Crowded Market? Separate Your Gym: The 5 Most Common Types of Positioning for Gyms

Your income flows in direct proportion to the types of problems you solve.

If you articulate the problem well, people will assume you know how to solve it and they will PAY you for it.

The problem of not having a gym membership is not a valuable one. Which is why planet fitness makes millions selling $20 memberships.

They are not solving the “results” problem and they are not pretending to. They’re solving the “lack of having a gym membership” problem.

The problem is not your talent or even the quality of your service.

Positioning beats talent every time. By being out of position with your message you actually negatively affect your gym.

Also, HOW you position is key, your service does not need to compete against everything else in your market.

Sometimes it makes sense to be complimentary instead.

Two gyms both offer similar types fitness in the same market. Naturally, both yell and throw stones about who is better.

Meanwhile, a third gym moves in to said market, shakes hands with both and instead starts to tell the market about how it is different.

The other gyms return to talking about how they’re better while also complaining about how the market is “saturated” and they can’t COLLECT anymore customers.

Gym #3 begins to dominate the market and CREATE new buyers in the market as it speaks to the avatar about what problems they have.

Five types of positioning, what are they?

1. Cost-driven positioning. “We offer everything those other gyms do, but we cost less.” This is a very challenging strategy unless you have an inherent cost advantage. If you can’t be the lowest and stay there it doesn’t make sense to even try.

2. Niche program specialization. In this strategy, you focus on offering a service that is not widely available through competitors. You offer specialized expertise that, presumably, a generalist would not have. This approach can work well unless the service begins to generate strong demand and new competitors emerge to dilute your “specialness.”. This can also be tough if no one is actually asking for this specialty or your market does not consider it an actual problem needing solved.

3. Lifestyle specialization. This is a popular and often effective way to position a gym. It is another form of specialized expertise, and it allows you to tightly focus your marketing and evolve your services as your market changes. The implication of lifestyle specialization is that your gym has deep experience working with similar members. This approach comes with risks, however. It is also easy for new competitors to enter the fray and disrupt your positioning. Especially the never ending stream of  “get fit quick” product coming to market that convince people that they can shortcut the process.

4. Avatar-focused specialization. “We help Ladies in the Oakland area between 45 and 55 succeed” is an example of avatar-focused positioning — targeting a particular subset in the population and trying to dominate it. Instead of specializing in a particular group, you target a cohort of people. These prospects will perceive you as more tuned in to their needs and expect that you offer specific knowledge or expertise that will make their journey easier.

5. Quality of service positioning. This is one of the most common strategies used by gyms, and (with rare exceptions) it is one of the least effective. “Nobody’s more committed to quality,” “we deliver the best service” and similar messages are so ubiquitous in the marketplace that they utterly fail to impress prospects. Of course, buyers do want quality and customer service — but these traits are table stakes and they are rarely criteria used to select a gym.

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