The 4 Essential Marketing Funnels That Will Grow Your Gym

Podcast-1 (4)

Chris Cooper (00:00):
Your gym needs more than one way to get clients. The roller coaster that most gyms ride is because they’re not consistent in their marketing. They see something, they try it, they get a few clients, and then they drop it to try the next thing. I’m Chris Cooper. This is “Run a Profitable Gym,” and today I’m gonna share the four marketing funnels you need to maintain consistent growth. Successful gyms have up to four marketing funnels working for them all the time. So today I’m gonna lay out each one, from getting attention at the top of the funnel to collecting information to nurturing leads to booking a No Sweat Intro. Two-Brain clients have these broken down step by step, including all the tools required and scripts to use, in our Growth Toolkit. Every funnel that we teach you to build leads to a No Sweat Intro. Every funnel also makes the other three funnels work better because if your referral funnel is working well, then every client that you bring in from your paid ads funnel can become two clients, which improves your return on ad spend.

Chris Cooper (01:01):
So let’s start there. Your referral funnel, you wanna set this one up first. Most gyms treat referrals as a passive process, but no gym owner has time to wait for a client to remember to tell their friends or bring their spouse in. So you have to make this funnel effective by asking for referrals. You have to turn it into an active process. So at the top of this funnel, your current client books a goal review and you say “are you completely satisfied with your progress?” And if they’re satisfied with their progress, then you can ask them to bring their spouse in for a two-on-one private session with you to try out the service. Alternately, if they’re not married or you don’t know who their friends are, you can just say “is there anyone else in your life who would like to see the same progress that you’ve made for yourself?”

Chris Cooper (01:48):
The next step down in that funnel is that you call the potential referral. Again, you’re taking control here. While your client is still sitting with you in the office, you’ve just finished their goal review, you call their friend or their spouse and you say, “Hey Jane, it’s Chris from Catalyst gym. I’m sitting here with Mary. She’d love to invite you in to work out with her. What do you say?” And if you’ve got the client on speaker phone, that’s even better. You could also just text the referral while the client is still with you or email them and CC the client. You wanna have the client, you know, figuratively in the room with you so the referral lead feels a pull to say “okay” because they don’t wanna let their friend down. And then the bottom of the funnel is that you do a two-on-one session and then you ask the referral and the client to do an NSI with you right after that session.

Chris Cooper (02:35):
And you don’t say “so how’d you like it?” Instead, you follow the NSI script, and you sell the benefits of your service, which is fitness, self-love, weight loss, confidence, instead of selling the features, which is like hard workouts that will make you barf. We all know that referrals are the best kind of new clients to get. They are pre-filtered for personality and for price. They have a friend in the gym, so their retention is usually better. And when one client adds a spouse, the whole is more than the sum of their parts. You can really change the lives of their whole family. Because this is so important, I like to get even more directive. So going into the goal review, I know the name of at least one important person in the client’s life. I ask specifically about that person in the goal review.

Chris Cooper (03:22):
This way the client doesn’t have to, you know, brainstorm names or think about who they wanna throw under the bus or even assume that none of their friends would want to join. You take the lead and you will see far greater results. We call this Affinity Marketing, and we teach it in the Growth Toolkit to Two-Brain gyms. The most important part of the referral funnel is this: you never stop doing it. If you try it once and you don’t get a new client, don’t give up. The process requires practice to feel natural. Saving the life of a client’s spouse is worth trying it again. So that’s the referral funnel. And, as a reminder, your gym needs more than one way to get clients. The reason that you’re going up and down with client acquisition is because you try one thing and then you stop doing it and try the next thing.

Chris Cooper (04:08):
Instead, you have to set up four different funnels and let them compound their effect on each other and never stop. So I just shared the referral funnel. Now I wanna share the content funnel. The content funnel multiplies the effect of every other funnel because it builds trust and authority. So I built my first gym with Yahoo Mail and a weekly newsletter back in 2005. I built my second gym with my blog. I built Two-Brain Business with content—first with a blog, then with a book, then with a podcast. And now with YouTube and everything else. Five years ago, producing daily content for your audience would’ve put you in the top 1% of businesses worldwide. Now it puts you in the top 50%. That means if you’re not producing daily content, people will choose the gym owners who are. I’m not talking about social media posts here.

