Fitness Advertising Psychology Tips

How do you gain an edge in an industry as competitive as health and fitness?

Understanding how to apply proven principles of psychology and persuasion might be one of the keys. The market leaders in the industry are using many of these principles to boost their sales and revenue.

But unfortunately, many smaller businesses in the industry don’t know about them. And just how powerful they can be.

Whether you’re a personal trainer, gym owner or you’re selling a product like supplements or fitness apparel, knowing about these marketing psychology tactics will benefit your business.

Rather than giving you an exhaustive list of every single persuasion principle, I’m going to share just a few that are particularly relevant to the fitness industry.

1. Authority Bias

What Is Authority Bias?

It’s one of the six principles of persuasion described by Robert Cialdini in his classic book Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion.

Authority bias is a tendency people have to accept and trust what someone says when that person is perceived as an authority.

This is why toothpaste brands will feature dentists in their advertisements. The dentist is perceived as an authority. And if that dentist is recommending that people use Colgate toothpaste, viewers are more likely to trust that recommendation.

Related Post: Marketing Ideas For Gyms

Who Can Apply This?

Authority bias is most relevant to those in the fitness industry that are selling expertise. For example, personal trainers, influencers and those selling fitness information products. Supplement companies can also apply authority bias by getting experts to endorse their products.

How To Apply It

To take advantage of authority bias, you should be a genuine, credible authority in what you’re selling. Yes, it is possible to fake authority and many in the fitness industry have done that. But it will only damage your reputation in the long run.

Here are some of the best ways to use the power of authority in the fitness industry.

Look The Part

People will automatically form an impression of you based on your visual appearance. It’s very difficult to be perceived as an authority in fitness if you’re not in great shape yourself.

Create Educational Content

Almost any business or individual in the fitness industry can develop their authority by creating educational content. This could be in the form of blog posts, informative social media posts, YouTube videos or even a book.

fitness social media content
Educational Social Media Posts Like This Help Develop Authority

Speak With Confidence

If you’re a personal trainer speaking to clients directly or you’re an influencer speaking to an audience at scale through video, you need to sound confident in what you’re saying.

Imagine if you went to a doctor who kept umming and uhhing when they spoke to you. Compare that to a doctor who speaks with complete certainty. Who are you likely to trust?

Get Featured In Media

Being featured in news publications or even major websites can be a huge boost to your credibility. Try connecting with reporters through LinkedIn or signing up for services like HARO and Source Bottle.

2. Mere Exposure Effect

What Is The Mere Exposure Effect?

The mere exposure effect means that people tend to prefer things they are familiar with. Repeated exposure to someone or something leads to a sense of comfort and positive feelings.

This is why major brands like Coke and Adidas will run the same ad campaigns, promoting the same product over and over again.

Think of how this applies to music as well. The first time you hear a new song, you may not like it very much. But then as you keep hearing it over and over, it grows on you.

Of course, there is a point where too much exposure to something can become annoying and turn people away.

Who Can Apply This?

Virtually any business or individual in the fitness industry can use the mere exposure effect to their advantage. Gyms, health clubs, influencers, dietitians…

How To Apply It

Applying the mere exposure effect may seem obvious. Just get your business in front of people more often. But there are different ways to go about that..

Facebook & Instagram Ads

fitness facebook ads

Facebook Ads (which includes Instagram) is currently one of the most cost-effective ways to repeatedly get your brand in front of a lot of people.

Related Reading: See The Best Facebook Ad Examples For Gyms

Social Media

Frequently posting content on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok is a free way to leverage the mere exposure effect.

Remarketing Ads

Remarketing is a way of showing your ads to people who have already interacted with your website or social media. You can run remarketing ads through Facebook and Google.

Build An Email List

The mere exposure effect will be maximized when you reach people on multiple platforms. So don’t just stick to social media. Start building an email list and send helpful content to your list at least weekly or monthly.

3. Story Telling

What Is Storytelling?

Storytelling is an incredibly powerful tool to apply to your marketing. A well told story relating to your product has the power to grab attention, engage people and build intrigue.

In my case study of weight loss product Leptitox and also Diabetes Freedom, I explain how these products used storytelling to become some of the best selling fitness products on the internet.

Humans have been telling stories for thousands of years and the human brain is programmed to pay attention to stories. Storytelling also provides an opportunity to apply other psychological tactics such as open loops, liking bias and emotional contagion.

Learn More About How Health Product Diabetes Freedom Uses Storytelling

Who Can Apply This?

Storytelling is particularly powerful for personal brands (trainers, fitness influencers, etc) and brands that have one key figure behind them. But it’s certainly not limited to these brands. Other brands can leverage storytelling by having their clients share stories.

How To Apply It

Storytelling can be applied in many areas of your marketing. It’s particularly powerful when you really want to get someone’s attention focused on your message.

This could be in your Facebook Ads, a landing page, YouTube videos and social media posts.

Look at how Loyalty Wellcare use storytelling in their Facebook ad to grab attention and lead towards a solution…

storytelling in marketing

If you’re a personal trainer, nutritionist, fitness influencer or fitness coach, build your story around your personal experiences that led you to where you are now.

What challenges have you overcome?

Perhaps you were overweight when you were younger. And that experience led you to try different diets until you discovered a diet that worked for you. That led you to become a nutritionist so you could help others achieve similar weight loss.

But you don’t necisarily have to share your own story. A story about a client can be just as effective. And client’s stories can be used by almost any business within the fitness industry.

What makes a good story?

  • Begins with an engaging hook to reel people in
  • Creates curiosity to find out what happens at the end of the story
  • Engages people’s emotions
  • Leads people towards a solution that could solve their problems

Brief Overview Of Other Principles

Scarcity & Urgency

People place a higher value on things that have a limited supply, as well as things that won’t be available for much longer. You can use this to your advantage by offering a limited time special.

Or if you offer group fitness training, highlight in your marketing that there are only a limited number of spots available.

urgency bias
Example Of Applying Urgency

Learn More About Scarcity & Urgency In This Post

Ease & Simplicity

People tend to have a subconscious aversion to exercise because they believe that it’s going to require a lot of hard work and struggle.

You shouldn’t tell people that your product will make them lose 50kg in two weeks with no effort. But you can appeal to their desire for ease by overcoming other mental barriers for them.

For example, highlight that your fitness program includes pre-made shopping lists so they don’t have to figure out what to buy themselves. If you own a gym, highlight that there is easy on-site car parking available. If you offer high-intensity interval training, focus on how much quicker it is than other forms of exercise.

I Explain The Desire For Ease And Simplicity In This Post On Marketing Psychology

Foot In The Door Technique

Getting people to take the first step towards fitness or buying your product is the hardest part. Once someone has taken one step towards something, the chances of them taking a second step increase dramatically.

To leverage the foot in the door technique, make it extremely easy for people to take the first step. Offering a free trial at a gym is an example of this.


Understanding human psychology can help you supercharge your marketing if you’re in the fitness industry.

I’ve discussed some of the most powerful psychological tactics you can apply to your marketing. But there are many others that may be even more effective, depending on what your business is.

I have many other posts on here describing how others use persuasion tactics in their marketing, including my analysis of Flat Belly Fix.

Remember that these tactics should always be applied ethically. Don’t mislead people, don’t persuade people to use a product that doesn’t work.

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