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Should Gym Owners Run Their Own Ads?

Good question, Mr./Mrs. Gym Owner… let’s jam on it:

Maybe you’re a master of the ad manager… maybe you’re a trainer/coach at heart that hates the “tech” side of the business and would rather spend your time on the floor changing lives (or doing literally anything that isn’t setting up ads, getting them connected to your CRM, etc.). 

Either way, we’ll unpack some “food for thought” on whether or not you should be running your own ads.

Gym Marketing Hard Truths

This one hurts (hell if it wasn’t true it’d make our job at Gym Member Machine a lot easier)… 

Truth is, marketing is only getting harder. I tend to compare ads/marketing costs to the stock market: sure there may be seasonal peaks and valleys, and yes, costs can (and will) shift up and down on a daily basis, but, on average, odds are pretty good that the costs of advertising are going to up over time. 

That’s good news if you’re prepped for it, bad news if your method of marketing is stuck in the digital advertising stone age of 2015 where any idiot could slap up an ad “HUGE OPPORTUNITY” (lol) and get two dollar leads… Part of this is just due to the general nature of overall competitiveness and saturation, and part of it is gym-industry specific due to… 

The Vicious Cycle of Trust Killing Gyms 

Trust is at an all-time low in the gym business… 

Our prospects & markets don’t trust us as gym owners like they used to… why? 

Well… remember when that tiny little company that rhymes with Sym Saunch popularized the bait-and-switch “fake free” six week challenge and pretty much took over the industry? They (and every one of the probably hundreds of copycat “me toos” in the ‘goo-roo’/marketing agency game) taught seemingly evvvvveryone in the industry that it was totally a good idea to market something as free that… well… wasn’t. 

It seemed like overnight thousands of gyms around the world started promoting these bait-and-switch challenges, to the point where we’d talk to gym owners looking to not run those plays for their marketing and hear stories like “yeah, I’ve got people commenting on my ads, saying it’s a scam, it’s not free it’s $399 or whatever and I’m like ‘oh ours is actually $499…” because every gym owner on the block was running the same play. 

If you do that enough times (yes, companies are still pushing this model to this day), people are going to stop trusting you. 

Your reputation is going to be damaged. 

And, unfortunately, even if you never ran those “plays,” you’ll still run into issues where you’re guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of your market. 

Is it fair? No. 

Is it reality? Yes. 

Summary? Marketing your gym is harder than ever (and it probably won’t get easier anytime soon)… 

The Good News?

Gym owners are still winning, winning big, and expanding their operations every day (it’s just harder to keep up with than ever). 

You vs. the Ads Team at Gym Member Machine

I’m pretty good at ads (mmm… everyone loves the guy that toots his own horn, right?). I ran them to grow my gyms for years, ran them when I was just a lowly solo operation doing some work for some of the biggest names in the industry… Heck, you probably know of an agency or two that’s literally stolen our old copy from seven or eight years ago and tried to pass it off as their own to their mastermind members (true story… Daddy’s got the receipts). 

Long story short, I’m good at this. 

Our team now kicks my a**… I’m like a toddler trying keep up with Michael Phelps in the pool in comparison to our current ads team. 

The two heads of our gym ads department are #1: a PHD in psychology who’s done literally nothing but gym ads every working hour for the past five years (hint: the secret to getting a PHD data nerd and copy genius to run ads for your awesome gym owner clients is to marry well 😉 and #2: a gal who worked her way up at Anytime from admin, to trainer, to manager; jumped to a gym agency because she loves marketing, and ended up running that agencies marketing department (running a couple hundred gym accounts) before she got tired of the way they were treating their clients and loved what we were doing here at Gym Member Machine. 

Those gals run ads in hundreds of markets, for any number of training gym “models”, brands, etc. and meet multiple times per week on what’s working, new ideas for hooks, ads, creative, images, conversion optimizations, you name it… 

The question? 

Is it reasonable to think that any gym owner running ads for their 1-5 locations (by definition part-time – because you’ve got a million other things on your plate and can’t just stare at ads manager all day) can keep up with the stuff our gals thinking about nothing but digital marketing for gyms all day every day are doing? 

Probably not, right? 

That said, if your results with your current DIY marketing are pretty solid (either you’re super stinkin’ good at it OR you’re in a super easy market), there’s more to explore: 

To Delegate or Not to Delegate

Even if we make the assumption that our ads team could possibly be a little better at the digital marketing of growing your gym, we still need to think about this a little bit. 

Here’s how I think about delegation in two parts: 

First, I’m gonna think about my “love/great, hate/suck” quadrant (I believe this is stolen from Gino Wickman of Traction or Pat Lencione of the Advantage and other great biz reads). In short, map all the things you do on a two-by-two grid like the one below.

If I’m you, I’m going to work through the least expensive (think money, obviously, but also time and energy that you’ll have to invest in delegating the thing), highest ROI thing to delegate. 

If there are things still on your plate that you hate/suck at that are somewhat inexpensive to outsource particularly to someone who will do a better job than you will at the thing (e.g. accounting, bookkeeping, then ads is a pretty solid progression for most gym owners), then it’s probably a good idea to move those things off your plate so you can focus on the higher value things that only you can do instead of spending endless hours doing a worse job than the expert will do for waaay less than whatever your effective hourly rate is. Again, this is why I say bookkeeping is a no brainer for most of us – we typically suck at it, we’re inefficient at it, we don’t like it, and someone else will do it better, cheaper (and we won’t have to spend the time and money training them to get good at the thing like you will with an internal hire like an admin, trainer, or salesperson). 

So… Should gym owners run their own ads or not??

Annoying answer: it depends! 

If you LOVE and are super great at your ads, then maybe it doesn’t make sense to delegate (particularly if you’re sub $10k a month). 

But if your answer is “I’m making okay money and actually I don’t spend much time on my ads so delegation isn’t a priority” then either you’re in a super easy market getting $5-10 leads and can keep doing what you’re doing (call us if/when stuff gets hard) OR you’re being lazy AF with your ads management and would probably get infinitely better results delegating to someone who knows what they’re doing and will be making constant, proactive optimizations to make your gym’s marketing as profitable as possible 🤷

Either way, we’re rooting like hell for ya! Go change some lives! 

PS: if you think we just miiiight be able to help, click any of the buttons on this page and book a call with our team to see if we’re full of you-know-what for yourself 😉

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Should Gym Owners Run Their Own Ads?

Good question, Mr./Mrs. Gym Owner… let’s jam on it: Maybe you’re a master of the ad manager… maybe you’re a trainer/coach at heart that hates the “tech” side of the business and would rather spend your time on the floor changing lives (or doing literally anything that isn’t setting up

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