Chris Cooper (05:01):
Not yet. I want real, valuable, long-form content on a blog, on a podcast or on YouTube. So here’s the funnel. Top of the funnel is that blog, podcast or YouTube channel. Pick the one that feels most natural to you. Mid-Funnel is your container for leads. This is like your waiting room. So you wanna push people from your media, your content, into this waiting room. Pick one or the other, either a free Facebook group or your email list. Start conversations with your content and then continue conversations in your waiting room. Okay? Bottom of funnel is where you push a client to book an NSI. If somebody is a good fit, then invite them to meet with you and talk about your service by using sell by chat in your free Facebook group or specific booking links if you’re using an email list instead. Like the referral funnel, the most important thing with the content funnel is consistency. For me, this means investing the first 30 minutes of my day creating content, as I was doing when I wrote this at 6:10 a.m. I have built every company that I own on content marketing. 95% of what I build, what I create, is given away for free. The other 5% is expensive. People trust me—thank you—because they know me through my content. Do whatever it takes to produce the content. Two-Brain clients have a huge Content Vault to copy and use, including blog posts, emails, lead-nurture scripts, lead magnets, graphics, images, social media posts, AI prompts and more. One last note on content: Should you use artificial intelligence—AI like ChatGPT? If you’re unable to produce daily content at a B+ level, then use AI to generate blog posts or video scripts for you at least to start.

Chris Cooper (06:51):
If you can produce regular content above a B+ level, you’re good at it. Then you don’t need AI, but your competition will be producing a lot of content now at a B+ level. Decide what you need to do to not be drowned out. Alright, so now we’ve gone through the referral funnel and the content funnel. Now I wanna share with you the social media funnel. Think of social media as the free sample stands at the grocery store. The free samples exist to get you interested, right? It’s not a full meal, but if you like the sample, you buy the lasagna and then you take it home and you consume it. And then hopefully you love the lasagna enough that you make it part of the weekly rotation in your house. Social media isn’t enough to replace real content, but it can serve as the sample tray to get people to consume the real stuff.

Chris Cooper (07:40):
So start by getting good on one platform. It’s better to be good at one thing than it is to be mediocre at five different platforms. Which platform do you pick? The one your clients use. If your clients are aged 30 to 55, that’s probably Facebook. If they’re a bit younger, that’s probably Instagram. Then you take your content from the content funnel and you chop it up into little samples and you put it on your social media tray and you serve it up to strangers. Or you can create separate posts for social media that lead to your real content. Remember, your goal is not to win Instagram. It doesn’t matter if you have 10,000 followers on Instagram if none of them click through to book your service. Your goal is to get people off Instagram and onto your platform, into your waiting room, your email list, or your free Facebook group, or even to book straight into an No Sweat Intro.

Chris Cooper (08:33):
So the top of your social media funnel is your social media channel, like Instagram. You’re gonna post every day, and you’re always going to include a call to action. For example, your call to action might be “DM me for details” or “click the link in comments to read the whole article.” Even better is to have a lead magnet up at the top of the funnel, like, “Hey, you want all 30 keto recipes? Just comment keto below this post and I’ll send it over to you.” And what that does is it leads directly to mid-funnel. Mid-Funnel for social media is chats. So you wanna start chats with prospective clients to deliver on your promise or to guide them to an NSI. So pretend that you’re standing in front of the person in line to buy coffee, and you say, “Hey, how’s it going?”

Chris Cooper (09:18):
Then you say, “Hey, I, I saw your comment on my Instagram yesterday. Thanks for that. How are your workouts going?” And then you just carry on the conversation—like you’re good at this. The bottom of the funnel is when you invite them to chat with you in person. And this last step is where a lot of gym owners get shy, but they shouldn’t because you’re not asking the person for a date or to marry you, so you don’t have to feel awkward. Instead, imagine that you just met somebody who’s trying to find a local library and you’re going to the local library tomorrow. What would you say? You would say, “Oh, hey, you know, I’m going there myself. Do you want to meet here tomorrow and I’ll walk over?” Or “I’ll guide you for a gym owner.” This would be like, “Hey, I get it. Sometimes I fall off the wagon, and those are good cookies, right? And I own the gym. Wanna meet me there at the gym tomorrow? And I’ll show you around. I’ll bring the coffee this time.” The social media funnel should amplify the other funnels that you already have in place by creating excitement and curiosity. Remember, if you own a business, social media is your stage, but it’s not your pulpit. You can turn clients off from your business just as easily as you can turn them on. So post daily, but don’t try to be perfect. And if you’re in Two-Brain, you can swipe graphics, photos, sample posts, calendars, AI prompts, and everything else you need from the Content Vault. Alright, so we’ve been through the referral funnel, the content funnel, and the social media free funnel. Now you’re ready to talk about paid ads. The roller coaster again that most gyms get on is because they see something, they try it, they get a few clients, and then they drop it and move on to the next thing.

