Differentiate or die.
It might be a harsh truth, but it’s one Stuart Brauer of Urban MVMNT shared after learning it from Jim Crowell, the CEO of OPEX. “If you don’t distinguish yourself in the marketplace — and now, programming and coaching is not a distinction — then the prospective customer has no interest or desire to learn more,” said Brauer.
But how do you stand out in a saturated market? How do you make yourself different?
The first thing to look at is yourself and your brand. Ask what your customer experience is like from start to finish. In doing this, you can realize what item or aspect of your service makes you stick out from the rest. Brauer said keywords, phrases or even objects can help in determining what sets your brand apart.
“Does your gym utilize Ski Ergs and VersaClimbers in their workouts? Do you forgo the whiteboard? How about orchestrating your interval-based workouts to music professionally planned by a DJ? These subtle differences are being done by many other fitness companies across the country with far better profits and losses than yours,” said Brauer.
In fact, taking a look at the surrounding fitness market can help you stand out as well. Brauer suggested venturing to different microgyms and offerings in the area. You might find something someone is doing exceptionally well with their client experience that you too can offer.
“Visit every single microgym concept within a 20-minute radius,” said Brauer. “View the market from a customer’s perspective and see what is missing, what’s working, and steal what you love and leave what you don’t.”
Once you establish what sets you apart, the next step is making sure your audience knows it. And that doesn’t necessarily mean marketing.
Brauer explained content creation has great power in written, video and audio form. People love seeing behind the curtain, exemplified in the popularity of reality TV stars. “You tell the story of who you are, what you do and how you can help fix your prospective customer’s problem,” he said. “You create content telling the story of current customers you’re already helping so prospects can see themselves in similar shoes. You document the creation of your facility and show the market the ‘reality show’ that is humorous, funny, tragic, dramatic of a small business owner starting their first shop.”
Storytelling is what creates the initial attention that can then be used by traditional marketing. Tell your story on social media, said Brauer. He noted again to look at other fitness companies to see how they are telling their stories. “Stalk their Facebook pages and see what is attracting the most attention. Check out the parallels in other adjacent industries like athleisure,” said Brauer. “Lululemon and Athleta have a crazy marketing game, and if you’re good enough, you’ll quickly spot what it is about their content that lures people into their stores.”
In the end, it comes down to your client experience. Figure out where you shine, dial it in and then let your story be told to the far reaches of your local community.