Successful businesses normally have one thing in common: they set themselves apart from their competition to become the premier choice for consumers. They possess one or more characteristics that distinguish the quality of the product or service they provide. In other words, they have a competitive advantage.
The relationship between having a competitive advantage and achieving success is concrete. Finding a way to lay the foundation for this relationship, however, often begins on shaky ground. What steps do you, as a business owner, need to take to cement yourself as the first choice for customers in the fitness industry?
The following tips, combined with utilizing our fitness business management software, will help give you the competitive advantage you need to put your business on top. Request a demo of our software today to learn more.
#1 – Create a Strong Brand Identity
There is an important distinction between a business’s brand and its identity. Everything that has to do with a business constitutes its brand. The images, products, services, and reputation put forth by a business make up the DNA of the brand. These are all extremely important success factors; but what matters, even more, is the identity of the brand.
Identity is what conveys information about your brand to your customers. It tells a story, evokes emotion, and communicates your company’s message. In short, your logo is your brand’s identity. It is the first thing your customers see and has the ability to impact a purchasing decision in a matter of seconds.
Your logo is a visual representation of your brand and, therefore, needs to be aligned with the products and/or services you offer. The font, color, and design of your logo all play a part in expressing the characteristics of your business in a moment’s glance. Creating a logo that catches the consumer’s eye and is identifiable to the mission of the business makes all the difference when choosing one product over another.
The swoosh logo put forward by Nike is a perfect example of one that is easily identifiable by consumers. Without seeing the name of the company, people see the logo and immediately equate it to the products offered.
Once you have your logo nailed down, it is important to make sure it is visible to the consumer. For example, fitness businesses working with Exercise.com are able to utilize custom-branded apps to help grow their revenue. Companies are able to express their identity with logos at the front and center of these apps which helps draw in customers and generate sales.
#2 – Know Your Market
It seems fairly obvious that knowledge of your target market (in this case, fitness enthusiasts) is important for business success. Many businesses, however, take this to mean that they need an understanding only of how the given industry works. This is absolutely not the case. In fact, there are three important parts of your market to consider.
Understand Your Competition
It is difficult to know how to run your business without knowing what your competitors are doing. Having an understanding of what makes them successful, what has not worked for them, and the direction they are heading will help you to know how to differentiate. Your business needs to stand out in some way and that cannot be accomplished without first knowing what is already being done by someone else.
Understanding what products and services your competition has and how they offer them will give you a certain edge, but you also will want to pay attention to other aspects like marketing, reputation, and website. These are all areas in which you can gain a potential competitive advantage.
Let’s say that you and the gym down the street both offer personal training. At first, you know nothing about training at this other facility, other than the general fact that it is offered. This lack of knowledge makes it difficult to provide a better product because you don’t necessarily know what better is.
After doing your research, however, you find out that the trainers at your competitor’s gym are expensive and have a reputation for being harsh on their clients. You have just identified two ways to gain a competitive advantage. By promoting lower prices, along with knowledgeable and encouraging personal trainers, you have given potential customers a reason to choose your facility over the one down the street.
Understand the Consumer
Trying to build a fitness business without knowing what the consumer is looking for is like going hunting with a blindfold. You know the general direction at which you need to aim, but without having a clear vision, it’s hard to hit the mark with any accuracy.
Hunting and fitness may not be too closely related, but this analogy isn’t all that far-fetched. As a fitness business owner, your success depends on the number of customers who are willing to pay for the products and services you offer. These people will only be willing to pay for something if they see the value and, therefore, you need to understand which items carry the most weight rather than taking a random shot at what you think they want.
Researching the industry and applying it to your local market will help accomplish this. This means being able to identify offerings that have been sustained in the industry for years, as well as trends that are new or up and coming in the fitness industry. It is also important to try to find out whether similar concepts have been successful in other cities that have a similar market to yours.
Understand Your Business
The first two steps, understanding your competition and understanding the consumer, are useless if you don’t understand how to apply it to your own business. Regardless of the information you gather, you will not know whether or not it is useful until you know the ins and outs of your own business. It is smart for any business, including those in the fitness industry, to conduct a S.W.O.T. analysis.
