We’re not a gym. That’s the motto for Planet Fitness. In case you’re unfamiliar, Planet Fitness is a gym that caters to a very specific demographic, or niche. If you’ve ever seen their commercials on TV, or heard one on the radio, then you know they’re all about no gymtimidation and being a judgement free zone. It’s basically, a nice way of saying that they don’t want any bodybuilders in their gym.
Now whether or not you agree with their message, there’s one thing for certain, they’ve found a niche and it works. That’s what I’m going to talk about in this post. I’m going to dissect their marketing messages, website, and branding to show you guys:
- One of the best examples of targeting a niche
- Why Planet Fitness is so successful with what they do
- How you can do the same thing for your blog to dominate your niche
What Is A “Niche”?
Your niche is a very specific target audience that you’re after. It’s a sub-group of a larger group. A good example (sticking with the fitness theme) is one of my favorite sites, Nerd Fitness. There are thousands of different websites out there about fitness. But Nerd Fitness serves a specific niche within fitness. They combine fitness with topics that “nerds” can relate to like Star Wars, gaming, and Marvel comics. You’ll notice the entire site is themed to attract that niche, and they’ve been able to create an entire community around it.
And the thing about niches is that they can become as narrow as you want. Even Nerd Fitness could be even more niche by focusing strictly on fitness for nerds who are into computer programming. Here’s a list of blogs in different niches so you can see other examples outside of the fitness industry.
The most important thing to keep in mind about niches is that the narrower your niche, the more targeted your audience will be.
Why Should Your Blog Have A Niche?
So why exactly are niches so important? A big part of it has to do with the competition in blogging now. There’s a saying that’s something along the lines of it’s better to go one inch wide and one mile deep, than one mile wide and one inch deep. That basically means that it’s better to be laser focused, and go as deep into one niche as possible, than try to touch on every niche possible without really diving too deep into any one specific topic.
That saying is so important for bloggers because for pretty much every broad industry you can think of, there are huge sites that dominate it. For the fitness industry, you have sites like Fitness Magazine, Health.com, Men’s Fitness, and Bodybuilding.com that are basically big media companies. Unless you have a lot of money, it’s going to be pretty hard to compete with them.
But if instead of taking a broad approach, you can narrow down and focus on a subset within the health and fitness industry. That makes it a lot easier for you to build up a following for your blog and create your own brand like Nerd Fitness did.
Another reason “niching down” is a good idea is because it lets you serve a highly targeted audience. And when it comes to marketing, the more hyper-targeted your audience is, the easier it is to connect with them and have them resonate with your message. Let’s look at an example.
You’re a single mother, working a 9-5 with two kids in elementary school. Your schedule is super hectic, so dinner is usually whatever fast food place has the shortest line on your way home from work. But despite all of that, you’re determined to lose weight and get fit. You’re browsing the internet and see two different ads:
- “Get fit this summer with these 10 super simple recipes!”
- “Single mom + work doesn’t have to equal out of shape. Join 1,000 women just like you!”
The first message is broad, and doesn’t serve the needs of a particular niche. The second message speaks specifically to single working mothers trying to get fit. And then it has the community aspect of it with the “join 1,000 women…” part, which is another great advantage of having a niche.
Niches naturally open themselves up to forming a strong, close knit community. If you’re a single working mom, you want to be a part of a community with other single parents because they can relate to you. It makes you feel more comfortable, and connected than a huge community of 100,000 people who don’t understand your struggles or specific challenges you have to face.
That’s the beauty of the niche! And that’s why I urge all of you not to settle on a broad topic or audience for your blog, but to niche down as much as possible. Instead of just having a blog about gardening, maybe you have a blog about gardening for dudes. Instead of a blog about making money online, how about a blog about making money online for Instagram models. Of course, the niche should be something you personally relate to and can write about. Nerd Fitness wouldn’t have been able to be as popular as it is if the founder, Steve, wasn’t a “nerd” himself. Be authentic, and serve a niche audience of people that can relate to you.
Now, let’s take a look at how Planet Fitness does all of this in order to dominate their niche!
Planet Fitness’s Niche
I touched on this a little bit earlier, but Planet Fitness targets the niche of people who want to get fit, but are intimidated about going to the gym. Even though they say they’re for “everyone”, that’s not really the case. They don’t specifically say “no bodybuilders” but it’s implied by the equipment they have available, their rules, their commercials, and pretty much every other aspect of their company. You won’t find squat racks or a bunch of heavy free weights like you would at their competitors’ gyms. They discourage grunting, slamming weights, and a lot of the other things that you’ll see at other gyms.
My point is, they’re basically the opposite of what you would see at other chains like Gold’s Gym, LA Fitness, or smaller gyms. That’s because they’ve chosen their niche. Despite what their website says, they’re not out to serve everyone. And that’s exactly what makes them so successful.
It’s actually pretty interesting. Most companies, websites, or blogs create a niche by figuring out who they DO want to serve. But in a way, Planet Fitness built their niche by deciding who they DON’T want to serve.
