The unexpected events of 2020 left numerous gym and fitness club owners looking for solutions to keep their businesses afloat. If you are In this situation, you have perhaps noticed that there’s plenty of free online content out there, either on YouTube or other platforms that’s just one click away.
Let’s look at a quick example. Users can do hundreds of yoga classes without paying anything just by following the routines Adriene Mishler has on her very popular YouTube channel, Yoga with Adriene, where she has amassed no less than 7 million viewers. If you have all that content available for free, why would you pay to go to a yoga studio again?
That’s a question lots of people are asking.

Taking Your Fitness Business Online Successfully

So how do you compete with that? The important thing to keep in mind is that you need to make your students want you, personally. Maybe they like your attitude, enthusiasm, or maybe you’re the trainer they trust whenever they need guidance. As more and more fitness businesses are moving online, the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd is that personal touch that is irreplaceable.

Any gym or fitness club owner knows that building a community is key to a successful business model, and this is true whether you offer your services online or offline. The atmosphere you create, the advice you’re giving, and the personal example you set are bound to attract people.

The question is how to take that community spirit and transfer it into your VOD business so people will want to come to you instead of relying on free online content.

Is Video on Demand the Future of Fitness?

It might as well be, and not only in the light of the COVID-19 situation. Besides offering users the chance to work out from the comfort of their home at a time that suits them, video on demand is also often much cheaper than going to a class in person. Not to mention that you can get 24/7 access to videos on multiple devices for extra convenience.

The competition is indeed fierce out there, as more and more business are hopping on the VOD bandwagon. But this doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to still thrive in the industry.

To be competitive with your own video on demand platform, you need to have a good strategy in place, which should focus on eliminating any friction when it comes to the user’s experience and choosing the best revenue model. Moreover, you should also do your best to understand your audience, offer them more of what they prefer to watch, and create a unified community.
Here are the most important steps to take if you want your VOD business to compete with the free online content.

Find Your Niche and Create Amazing Content

Anything else is useless if you don’t have amazing content, so this should be your number one priority. This is an area where everybody seems to be throwing money at, and you should look at the way content-based businesses such as Netflix are spending their money to come up with fresh content. Netflix has a $12 billion for original content every year, and reportedly Apple spent over $6 billion to create original content before the launch of Apple TV+ in the fall of 2019.

While your VOD business is not competing with the likes of Netflix or Apple the figures above are just some examples to see how important the creation of original content is for a subscription-based business. As a rule of thumb, you should establish that a very large part of your budget should be allocated to creating content. If you don’t already have a consistent library of content, you should focus on building it before spending money on anything else, such as advertising, for example.

When it comes to the type of content you should create, it’s extremely important to find your niche as a business, as you won’t be able to compete with the big players if your content is too general. Whether your VOD business focuses on HIIT, yoga, strength training or anything else, do your research to come up with niched content that is not readily available on most websites that are your competition.

Take Care of the Technical Part

It’s not enough to have engaging content on your website — you also need to make sure your subscribers can watch it without any interruptions. Whether your audience prefers to access your content on their mobile device or desktop, it’s essential to optimize everything so users are not affected by slow start times, failed ad loads, or buffering issues.
Technical issues that the viewers encounter are not always the fault of the streaming service, as they could be caused by poor signal or spotty Wi-Fi. Regardless of the cause, however, lags are sure to hamper the viewing experience and many people are likely to cancel their subscription if they experience playback issues frequently.
To make sure your users get the best experience, you should consider collaborating with a VOD Service Provider that can deliver your content via a content delivery network (CDN). This way, your VOD platform will provide a better viewing experience and in time increase your number of subscribers.

Understand Your Audience and Be as Different as Possible

It’s easier to say “be different” than actually putting it into practice, but if you’re offering the same type of content as the big players, you are not likely to get very far. Whether you are just launching your platform or have already been in the industry for some time, being different is key to attracting more customers.

To grow your customer base, you need to offer them something that they aren’t going to find elsewhere

By delivering a content library that’s relevant to your core audience, you can target the needs of preferences of your subscribers effectively.

