Overland Park, Ks — In today's market, cardio sales can be tough for manufacturers, but some of the cardio equipment companies that are enjoying a measure of success right now are younger companies using newer marketing approaches to focus their sales efforts on a specific product rather than multiple categories of products.

Motus USA is using social networking mediums, such as Facebook and Twitter, to reach out to current and potential customers, says Tania Cobb, vice president and CFO at the Carson, CA-based company.

“Word of mouth has become so important in these alternative mediums because we are able to bring all of our clients — existing and potential — into these mediums and enable our existing clients to communicate with these individuals,” Cobb says.

Motus USA, which entered the U.S. market in 2005, also has been actively hiring salespeople.

“It's very important to have a strong sales force and not to be cutting back on your sales force right now,” Cobb says. “This year and into 2010 is going to be a very aggressive marketing and sales time in our company's history.”

Motus USA has not had the sales growth it expected at the beginning of the year, Cobb says, but she adds that the second quarter of 2009 is on par with the second quarter of 2008.

“We expect the third quarter this year to be even stronger,” she says.

Octane Fitness, founded eight years ago, is experiencing the fruits of a marketing approach used over the last two to three years that included trial and demonstration periods, says Tim Porth, co-founder and executive vice president of marketing and product development for the Brooklyn Park, MN-based company. Club owners that purchased two elliptical units per club are now purchasing 10, 16 or even 20 units per club, Porth says.

“Business has been really good,” he says. “We're finally breaking into those larger accounts. We want to do the best product in a category, instead of doing ‘me, too’ products or trying to leverage ourselves with everything we sell.”

Octane Fitness' partnership with the state of Kentucky's firefighters helped to almost double the elliptical units sold to that group within the last year, Porth says.

One of the advantages that LeMond Fitness, Woodinville, WA, has in the marketplace is maintaining its focus on its indoor upright and recumbent bikes, says John Post, president and CEO. LeMond Fitness was founded in 2002 by three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond.

“We don't have to deal with the wide spectrum of other product categories,” Post says.

Another player in the indoor bike market is RealRyder International, which came onto the fitness club scene last year. Sean Harrington, president of RealRyder, Santa Monica, CA, says sales have had an average increase of 50 percent per month over the first 10 months.

Harrington also says more of his customers are treating RealRyder bikes, which move side to side like real bikes, as a business opportunity rather than simply adding them to their clubs. Ride the Zone, a spinning studio, has grown to four clubs — two in The Hamptons on Long Island, NY, and two in New York City — with the help of RealRyder units. A fifth Ride the Zone club is scheduled to open in Florida. Three other clubs outfitted with RealRyder units have recently opened, Harrington says.

“The economy doesn't affect us as much because we're getting those early adopters,” Harrington says. “We started in a poor economy. We don't know what it's like to be in a good economy. We probably would sell twice as many units in a better economy.”

Although Expresso Fitness, Sunnyvale, CA, experienced growth in revenue in first quarter 2009 compared to first quarter 2008, the company is aware that its customers are more careful about spending money, says Judy Barker, Expresso's director of product marketing.

“Customers are becoming more price sensitive and are looking for the best value for their money,” says Barker, who did not disclose specific sales numbers.

Customers also are more apt to “shop around” for equipment, Cobb says, which increases the potential for more business at many manufacturers.