Fitness marketing to midlife women, that works
Five years ago she was ignored.
Today she’s not ignored but she’s stereotyped.
Midlife woman trying too hard to look younger, a face frozen and plumped with Botox, wearing clothes she can share (but look slightly “off”) with her daughter.
A midlife woman who’s operating on the 1980s metabolism science she learned. Relies on calories, steps, heart rate, and data, that ignore the state of her hormones.
A midlife woman who enjoys at least a glass and maybe three of wine most days, starts with coffee and flirts with fasting but has no idea what a “healthy diet” is for her today.
A midlife woman who thinks exercise is about burning… calories, off fat… so she can “fix” what she doesn’t love about her body.
She’s all these and more.
If she gets a compliment it’s veiled in a disclaimer.
You look great for your age.
Body shape motives are not the only thing that gets her going.
Promoting weight loss may be detrimental to her participation.
Don’t forget the women who don’t need to lose weight but who have experienced a relocation of body weight, those with disease risk factors, who want more energy, want to be proactive in aging, or gain bone density.
Women control an incredible amount of buying power.
Even before women were in the workplace equally they influenced 80% of household decisions. They still do now that they are in the workplace.
They are diverse.
Even marketing to the niche of women post menopause is unique.
ICAA categorizes them as “athletic” if they regularly exercise 3 or more times a week.
For some this is running, biking, lifting and swimming, but for others it’s a walk or yoga.
So, clearly you can’t treat them all the same.
Naturally, though, it’s easy to think you know her. You may be her. Your mom, aunts, or prior clients are her. Therearecommon denominators.
But the things that make them unique are what make their program and the way you attract them and serve them unique.
If you miss them, you’ll lose her.
Barriers to marketing to midlife women:
“For active, athletic, middle-aged women there is just nothing.
A 22-year old doesn’t get it and I’m not in wheel chair, there isn’t much for us between.”
Even if you offer something between the gap described above by a Flipping 50 program participant, you may not be getting the message across.
You want to reach her:
1) Where she is
2) With a message created for her
2) In a way she hears it
3) Without offending her
The Biggest Mistakes Fitness Marketers Make (and we’re all fitness marketers)
Thinking they are all the same:
How do you think of them?
Do you imagine they’re frail, stiff, in pain, lack energy, did aerobics with Jane Fonda or Jackie Sorensen, are empty-nesters, have grandchildren, have belly fat, cellulite, want weight loss, want belly fat loss…
Did you know?
Some of them are doing their first triathlons, learning to swim so they don’t drown in open water, going to training camps to ride bikes in mountains, skiing downhill at 50 miles an hour, wearing bikinis, learning to weight lifts and have kindergarteners?
And starting their entire lives over by themselves or with someone new, starting businesses… so they’re not afraid of a little grind.
Thinking you know her goal:
If the title of your program isn’t a coffee table book you’d happily display at your home, rethink it. No 50-something, 60-something, and there’s a strong chance 70-something wants to “own” needing a fall risk reduction class.
She doesn’t want to buy the fear she wants to buy the transformation.
Don’t think you know what she wants. Don’t put it into words what she needs with your titles. Describe what she wants.
It might be performance – golf, running, starting triathlon, (or anything else after retirement).
It might be to avoid cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, or muscle or bone density losses.
More positively though, it is hope.
This year, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of her controversial debut, Switzer ran the Boston Marathon again with the same bib number she wore in her first. “People still treat older people the way they treated us women 50 years ago, which is, ‘Be careful! You might hurt yourself!’ when in fact the opposite is the case,” Switzer told Prevention. “The more you do, the more you can do! There are lots of women who have run marathons at 70, 80, even 90. I was only eighth in my age group at Boston [in 2017], for heaven’s sake!”
Prevention Magazine, Nov. 2017
Examples of Michele Obama, Ernestine Shepherd, Madonna Buder -The Iron Nun, and a growing number of aging iconic fitness professionals are showing the world a new way to age.
But it’s not normal yet.
Because even she will say, “I think I look pretty good for my age.” She’ll say, “I’m getting so old.” She’ll say that even while she doesn’t want to be treated as “old” or invisible.
She feels invisible.
Environment is everything. Have you noticed how people are flocking to sites where exercise over 50 or aging is included in the title? If positive things happen there, people will gather. Be one of them. Be positive.
Be correct, but be positive.