Being different is a necessary step to take your VOD business to the next level, but you can grow even further by featuring exclusive content that is not available anywhere else, not even in your own offline classes. By offering subscribers a catalogue of exclusive videos, you entice them to remain loyal and feel like they are getting their money’s worth for the subscription package.

Create a Real Community

When people decide to subscribe to a VOD service, they generally do so because they feel connected to the person behind the videos. Someone who has gone to a yoga studio for years is very likely to become a subscriber when their favorite instructor decides to go into the VOD business.

By creating a real community, both offline and online, you can offer people something more than simply access to a catalogue of content. Your subscribers are much more likely to become loyal if they feel like they are part of a community, where they can connect with like-minded individuals.

To increase the community in the online space, focus on having a Facebook page or Instagram account that you update every day. Besides allowing you to share valuable tips and tricks, you can also connect with your followers, answer their questions, and make them feel welcome and a part of a community.

In the example below, you see a fitness on demand service that has managed to have more than 11K followers on Instagram. They use a mix of daily photos, videos, and tips to promote their VOD services.

Keep an Eye Out for the Competition

Just like in any other type of business, it’s essential to have an idea about what the competition is offering. By analyzing your competitors, you can understand better what they are offering, and get ideas about how to improve your business strategy. Paying attention to the competition also allows you to identify any gaps that you might have in your own content.
Moreover, looking at competitors will also give you an idea of the things that are already covered, so you don’t end up with duplicate content that is already available on multiple platforms out there. Finally, assessing the business models of your competitors also allows you to strategize your pricing schemes and offering competitive subscription packages for your viewers.

Work with Influencers

If social media is an important part of your business model, you can harness the power of micro-influencers to promote your VOD business. You can do this by paid campaigns or offering free subscription packages in return for publicity. When influencers share the news of the collaboration with their followers, you are highly likely to see a spike in the number of subscribers.
You can also choose to include giveaways and competitions into your posts and ask influencers to promote them on their feed. This VOD business from the UK does it right on Instagram by offering a flash giveaway for a follower and their friend.
Giveaways are a surefire way to gather interest for a specific event, and are generally very affordable ways to spread the word about your business.

Be Consistent

Consistency is key for all business ventures, but it’s particularly important when you’re in the VOD business. Creating fresh content on a regular basis is the easiest way to keep your audience enticed, and also get more subscribers. People love it when they see comprehensive catalogues of content that are obviously updated regularly, and this also makes them more likely to subscribe.

Besides creating new content, you should also be consistent on social media, as this is vital for your success. It’s important to find the time to post every day on your social media channels of choice. If you don’t have the time to manage your own social media channels, you can hire a virtual assistant to help you with these tasks. By sticking to a regular publishing calendar, you are more likely to take your base of subscribers to the next level and keep your loyal fan base interested.

Adapt Your Revenue Model

Every video on demand service has a revenue model, and it’s important to choose one that works for you. A popular choice is the subscription on demand model, which gives your viewers access to an entire library of content in exchange for a monthly fee. However, you can also choose an advertisement video on demand by offering your content on YouTube or another similar platform. Alternatively, you can use a transactional video on demand model, which means that users have to pay for each piece of content they access individually.

Leverage Data the Right Way

One of the easiest ways to gain insights about your audience is analyzing customer data. This way, you can easily see what works and what doesn’t. By looking closely at customer data and combining the information in the right way, you can use it wisely and offer your subscribers the exact kind of content they are looking for.
Making data based decisions is one of the key to success for businesses.
Implementing data-based strategies allows you to give your subscribers more of what they want and eliminate the kind of content that doesn’t perform well, so you can focus your resources elsewhere.

Conclusion

Even though the video on demand streaming market for fitness is still in its early years, it already looks highly competitive. Nevertheless, it’s still an incredible opportunity for fitness trainers and gym owners, as it allows them to grow their audience and benefit from monetizing their content. If you’re a VOD provider, it’s essential to have a well-planned business strategy to promote your services. The essential things to keep in mind for a successful business model include committing to unique content that sets you apart from the competition, making it super easy for subscribers to access the content, and building an authentic community.