Have you ever looked at someone’s personal trainer advertising and thought, “I swear I’ve seen this same ad for the past 20 years?” Traditional fitness ads featuring the thin models and the buff jocks with perfect bodies are so overdone. What good does it do us to show the end result when all our prospects feel so many millions of miles away that they can’t even relate to these icons? I’d say 1 in 20 clients are perfectly happy with their bodies in the maintenance phase, but the vast majority of our people are struggling with body image and dreading every trip to the scale. So you need a message that these individuals can identify with. Here are several steps toward creating more effective advertising.
RULE #1: FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS.
What matters most to your existing personal training clients? What exercise setting makes them comfortable – one full of “Average Joes,” one full of muscle bodies, or a mixed atmosphere? Studies show us that many people – especially women and overweight individuals – feel self-conscious about working out in co-ed situations where people can see them. Can your advertisements alleviate some of that psychological discomfort? You want to show a variety of different people, small class sizes and people interacting in a friendly, nonjudgmental way. Emphasize your contests, social activities, and how much fun people are having in class. You want people to feel like coming into your studio is no big deal – not awkward at all. Showcase the aesthetic of the rooms at your club and how people gather outside of the club for 5-K races, outdoor boot camps and luncheons as well.
RULE #2: ELICIT EMOTIONAL RESPONSE.
Grab attention by challenging the norm. Do you remember when Jamie Lee Curtis appeared in a women’s magazine without makeup or airbrushing last year? (If not, click here.) This raw look at the actress’s real-life struck a chord with many readers who admired her honesty and how down-to-earth she really was. Had she posed in a typical glam photo-shoot, it is unlikely people would have seen her in a truly different light or as someone who is relatable. Studies have shown that women feel these “model-perfect” ads are “old-fashioned” and “somewhat patronizing.” Craft a message that is raw, unfettered and unapologetic. Be honest and let people know that you are a real place full of real people showing real results. Don’t just show the most extreme.
RULE #3: USE HUMOR TO YOUR ADVANTAGE.
There’s nothing like a good laugh. It’s easy to like people who make us feel good. Fit City for Women, a club based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, ran an ad campaign around the slogan “Fit Doesn’t Mean Perfect.” They satirized their competitors’ ads by making this humorous pitch: “Drop 6 dress sizes in 8 weeks. Right after you win the lottery.” Slim Fast did a series of ads with the slogan “Need To Lose A Little Weight Before The Wedding?” They pictured humorous cake-toppers, where the bride was falling down into the cake, causing the groom’s knees to buckle as he tried to carry her, and the back seam of her dress busting open to reveal her red thong. Clever is memorable! Check out some of these “Best Funny Fitness Ads” for added inspiration.
RULE #4: FOCUS ON POSITIVE FEELINGS.
It’s cliché to advertise that you’ll help people “lose weight.” It’s also not terribly effective because it takes TIME to reach that goal. So you’d be best off mentioning a few of the immediate effects of working out. From soaring self-image and confidence to increased energy and strength, you’ll want to give your prospects something they can FEEL right away. Get them addicted to the feeling of visiting your studio. Emphasize the mood-boosting benefits of a good work-out and the boost to one’s immune system. People aren’t necessarily looking at cutting their risk of dying. They’re looking for added tools to help them start living – to make them more mobile, stronger, faster, healthier, more energized, leaner and more efficient.
RULE #5: EMPOWER YOUR AUDIENCE.
In 2008, Kellogg’s ran a successful “Reshape Your Attitude” campaign for Special K cereal. In the commercial, a man addressed the camera by saying, “I have my mother’s thighs, and I have to accept that.” Another man said, “I will not let my dress size determine my self-worth.” A third man asked, “Do I look fat?” The ad ended with a woman posing the question: “Men don’t obsess over these things. Why do we?” This message reinforced a belief in body acceptance, which connected with a lot of viewers. People respond well to that “Take charge of your life” sort of message because it idealizes what they would like to do. Emphasize that people who make the decision to join your studio are going beyond what ordinary people can do – that they are somehow better for taking action and putting forth the effort to be healthy.
RULE #6: BE CONSISTENT.
You’ll want your words and imagery to correspond. Naturally, you don’t want to show a bunch of bodybuilders on your site, along with a slogan like “For All Shapes And Sizes.” Similarly, you don’t want to feature young people in your ads if you want to attract seniors making the switch from physical therapy. Every detail needs to be synched together for seamless execution. If you are targeting multiple groups, you may want to consider making a number of different ads to cater to each group individually if you can’t tie the demographics together with a cohesive marketing message. You want to promote your campaigns across channels, from Facebook and Twitter to your homepage and blog.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The best personal training advertising shows various body shapes, sizes, cultures, races, genders, and ages. You don’t want offensive, over-sexed ads or people in sedentary poses. Your models should be happy and friendly-looking. You do want to celebrate before-and-after images that show a transformation beyond weight loss alone. Avoid making unrealistic promises you can’t keep. People are sick to death of hearing that they can lose 20 pounds of belly fat in a week. You want people to know that signing up at your studio will fill them with energy, joy, confidence and strength. Focus on people who are obsessed with being ALIVE, not so much being as physically fit as Jack Lalanne.