Growing Bolder is one of the most well-know sites for older adults. Why? It positively portrays aging. It defies traditional treatment of aging. It makes fun on occasion of older adults. But it does so in a playful, not condescending way.
The Aging Triathlete and Thriving Not Surviving are two Facebook pages by midlife and older women describing their own journeys from inactive, or in need of a health intervention, to triathlon training.
Did you know?
Age-related decline in triathlon (swim, run, and bike) starts earlier in swimming than in cycling or running. Isn’t that bizarre since you and I would both probably recommend swimming more and more as someone got more limited with joint issues.
Not Acknowledging Her Barriers
Not knowing how far and wide fitness benefits take them
Not having had good examples
Having old habits and thoughts about exercise
Time (perceived need)
Fear of getting hurt
Lack of trust for fitness “professionals”
Relate to Her and Overcome Objections
You might be thinking…is a golden phrase to use when you’re working on this type of copy.
Create a Better Offer:
Solve a real problem
They know they have
They are actively seeking a solution for
They have some urgency for
So you can…
Relate to Her. You must:
Tell a Rags-to-Riches story
Reveal your real life vs. Cinderella life
Tell your story…
Start with, when I was…
Know What She Wants, What She REALLY Wants
- It’s not weight loss.
- It’s not dumbbells.
- It’s not a scale or tape measure.
- It’s not a salad.
What is your WHY?
- Your Why
- Your Business Why
- Why she should do it right now
Get testimonials for marketing to midlife women from midlife women.
How do you get a perfect testimonial?
What almost stopped you from registering/getting started?
Audit your images:
Are you showing HER?
Are you showing the dream?
Your program will work
She doubts her.
Universal Truths of Marketing to Midlife Women
She thinks she’s unique.
She thinks she’s flawed.
She thinks she’s uniquely flawed.
It’s not a good time.
Just because you’ve always done something or thought a certain way doesn’t mean you can’t change it.
She has free will.
She’s failed before.
This is not her first rodeo.
Success dulls the knife. Failure sharpens it.
Failure is data. She doesn’t know that yet or think it yet.
She blames failure on a lack of willpower, discipline, or motivation.
She’s a prove-it-to-me girl.
Make sure you know what you’re talking about.
- Facts and what she calls herself.
- 70-year olds don’t call themselves “seniors.”
- 50-year olds resent getting the AARP card in the mail.
- She doesn’t recognize herself in the mirror sometimes.
Write copy like you ARE your ideal customer. Get a copywriter that is your ideal customer. If you have a 20-something writing copy or on social media make sure they give you examples of their work. Get a focus group together and get their thoughts. Listen to them. Don’t object or defend. Let your current customer tell you what they would have wanted to hear.
Have a Third Party interview your ideal customer.
Create 5-6 questions. Use these as examples:
- If you could wave a magic wand what would you like to change about your fitness right now?
- How long have you felt this way?
- What have you tried?
- What do you hate about _______?
- What would you love to see change?
- Is there anything else you’d like to add?
She likes to give and she’ll support businesses that do more than profit or provide a service.
- Partner with a charity (shoes, mittens, winter coat drive, food pantry)
- Percent of proceeds donated
- Employ underprivileged
- Support water in the world
- Scholarship youth into your programs
- Host community events
Change your approach
What if you mocked your own product and service?
Explain how it works instead of catchy titles.
All the things that midlife women hate and turn them off…
- Baby Gap shirts on muscle bound men
- Made-up women working out in LuLulemons
- Chicken breast and egg whites
- Walking into the male dominated weight room
Pink Dumbbells are Your Enemy!
Women respond to colors of the sunset.
She IS working. She may have the corner office.
She IS overwhelmed.
She DOES think a lot about her family and juggle responsibilities.
She is willing to spend. She’s not finding good choices.
She wants someone who understands her kinesiology, physiology, endocrine system, and her socialization.
She’s got some unlearning to do.
She may decide to do a marathon or a triathlon in a decade or so.
She’s not done.
But she does need to get started.
These and more are the way to fix mistakes you’re making in marketing to midlife women, make yourself the best choice, and once you get her, help her and keep her loving life… and the role you play in it.
Isn’t that what it’s all about?
If you’d like some help. But you’re not sure where to start. Yet the idea of being a coach with a business you love helping women love their lives sounds like exactly what you want to do… and you want to stop having a hobby and start having a business – with a life – then set up a time to talk about how to make that happen.
I’ll give you my input on what you need to have a business model that works. You may choose not to pursue it but you’ll know.