Make the Most of Marketing

Marketing today is different than it was in the past. So, it’s essential to not box yourself in by the old ways.

JoEllyn McAtee, the co-owner of CrossFit Bluegrass in Louisville, Kentucky, said her Box has mostly avoided print marketing. “It’s so hard to explain what we do in one picture or a couple words,” she said. “If you have a small ad space, you [especially] can’t really explain what CrossFit is in two or three words or in one picture.”

Instead, most of the marketing has not only gone viral, but social. “We do a ton of social media,” said McAtee.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were three platforms McAtee named. And while most of the use on those sites is free, she said they pay for some ads on both Facebook and Google because CrossFit caters to a niche that is reached through specific advertising.

CrossFit Bluegrass first used social media because it was cost effective. But it soon became something more. “We started it right away because it was free,” said McAtee. “I think we saw how much it did really impact, because people would say, ‘Oh, we saw a friend that checked-in to your gym on Facebook, or we saw pictures from your event last week.’ We just noticed that’s how you can reach people most effectively.”

Charlie Sims, the owner of CrossFit Regeneration in Louisville, Kentucky, also spoke about Facebook when it comes to marketing. “It’s the Facebook factor,” he said. “It’s self promotion by members while they’re at our gym.” In turn, this leads to CrossFit Regeneration’s name being spread across social media.

This echoes what McAtee said about CrossFit Bluegrass’ key marketing technique: word of mouth. “If people are happy with the product, if people are happy with their experience, they’re going to tell their friends and family,” she said. “I think when you have a personal friend or someone you know or trust, talking or posting about it — well, that piques your interest.”

Sims said they maximize word of mouth, because often those who are coming to the Box have friends who would enjoy CrossFit as well. “If we’re creating a certain kind of athlete here, then those people are likely to be around each other,” he said.

CrossFit Regeneration also takes advantage of e-mail. Weekly, Sims sends out announcements, offers and more. “It’s a road map to awesome information,” he said.

According to McAtee, for CrossFit Bluegrass, social media marketing is vital. “I just think that the best advertising you have is the word of mouth. People will know the integrity of your gym based on what other people say,” she said. “If they’re writing about it, and if they’re proud enough to check-in on Facebook at your gym, to tweet about it, and if you’re involved in it all, I think that’s where you’ll get people that want to come and try it out.”

Heather Hartmann
Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at