Outdoor Advertising for Gyms – The Key Considerations

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The nation’s fitness industry has continued to grow over the course of the last few years, with an estimated 9.7 million gym members now registered in the UK. Overall, it’s believed that one in seven Brits are now members of a gym, with brands recently reporting a record-high market penetration rate of 14.9%.

At the heart of this success is outdoor advertising, which is exceptionally effective both for independent gyms and larger chains.

In the post below, we’ll explore this in further detail while asking how outlets can successfully leverage this channel.

Why is Outdoor Advertising Such an Effective Channel for Gym Brands?

Whether you own an independent gym or a nationwide chain, each outlet is likely to draw members from the local area.

After all, studies have shown that you’re five times more likely to hit the gym if it’s less than four miles away from your home, with proximity the primary consideration for customers when the comparing the health and fitness market.

This means that owners need to invest in marketing channels that optimise their exposure among the local audience, and in this respect few offer a better value for money or a superior ROI than out-of-home (OOH) media.

There are numerous reasons for this, but one of the most compelling is the fact that the average consumer spends approximately 70% of their time out of the home and on the move.

So, by investing in strategically placed adverts throughout the local area and in close proximity to your outlets, you can reach a higher number of potential customers while leveraging real-time calls-to-action (CTAs) to help maximise engagement levels.

Billboards arguably offer the most relevant form of OOH media to gym owners, thanks primarily to the variety of sizes in which they can be sourced. Large format roadside billboards are particularly effective at engaging motorists and driving brand interaction, for example, especially when they’re strategically positioned close to your outlet.  

It’s also interesting to note that while more than 70% of drivers admit to noticing and interaction with roadside advertising, as many as 73.4% of Brits currently commute to and from work by car (either as motorists or passenger).

This creates a potent cocktail for proactive advertisers, you can effectively target local commuters at a time when they’re known to interact with natural and nonintrusive messaging.

Smaller billboards and posters can also be placed to target customers who travel on foot, as they shop, eat out and carry out their daily chores.

By combining large and smaller format billboards as part of an integrated campaign, owners can single-handedly build a local member base while successfully leveraging relevant and targeted CTAs.

As you can probably tell, OOH media and channels such as billboards offer the type of flexibility that local business-owners crave. This rule also applies to the type of messaging that they’re able to display, and this makes it possible to leverage precise data and effectively target customers in different regions.

This is particularly useful for large-scale gym chains, who can create diverse and multi-faceted campaigns that optimise their marketing ROI.

Let’s say that you own two gym outlets, for example, located in different parts of the country. While you’ve garnered data which suggests that one outlet is largely frequented by gym enthusiasts who regularly attend advanced classes, however, the second location is more popular among casuals whose main objective is to lose weight.

In this instance, you’ll need to create alternate messaging for each outlet, based on the behaviour of regional customers and their primary motivation for attending your gymnasiums.

OOH media and traditional billboards enable you to achieve this in an efficient and cost-effective manner, saving money and increasing the profitability of individual campaigns in the process.

On a final note, outdoor advertising also represents the ideal blank canvas for limited and real-time promotional offers. This is especially true in the case of traditional billboards, which are known to illicit an emotive response from customers and drive specific actions both on and offline.

This taps into one of the basic rules of advertising, which states that impulsive spending remains a dominant force in the world of consumerism. In fact, around 78.2% of Brits have made impulse buys in recent times, with this trend prevalent across a range of different channels.

Impulse buy

It’s also estimated that a staggering 92% of all impulse buys are motivated by special offers and discounts, as this helps brands to incentivise customer and boost their levels of engagement.

But why is OOH media so effective at promoting discounts? The simple reason that around 32% of customers are thought to visit an establishment during the same week that they viewed an outdoor ad, with a  further 24% attending a particular store or outlet on the very same day!

So, in addition to driving an increased number of brand interactions online and through mobile channels, outdoor advertising is also exceptionally effective at building relationships with customers and incentivising them in real-time.

Much of this can be attributed to the fact the OOH media is a trusted channel that successfully blends into the surrounding environment, but regardless of this, there’s no doubt that it’s a viable method of mobilising customers and driving a higher amount of assisted conversions over time.

So How do you Make Outdoor Advertising Work for your Gym?

In theory, this reasoning helps to explain why outdoor advertising represents such an effective investment for owners of independent gyms and chains.

If you’re to successfully leverage OOH media and all of its channels, however, you’ll need to take practical steps that embrace both the benefits of the medium and the needs of each individual outlet.

So, here’s some advice to help you on your way:

Prioritise the Location of your Billboards

If we assume that you’re targeting customers within a four-mile radius of their home, you’ll only have a relatively limited space in which to build your member base and raise awareness surrounding your brand.

This can prove challenging, particularly when you consider the additional restrictions that may be imposed by your marketing budget.

To help negate these issues, consider using traditional channels such as classic billboards rather than digital alternatives. These are significantly more cost-effective, while the savings that you make will enable you to secure larger form 48 and 96-sheet adverts that really capture the attention of customers.

This means that you can effectively advertise at prominent local roadside locations, ideally those that operate along popular commuter routes.

Given the often impulse nature of billboard advertising and its ability to influence consumer behaviour, it’s also worth erecting smaller ads and posters directly outside or within exceptionally close proximity to your outlet.

This will also help to inform customers of your precise location while targeting local shoppers and residents when they’re arguably at the most motivated and engaged (at least from a consumer perspective).

Understand Regional Audiences and Tailor your Messaging Accordingly

We can also assume that there are a myriad of reasons why people attend your individual gyms, whether they wish to lose weight or build muscle for the purpose of competition.

From a business perspective, it’s not only important to gather data and understand the behaviour of individual gym goers, but also tailor your messaging to ensure that you create genuinely effective campaigns.


So while you may already have primary, secondary and tertiary messaging depending on the initial purpose of your marketing campaign, you may need to adapt this further when addressing the needs of customers in different regions.

If you’re using traditional billboards, it’s important to analyse your data sets in detail before you launch your campaign. After all, it can take a significant amount of time to adapt or change your posters once they’ve been printed, while this will also incur additional costs that may compromise your budget.

It’s also important to ensure that the images and the messaging that you use continues to reflect your brand guidelines and values, even as you look to successfully engages alternate audiences.

Get your CTA Right and Use an Active Tense to Incentivise Customers

The breadth and quality of your data sets will also impact on the success of your promotional offers, and when communicating these through OOH media there’s a couple of important things to bear in mind.

Firstly, you’ll need to ensure that your CTA is relevant, both in terms of your brand identity and the remainder of the advert.

It should also compel customers to take advantage of the specific promotion or discount in question, whether this involves a financial incentive or the introduction of a new, targeted and exciting exercise class at your gym.

We’d also recommend advertising limited time promotions with concise messaging that packs a punch while ensuring that you craft this using an active tense. This undoubtedly creates a sense of urgency among your customers, further compelling them to take action or run the risk of missing out.

Once again, it’s wise to use traditional billboards (rather than digital ones) when marketing such promotions, as these do not require you to share advertising space with other brands and help to optimise your exposure within a short space of time.

The Last Word

Hopefully, this guide will help you to understand the benefits of outdoor advertising for gym owners, while also offering some actionable steps for leveraging this medium.

Just remember that OOH media tends to work better as part of an integrated marketing campaign, while the motivation and the behaviour of your local customers should remain that the heart of every decision that you implement.

Book your billboard today.
Book your billboard today.

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