By Karen Gilbert, SUCCEED! Speaker

As a studio owner, you’re probably always considering new and effective ways to market your fitness business. Finding and collaborating with key influencers in your community can help you make contact with new prospects—and it’s very time efficient! With the right influencers on board, you can relax, knowing that you have ambassadors out there in the community helping you get the word out about your fitness studio and services!

Here is a breakdown of what you need to know to find and work with influencers in your community.

Where and How to Find Community Influencers

Consider the people in your community who come in contact with lots of other people on a given day. Every community is different, but some examples of powerful community influencers include other local business owners close to your studio. Another example is moms who are active in the community—new parents love to connect and share advice and recommendations, such as where to work out.   

How to Know If Someone is an Influencer

Are any influencer moms involved in a PTA committee at their kids’ school? Do they belong to a local moms’ group? Does the local business owner you have in mind collaborate with other local businesses? Another suggestion for pinpointing influencers is to find out who is in charge of local community events (e.g., 5K run, holiday fairs, etc.). These community leaders might be good candidates as well, or know someone who is.

Best Way to Approach Influencers and How to Frame the Introduction

Try to get an introduction from someone you know in common. If you do not know anyone in common, reach out via email, phone or even social media if they are active there (most influencers should be). Always have in mind how you can help the person—consider what’s in it for them. For example, if it is a local business, perhaps you can cross promote. Maybe you can provide discount cards to your clients, encouraging them to visit the local business owner.

The key to keeping the influencer relationship going is communication and planning special opportunities with each other.

How to Pay a Community Influencer

Do you pay influencers or provide them with a free membership? How does it work? Some influencers, especially those who are very active on social media, will likely expect payment. However, in many cases, you can provide an influencer with a free membership or discounted sessions for a limited time. After all, they will need to experience your studio in order to recommend it to others. For example, you could start with a one-month membership in return for help getting your marketing materials out there in the community and/or positive word of mouth via referrals. As more referrals start coming in, you can extend the free monthly membership.

Creating a Strategy for Making the Most of a Collaboration

Let’s say you decide to collaborate with a mom influencer who is very involved at her child’s school. You might offer for her to host a fundraiser event at your studio. You can even reach out to other local businesses to see if they might donate some appetizers/snacks. From there, you can share discounts with attendees as incentive to these local businesses. And of course, you will have a great opportunity to showcase your facility to all those parents attending the fundraiser.

How to Make the Influencer Relationship Last

If the collaboration between your studio and an influencer has been mutually beneficial, you’ll want it to last. Like with any relationship, the key to keeping it going is communication and planning special opportunities with each other. A mom influencer might want to keep providing referrals in exchange for more membership time or even a chance to try a personal trainer. For collaborations with other local businesses, plan special events and create bigger seasonal incentives where you can each drive clients to the other’s business.


Join Karen in her session at SUCCEED! AFS' Annual Business Convention & Expo (April 12-14, 2019 in Irvine, CA).
Learn how community involvement can grow your business, and how to create effective, relevant & timely campaigns for your community:
How to Partner in Your Community Creating Grassroots, Community Oriented Marketing Campaigns

Karen Gilbert is a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Student Fitness Experts, a nationwide fitness company headquartered in Los Angeles, CA. Student Fitness Experts is a revolutionary fitness company that creates dynamic programs for students, homeschool fitness and nutrition, and workshops for organizations such as the Girl Scouts. SFE has created its own certification that trains and certifies coaches to most effectively mentor and help students with their fitness goals.

Karen received her MBA in Entrepreneurial Studies from the University of Southern California, and has taught the NASM curriculum to aspiring personal trainers. Karen is a master trainer for NAFC, a BOSU ambassador and teaches pre/post natal fitness to other new moms.

She is the recipient of the first IHRSA Emerging Female Leader Award. In 2007 IHRSA named her one of the 25 most influential young leaders in the fitness industry.