For Health & Fitness Practitioners Only

Some straight talk about how to create fitness advertising that works… and it’s not what you’ve been told.

By Anthony, Studio Accord Copy Chief.
Read time: 4 minutes

If you’re super-serious about growing your health or fitness business, then pay close attention. I’m going to reveal to you the tools I use to create health and fitness advertising that generates as many leads as you want.

No doubt you’ve heard a lot about marketing. I get that. You’ve tried Facebook and Instagram, and may have even attended a seminar or two on this subject. Yet most of what you’ve previously been taught are throw-away techniques.

With that said, here are seventeen field-tested tactics I use to produce successful health-related advertising over the last five years. If you run ads on social media, Google, or in the local paper, these tools will be invaluable to your fitness advertising.

1. The key to unlocking advertising success. Experience has taught us, fitness advertising success lies in this one thing: How you position your gym/studio/clinic service.

If you deal with women's fitness training, should you market yourself as a personal trainer - or will it pay to position yourself as a ‘women's conditioning specialist’?

Should you position naturopathy as alternative medicine - or ‘pharmaceutical-free’ treatment for common ailments?

If you're in a crowded market, how you position yourself through your advertising is key. If you find yourself elbow-to-elbow with competitors, shift your position so that you stand out.

2. Spotlight key differences. People secretly crave new experiences and challenges. That's why they sign-up for military-inspired boot camps, fork out thousands of $$$$ on detox programs and indulge in week-long yoga retreats in Bali.

To tap into these cravings, shine a light on how you're different. If not, you'll wind up as another "same here" in an already crowded market.
For instance, If you have a groundbreaking new method to treat back injuries without surgery, state the benefits. But don’t give away the how you do it. Save that for when they visit you.

Get more responses with
the ‘slippery slope’ method

3. Slippery slope. The best adverts pull your reader in. And the more compelling the ad, the harder it is for them to turn the page (or click away).  It's as if they’re sliding down a slippery slope.

If space permits, start with personal stories and mix before and after narratives into it. Remember, you're not penning the next Pulitzer Prize winner. You're here to help people interested in your services.

4. Half the selling done for you. More people read the headline than the body copy in your ad. Get it wrong--your advert will pass like a ship in the night. Get it right--readers will be beating a path to your door. Your headline should do 50% of the selling for you.

At Studio Accord we use a three-point checklist to develop up to 200 headlines for a single advert. This ensures your advert does all it can to pull readers in.

5. Don’t tell, educate. Our in-house tests show if you’re about to run a front end offer (new customer acquisition), it’s usually best to educate “unaware” customers first. This gives you a headstart when starting out with, such as

(1) You can sharply define your brand image in the market;

(2) It’s simpler to etch a position in a crowded market;

(3) Add a subscription mechanism as a low-cost way to build your audience list to sell your services to.

Take readers on a ‘hero’s journey’

6. It pays to compare. The trusty ‘before XYZ - after XYZ’. We see it all the time. While this can be effective, most attempts fail to move the needle.

Testing has taught us, if you lead with comparisons, it pays to weave a story into it. E.g. The 'before' is the current problem/drama. The 'after' is how your health service solved the problem. Keep the story linear for maximum effect.

7. Segment for attitudes and desires. Any and every advertiser will tell you to segment based on demographics (age, gender, location, etc.). But if you want the response to really soar, tap into the reader's true desire.

We did just that with a Richmond-based CrossFit centre. The advert played on the reader’s desire to get out of their comfort zone: “I need a new challenge. Something that will test me… something that 'regular' gym doesn’t give me. The ads response rate increased by 17% over their ill-received 'special deal' ads.

8. Free offers are still irresistible. For reasons unknown to us, some fitness biz owners like to make it harder for themselves. Here's one from the UK-based PureGym.


What’s wrong
with this picture?

PureGym: Why tip-toe around a free offer? The most powerful word in advertising is  free.

PureGym: Why tip-toe around a free offer? The most powerful word in advertising is free.


Free is one of the most powerful words in advertising.

So why have PureGym opted for '£0'? Here's why: they want to be different. And perhaps they think free is overdone. Such a pity. It pulls.

9. Localise yourself. If you operate in a specific location, mention it in your ad headline. This communicates to the reader that you're close by. But if you can’t work it into the headline, mention it in your tagline, e.g. North Melbourne’s Only Destination For Boxing, MMA, Jiu Jitsu.

10. Capitalise on research. A simple method to pump up your advert's 'stock' is with research. Industry journals, research studies, and academic papers all add to the weight. Plus, research helps to legitimize and hard-to-believe claims.

Less risk, more leads

11. Mitigate risk. If your offer sounds too risky, your reader won't part with their contact details. We've found adverts with bulletproof guarantees pull higher responses. (This also helps on-the-fence buyers take the plunge.)

At Studio Accord we use a four-point matrix that helps to eliminate perceived risk. The less risk involved, the more inclined readers are to book on the spot.

Actions count more

Always ask for action

12. Don’t forget to close. You’ll be surprised by how many times we come across sizzling fitness ads that fizzle-out at the decisive moment. Why? Because the advert didn’t seal the deal.

When the reader is at the end of the slippery slope, he's ready to pounce on your offer. But you must tell him, in plain English, how to book/inquire. Experience has taught us, the reader who makes a mental note to “come back later and do it” usually never does.

13. Long vs. short. The age-old debate rages on. Before you get caught up with what works (or doesn’t), try this approach. Your advert should be as long as it needs to for the reader to take action.

If you need a full-page advertorial to sell your health and fitness offer, use a full page. If you believe a short amount of space, e.g. a 5"x3" ad in your local Leader paper, is all you need, test it out.

At Studio Accord we always test long and short copy. You can never be 110% sure one approach will out-pull the other in bookings.

14. New ‘old’ direct techniques. Most gyms, clinics, and studios fire off single offers at a time. I’ve found offers embedded within stories is all the more important.

Recently, we threaded a personal training offer through a 5-part email series. Open rates skyrocketed to 45.7%. Front-end sales tripled. Click on the images to view.


We have only included the opening sections of each email, not the entire series.

Make your advertising work

15. The most accountable form of advertising. In 1923 Claude Hopkins, the storied advertising genius, emphasised that coupon feedback (the number of people who redeem a coupon) makes advertising accountable. This means you’ll know exactly what returns your advert generated.

Here at Studio Accord, we take the Hopkins approach. Which means, all lead generation adverts feature mechanisms to track response. You’ll know exactly what contribution our adverts made to your bottom line.

How the successful do it

16. In vs On. The truth is, you’re either working in your business or on your business. And when you’re in the thick of it, creating health and fitness advertising that works is far down the list.

But when you entrust your fitness advertising to Studio Accord, you free up days and weeks worth of more time, energy and stress. Which means you can narrow your focus on helping clients and, on running your gym, studio, or clinic.

See for yourself

No advertising campaign can be entrusted to any one person. That's why the Studio Accord team consists of one research assistant, and two copywriters, who are led by our copy chief.

Together they have 15 years of combined talent. This gives us a strong point-of-view about health advertising.

If you would like to know more about this point-of-view and how it can be applied to your fitness advertising problems, please fill in the form below.