Your Starting Point for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

As a fitness club owner, what are your priorities? Your passion is to help people live healthier and more fulfilling lives, and you’re in business to make this happen, right? The better your business operates – and the more money it makes – the more it can fuel your passion. It’s a simple equation.

The challenge is that you’re in a highly competitive market. Between 2008 and 2019, the number of gyms and fitness clubs in the United States grew from 30,000 to more than 41,000. 

Most of these fitness clubs operate similarly. They offer a similar product to similar clients.

To come out on top, you need a unique selling point and gym marketing ideas to promote it. Something that will set you apart from your competitors. Something that will grow your member numbers today and in the future.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know to pursue!

Your members are the key to your success. The more members you have and the more they spend, the more successful you will be. Who you target for membership will set you apart from competitors at least as much as what you do. 

An organic, growing market is hugely underserved in the world of fitness: people over 50. It's a market that few gym owners are marketing fitness to as a premium service.

To market successfully to this demographic, you’ve got to know your ideal customer profile. Let’s start with the reasons why your fitness business should target people over 50.

People over 50: why they are your ideal customer profile

The US currently has about 117 million people over 50 in the United States. That's a third of our population. 

If you took all these people and turned them into their own country, it would be the 12th largest country in the world by population, bigger than five of the G8 countries. And this population demographic is forecast to grow to 157 million by 2050.

That's a lot of people. And people in this demographic know what they want and how to spend money on it. 

In 2018, the economic contribution of people over 50 to the United States economy was a colossal $8.3 trillion – 40% of our entire economy. By 2050, the 50-plus demographic’s contribution to the U.S. economy is forecast to have grown to $28.2 trillion.

Frankly, you’d be mad not to target active agers in your marketing. It’s already a huge potential market for you, with massive spending power. Even better, it’s only going to get bigger. Best of all, people over 50 want to remain active. They are living longer and want to enjoy their lives on their own terms for as long as possible. 

Oh, and they tend to be far more loyal than younger gym members, who move from gym to gym, often attracted by the latest cut-price offer. Not so with older members. They are not as cost-conscious. They will spend their money with a fitness club they trust to take care of them.

To market to people over 50, get to know them

The secret sauce of brainstorming gym marketing ideas is knowing your customer. Their likes and dislikes, their goals, their education, and so on. You can speak to millions of people by understanding the group dynamic. Here are a few things you may not know about people over 50 that will help you understand them (and the opportunity) better.

People over 50 aren't all ready to retire 

You might think that after a lifetime at work, people over 50 would be keen to retire. This doesn’t appear to be the case. They are happy to work – some through necessity, others because they enjoy their work and the social aspect of it. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2018, around a quarter of men and nearing one-fifth of women aged over 65 were still working.

However, most people over 50 have reached the peak of their earning power, and their expenses are coming down. So, they don’t need to work the long hours they did when they were younger and raising a family.

People over 50 tend to have more spare time, and they want smart ways to stay busy.

People over 50 don’t feel that they have achieved all they can

Something profound happens to people when they reach their 50s. They become aware that life is limited. It may be this – or the fact that they no longer have children dependent upon them – that drives a desire to achieve more. 

They have more money and more time to do things. So, they look for things to do. And research throws up some curious statistics. Older people are often younger at heart. Did you know, for example, that 16% of people who get tattoos are over 50, and that many of these are first-time tattoos?

Apart from tattoos, what else is on the bucket lists of people over 50? Here are a few things:

  • Travel (whether in their own state, country, or internationally)

  • Learning new skills (languages are high on the list, but so, too are physical activities like swimming)

  • Read more books

  • Conquer a fear (like heights, by skydiving)

  • Start a business

  • Write a book

People over 50 want to spend time with their family and friends

Grandparenting is a real desire for many people over 50. They want their children to do well, and now they have had kids, they want to be involved in their grandchildren’s development. 

They want to teach them to ride a bike, catch a fish, and read a book. 

They want to take them on vacation, watch them graduate, and be an active part of their development.

Friends are important, too. Like The Beatles said, we can all get by with a little help from our friends. People of a similar age to spend time with, chat to, and complete their bucket list with. For example, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, around 1 in 4 women 65 to 74 live alone. Many of these crave social interaction -- friendly faces who share similar likes and dislikes.

People over 50 know they are likely to live longer with more money to spend

Life expectancy is now around 78 years in the United States. We can expect to live almost eight years longer today than we might have in the early 1970s.

Pensions, investments, and real estate prices have been kind to the older generation, too. Many will have a higher income from their savings and pensions than they did from their salaries. Couple this with lower costs (the mortgage is paid and the children have flown the nest), and you get an idea of why the spending power is so great in this demographic.

Perhaps what people over 50 want more than anything else is to use time better.

People over 50 are more concerned about their health than ever before

Today's over-50 population -- all the way up the aging spectrum -- are more engaged in maintaining good health than people used to be. This could be because of several factors, including better education. In 2018, almost a third of over-65s had completed a bachelor’s degree compared to only 5% in 1965. 

They want to be healthy to live longer, do the things they desire to do, and spend more quality time with friends and family. But being this age has its challenges.

For example, around 40% of mature adults are obese. Other health challenges that people face as they grow older include:

  • Arthritis

  • Heart disease

  • Respiratory diseases

  • Osteoporosis

  • Diabetes

  • Depression

People in this demographic are becoming more aware of the health benefits of regular exercise, and how their ailments can benefit from healthier diets and lifestyles. You can make connections for them between what their doctors have told them and what you can do for their bodies and minds.

Knowledge is marketing power

Knowing your ideal customer profile is crucial when devising a marketing strategy. In this article, I’ve discussed much of what we know about people over 50.

It’s this knowledge that will help you connect with this highly lucrative audience. It’s how we decide what is the most beneficial content to put together to attract, engage, and retain active agers as members of your fitness club or gym.

In future articles, we’ll discuss knowing your market in more detail. Before we do, in my next article I’ll discuss what type of content resonates with people over 50 who are considering doing something about their health and fitness. 

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