fact, the 2nd option wasn’t even picked. Option #3, the brand, “Jared’s” was picked.

Now is where the ah-ha moment kicks in!

Familiarity creates comfort and trust. And in the buying process, this is very important to understand as an uncomfortable mind doesn’t buy.

Skepticism creates walls and barriers, and a lack of familiarity or recognition creates skepticism.

The Difference Between Big “Brands” and Gym Ads

I mentioned earlier that local businesses say, “when a potential customer needs something we offer, we want to be in front of them.” But, that’s not what big brands say.

Big brands think a little differently. Bigger, more successful brands say:

“We want to be in front of our potential customer until they need us. At that point, we’re the obvious choice.”

Let’s pretend you’re responsible for helping out with a Super Bowl party, and you’re in charge of the chips and soda. You don’t know the demographic of people attending. All you know is that 50 are expected and they want chips and soda.

So you go to the grocery store and walk down the chips isle. You’d probably grab Doritos, Tostitos, or Lays from the shelf, right? Maybe all three?

Next, you go down the soda isle. Let me guess—Pepsi or Coca-Cola make it into your cart, right?

Of course!

You know that the majority of people would enjoy that. Or are you assuming that? Is this just something that you’ve been trained to believe over time…?

Let’s face it, at a Super Bowl party, you can put just about anything in a bowl and it’ll be gone by halftime.

Seeing those brands as much as we have, we’ve grown to trust them. So how can a local gym do that? Are gym ads enough? That’s got to be expensive, right? Well, not nearly as expensive as you may think…

Remembering Your Gym Ads Are LOCAL

Local businesses and gyms are companies offering a product or service (typically service) to their community, whether that’s a town, city, or region. Very rarely does a local business operate statewide.

There are three types of local businesses:

  • Those that prospects drive to (that’s YOU!)
  • The ones that drive to prospects (plumbers, HVAC, carpet cleaners, etc.)
  • And, those that do both (massage therapists, personal trainers, etc.)

The first option will typically pay the least in the advertising style that I’m about to recommend, making the benefit versus the cost much lower than you think.

Typically, your gym won’t advertise further than a 7-mile radius. Some keep it as close as 3-5-mile radius, while others go as far as 10-15 miles.

After working with 2,000+ fitness studios and 50+ franchises, I’ve found that a 5-mile radius seems to be the sweet spot.

The only time this differs is if your location is in a crowded hotspot (lower radius), or a spacious suburb (higher radius).

So now that we have our local radius, it’s time to find our demographic!

Building the Right Demographic for Your Gym Ads

Many gym members are friends and family. There’s more people to serve and refer, and the longevity is better.

Women typically make for the best demographic for gym ads. They’re looking for gyms more often, they’re more social in terms of referring and recommending, and where women go, men typically follow.

This isn’t me being stereotypical. This is me being factual. It’s been proven in gym ads time and time again.

We listen to tons of calls the gyms we work with have with their prospective members. Four out of 5 times, it’s typically women who book appointments.

Great, now we have our target audience for our 5-mile radius:

  • Women
  • Age 24 – 55
  • Within 5 miles of your gym

You can go a few steps further to get even more specific by targeting women that are also health conscious and have interests in healthy eating, exercise, kids activities, etc.

But unless your gym serves a very specific audience ONLY, keep it broad. Why? Because everyone wants to get in better shape. Everyone.

Forget Big Brands, Here’s Why Your Local Gym Ads Might Not Be Working… 

There are SO many marketing and advertising outlets out there. The internet has opened up so many possibilities. But which should you choose for your local gym?

Many owners immediately go to SEO and/or Google AdWords as their first stop. This makes sense on the surface. The thought process kind of works like this:

“When I need something, I go to Google. I find a company, call them, and if things sound good, I book an appointment.”

Though this does happen, it’s important to notice why you chose one company over another after Googling it.

Think of the Jared example. What makes someone choose them if they’re ranked 3rd?

The same reason people choose Jared should be the same reason they choose your gym.

Sometimes SEO and Google AdWords aren’t the best first choice—mostly because people don’t understand the comparison of Google Ads automation tools and software. They go it alone, and build their campaigns manually, with no knowledge of scripting or automation. It can be an expensive lesson to learn, and questions are likely to arise:


  • “How come only 1 out 100 people (1% Click Through Rate) actually click on my gym?”
  • “Why did only 1 out of 20 people (5% Conversion Rate) actually call me or fill out a form?”
  • “What’s with all the bad leads? The callers aren’t educated, or they’re all wanting a deal.”


  • People may not like your offer, or may feel more comfortable choosing a more familiar brand.
  • Some people may not like your website or landing page, or are skeptical as they’ve never heard of you.
  • Most people choosing you may be shoppers that are calling a bunch of people, as they may not care about the best experience as much as they care about getting a great price.

Getting leads is one thing. However, getting qualified leads at a low price is a whole other ball game.

At Loud Rumor, we work with independent fitness studios and big brand franchises. The CTR (click through rate), Conversion Rate, and Closing Rate are all better for the bigger, well known brands—not just the lead flow.


This does NOT mean you can’t compete with them. It does NOT mean you can’t beat them.

You can own your 5-mile radius better than your competition! In part 2 of this blog, I’ll outline 6 powerful ways that’ll get you there!

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