For those who are ready to take advantage of the technology, the explosion in smartphone popularity presents an unprecedented opportunity for cost-effective marketing that gets results. 

According to statistics from the comScore Data Mine (www.comscoredatamine.com), approximately 76.8 million Americans owned smartphones in 2011, an increase of about 57% from 2010. That's an incredible growth rate to take advantage of. The numbers alone present a strong argument for making use of smartphone technology for marketing your fitness business, but there are even stronger reasons.

Smartphones (including iPhones, iPads and phones and pads using Android or Windows Mobile technology) allow marketers to target their audience and interact with customers and potential customers like never before. Smartphone marketing combines the best of internet marketing, traditional broadcast marketing and social media marketing to achieve a level of interactivity and connectivity that none have been able to achieve on their own.

I think smartphone marketing is especially suited to businesses in the fitness industry. In my experience as a fitness professional, individuals who understand the value of being fit and healthy well enough to act on it by hiring a personal trainer or joining a fitness boot camp are also people that understand the benefits of smartphone technology. They also tend to be people who like to stay connected. The reverse is also true. People who understand the value of technology and connectivity are also likely to understand the value of getting in shape, making this audience an ideal target for your marketing efforts.

Now, there are a variety of ways you can market your fitness business using smartphone technology, but I want to discuss one very specific tool that is particularly cost effective and versatile. That tool is the smartphone app.

In case you’re not familiar with smartphone lingo, an app is an application or program downloaded to a smartphone to increase its functionality. By having an app for your business, you can make information about your services more accessible and interact with your market more than previously possible. Some businesses use apps to simply create a mini website that can be accessed via smartphone. While this is a good start, it's a mistake to limit your app marketing. There's so much more an app can do. Here are a few ways you can increase your business and revenue through a smartphone app.

Get More Clients
Unique and useful app-accessible content: If you have good content available through your app, people interested in that content will download your app to gain access to the content. Once they've downloaded the app, you can use Push notifications and messaging to send offers or news related to your business.

Good content options include reports, ebooks, videos, electronic newsletters and other information products. Useful information to include in these items can be fitness or nutrition tips, exercise videos, workout routines, etc. Content can also include tools like web-based body fat calculators, calorie counters or nutrition and exercise journals. If your content is useful and updated frequently, customers will use your app more often, ensuring that they keep it on their phone.

Use QR codes to expand advertising: QR codes are similar to barcodes, but more complex and functional. Most smartphones are equipped for reading QR codes using their built-in cameras. By placing QR codes on your advertising, potential customers with smartphones can instantly access your app and get much more information about your programs and services than you could ever include in a piece of advertising.

With QR codes, your ability to sell your products and services is no longer limited to what you can fit in a four-inch ad, postcard or flyer. On your app, you can include detailed information about the services you provide, communicate via video and give prospects the opportunity to subscribe to your blog or newsletter. Plus, once they download your app, you can continue to market to those prospects through messaging.

Your app provides all the versatility of a website and QR codes allow prospects to access all that information instantly, without having to remember or type in a web address. That means they're more likely to access the information and media you make available and, therefore, increase your chances of making a sale.

Boost response to SMS advertising: Having your own app can increase response to text messaging advertisements by making more information about a service or promotion available quickly. If you run a campaign with a service like LivingSocial, which partners with businesses to send discount offers to its subscribers via SMS (text) messaging, you can include a link to your app in the offer so prospects can instantly find out more about the offer and the service. Just like using QR codes with print advertising, this strategy increases the likelihood that prospects will take advantage of the offer and position them to receive future communications from you.

Viral marketing: Most apps come equipped with a "share" function that allows users to easily share the app with their friends. Share functions encourage current customers and prospects to share your app and the content they find useful or interesting because it's easy for them to do so. This is the most cost-effective form of marketing because there's no additional cost other than maintaining your app.

Increase Revenue from Existing Customers
Reward customer loyalty: Let customers scan a dedicated QR code whenever they come to your gym, boot camp class or training session and your app tracks how often they show up or make a purchase. Reward good customers with discounts and coupons that unlock after a certain number of scans. When customers are rewarded, they tend to come back, which ensures continued business for you.

Backend sales: Advertise additional products and services, like supplements or workout apparel, directly to customers using SMS messaging through your app. You can also use your customer loyalty program and reward customers with coupons or discounts for items you want to promote; customers get to try new products or services at a discounted rate and you get to sell more products and boost revenue.

How to Get Your App
Numerous companies on the web offer a variety of app-building services, everything from built-from-scratch custom app services to do-it-yourself systems. However, some services won’t have all the functionality you need to make mobile marketing work for your business, and some will have more features and functions than you'll need, which you don't want to pay for.

To ensure that fitness professionals, like yourself, have access to the features they need, along with customization to fit their fitness-oriented business, be sure to look for a solution where you pick out the features and styles you want to include in your app.

Take a look at some of the features you can include in your customized smartphone app:
- Link to your website
- List all your classes, programs, services and products, along with detailed descriptions
- Add a tab for your blog
- Link to your YouTube videos
- Integrate with Facebook and Twitter
- Include a fan wall for customer feedback
- Tell-a-friend feature lets customers share your app virally
- GPS mapping and directions
- One-touch calling to contact you immediately
- SMS or Push messaging for updates, news and offers
- QR code capability
- Mailing list compilation
- Event listings
- Analytics for tracking how many people use your app and how they use it
- Much, much more

You may also want to look for guarantees that your app will be accepted by iTunes and the Android app store. This is important because if your app is not accepted by these app stores, your customers won't be able to download and install them.

Your clients and potential clients are connected in ways beyond traditional websites and online outlets; take advantage of the smartphone boom to raise your revenue through the roof and differentiate you from your competition.


Georgette Pann is the owner of NutriFitness Personal Training Studio and Bootcamps. She is the owner of FitMobileAppshttp://Fitnessbusinessapps.com and author and creator of the bestselling "Sure Victory Fitness Bootcamp Ki" http://thefitnessbootcamp.com.

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