David Beebe has had an impressive career at the intersection of Hollywood storytelling and brand marketing, both in-house at media powerhouses like DIRECTV, Showtime, Disney/ABC, Marriott International and Unilever, and now as a branded entertainment producer, keynote speaker and founder and CEO of Storified.com. Declared a “Branded Content Master” by Adweek, he helps entrepreneurs, small businesses and big brands—fitness and otherwise—use storytelling to win the hearts, minds and wallets of customers.
Beebe says that the ability of fitness brands to go straight to the client via social media is revolutionary. Health and fitness are highly personal, and social media allows for more personalization, both in how you present yourself as a brand and in how you interact with your audience.
However, he is quick to admit that the fitness market is oversaturated. Setting yourself apart from the competition by creating a unique identity is essential to attracting and maintaining a client base, as is value-based content that convinces an audience to commit their very limited time and attention.
We asked Beebe for tips on building a fitness brand that people want to spend their time with. Here’s his tried-and-true feedback:
- Know your audience—Beebe believes in a targeted approach. “Think about a niche audience or niche specialty and then put out content that’s related to that,” he says. Are you appealing to powerlifters, CrossFitters, body-positivity proponents, etc.? Use language and imagery that appeals to your specific group. A smaller, dedicated audience is preferable to a broader, inactive one.
- Know your core principles—According to Beebe, people want to give their time, attention and money to brands whose values align with their own. He says your products and services are secondary to what you stand for. An ongoing, consistent, value-based story will foster community, which not only brings you commerce but also brings you loyalty.
- Provide value—Think about not only what you want to be known for but also what your audience wants. Even if you’re highly entertaining or designing great workouts, you’ll eventually lose clients if you’re not providing content that primarily serves them rather than your ego. Beebe believes that investing in “hero content,” material designed solely for entertainment with no attempt at sales of any kind, delivers value back to brands in the form of loyalty. Your audience essentially becomes your brand ambassador team.
- Think like a storyteller—Beebe advises all clients to go back to the most basic tenant of storytelling: Have a beginning, middle and end. Even if you’re merely demonstrating how to do a particular exercise, framing the demo in this format makes it naturally more engaging.
- Interact—“Social media is called ‘social,’ right?” Beebe says. The key to building a loyal following is not just starting conversations but guiding conversations by responding to questions, comments and images that the audience leaves in response to your content, he explains. Before social media, brands could simply shout their wares at an audience, but now “it’s always a two-way conversation,” Beebe says.
- Vary the content—Even if you’re a how-to video pro or do well with humorous Instagram stories, Beebe says to aim for a “content matrix,” where the type and tone of your content varies. This not only curbs audience boredom but also makes you feel well-rounded.
- Be real—“None of us wants to watch a continuous stream of everything is perfect,” Beebe says. Showing who you truly are—flaws and all—will help you not only stand out but also be more relatable. Before editing out every on-camera mess-up, Beebe says to consider leaving some in as a show of vulnerability. If you look perfect and act perfect, customers may conclude that you are inherently gifted and they therefore can never follow in your fitness footsteps.
Photo credit: Tom Casey, box24studio.com