Eliminate These 5 Common Marketing Mistakes

marketing mistakes
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When you opened your gym you probably knew you’d be a Coach, a janitor and your front desk staff. But did you ever realize you’d need to learn marketing, copywriting and search engine optimization? I sure didn’t. But running a business often has much less to do with what you’re selling than managing the process of selling it. 

When it comes to copywriting, it’s no wonder many small business leaders struggle in this arena. If you’re a coffee shop owner, you’ll focus on the quality of your product so the quality of your marketing won’t matter.

But this is rarely the case.

There are too many examples of a poor product with good marketing becoming the successful business. And it’s not that hard to write good marketing copy. You need to do what you do best: put your customer first. 

But why is this so hard to do? Because you put your heart, soul, blood and tears into your product, and you want everyone to know how much you care. But everyone is selfish. That’s OK. So are you. 

Here’s an example from a hypothetical member management software:

We have the fastest servers, an open API and the best developers in the world. 

Does that make you want to buy? Probably not. How about this: 

Run your entire gym from a single login from your phone. The only thing you need to worry about is your next vacation. 

What’s the difference between the two? One is focused on the customer and the other one feels like bragging. Of course, the bragging isn’t intentional. It’s a very common mistake from well-meaning people. Here are five examples from real websites and an edit of the copy to be more customer-focused, clear and concise.

1. Your header is your prime real estate. 

Example:

“CrossFit Anytown. Anytown’s premiere CrossFit Gym.” 

In this example, a web developer probably suggested using Anytown (the city’s name) in the header as a way to boost search engine results. You can actually do this without taking up the most valuable real estate on your website. Yoast is a great plugin for WordPress users to overwrite website copy without using your city’s name in an overly-annoying way. 

The Fix: 

“CrossFit Anytown. Where our Coaches help you to get leaner, stronger, faster or just to feel better.” 

2. “Getting Started” is way too complicated.

Example: 

STEP ONE: COME TRY US OUT FOR FREE!

  • New to CrossFit? Sign up here! No experience required; our Coaches will scale and modify any and everything necessary for whatever skill/fitness level you have on Day One. Our goal is for you to get a feel for the community, coaching philosophy and types of workouts you’ll be doing on a regular basis.

  • Experienced CrossFitters (i.e. those who’ve completed an intro program at another CrossFit Affiliate) can come to any class to check us out.

You will always use too many words to explain how to get started at your gym. Remember, your future customers are bringing a lot of baggage to the gym. They’re nervous, self-conscious, and have been debating this decision for months and months. Save the long explanations. Just get them in the door. Reduce your “Get Started” copy by half, then reduce it by half once again. 

The Fix:

Getting started is easy:

Step 1: Try a complimentary class.

Step 2: Start an intro program.

Step 3: Become a fitter, happier version of yourself. 

Click the button below to schedule your complimentary class. Questions? Fill out the form below for more info.

3. You’re talking about yourself, not your customers. 

Example: 

CrossFit Your City, founded in 20XX, was the xxth CrossFit Affiliate in the world and the first Affiliate in all of State X and State Y! Today, we have a X,000 sq.ft. training facility complete with showers, a stretching room, lounge, free wifi for members and a X,000 sq.ft. indoor training floor. We also feature climbing ropes, sleds, 10 rowing machines, dozens of barbells and dumbbells, a pull-up rig, and many more features to complement our coaching staff.

All those things may be true but no one cares. Really let that sink in. People first starting out doing functional training have no idea what makes for a good barbell versus a bad one. They don’t care about square footage. Those are retention tools not marketing tools. Don’t use your website real estate for retention. 

The Fix:

CrossFit Your City has been around since 20XX with the same purpose: Helping you achieve your best. 

We believe you can live a full, healthy life. If you’re ready, our staff is standing by with all the tools to help you along the way. 

4. “Learn More”

Example: 

Your “Learn More” button links to your facility page, your Coach bios and the owner’s resume. 

I recently dropped my phone and needed to buy a new phone case. I was looking for something slim, but not slick. Imagine if I went to a phone case manufacturer’s website and the “Learn More” read something like this: 

Slim Phone Cases are the best in the industry. The founder of the company got an MBA from Columbia University. She really likes her dog. She had a lot of success managing a Fortune 500 Company straight out of her undergraduate degree, but knew she wanted to pursue her passion – minimalistic phone cases. Slim Phone cases has an amazing manufacturing facility with all the best equipment. And we were the first to market with our product. 

How does that solve my problem? How does it make my life better? How do I do business with you? 

The Fix: 

Learn More: Want to know how CrossFit XYZ can help you feel your best? Look no further! Below are some common questions we hear:

Is CrossFit right for me? If you’re ready to get in the best shape of your life and feel the best you’ve felt in a long time, you bet it’s right for you. We’re not concerned with where you’re starting, only that you’re interested in getting better.

5. Insider language

Examples:

WOD, Community, Coaching, Elements, Fundamentals, Goals, Programming, Assessment, Results.

While it won’t take long for someone to understand these terms, these terms are for you, your current members and your coaching staff. Your future members have no idea the context in which you use them. “Community” may remind someone of a community center. “Elements” sounds like a rehab facility near Palo Alto. “Programming” makes me think of computers. 

The Fix:

Community = Group, accountability, classes

Elements = Introductory course, safe learning environment, hands-on attention

Programming = A workout plan

Conclusion: 

These are very common mistakes. They are so common that I expect to see them on most websites I visit. But the fix is very easy, and you have a perfect template for making the changes. Simply put your customer first. If you read through your website and see a lot of references to you, your staff, your facility, or your expertise then you’re due for a copywriting edit. Remember: less is more.  

Matt Scanlon
Matt Scanlon is the owner and founder of CrossFit Memorial Hill and TheHillKC in Kansas City, Missouri. He is also the co-founder of BUILD — a CrossFit program and research project dedicated to improving health outcomes for cancer survivors.  Matt's professional career began in healthcare management. As a result of this experience, Matt is focused on using CrossFit to improve health metrics for a broad population of people historically underserved in the fitness industry.  Located at the base of the National WWI Memorial, CrossFit Memorial Hill was founded in 2011 as a free community fitness resource. After gaining a following of nearly 1,300 participants in community pop-up WODs, Matt Affiliated in 2012.  In 2016, CrossFit Memorial Hill expanded to incorporate a private coaching business, BUILD, a TRX and bootcamp series, and various other specialty programs under the umbrella of TheHillKC.  Contact him at matt@thehillkc.com.