Marketing is something that we all think we’re good at, even if we have little experience and success doing it. Marketing will either make or break your success with attracting customers. It isn’t typically an area of expertise for a fitness business owner or a personal trainer. A few simple marketing steps can increase your effectiveness and brand advantage, no matter how big or small your fitness business is.
- Create a system to get to know your customer better than anyone else.
- Organize your customers so you can have the right conversation with them.
- Identify what your prospects are willing to buy.
In business, there are those activities that you dislike and that you’re not good at. Clearly, you know you need to delegate those. Then there are those that you dislike but are good at, which you might need to continue. Additionally, there are activities you’d do even if you didn’t get paid to do them; you should spend as much time as possible doing these. The most dangerous activities though are the ones you like but are not good at. They’re hard to recognize. Marketing often falls into this last dangerous category.
Marketing isn’t something you want to just hand off to anyone, however. Seventy percent of your business is due to marketing. Ten to fifteen percent of people are going to walk in or log in and be ready to buy. That leaves 85% of potential revenue on the table if your marketing isn’t effective. Plus, selling, which is often a trainer’s nemesis, is easy if you’ve marketed with the right message to the right person at the right time.
Blueprints, templates, and scripts that appear to be shortcuts will always need your personal knowledge of your unique customer for optimal results. You can automate and use funnels but nothing will replace the human touch. The smaller your marketing budget or your target market, the more you need to know your customer. Then, even if you delegate some marketing tasks, you will be clear about what you want said and done.
Get To Know Your Customer
Writing marketing copy that converts is an art. If you write marketing copy from your laptop with years of passion for fitness and experience as a trainer, there’s likely going to be a gap between what you and your ideal client. It’s been too long since you were clueless and you potentially were never intimidated. The biggest challenge my consulting clients have is writing copy that packages what customers need in a way that they want it. We buy things we want. We avoid things we don’t.
Interview Current Customers
Good copy both eliminates objections and makes a prospect say, “she’s talking to me! That’s exactly what I was thinking.” The best way to know what’s going through your prospects’ heads is to ask and listen. Interview your ideal customers. Interview your prospective customers. Interview your current customers. Read reviews of your own business, competitor’s businesses, and books about your service.
Make a list of the magazines your customer reads, the sites they visit, and the Facebook pages they like. Warning: you will be tempted to skip the interviews. Don’t make the mistake of answering these questions yourself. That’s guessing. Do the work. You will be surprised what 15-minute interviews with your ideal customers will reveal to you.
Let them answer the following and record the answers in their words.
- What results would you love to see in 3 months?
- What problem do you wish would go away?
- What have you tried before?
- What do you hate about what you’ve tried before?
- What will reaching your goal feel like or give you freedom to do?
- What will happen if you don’t reach your goals?
- Who else suffers if you’re not at your goal?
Interview at least 10 current customers before you start looking for patterns, then keep going. As long as you’re in business, you should be doing market research. You should begin to see key phrases emerge. If you serve many demographics, start with the one most profitable target customer. Do more of what you’re already doing right. These words become the copy you’ll use for headlines, subject lines, and ads.
The Review and Interview Advantage
If reviews of your competitors reveal negative comments about small, dark rooms, or crowded facilities you can turn that into a positive without ever berating the competition. You might emphasize during your facility tour that you have an open floor plan, with high ceilings and natural light.
If you gleaned information from interviews that told you that most prospective customers have had trainers that didn’t understand them or the customer got hurt, you can address that objection before it ever comes up. Discuss your unique assessment process or share case studies of similar customers you’ve worked with in the past.
Get the Right Message to the Right Person
You know that you need to capture emails in order to market to someone. Once you’ve got someone on your list, you have their permission to send more about your products and services. Avoid the mistake of putting everyone you meet into one list.
People are interested in different results. Someone who wants a bikini body might opt in for your six-pack abs book, but someone who wants to lower blood sugars, get off medication, and has more than 50 pounds to lose will not. Attract individuals you work with by using the right bait. Then talk to them in a continued conversation based on why they got on your list.
Your freebie or freemium, as we refer to the gift we offer in exchange for an email, should be in alignment with the information revealed in your customer interviews. What was the most often cited goal? What problem did your prospects want to go away? That’s the gold that’s going to get someone to take the next step with you.
You want, at a minimum, three main lists to target customers at exactly the spot they’re at on their path to buying.
- Your prospective customer: the individual who has opted in for your free eBook, video, or webinar and needs to buy.
- Your current customers: the individuals who should be getting the most love and attention from you so that they stay customers! Continue to share value and keep giving.
- Your prior customers: they may be gone for now but keep an open door so that they can come back. Get feedback from these people. If they had a good experience, use their words to build marketing messages. If they had a bad experience, use it to get better. Fixing what was wrong for unhappy customers can turn them into your most loyal customers. They are, after all, spreading the word about you one way or another.
Let Prospects Tell You What They Want To Buy
When current customers ask you for something you don’t currently provide, consider it a gift. They’re telling you exactly what they want and are willing to buy. Be open to new ideas. Remember you’re in business for the ideal customer. What does she want (not need) that you can provide either next, or that compliments what you’re already doing? Have you heard these questions from clients?
- Can you refer me to someone who does that?
- Do you have a book?
- Do you have any videos or DVDs?
- What bars do you recommend? What do you use?
- Do you know where I can get _______________?
- How can I continue after we’re done training?
If you’ve been asked any of these questions, pay attention! If you don’t have the product or service, can you create it? If you don’t want to create it can you be an affiliate for someone who already does it well? How many of your clients ask for tubing or where they can get an exercise ball or a foam roller, for instance?
You can easily partner with either a local company or an online company that allows you to make a percentage of the sale when you provide your customers your affiliate link. There’s often a discount for your customer. Customers who love you will love knowing that the products you use and trust are available to them. Today people love the convenience of ordering online exactly what you recommend instead of going to a store, not knowing for sure if it’s the exact size or resistance. You eliminate the need for inventory but still provide a valuable service to your customers.
Client questions and feedback will tell you what to create next. Every idea may not turn into a product or service that fits your mission. Collect them though, especially if you have a large number of trainers in your business. Review your customer “wish list” regularly to see if patterns suggest you should pay attention to a potential new revenue stream. Create a Google doc where staff members add their customer’s requests.
Troy Huggett, owner of Troy’s Fitness Pros in Battle Creek, Michigan responded to his number one customer objection about fitting in the recommended time for exercise by creating short, intense sessions that have become his brand. His business tripled and clients’ results soared when they were able to consistently exercise with his unique regime. Huggett’s marketing emphasizes the fat and inches lost by his target customers by exercising an hour or less a week or 4 hours a month. Even juggling family, work, and life his 35-55-year-old ideal customers say, “I can do that.”
Ask your ideal customer what their problem is and listen. Build a service that solves that problem. Use their words to describe it and they’ll come.