All fitness professionals hear that they should be marketing. The amount of time you should spend marketing really varies, depending on who you talk to. And, from conversations I've had with many professionals, they think there's some magic formula they should be following in order to market effectively. Well, yea, I guess there IS a magic formula, but it's not what you think at all. But I'll tell you what that is, below.
This article is going to address what marketing is and what it accomplishes (this touches on that “magic formula” I mentioned), then we're going to discuss the essentials to consider when creating a strategic marketing plan by giving you examples of what needs to be included.
What IS Marketing?
According to the American Marketing Association (http://www.marketingpower.com/
), marketing is, "the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large."
In a nutshell, it encompasses everything your fitness business does to identify, attract, serve and retain profitable clients. It’s telling your target market what problems you solve.
The following are just a FEW examples of marketing:
The Most Important Thing about Marketing
- Having a conversation with someone about what you do,
- handing someone your business card (always, always, always have some with you),
- speaking engagements,
- networking on social media (you should be on them all, now),
- writing your blog,
- writing articles,
- publishing and updating your website.
The most important thing you need to know about marketing is what it accomplishes. This is the magic formula. Marketing is the message you give your audience about the value your services bring to them; which includes the quality of your service, the efficiency of your system that solves their problems, and even the convenience you offer (in terms of location or operating hours or ease of purchase). It also includes how effective your marketing language is on your website, in your blogs, articles, even in social media and in conversations.
But how do you come up with that "effective marketing language" in a way that will attract hoards of new clients to you? It's really easier than you think. But let's get into some of that "magic formula," now, so you can immediately transform your marketing language.
Before I show you this "formula," I want to emphasize an essential concept you need to always remember. In fact, this is SO important, I suggest you type this statement up on a full page of paper, print it, and look at it often:
Your ideal client is ALWAYS asking, "What's in it for me?" and it's YOUR job to tell him/her.
Again, it's your job to tell him/her what gets to happen for them when they work with you. Always be thinking from THEIR perspective when marketing. You can't go wrong if you do that. Oh, and yea, a second thing: Always be listening to what they say they want, so you can GIVE them what they want, based on what you have to offer. If that doesn't make sense, just read on and it will.
5 Step “Magic Formula” for Effective, No-lose Marketing Language
Even if you work with all age groups and sexes, there is one population you most love to work with. Ok, maybe two. Ok, maybe even three. But stop yourself here and pick just one. You can work through this same process over and over again, with different populations. Now, I'm actually just showing you a portion of the process to help people develop the marketing language to attract their ideal clients, but this is enough to get you started.
Step 1: List their problems
When you think of that ideal client, what are the biggest problems they struggle with through the course of their day? Imagine following them around from the moment they wake up until the time they go to bed. It's as if you were either their shadow or a bug on their shoulder. Examples include: They wake up feeling tired, they don't have time for exercise, they don't like how they look in their clothes, and so forth. I suggest pulling out a piece of paper or opening up a word processing file and making a full-page list of their problems.
Step 2: List the solutions they want instead
It's good to have a clear, long list of problems your ideal clients struggle with, because they always want to know (based on, "What's in it for me?
") that you "get" them. But then they need to know you have SOLUTIONS, too.
So, step 2 is just as long a list of solutions they want instead, as problems they struggle with. Think of this list as the mirror image of problems. If they struggle with waking up feeling tired, the solution they would want instead might be waking up feeling rested and energized. If the problem they have is no time for exercise in the morning, maybe a solution they want is to be able to wake up early enough to get a workout in before work, or something else related to that problem.
Step 3: Clarify what they need to know/do/learn
Step 3 now takes YOUR expertise into account. The first two steps are from your client's perspective, but step 3 is from yours. In your professional opinion, what does your client need to know? What do they need to do? And what must they learn?
Some examples might include things such as;
Step 4: Their ultimate outcome
- They need to know how to exercise on their own,
- They need to schedule in the time to exercise,
- They need to learn the purpose of different forms of exercise.
For all of your clients, there is an ultimate outcome they wish to achieve. It's the reason they give you when you first talk to them. If you're not SURE what that is, just think back to what previous clients have told you. When I provided personal training services, most of my clients were peri-menopausal women who wanted to lose weight. So, a simple ultimate outcome could be lose weight! It really can be as simple as that.
Step 5: The big "WHY"
But just knowing what that ultimate outcome is, is NOT going to produce wildly effective marketing! What WILL (and completes that "secret formula") is by being very clear what their big "WHY" is. WHY do they want to lose weight? What is it they don't tell you in words, especially in the beginning? For peri-menopausal women who want to lose weight, some examples of the big WHY might include;
- They want to look great in their clothes,
- They want to feel sexy,
- They want to slow down the aging process,
- They want to have energy to spend with their grandkids.
Once you have the answers to these five steps, put it into one simple sentence. Then sit back and reflect on what you've just come up with. If you follow these steps, the clarity you'll gain is going to be amazing. Until YOU are very clear, your potential clients aren't going to be clear. And if your potential clients aren't clear who you work with and what problems you solve, they will quickly go elsewhere.
Your Strategic Marketing Plan
You now know what marketing is, and how often you need to actually market (which is all the time, in case you missed that), as well as what the “magic formula” is for effective marketing. But without a strategy and plan, none of this does you any good.