- Strengths. What does your business already do well? Identify the things that are currently bringing people to your business and turning them into customers. This could include differentiating qualities, resources, or assets that are contributing to your success.
- Weaknesses. What is your company lacking? Essentially, what do successful businesses do or possess that your business doesn’t?
- Opportunities. What are the ways you can make your business better? Having local media do a story on your business, partnering with a business in a different industry, and developing a new product for an underserved market are all opportunities for your business to stand out.
- Threats. What stands in the way of your company’s success? This could be competitors, consumer attitudes toward your business, or anything else that has the potential to negatively impact your business.
Strengths and weaknesses are normally seen as internal, meaning they are things your business can control on their own. Opportunities and threats, on the other hand, are external factors. These cannot be controlled by your business, but you have the ability to respond to them in a way that leads to a positive outcome.
Understanding your business, through a S.W.O.T. or other type of analysis, allows you to take what you know about your competitors and your target consumer and develop a strategy to capitalize. You will either identify things you are already doing well to meet consumer needs and differentiate from your competition or find out what you need to change to make it happen.
#3 – Differentiate
Differentiation is what makes consumers choose one business over another for a given product or service. This difference comes in the form of offerings or quality but both set the company apart from its competitors. Let’s take a closer look at how to make your business unique amongst others in the same market.
Offer Something Different
A market full of businesses, that offer the exact same product, means that consumers will be satisfied with that product regardless of where they get it. If your gym offers an identical group fitness line-up to the facility down the street, there is nothing that will convince a potential customer, at first glance, to choose you over your competitor.
Instead, set your business apart by offering something that is not available anywhere else in the local market. This could come in the form of additional services, like a smoothie bar, or maybe by providing a group class that is not available at any other gym in your city. It can come in a variety of forms but there should be some aspect of your business that is a unique offering among your competitors.
Offer Something Better
On the other hand, if your business vision is closely aligned to your competitors and you are unable to find something different to offer, your focus shifts. Now, you need to find a way to stand out even while offering the same thing. Your only option is to provide the same product or service at a higher standard.
Some of the most successful businesses don’t provide anything unique, they simply excel in the quality department. Fitness businesses have many avenues in which to provide exceptional quality. Customer service, knowledgable employees, first-class equipment, and high-end facilities can all differentiate a business, even while offering the same products or services as its competitors.
A great example of this is Exercise.com’s all-in-one fitness business software. They set themselves apart from their competitors by bundling major services offered by fitness businesses into one easy-to-use software product. Many companies provide scheduling, appointment management, workout creators, sales trackers, or assessments as individual products. Exercise.com saves businesses the trouble of purchasing multiple products by offering all of these services together.
If your fitness business offers multiple services, you may benefit from the product offered by Exercise.com. Request a demo and find out how we can collaborate to help grow your business.
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#4 – Bundle Your Services
Most fitness facilities offer more than one service to their members. These services, oftentimes, can be complementary to each other, but many businesses don’t take advantage of the opportunity to promote the value of utilizing them together. When you market your services only as individual products, you do not show your customers how using more than one can maximize their benefits.
By creating a bundle, you are sending a message to your customers that everything in that bundle works together. In other words, you are showing the value of using more than one service. Customers profit both from using multiple services to reach their goals and from the lower price point that the packages carry.
Even though you are offering a discount, your business still benefits from the added spotlight put on additional services that the same customer would not use otherwise. You also, in many cases, still come out ahead from a monetary standpoint because you are trading time for extra revenue.
For example, let’s say you are a personal training studio that offers fitness assessments for $25, training sessions for $60, and smoothies for $5. It is less likely that a client will pay $90 to purchase all three items a la carte on a consistent basis. If you were to bundle these services at a discounted rate of $75 total, however, your customer would recognize the importance of all three, see better progress which they would attribute to your business, and you would earn income that otherwise would be lost.
If you do choose to package your services, it is important to be able to keep track of them in an organized manner. By utilizing the fitness business software provided by Exercise.com, you can easily keep track of membership, sales, personal training, group fitness classes, and much more all in one place.
#5 – Make the Most Out of Social Media
Marketing in today’s world is vastly different than it was even 20 years ago. Sure, ads in newspapers, magazines, and on billboards can still be effectively utilized (although placing your logo on the disposable placemats at your local diner is questionable), but there are certainly more options. Facebook and Instagram, for example, offer a wide variety of benefits for fitness business at any stage of development.