Chris Cooper (10:52):
And so a lot of people in our “State of the Industry” guide will say, “Yeah, I tried Facebook advertising” and maybe they invested a hundred or even a thousand dollars, but they didn’t take the time to get good at it, and it didn’t work because they didn’t have any other content to build trust. They had no other social media profile to build excitement, and they had no referral network to multiply the results that they were getting from their ads. So paid advertising is really there to just add fuel to a fire that’s already blazing. So before you run ads, you should have all three of those other funnels set up because each multiplies the value of paid ads, right? If you get a client from a paid ad and they in turn bring a referral, that doubles your return on ad spend. The content that you publish and produce builds trust for the cold leads who see your ads.

Chris Cooper (11:39):
And organic social media lets you build a better audience for your ads, letting you retarget people as well as giving them little samples of your personality to taste test. A lead who clicks through your ad with no other context will be a very cold lead and hard to sell. Paid ads are not an art; they’re a science. We teach Two-Brain gym owners how to be scientific about ads in our Growth Program, but here are the most important things. First, know your numbers. It’s easy to say “my ads don’t work.” But when we audit a gym’s marketing funnels, we often see that the ads are working, but their sales process is broken, or their lead nurture process doesn’t work or their website doesn’t work. So before you can determine what to spend on paid ads, you need to know your set rate, your show rate, and your close rate.

Chris Cooper (12:27):
Now we teach you what these are and how to measure them in our RampUp Program. Next, you wanna boost your organic posts first. If you don’t have good traction with your organic posts, you probably won’t be good at creating ads. Think of investing ads as pouring gasoline on a fire that’s already burning. The bigger the fire to start with, the greater the impact of the gasoline. If you’re not good at consistently posting on social media, then it’s too early to pay for ads. Now Two-Brain clients can do this easily. There are hundreds of posts, images, AI prompts, and graphics for ’em to swipe in our Content Vault. The next step with paid ads is to spend $5 a day boosting your three best posts before you start an ad campaign. So set up three ads and test them. Use a mentor to jump through months of trial and error here, but don’t use an agency to run your ads for you at this stage.

Chris Cooper (13:21):
Remember what I said, that paid ads are a science, not an art. That means you’re gonna be systematic about testing. You’re gonna take a scientific approach, so you’re gonna run three different ads for about 14 days. Then outta those three, you’re gonna pick the one that performs the best, meaning that it creates a measurable increase in leads on your website. And if your site doesn’t measure the number of leads that you’re getting, go way back to Number 1, but you’re gonna pick the ad that’s performing best. You’re gonna shut off those other two ads and dedicate your full ad spend to the one that works. Now, if you want, you can try running two other ads as testers while maintaining your ad spend on the working ad. Finally, you can outsource the advertising process only when you understand your metrics, when you have somebody who will report on the process and you know how to fix the process when it eventually stops working.

Chris Cooper (14:11):
This could be months or even years down the road, but eventually every ad campaign will stop working, and you won’t know it until you understand your metrics. So if you hire an ad agency before that last step, it won’t help you. It might generate some traffic, but you won’t know it, and then you won’t maximize your return on ad spend because you won’t have the other pieces in place. Instead, the ad agency will maximize ad spend instead of maximizing return on ad spend because their job is to spend the money. And when an agency leaves, as they always eventually will, you’re gonna be back to square one, right? It’s better to learn how to drive before you buy a car. The Number 1 reason gym owners hire ad agencies is fear. They don’t know how to run ads. And they fear that they can’t figure it out in the time that they have.

Chris Cooper (15:02):
We help them do that, and it saves them $3,000 every month in agency costs. Now, some still decide to hire an agency later just to save the time and the energy, and I get that, but they’re doing it with their eyes open and they know how to tell if the agency is doing well with the gym’s money. Should you run paid ads? Yeah. After you set up your referral funnel, your content funnel, and your social media funnel. Do you need to run paid ads? Probably not. I spend five bucks a day to run the same ad that I’ve run for three years. I’m in a small market, but I also have good referral rates, solid content, and really consistent social media posts. Now we teach all of these in order in our RampUp and Growth programs, and it’s all plug and play for you too.

Chris Cooper (15:48):
You can swipe ad copy, you can swipe pictures, graphics, blog posts, AI prompts, everything. You didn’t open a gym to learn marketing, I get that. But when you open a gym, you accepted the marketing job. It’s not complicated when you build your funnels with a mentor. I’m Chris Cooper. These are the four funnels you need. This podcast is called “Run a Profitable Gym,” and I would love to invite you to join, which is our free Facebook group where we provide samples for this stuff, templates and free resources and advice from 7,600 gym owners around the world. We’ll see you there.

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