Marketing that Works


“What type of marketing do you do?”

Common answers: The CrossFit name is enough. Social media posts. Bring a Friend Days.

Marketing over the years has changed and not just for CrossFit – see All Marketers Are Liars Storytellers by Seth Godin.

In the beginning, the brand “CrossFit” was enough. That’s when facilities were had low rent, in low visibility areas and only needed a small membership base to keep the doors open. That’s all that most gym owners wanted in the beginning: a gym of their own that was badass and some people to share it with, not a full-time job.

Then out of nowhere, owning a CrossFit became a business. Facilities and equipment became nicer, coaching education evolved, and the consumer became more educated and was given options when it came to choosing a gym. In the beginnings of the industry, when there was only one Box in town and you wanted to CrossFit, you didn’t have much of a choice. If the facility was dirty, had bad equipment or far from home, you still went. Now there is competition and choices. So why would anyone pick your Box? You better have a good story and it better not be about programing, coaching or community. Every CrossFit says and has that, even the shitty ones.

So what is your story, or better yet, what is your customer’s story? Sometimes listening is the best marketing you can do. We will come back to that later; first, you have to get people to listen to come to your Box.

Step outside of CrossFit and ask yourself, “What are people’s pains when it comes to fitness and what solutions do I have for those pains?”

Some common pains:

  • Plateaus
  • Fear/self doubt
  • Uneducated
  • No time
  • Mediocrity

Is CrossFit the answer to all of these? Hell yeah it is. We know this, but do they? Or worse, what if they know nothing about CrossFit, but think they do? You might have heard, “It won’t work for me … I have to be in shape to do CrossFit … I don’t want to be around 20 year olds with their shirts off.”

Will your Facebook posts with members getting their first muscle-ups or deadlifting 500 pounds get their interest or reconfirm their already misguided beliefs?

You need to get their attention without mentioning CrossFit. It’s not about CrossFit or you for that matter. It’s about someone having a pain and you having the answer, so throw out some questions to see if you can get them to bite:

  • Going to the gym and not getting results?
  • Tried losing weight and always fail?
  • Feel lost and alone at the gym?
  • Sick of feeling mediocre?

Now they are interested, clicking on the link in your post. Where does it take them? To an article about your member who has lost weight and did it through CrossFit.

Or, they see a video that tours them through your gym and shows them it’s not intimidating, it’s inviting and filled with people just like them.

Or, a small video clip of a member who just finished a workout and tells why he or she came to CrossFit with the same doubts and fears and has now found a home in a supportive community.

Now they are interested, not convinced, but interested. This is when they check you out and the story telling begins. Again not your story, but theirs.

Let them talk and share their goals and beliefs, then have your story ready to share why CrossFit can be the answer; more specifically, why your CrossFit is the answer.

Remember don’t tell them about CrossFit, because everyone has programing, Coaches and community. Tell them why your CrossFit is different and what makes you unique. If you can’t think of anything, you better get working on creating your story.

Eric Karls is a founder of CrossFit 859 in Nicholasville, Kentucky. He also helped open CrossFit Fisticuffs in Georgetown, Kentucky, and is the founder/supervisor of Georgetown College CrossFit. Eric can be followed on his personal Facebook or contacted at