Free to Low-Cost Advertising
Creating a post on your gym’s social media account costs nothing more than a few minutes and the click of a button. Those who follow the page are able to see the post, react, and plan their schedules based around its content. They can even share your post on their personal accounts, which provides you extra advertising for no charge.
Of course, if you want your post to appeal to a more specific target audience, these social media giants offer the chance for your post or ad to appear before a more specific group, for a small fee. Paying for this ad space can provide an advantage for your business because they are not contained only to your followers.
Ease of Use
While it helps to have someone on staff who is knowledgable in the marketing department, you do not need a master’s degree to effectively use your social media accounts. It is very straight-forward to post text, videos, poll questions, or even live videos to interact with your customers.
Options for advertising strategies, in the past, were more limited and required much more outside help than more modern strategies today. Television or newspaper ads mean working with employees at those organizations to develop content, whereas social media advertisements can be easily done in-house. This saves your business time and money in the long-run.
Track Your Metrics
Connecting with your target audience is important but making sure you are connecting with them in a way that will turn them into customers deserves more emphasis. You want to make sure the type of content you are posting is not only reaching people but also causing them to take action.
Facebook and Instagram both offer free tools that analyze your account, as a whole, in addition to your individual posts. You can see how many people are visiting your page, new followers, and how far your reach has gone. You are also able to see, on specific posts, how many people have viewed them, interacted with them, and shared them.
All of this information can help you decide what type of content is most effective for you to post. Knowing what types of posts people respond to will help you build your following, but will also give you an idea of which areas to focus your business on as it grows.
#6 – Retain Your Customers
Customer acquisition is one of the largest expenses for businesses, especially in their infancy. It would make sense, then, that in order to eventually cut these costs and increase their revenue, businesses need to make every effort to retain customers. This is not to overshadow the importance of having new people walk in the door, but if those people can become an opportunity for growth rather than a necessity to stay afloat, your business will be on the path for long-term success.
From a fitness business perspective, customer satisfaction is based on results. Whether they walk into your facility for group classes or personal training sessions, you need to make sure that people leave feeling like they got their money’s worth out of their experience. This can stem from quality employees and equipment, but there needs to be more than that.
If your personal training clients receive a quality workout but are confused about how to track their progress between sessions, the stage is being set for them to discontinue their service at some point in the future. Instead, you want your business to be the reason for a client’s success even when they are not working with one of your personal trainers. If that client can track their progress, measure results, and work out even when they aren’t with a trainer, they are far more likely to continue with your business.
This is an area in which Exercise.com shines. Within our all-in-one software, you can customize fitness assessments, create workouts, and track performance and progress for your clients. The ease of use saves time and money for your business and the results you will deliver to your clients will keep them coming back and lead to growth.
Putting It All Together
So, what happens when you take the six tips above and apply them to your business model? The answer is that you gain a competitive advantage. You set yourself apart from the competition, in one or more ways, and show your potential customers why you are better than the other options they have. This is hugely important in the long run, especially for a fitness business, because there is such a close relationship between the offerings at different facilities.
Start by building your brand identity; let people know who you are just from a glance. From there, make a point to know all aspects of the market including competition, consumer, and yourself. This knowledge will help you differentiate and stand out from your competition. One way to do this could be from bundling your services.
When your mission is set, utilize today’s marketing platforms, namely social media, to promote everything you offer and show why you are better than your competitors. Be sure to track the metrics and use the data available to you from these posts to create the right kind of content and continue offering the correct products and services. All of this will help you retain your costumers over a long period of time, which is a sure and proven way to make your fitness business successful.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is a competitive advantage?
A competitive advantage is something that makes you different and puts you in a favorable position among your competitors.
How do I differentiate my business from my competitors?
In order to differentiate, you can either offer different products or services than your competitors or you can take the same products or services and offer them at a higher quality.
What is my identity as a business?
A business’s identity is essentially a visual representation of who the company is as a business. Essentially, an identity is represented by a logo.
If you want to give your business a competitive advantage, request a demo of our fitness business management software to see how we can help.