Paid Ads: Why You Might Want to Consider Them

A notepad with "cost per lead CPL" written on it. The notepad is on a wooden office table.

Do you have to spend money on ads for your gym?


You can succeed without ads if you use other tactics.

But paid ads aren’t evil, either.

A head shot of writer Mike Warkentin and the column name "Pressing It Out."

When Two-Brain released its latest leaderboard for average revenue per member, I picked two gym owners and interviewed them.

I asked them how they earn more than $427 from each client—and I asked them if they’re running ads to acquire their clients.

Julie Lorenz runs ads, and Michaela Munsterman does not. Julie is working on her advertising skills and said about “it’s getting our name out there” right now. Ads aren’t high on Michaela’s to-do list because she’s getting great results from another funnel.

Both Julie and Michaela use referral marketing—aka, Affinity Marketing—to acquire high-value clients. That means they’re getting to know their clients and finding new ways to solve their problems. They’re connecting with the people closest to their clients, and they’re making incredibly valuable contacts in the local community.

Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper has done the same thing. In another recent interview, he said just a few important connections earned his business hundreds of clients and hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.

I offer these examples as ground-level proof that high-ARM gyms can be built with various strategies—but you might consider referrals to be the backbone.

That said, ads can add fuel to the fire, and they’re worth considering at times.

Two-Brain teaches clients to use four marketing funnels. You might not need all of them, but if you learn how to use them, you can turn them on whenever you want. Top gyms often use all four of them at once and get impressive returns.

The Four Funnels

Here are the four funnels:

1. The referral funnel.
2. The content funnel.
3. The organic social media funnel.
4. The paid ads funnel.

These are listed in order. The referral funnel isn’t optional in a microgym. You must replicate your best clients.

I’d contend that the next two funnels are borderline essential. At the very least, they are well worth a small time investment.

The short version: These funnels can be linked together. Write a blog or publish a video/podcast every week. Chop whatever you publish on your blog or audio-video platform into chunks for social media. Post on social platforms three to five times a week, or more, but do it quickly and move on. Make sure you’re visible in the places where prospective clients are looking. Simple.

The last funnel? You might not need it if you have the first funnels running hot. But I’d suggest you should learn how to advertise just in case.

If you learn how to run ads and market your gym to strangers, you can tuck that skill away in your toolbox forever. You can use it when your gym needs clients or whenever you need to market to support any other project in the future.

Branding for the Win

You’ll note that some brands market when they’re trying to make sales and just to keep their name top of mind. It’s not always all about making a sale today.

Why do businesses do that?

Just in case. It’s no fun to try and build a brand fast when you’re under pressure and need to make money. It’s much easier to just invest regularly and keep raising your profile a little bit every day. If you do that, you’ll turn ice-cold leads into “people who have a least heard of your gym.”

That’s a big deal when you’re playing the long game, and your branding investment will generate handsome returns when you push a product or service to warmer leads rather than complete strangers online.

I’m a content person, and I’m not suggesting you must advertise. But I see the value in running ads.

If your gym is very profitable with the unpaid funnels running, why not invest a few bucks—maybe $5 or $10 a day—in digital ads that will amplify the effects of the other funnels?

Like this:

“Dad, I really think you should come check out my gym with me. It’s Mike’s Fitness.”

“You know, I’ve seen that name on Facebook. Looks like a great place that knows how to train seniors. I’m in!”

Prioritize your referral, content and organic social media funnels. But when you get them locked down, you might consider a small investment in paid ads.

At the very least, learn how all four funnels work, and make sure you know how to advertise so you aren’t scrambling down the line when you need to use ads and the pressure is on.

Two-Brain mentors teach our clients exactly how to build all these funnels from scratch. To learn more about that, book a call here.


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.