Let’s first discuss strategy. In business school, we learned that your strategy includes the “4Ps,” which consists of product (or service), place, price and promotion.
What do you have to offer? What makes what you offer unique? You might offer personal training services, but just by it coming from YOU makes it unique. But what else makes it different from the trainer down the street? There is something; you just need to hash out what that is. Often this is the value that a business coach brings to your business.
What you have to offer can include both services and products. One example might be some educational videos you could provide your clients with, to help further their success. I’m sure you can think of other examples from there.
Where do you offer your services? In a gym, in your own studio or home, or in their home, perhaps? Again, in any of these situations, always think of what makes what you offer different. And, again, sometimes it’s just who YOU are that makes it unique, and that’s ok as long as you capitalize on that uniqueness. Perhaps it’s a way of working with clients, perhaps it’s a method you are using.
Although many trainers feel they have to price themselves just like everyone else, that’s not always the case. The traditional way to consider pricing is by providing the lowest price (like Walmart) or premium pricing, for premium services (like a Jacquar).
Finally, how are you getting the word out about your services (promotion)? This is where strategic marketing comes in, because if you don’t have a full, comprehensive plan in place, you’ll be missing pieces necessary that can lead to your wild success. In this last section, I want to give you examples of what to include in a strategic marketing plan for each of your products or services.
A Checklist for Your Strategic Marketing Plan
A process that I take my 1-year Marathon clients through is what I call a “Marketing Plan in a Day” 4-hour virtual, private, intensive coaching session, where they literally create their products and services for six months at a time; which also includes their launch plan and production plan for each product and service.
When they come up with those products and services, each offering must then include a strategy for success. You can’t just put it out there and expect people to just swarm to you. That would be nice, but it’s either luck when it happens, or naiveté when it doesn’t (which is the usual case).
The purpose of these examples is to give you a checklist of all that should be included in each launch plan, as part of your strategic marketing plan.
To give you a bit more background of what I mean here, I plan out my entire year in advance. For instance, I already know what I plan to offer for 2014, although I have space for new things to add as the year goes by. I don’t have time to go into why this is important, but trust me; it is.
Once I have my different products and services determined for the year, I then decide the best time to offer, or launch, each. I space them out according to my personal schedule (Spain in 2014, New Zealand 2015), conferences, holidays, and season, to give you a few examples. Next, I determine the timing necessary for effective marketing of each. I then always implement all of these things in the below checklist.
- For each product or service, work through the 5 step “magic formula” to come up with compelling marketing language
- Create your product or service
- Develop a wildly attractive name for your product or service (I suggest getting the book “POP” by Sam Horn)
- Create the website text for your product or service
- Determine publish date for web page
- Determine special offer date deadlines for your launch (examples include early bird offer, bonus offer, etc.)
- Comment about your launch in your newsletter
- Develop all promotional emails for your mailing list, using deadline dates as a starting guideline
- Create a Facebook event
- Develop a blog schedule of topics related to your launch product or
- Develop a social media schedule so that every day something is posted about your launch, AND every day you spend at least a minute interacting with those you’re connected to. This helps put you "out there."
- Write and submit articles to article submission sites.
- Create thank you emails
- Make your next offer to those who took action
Finally, I’d like to give an example of how the above would fit if you were a trainer:
You are a personal trainer who wants more clients. You come up with a new name for your training services, based on above.
Even though you work with clients in person, just about everyone is online today, in one way or another. Thus, it’s important to have that compelling website presence, which includes a website, blog, newsletter and social media presence. However, because not all people are online the same way, this is why you need it all! You want to widen your reach as much as possible. But also "show up" locally, too. Examples are Chamber of Commerce meetings, or to offer to speak at local service club meetings. Perhaps there are entrepreneur groups around you that you can get involved in. Maybe join either NSA (National Speaker’s Association) or Toastmasters International (again, for speaking). Build yourself up locally as THE expert on fitness, with emphasis on YOUR specialty.
If your mailing list for your newsletter is small, focus more on blogging, articles for article submission sites, and all the social media. Also contact the local newspaper and offer to write an article of a hot topic in the news right now, with the tie-in to fitness. You can also submit a press release, but they also need to tie into something related to news, not just a free way to advertise.
If you work out of a gym, you could create a special "meet and greet" day, if allowed. You’ll want to take advantage of an early-response call to action. In other words, something like “act today; the first x number of people who schedule a visit with me will receive…” and what they could receive might be a free initial assessment (valued at $x) or a bonus session with you.
If you see clients in their homes or can’t offer the meet and greet at the gym you work out of, you could create a short-term phone "mini assessment" which would actually serve as a Discovery Session for potential clients. We don’t have enough space today to discuss Discovery Sessions, but I do cover them thoroughly in Business Basics 101. By making such an offer, you could create a buzz and prompt people to take you up on the offer, which, by being offered in just a short period of time, it becomes a launch with a start and end period.
Creating your strategic marketing plan can turn your business around. Many people do more "shooting from the hip," though, when it comes to marketing, because they don’t really understand it.
Without a strategy, you can never build momentum necessary that develops steady growth. Instead, I've heard from too many people who say they market consistently for a little while, then stop, then start, then stop. And if you ask them what their PLAN is, they realize they don't HAVE a plan! By following the tips in this article, you will be on your way to your plan… AND towards wild success for your fitness business.