Since they’re not straight up saying who their target audience is, how exactly are they making it known? Let’s take a look.
The Planet Fitness Website
The very first thing I looked at was the Planet Fitness website.
The very first message you see at the top of their site is “Home of the Judgement free Zone”. Now for anyone who’s ever walked into a gym and been completely intimidated by all of the fit people walking around, racks of weights, and the overall gym environment, that message is going to immediately appeal to them. People who regularly go to the gym and are already fit on the other hand, probably wouldn’t care about that at all.
The next thing you’ll notice is the “Over 900 clubs” map. Notice how they use the word club instead of gym. Remember, they don’t want people to associate them with the typical gym experience. By thinking of their locations as fitness clubs, it connects with their target audience of people who don’t want to go to a gym.
When you scroll down a little bit on the home page, you see this:
This is where you really start to see their niche kicking in. One of the big attractions to Planet Fitness is their $10/month fee. I’m not sure how much gym memberships are near you, but over here they’re usually around $45+ per month. Planet Fitness isn’t targeting hardcore gym goers, so their $10/month makes a lot of sense for them. They’re after the casual gym goer who isn’t going to be there 5 times a week using up their machines and causing them to break down. So they don’t have to spend as much money on equipment repairs and upkeep.
And let’s be honest, most people that have gym memberships don’t end up going. And then you eventually cancel because you feel like you’re wasting a bunch of money. But at $10/month, you’ll probably keep paying the fee and just never go. Just another example of how Planet Fitness really caters to their niche.
Next, notice the Planet of Triumphs section where they have real stories of their members and of course, the 100% judgement free message. Nothing motivates the casual gym goer who wants to lose weight more than testimonials of people who have gotten results. The Planet of Triumphs is a place where Planet fitness members can post the “triumphs” they have whether it’s running a mile, or losing 50 pounds. Then, people can comment and encourage you. It’s a community full of their niche audience. Just like I said in the beginning, when you niche down, you’re able to build a strong community just like Planet Fitness and Nerd Fitness were able to do.
Aside from the home page, the About section has a ton of info about their commitment to being judgement free and the “anti-gym”. It all aligns with their niche of casual gym-goers who don’t want to go to traditional gyms.
I think the clearest way to show you the difference between who Planet Fitness targets vs. most gyms, is by comparing the home page (and entire site really) that you saw above to some other popular gyms. Here’s what the home pages of Gold’s Gym and LA Fitness look like:
One of the main differences you’ll notice right away is that Gold’s Gym and LA Fitness both have images of fit people on their home page. Gold’s Gym highlights building strength, and LA Fitness uses pics of fit good looking people. I’ve looked through the Planet Fitness site and couldn’t find any models on their site. Why? Because it would go against what their niche is. They don’t want you to feel intimidated by muscular dudes or cut ladies. They know their niche and they stick to it.
Planet Fitness Branding and Messaging
You’ve seen me mention the whole “Judgement Free” thing throughout this post when I talk about Planet Fitness. It’s because that’s really what they’re all about. The best way to understand Planet Fitness’s branding is to to look at their notorious commercials:
The whole “we’re not a gym” thing is a part of their brand that speaks to their niche. .
Aside from that, they’ve even chosen their colors carefully. Purple is a very non-intimidating color. So when you walk into a Planet Fitness, the environment isn’t “hardcore” or extreme like it might be at other gyms. The gyms look fun and upbeat.
If you read through the content on their site, you’re going to see a lot of the same kind of messaging I’ve been talking about. Here’s what’s on their “About Us” page:
Make yourself comfy. Because we’re Judgement Free. It doesn’t matter if your legs have never seen a squat machine before. We believe how you work out is totally up to you. Take advantage of our unlimited fitness training programs or just do your own thing on the treadmill, we’ll cheer you on either way – if you’re in our house you deserve a little cred just for being here.
We believe no one should ever feel Gymtimidated by Lunky behavior and that everyone should feel at ease in our gyms, no matter what his or her workout goals are. And everyone should have access to lots of nice new equipment and feel comfortable asking for help. With all of these great benefits under one roof, we like to say:
We’re not a gym. We’re Planet Fitness.
The Judgement Free Zone®
Planet Fitness is known for a lot of things – our low prices (and all the stuff you get for those low prices), our Lunk™ Alarm, and of course, our Judgement Free Zone®. We’re fiercely protective of our Planet and the rights of our members to feel like they belong. So we create an environment where you can relax, go at your own pace and just do your own thing without ever having to worry about being judged. This is your Planet. You belong.
They stress the community aspect, and want you to feel like they’re protecting you. They don’t mention any specific health goals like building muscle or even losing weight. It’s a very “we’re all in this together” and “do what’s best for you” type of feeling.
What you should take from this is that their content is all catered to their niche. They know what type of words work with their target audience, and they develop all their content within that general mold. If their website or commercials were filled with content about bulking up, getting ripped, or taking supplements, it could be a turn-off for their audience. So instead, they stick to what they know their audience can relate to, and what has the biggest impact on them.
