Content Marketing: The Definitive Guide

Content marketing in its simplest form is the creation and distribution of content across multiple channels. It can also be referred to as inbound marketing, which tends to denote that the content is hosted on a website. The opposite of content marketing is good old-fashioned advertising, in which the product is front and centre and the action required from the consumer is to buy, buy, buy.  Content marketing takes a different approach as it looks to inform, educate, and subtly motivate a consumer towards a certain subject or product.

Focusing on the leisure industry, let’s take fitness memberships as a working example. For years leisure centres and fitness clubs have advertised fitness memberships with copy such as – you know the drill – “Gym, Swim, Classes, from £25 per month, join today”. This message is aimed directly at customers actively looking to purchase a membership and seeks the low hanging fruit. A content marketing approach avoids talking about purchasing a product, instead looking to add value to a customer’s decision-making process.

A simple example of this would be creating a blog on your website that talks about the benefits of exercise and how your staff and facilities help customers achieve their goals. This will appeal to a much greater audience as there’s always more people thinking about joining a gym than actually making the decision to join. This highlights a potential problem for a lot of leisure organisations looking at content marketing – buying lag. Content-based strategies often have a longer waiting period between a customer viewing your product or content and making a purchase. Nobody wakes up one morning and buys a fitness membership without having gone through a series of decision-making processes. If you want to read the psychology behind the ‘stages of change’ model, then take a moment to do so here.

Combining content marketing and advertising places your product at multiple stages that a customer moves through. The sales funnel below is an updated version of the “leads – tours – sales” funnel many sales and marketing professionals have stood by for the last 30 years.

A great example of a leisure business with a content-based strategy is Joe Wicks, otherwise known as The Body Coach, who pumps out huge amounts of free content to add value and build a fan base for his products. The Joe Wicks machines estimate that it takes 6-12 weeks to convert a follower into a paying customer. Think about for that for a second: Joe Wicks is prepared to provide up to 3 months of free content in order to get a new customer. How much time do you invest in nurturing potential customers?

So where do you start and what content do you need to create?  If you start with blogs, then a good writer within your team can probably begin immediately and pump out a couple of quick articles.  However, don’t produce content just for the sake of filling space on your website, and make sure you always write with your audience in mind: what’s important to you might not be important to your customers.

Here’s 8 blog ideas to get you started:

  • Three exercises you probably didn’t know existed

  • Workouts to get in shape for the summer

  • Why water is important to your fitness regime

  • Two delicious recipes that are low in calories

  • Our top five workouts of the week

  • Why free weights have huge benefits for women

  • Our favourite home workout exercises

  • 3 easy steps to start counting your calorie intake

Blogs aren’t for everyone, though, and we’re not all good at writing lengthy articles. This is where you need to stop thinking about content as consisting solely of blogs and articles. There are lots of opportunities to create content without being an author!

  • Video blogs

    Simply talk to camera, the more natural and unscripted, the better

  • Podcasts

    You could take the audio from your video and create some audio blogs

  • Video walkthroughs

    Show off your facilities, take your customers behind the scenes, showcase your classes, create a typical customer visit

  • Testimonials

    Let your customers create your content for you (user generated content/UGC rather than professional generated content/PGC)

  • Reviews

    Share your success stories from Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor,, Trust Pilot. Find out more about the benefits of reviews here

  • E-book

    Create some downloadable fitness guides, nutrition tips, workouts of the week, etc.

  • Couch to 5k

    Share nationally recognised programmes with your customers

  • Newsletter

    Build your databases by getting your customers to register for a newsletter

  • Trial Pass

    Yes, this is more lead generation than content generation, but it’s something to share and promote that isn’t directly selling memberships

  • How to…

    Similar to the e-books above, can you create simple how-to videos (how to setup the equipment, how to prepare for your first visits, how to ask for help, etc.)

So next time someone in your organisation starts asking for content ideas think outside the box and don’t just think about articles. If in doubt just do a little R+D, that’s Rip-off and Duplicate to you and me!  There is tons of fitness-related content out there already.  Why not explore what fits with your organisation and take inspiration from it, re-create it, and promote it on your channels.

We’d love to hear your ideas on content creation, what works and what doesn’t, so please keep in touch across our social channels