CrossFit’s Massive Over Correction

We have an interesting dynamic with CrossFit at Performance360. We compete with them on a local level, but at a national level, we need them to make smart choices and succeed. While we indisputably lead our local marketplace (for now), CrossFit is the global leader in group functional fitness, and if they begin to decline then all other gyms who provide similar services might face similar market reach issues if they aren’t savvy enough to differentiate themselves.

I must say, I absolutely hate what HQ is doing with their new marketing. Anyone who has had success in the industry over the past years, affiliate or not, knew that heavily marketing their Games athletes as the face of CrossFit was a terrible mistake. It alienated the everyday users of the gym and those who keep the lights on. After all, how many gyms were actually going to have someone who reaches Games level? Very few.

I predicted at the time that CrossFit would end up correcting this, and sure enough, they have.

Only the choice wasn’t a good one.

Now, in an effort to correct their Games heavy marketing, they have launched a campaign that focuses on the elderly, in what I am guessing is an attempt to increase awareness that CrossFit is a fully scaled program that can be utilized by anyone. They’ve always said that it’s a program that “grandma can do”, and while that might be true, it’s a massive overcorrection on the opposite end of the marketing spectrum and another error by HQ.

Here they are still failing to address their primary user as a corporate brand: the everyday person who works a nine to five and wants to come in, sweat, get stronger, look better naked, and not hurt themselves.

Many of our followers and those we mentor are CrossFit affiliates. If you are an affiliate, you need to take charge of your own messaging and your own branding. You can’t let CrossFit HQ make your marketing decisions for you, because as an outsider of CrossFit I am telling you they are making another poor choice with their targeting.

Focus your marketing and branding efforts around your primary user. Not professional athletes. Not the elderly. This is not to say you can’t have programs for each and support their membership, but as primary messaging, it’s a great way to go out of business.

Tell stories around health transformations, weight loss success, performance achievements, and community accomplishments. Don’t try and make your program so vastly scaleable that you forget to talk the people who actually use it most.

Dave Thomas-Dave Thomas

Performance360 is not a CrossFit affiliate.


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