How To Dominate Your Niche Like Planet Fitness
Alright, so now that you’ve seen what Planet Fitness is doing to dominate their niche, it’s time to talk about how you can apply a lot of the same techniques to your blog, and start taking over your niche. Here’s what it basically comes down to.
1. Unapologetically cater to your niche
Despite all of the backlash that Planet Fitness gets, they’ve held firm on the core of their message. They’re not the gym for bodybuilders, and they don’t care. They’ve carved out their niche, found their ideal audience, and caters everything they do towards them. You can do the exact same thing for your blog.
If your blog specifically focuses on financial tips for college students, what’s the point in making a bunch of content about financial tips for 50 year olds? Your blog doesn’t have to be for everyone. It’s a hard truth, but once you commit to serving your niche, you’ll find it’s a lot easier to start building your blog instead of competing with larger sites.
2. Speak your niche’s language
The way that content is written for a beginner’s tech blog vs. a tech blog for pros is completely different. Why? Because they’re two different niches. You might think of tech as a niche, but it’s not. That’s just a general category. The people looking for tips on how to delete apps from the phone aren’t the same people looking for tips on rooting their Android phones.
You have to know how to talk to your niche. There’s some sales/copywriting involved here, but nothing you can’t handle. The key is to make sure you use the type of wording that’s really going to connect with your audience. You don’t have to be phony and try to sound how you think you should sound. But if your blog is for people just getting started with WordPress, you might not want to use a bunch of terms that only developers would know, because you’re going to alienate your core niche.
3. Be consistent
You saw the example I gave of the Planet Fitness website. They are definitely consistent when it comes to their branding and overall message. Everything from their colors to their marketing messaging is consistent. Here’s an example of how you can put these same techniques into action for your blog.
If your blog is about eating vegan, and you decide to make some eBooks to sell, the same message that you’re sharing on your blog should be inside of all of your eBooks. The moment you start releasing books about chicken recipes, you’re going to start confusing the hell out of your audience.
I’ll even go back to Nerd Fitness for a sec. Everything they do is consistently with the “nerd” brand in mind. Whether it’s super hero inspired workouts, or “leveling up” your life, they stick to their theme and niche. It’s all about brand consistency.
4. Focus on building a community
Start building your community ASAP. Since niches are smaller subsets of larger groups, it makes them a lot easier to build a community around. Whether it’s Nerd Fitness and their Nerd Academy or Entrepreneur on Fire and their Fire Nation, you can’t overlook the power of communities.
When your blog is focused on a niche, you know that the people that are reading your posts, following you on social media, and subscribing to your newsletter probably have some common interests. Bringing all of these people together, and making your blog the headquarter or home base for everyone to interact, will bring you a steady stream of traffic and help your site become THE site in your niche.
Building a community doesn’t have to mean setting up a forum website. It could be creating a Facebook group for people in your niche, doing Google Hangouts, or even something as simple as an email list will get you started.
Here’s another great tip to help build your blog’s community. Make sure you’re using words like “we” and “us” in your blog posts and email marketing. These types of words establish the feeling of a community. It’s something that Planet Fitness does very well, and it’s a HUGE part of why they’ve had the type of success they’re having. I see people driving around with Planet Fitness bumper stickers all over their cars because they like feeling like they’re a part of the community.
Make your audience feel like they’re a part of something, and they’ll start to spread the word about your blog and brand for you.
5. Make it about them, not you
This is really an overall marketing tip, but it’s particularly true when you’re talking about a niche. There’s a lot more opportunity to get personal with niche blogs because your audience is smaller and more targeted. That means you can create the type of content that specifically targets their needs, wants, and emotions. That’s exactly what Planet Fitness does with their commercials.
Their commercials don’t mention anything about all of the different features their gyms have. They’re all about the pain points that people in the niche have, because they wanted to make it all about their audience, not themselves.
That doesn’t mean that your blog shouldn’t have your personality or your own stories injected into it, but make sure that the bulk of the content you’re making is helpful to your niche audience. You can start doing it by talking directly to your audience like I do on this site actually. Using words like “you” or “we” makes your audience feel like you’re talking directly to them.
And of course, make sure that your blog posts are about topics that your niche actually wants to read about.
Ready… Set… Niche!
Planet Fitness pretty much laid out the blueprint on how to dominate a niche. I’ve done my best to break down what they’re doing, and give you some tips to get started. Now it’s on you. Start by deciding what you want your niche to be. It might take you some time. I only recently made a final decision for what my niche is for this site.
Once you’ve made that decision on who your niche is, start putting some of these different techniques that Planet Fitness, Nerd Fitness, and other sites I mentioned are using. Niche is the way to go right now for bloggers. Start dominating yours now.
Got any tips for picking a niche, crushing a niche, or anything in between? Let me know in the comments or tweet me. No Planet Fitness bashing though!