Developing Your Own Brand
The first two articles in this series discussed the role of branding and how it can be utilized by fitness professionals to effectively communicate the benefits of using their personal training services. As branding expert Proctor and Gamble discovered, the benefit of a strong brand identity is that it creates the promise of a positive experience based on an enduring relationship. Parts 1 and 2 introduced the concept of developing a recognizable brand identity as a way to market training services to prospective clients specifically by featuring defined results training programs. Part 3 of this article series will introduce the SWOT analysis which can be used to create a branding strategy.
The Role of a SWOT Analysis
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis will identify the components that will give you clarification of your current and potential position in the marketplace.
The first two articles in this series discussed the role of branding and how it can be utilized by fitness professionals to effectively communicate the benefits of using their personal training services. As branding expert Proctor and Gamble discovered, the benefit of a strong brand identity is that it creates the promise of a positive experience based on an enduring relationship. Parts 1 and 2 introduced the concept of developing a recognizable brand identity as a way to market training services to prospective clients specifically by featuring defined results training programs. Part 3 of this article series will introduce the SWOT analysis which can be used to create a branding strategy. stands for trengths, eaknesses, pportunities, and hreats. A SWOT analysis will identify the components that will give you clarification of your current and potential position in the marketplace.
It does not matter whether you work for a health club or operate your own training business, the responsibility for your own financial success rests on your shoulders. Having a defined brand of service is a critical component to a successful career. If you understand the concept of branding and how it can help position your services to potential clients, and are having a difficult time identifying a specific brand identity, then conducting a SWOT analysis of your training skills would be a worthwhile exercise.
A basic SWOT analysis is easy to perform. Begin by dividing a piece of paper into four squares. The upper-left square is labeled "Strengths"—in this square list all of the strengths and competitive advantages of your education, skills and abilities as a personal trainer. Examples of strengths might be education, certifications earned, the name or location of your employer, or experience working with a particular type of client. Ultimately, your strengths will help identify your professional traits which can be used to develop a brand identity.
The upper-right square is labeled "Weaknesses"— in this square list all weaknesses that you might have as a trainer, and be honest. Examples of weaknesses might be the limited visibility of a location, an inability to work with specific types of clients such as special populations or people released from physical therapy (post-rehab clients), being uncomfortable with the sales process of asking clients for money or overall lack of fitness industry experience. It is important to be as honest and objective as possible about your weaknesses, because ultimately they can be turned into new business opportunities.
The lower-left square is labeled "Opportunities"—in this square list all of the opportunities for developing new clients or expanding your training business. As mentioned, weaknesses can be turned into opportunities for new business. For example, if limited location visibility is a weakness, then it is also an opportunity to develop new signage or create a new marketing campaign. Another example would be the lack of education in a specific area of exercise science, which could be turned into an opportunity to take a continuing education workshop to gain the necessary knowledge to work with a specific type of client. A final example would be the ability to offer small-group training as a means to train more clients at one time, thereby increasing earning potential.
Finally, the lower-right square should be labeled "Threats"—in this square list all of the threats that might impact the business. Examples of threats are the general economic climate, adverse weather that might impact clients’ abilities to make it to their appointments, the number of other trainers working in a health club or competitors who plan on growing or expanding into the marketplace. In some cases threats are due to external forces which cannot be controlled, while in other cases, they can be turned into opportunities for new business.
Here is an example of a SWOT Analysis for Kate, a newly-certified personal trainer working for a large health club in a major city:
- Four year degree in Kinesiology plus a national, NCCA-accredited personal training certification
- Internship at recreation center during college conducting assessments and designing exercise programs for other students
- Interested in helping clients with lifestyle and weight management issues; successful at helping clients adhere to exercise programs for weight loss
- Not confident in asking clients for money
- Needs to learn more about marketing and sales
- Does not teach group exercise classes—which would be an effective way to work with large groups of club members and meet potential clients
- Take a workshop to learn more about sales and marketing for personal trainers
- Work for a large health club operator in town which attracts one hundred-plus new members per month, see six-to-ten new members a week to conduct assessments and introduce to facility
- Develop a fee-based seminar for club members on how to implement lifestyle and behavior changes for weight loss
- Learn how to teach group fitness classes to expand opportunities to work with club members
- Competition from other trainers in the club and the four other health clubs and training studios in the immediate area
- Consumer confidence in the current economic climate
- Limited space to train clients when club is crowded
Applying a SWOT Analysis
In this case, the weakness of needing to learn more about sales and marketing can be turned into an opportunity to take a workshop to develop those skills. Likewise, the threat of competition from other trainers in the club can be combined with the strength of helping clients with behavior change in order to present seminars on behavior change strategies for weight loss. Offering a series of seminars focused on behavior change is one way to differentiate herself from her fellow co-workers who might not have the skills to deliver the same services.
Conducting seminars in a club is an effective way to earn extra revenue while attracting potential clients. Seminars could be offered in an area of the club that is not busy during prime time hours, such as a conference room or staff training room; just one example of how Kate can address the threat of not having the space to work on a crowded fitness floor. Finally, another opportunity is identifying the fact that learning to teach group fitness classes could help attract new clients. If you would like to learn how teach group fitness can help a trainer generate more clients please see my article "Becoming a Successful Health Club Trainer" also on ptonthenet.com.
One way that Kate can create a brand identity is to use the strengths she identified in her SWOT analysis, specifically her strength of helping clients lose weight. For example, she could create the tag-line: "Train with Kate to lose weight and look great!" This simple phrase uses her name and the benefits of the services that she offers in an easy-to-say and easy-to-remember phrase.
The above example demonstrates how a SWOT analysis can be a useful tool to develop a brand identity and improve business. To learn more about using a SWOT analysis you can read Bobby Cappucio’s article: "CREATE a Path to Extraordinary Achievement, Part 2" on ptonthenet.com or conduct an internet search to locate a plethora of resources for conducting an effective SWOT analysis. Once you have identified your strengths and have developed a brand identity, then you can strategize how to communicate with prospective clients to educate them on how your services can meet their needs.
So, you took the time to conduct a SWOT analysis and have identified strengths to turn into a brand identity as well as weaknesses and threats that you can turn into opportunities. An important component of developing a brand identity as a fitness professional is the ability to use the science of exercise program design to develop a specific approach to fitness that is easy for clients to identify and relate with. No matter the training goal, or the type of client, the important thing is to identify the goal and follow Stephen Covey’s principle of beginning with the end in mind by offering a program to achieve the client’s desired results. This will help to establish the expectations so the client knows what you expect from them and so that you can clearly communicate to the client what they can expect to receive from you as well.
The final article in this series will pull everything together and will discuss the top three types of clients you can expect to meet in your fitness career and how each can be reached with different types of marketing strategies.
- Beckwith, Harry (1997). Selling the Invisible. New York, NY: Warner Books.
- Forsyth, Leighann and Marcus, Bess (2003). Motivating People to Be Physically Active. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
- Ries, Al and Ries, Laura (2004). The Origin of Brands. New York, NY: Harper Business.